As seen on The List: http://www.thelist.com/78028/signs-need-quit-job/ by Daniela Uslan (Danielle Menditch is a contributor)
Quitting your job is a huge decision, one that affects every area of your life, from your finances to your relationships. How do you go about making this important decision? What are signs that you should quit your job? I went to the experts to find out.
You’ve been wanting to leave for a while
One of the most noticeable signs that you should quit your job is that you’ve been thinking about leaving for more than a few months.
Danielle Menditch, certified career counselor at Inner Compass Coach, told me that most people stay in their jobs for too long out of fear. “A lot of times, fear of the unknown stops people from leaving their jobs,” she told me. “They don’t know what they should do next. They don’t know if they would be better working somewhere else. They’re not sure the grass is going to be greener on the other side.”
She continued, “I typically say if it’s been two or three months that they’ve been thinking about quitting their job, maybe that’s indicative of something else, but when it starts hitting about six or more months, that’s when I say it’s time to really look at it and make a change.”
You can’t get along with your boss
Another indication that you should quit your job is if you’ve done everything you can to get along with your boss, but you just can’t make it work. Menditch told me, “I’ve had a couple of clients who had a terrible boss. They’re either micromanaging, manipulative, or controlling. They have tried to kiss up, have conversations with their boss or human resources, and they feel like they’re banging their head against the wall. At that point, if they’ve tried everything, including seeing if they could switch departments, and it’s just not happening, it’s a sign that the company is not willing to work with them and it’s time to get out.”
A toxic relationship with your boss can have long term negative effects on your self-esteem, so make sure to get out before you start to internalize negative beliefs about yourself. Carlota Zimmerman, J.D., success strategist, told me, “If you are constantly being undermined at work, being made to feel that you’re incompetent, inadequate, a waste of space… over time, you will learn to believe that. Stockholm Syndrome is a very real thing. Once you start believing that you’re incompetent, or simply not that smart, and deserving of your boss’ tirades, what chance could you have to positively improve your life?”
You feel drained by your work
Another sign that it may be time to quit is if your work makes you feel drained, both at work and at the end of the day. Joseph Liu, career consultant, told me that you should look at leaving if “by the end of each day and workweek, you feel physically [and] mentally depleted. This is driven by the fact that your work is not energizing you and not stimulating you. When you’re doing work you truly enjoy, that work actually fills you with energy.”
L. Gordon Brewer Jr., a licensed marital and family therapist, told me that a draining job can have physical effects as well. He said, “If a person is in a job that drains them psychologically and emotionally, it will eventually take its toll physically. Job stress and burnout not only affects the person individually, but affects the systems around that person; friends, family and especially co-workers.”
You’re bored and apathetic
How do you feel at work? Are you interested in your job? If not, it may be a warning sign that it’s time to quit. Liu told me, “Your sense of time can be totally different when you’re bored at work. Time will literally slow down. [Fifteen] minutes can feel like two hours. This is the concept of ‘watching the clock.’ This signals that you’re no longer in flow and not finding your work fulfilling.”
Another factor that contributes to boredom is a lack of meaning in your work. Liu said, “Often, people who are bored describe their work as not being that meaningful, of not having any sort of impact on their lives or the lives of others. When your work lacks meaning, it’s hard to continue feeling motivated in that role each and every day.”
Even if you’re being paid well, the money may not be enough to offset apathy and boredom. Zimmerman told me, “A generous paycheck is a beautiful thing. But over time, what will keep you going, will be pride in your abilities; the knowledge that you contributed and created something important each day. If you’re simply working for a paycheck, you’re cheating yourself.” She added, “Money isn’t what keeps you going; passion does. If you don’t care about your job, you’ll never have passion. You’ll never challenge yourself to enhance your skills, or take the exciting professional risks that true leaders take.”
The work culture doesn’t fit with you
You spend eight or more hours a day at work, and if it’s a toxic environment, or even just a work culture that doesn’t fit you, it can take a serious toll on your well-being. Monte Drenner, a licensed counselor, told me, “Sometimes bosses, co-workers, or even the work environment are toxic in that they are negative, critical, and even demeaning. This environment over time has a tremendous negative impact on one’s physical and mental health.”
Menditch added that many workplaces don’t allow for work/life balance, which can be detrimental to employees. She told me, “This happens a lot in law firms, where the culture and the expectations are that people work for 60 to 80 hours a week and don’t have a life beyond work.”
She continued, “I have a client who was working at a law firm, and her coworker was complaining about some pain in her chest. She went and talked to her supervisor and they asked her to finish up the work for the day, so the woman stayed four to five hours, passed out at the desk, and died of an aneurysm.” Menditch suggested that you look to your leadership to tell if your terrible work culture is unchangeable. She told me, “If you see the leadership not respected, there’s no way the supervisors are going to take it on.”
You’re not growing
You want your job to help you grow as a person, whether that’s through learning new things, being promoted to new positions, or acquiring new skills. If you feel like you’re not growing, it’s a red flag that your job isn’t the right place for you.
Liu said a sign you should quit your job is, “You feel like you’re on a hamster wheel, going around in circles. Not growing, not learning, and not evolving. Work feels stagnant, and you longer feel excited or enthusiastic about what you do. Your future projects in the pipeline don’t excite you either. Stagnation can really stunt your growth as a professional.”
Zimmerman agreed. She added, “In certain prestige-obsessed industries, you’re working at a job with meager responsibilities and title, and very little hope of advancement. I’ve had clients, men and women in their early 20s, who are extremely competent, but due to the saturated nature of the legal field, are essentially working as contract attorneys at their firms. I have advised several of them to quit, because the longer they stay at that firm, in that position, the more damage they are doing to any hope of a fulfilling long-term career.”
You dislike your roles and responsibilities
Let’s face it — sometimes you just don’t enjoy the tasks you have to do at your job. Who wants to work day after day at a job where they don’t like most of their roles and responsibilities? Menditch told me, “A lot of times, people get into their jobs and they are excited about the newness. They are excited about their new position. And then all of a sudden, maybe two or three years into it, they are like, ‘I don’t like what I’m doing.'”
If you can change into a different role at your job, you may be able to stay, but it’s important that you be able to do things you actually enjoy. Menditch said, “I’ve had a client who was doing fundraising, and almost everything she was doing was completely boring to her. We started looking deeper, and she was creative and artistic when she was a kid. When we looked at how she liked spending her time on the side, she liked tinkering with computers. She had more fun doing that when her organization asked her to build a website. So she started taking courses to learn coding and create websites.”
When you know what you like doing, you can either transition to a different position in your company or start looking for a job elsewhere in which you can do what you enjoy.
The company’s core values and yours don’t align
If you have different values from your company, even if you have a good work culture and enjoy the work, it may be a sign that you should quit and work for a company whose values are more similar to yours.
Menditch told me, “I have had clients who work with companies where the culture isn’t that bad, but they just don’t share the same values with their company. I had a client who was working with a big aerospace company that’s known for having a wonderful work culture, but she didn’t share the same core values. It didn’t feel good to her to be working with missile defense. So the culture was a misfit because she wasn’t aligned with the values.”
Before taking a job, be honest with yourself about whether your believe in their mission and values. That way, you won’t be stuck at a job that’s a bad fit later on.
Steps to take once you decide to quit
What do you do once you decide to quit? There are many steps you can take to make a smooth transition into your next job. Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster.com, said, “Start looking! It may feel daunting to look for a new job, but instead of feeling overwhelmed by the entire process, break it down. Set up job alerts, so opportunities land in your inbox. Revise your resume, polish it, then post it, too. Start networking and meeting key connectors in your world for lunch and coffee. Even if you’re not sure you want to leave your job, you should still start looking.”
When it comes to gracefully leaving your current job, Liu suggested, “Be positive, focusing on your future plans. Don’t badmouth anyone or say anything negative about your organization. Make your departure forward instead of backward looking.”
Above all, have the courage to quit when you know your job isn’t right for you. Salemi told me, “Many job seekers tell me their biggest regret of leaving is not exiting sooner. They may sense they won’t get promoted, but want to wait it out. Next thing you know, an entire year has gone by and unfortunately, nothing has changed. Meanwhile, they could have already been a year into their new job!”