How to recognize when it’s time to change jobs

If it’s been a while since you’ve felt motivated to do your best work, it might be time to move on, says ‘Find the Fire’ author Scott Mautz.

How to recognize when it’s time to change jobs

With the rise of automation, we’ve pretty much come to accept that robots are taking over the workforce. But do you ever feel like you are the robot, just going through the motions, without any real enthusiasm for your job?

That’s exactly how most managers and workers feel, with 70% finding it hard or impossible to stay inspired at work, according to global research cited in a new book, Find the Fire: Ignite Your Inspiration and Make Work Exciting Again.

While inspiration “can be elusive,” says author Scott Mautz, an Inc. columnist and former senior executive at Procter & Gamble, “you don’t have to wait around for it to happen. You can create the conditions where it’s most likely to occur.”  And sometimes that may be at a new job.

The key to creating a passion for work, Mautz says, lies in understanding how you lost your spark in the first place. His book identifies nine distinct inspiration killers—including common career gremlins like fear of change, boredom, and “inundation” (chronic overwork)—and explains how you can better hold on to your passion in the future.

Monster recently spoke with Mautz about how you can find inspiration and stay motivated after you’ve found a new job.

Q.  Sometimes, it’s possible to reignite your passion in your current job, but other times you need to leave. How can you tell the difference?

A. First of all, you can’t wait around for your boss, or anyone else, to inspire you. It won’t happen. Instead, ask yourself, “How did I lose the enthusiasm I started with? How did I get uninspired?” My book points to nine specific ways people’s spark gets squelched. You need to look at one at a time, identify which one is the problem, and then ask, “Can this be fixed here, or do I need to leave?”

Q. Could you give us an example?

A. Sure. Let’s take boredom, where your job has just become so routine and predictable that it’s not inspiring you anymore. This is extremely common, partly because, despite a lot of talk about innovation and risk-taking, so many companies are so rigid and risk-averse that people really get stuck in their roles. Talk with a mentor or a manager and, if there’s no way to get unstuck—which is often the case—start job hunting.

Sometimes, you may have to change careers. A coaching client of mine was drained by boredom. He was an actuary, and he believed that if he stayed in that field, he’d always have the same problem. So he switched to an entirely different area, and he’s much happier.

Q. During your job search, how can you figure out if your next job will be more exciting than your current one?

A. I recommend a very simple, but powerful technique, and, again, it starts with analyzing exactly why you’ve lost your passion. Then, come up with interview questions that specifically target that. 

For instance, let’s look at a common inspiration killer: inundation, by which I mean chronic overwork. You have way too much work heaped on you without enough time or resources to get it all done properly.

Inundation is a sign of a lack of priorities, so zero in on that. Ask an interviewer to describe the top two or three priorities in the job you’re applying for, and ask prospective co-workers how much leeway they have in setting or changing their own priorities. The idea is to avoid jumping into another role that will be a repeat of your last one.

Q. How can you get off to a strong start in a new job?

A. Remember that “unstuck” starts with “u.” You have to be aware of what is most likely to kill your passion, and then consciously make efforts to avoid letting that creep back in. 

Consider, for example, fear of failure. Half of all adults admit that fear of failure holds them back from staying inspired to achieve their goals.  You can take away the power of fear by constantly reminding yourself that there are only three ways to fail: When you quit, don’t improve, or never try.


Anne Fisher has been writing about career and workplace trends and topics since 1996. She is the author of If My Career’s on the Fast Track, Where Do I Get a Road Map?