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I feel lost at work lately. It feels like I do not have a clear purpose anymore. Motivation is low, I cannot find challenges anymore. I am asking myself constantly, if it is the time to leave and look for something else. Work environment is supportive. At the same time, I am in that period of life when everything is happening at full speed. Work, family, small kids, finishing a house, trying to do some sports… Rinse and repeat.

What questions should I ask myself to truly find out, if I should stay, and what to change to fully utilise capabilities? Is it, maybe, a time for me to switch? How to find out if my lack of motivation is due to work or is just a rainy passage in the journey called life?

The best question so far that I came across, which partly answers my question, is "What would you do, if all jobs out there were paying the same amount of money?"

SOLUTION v0.9: An objective time sequence of questions, which were obtained from thew answers, and should be followed in the exact order.

  1. How long has it been since I was happy to work here (days, weeks, months)?
  2. Am I unhappy because of work, or is there something else outside that (personal problems, general overload)?
  3. Are you still able to find joy in other areas of life? If so, then the job may indeed be the real issue.
  4. So are you trying to change your job or your career (change the immediate environment or change yourself)?
  5. What would you do, if all jobs out there were paying the same amount of money?
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  • @JoeStrazzere Generally true. But how to do such an inspection in an objective manner? Sometimes you just do not have a day, but quitting a job on such a day would be a big mistake....
    – Mike
    Jun 1, 2022 at 11:25
  • 12
    Have you talked to your wife about this? With family and kids, your life isn't about you anymore.
    – Kilisi
    Jun 1, 2022 at 11:40
  • 2
    Kinda sounds like you are simply heavily exhausted and need some vacation time?
    – Squary94
    Jun 2, 2022 at 9:47
  • @Squary94 Could be. That's why I am trying to get as objective questions as possible to find it out by probing myself.
    – Mike
    Jun 2, 2022 at 12:26
  • @Mike Why not simply take a vacation? If you consider leaving anyway then you might as well use up some of those vacation days.
    – Squary94
    Jun 2, 2022 at 12:38

6 Answers 6

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The key question I asked myself was:

How long has it been since I was happy to work here?

All jobs have ups and downs. A few bad days, or even a few bad weeks isn't usually a good reason to quit. But the realisation that you've been unhappy for months means that it's time to think seriously about your future options. And once you've realised that, the next questions should be:

Am I unhappy because of work, or is there something else outside that?
What would need to change in order to make me happy?
What better options are out there?

7

You say that your "Work environment is supportive". That's not always easy to find. That doesn't necessarily mean you should stay where you are, but since they are supportive, there might be some value in staying a little bit longer. I would ask myself Is there another role that I would like to try at my current company? Or similarly, Can I expand my current role into new areas that are more challenging? If your work is relatively low stress, I would ask myself Can I take advantage of this situation to learn some new skills that will help me find my dream job?

There is a risk when you work for a nice company, however, that you're being underpaid and haven't realised it yet. (I've had that happen to me.) Money isn't everything, but you do want to know what your options are so you can make an informed choice.

Another question I find helpful is What would I do if I won the lotto? And then I try to identify the next step to get me closer to being able to do exactly that. Similarly, What would a perfect day for me look like?

How to find out if my lack of motivation is due to work or is just a rainy passage in the journey called life?

Are you still able to find joy in other areas of life? If so, then the job may indeed be the real issue. But if you're unable to enjoy things that used to be fun, then you might be in a slump, exhausted, or even depressed.

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I know this is an opinion based question - but I wanted to answer it.

My first job out of college as a Software Engineer I hated. It was a bad fit. I was scared to quit my first job after just a few months - but I found myself saying "I don't care what's on the other side of the door, I'll take my chances".

I left the job after a few months - and ended up finding something much better.

So are you trying to change your job or your career?

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    For me, it was "would I be secretly happy if I got fired?". If I felt relief at no longer needing to work that job, I should probably be looking elsewhere Jun 1, 2022 at 23:17
  • @Ronnie W Thank you for sharing your experience. I am looking for as objective way as possible to question myself. With that the question itself losses "an opinion based" flavour. And second, I am trying to figure out if my dissatisfaction stems from work or personal life or from the me inside.
    – Mike
    Jun 2, 2022 at 6:56
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What is my next job going to be?

Simply put, it is significantly easier to find a new job while you're employed than when you're unemployed following a resignation. As such, you should never quit unless you have another job already lined up and ready to go.

If you decide you want to quit, then don't actually quit right away. Instead, you should spend some time after work looking for a new job, and then only quit after you've gotten another job offer.

This goes double because you've got a wife and kids. You need the income to support them, and a plurality of divorces occur due to financial disputes between the spouses.

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  • Outside of the security it provides, projecting oneself into a real job will get OP a lot of informations about his mental state. If he find another mission that excites him, he will know that his job is part of the problem. If he finds nothing, then the problem is elsewhere. There's nothing wrong in having interviews with other companies and deciding not to quit in the end (as long as he doesn't tell his company).
    – Echox
    Jun 8, 2022 at 16:02
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An exercise I try to do before taking any important decision is visualisation.

Imagine that you've taken the decision one way, and it's some time later. What might things be like? How do you think you might feel about it? Then imagine you've decided the other way; again, how would you expect to feel after a few weeks or months? Would you expect to be better off, or worse? — Of course, you can never be sure; but this can help to clarify what you do think or suspect.

In this case: try to imagine you've been given an offer for another job. If you turned it down, do you think you'd be disappointed? Or a bit relieved?

(Obviously, it'll be easier to imagine this if you have a reasonable idea of what jobs are out there, and what offers you might get.)

Philosopher Piet Hein put it rather more poetically:

ㅤㅤㅤㅤWhenever you’re called on to make up your mind,
ㅤㅤㅤㅤand you’re hampered by not having any,
ㅤㅤㅤㅤthe best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,
ㅤㅤㅤㅤis simply by spinning a penny.

ㅤㅤㅤㅤNo — not so that chance shall decide the affair
ㅤㅤㅤㅤwhile you’re passively standing there moping;
ㅤㅤㅤㅤbut the moment the penny is up in the air,
ㅤㅤㅤㅤyou suddenly know what you’re hoping.

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If you’re asking the question: leave

There is plenty of social science research out there that people stick at things they should give up for way to long: jobs, relationships, sports teams, oh, sports teams.

If you’re questioning if this job is right for you, it isn’t.

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