While the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI may have sent shockwaves throughout the Catholic Church and around the world yesterday, it also served as an important wake-up call to workers about the fleeting nature of their own careers.
Though it was a tough decision, career experts say Pope Benedict XVI was correct in making the decision to step down at the end of the month, particularly since he said he is no longer able to complete the functions of his job. Those experts also say the pope's resignation can also serve as a lesson to workers about knowing the right time to resign or retire from their current position, if it is necessary.
"The easiest answer is that we should consider retiring when we cannot perform the job duties to an acceptable' capacity, said Angelo Kinicki, a professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. "You don't have to be perfect, but one has to adequately perform the job duties. Second, it's time to retire when you find yourself being negative or cynical about your work role and the organization. Finally, look for signs of disengagement. When you no longer feel the joy that you used to find in doing your work, it may be time to call it quits."
However, there is no one universal answer or solution for people on when they should resign or retire.
"In the past, it was common for people to work at the same organization for 40 years," said marketing and business expert Whitney Keyes. "As a result, they couldn't wait to retire and start enjoying a different kind of life and slower pace. But today, people have many more choices along their career paths which can make the daily grind far more interesting and enjoyable. People must decide when to retire and while some people choose to retire early, others find a new vocation that allows them to use their strengths and tap into their passions (later in life)."
Nicole Williams, LinkedIn's career expert, says that workers must take many of those factors into consideration before making a decision about their future.
"You need to think long and hard prior to resigning," Williams said. "Some signs you should resign could include if you are feeling completely unmotivated, you are not learning anymore or if you are not contributing to the company anymore. Overall, you need to know that the job is not a good fit anymore and you need to know that you aren’t making a difference to the company anymore. Generally speaking, you can solve all those problems, but you don’t want to, and that is the problem. When this happens, workers need to take the initiative and find an alternative opportunity."
In addition to those factors, Williams said workers must be honest with themselves in regards to their age and health as it impacts their ability to complete their job. Williams also stresses the importance of being in control of your resignation, saying that it is a crucial part of the decision-making process.
"Resigning is one of the most critical parts of your career because it is what people remember," Williams said. "We will remember yesterday forever and while it is on a bigger stage with the pope, I think it translates to the world of work when you resign. You want to make sure you are doing it well."
Above all else, Williams said making the tough decision of whether or not to resign requires a great deal of honesty.
"People who just wait it out too long make the biggest mistake, in my opinion," Williams said.