Have you stayed too long at your job? – PROBABLY!

An investment manager at a highly regarded company in the Midwest, drove to work one morning, parked his car in the usual spot, and then found he simply could not bring himself to get out of the car. “I guess I stayed on the farm one day too long,” he joked later. When we asked him what went wrong, he answered, “It wasn’t one thing. It was everything.” No wonder he drove home and called in his resignation.

According to best selling business author Seth Godin, most people stay in their job too long. They stay for many reasons – familiarity, fear, inertia, attachment to co-workers, and reluctance to lose their salary and benefits – but there is a danger in overstaying.

Po Bronson (What Should I Do with My Life) agrees and adds that “no matter how dissatisfied we are in our jobs, we don’t tend to leave until the discomfort ‘gets personal.'” He suggests that feeling unchallenged or undervalued or even feeling your work has no purpose will push you to think about leaving, but you won’t actually make a move until something happens that strikes a potent emotional cord – like the investment banker in the story above.

We get calls daily from provide who have just come to the end of their rope. We’d like to suggest that moving out of desperation or personal urgency may not be the best way to make a change. Of course when you’ve got to move, you’ve got to move – but why not make these decisions strategically? Why not take action before you just can’t get out of your car?

If you are wondering how to tell if you have stayed too long, take a look at this interview with Jack & Suzie Welch on the subject of “Should You Stay or Should You Go?”

We ought to be regularly asking ourselves the question: “Does this job help me accomplish my life vision and goals?” If it doesn’t then for our own sake as well as that of our employer we need to plan to find something more consistent with our values. Otherwise we may be in danger of becoming a “quit stay” – where “you have mentally quit your job, but you just keep showing up anyway.”