It’s perfectly normal to have problems at work, dislike certain details about what you have to do, get frustrated, and so on. But the good should always far outweigh the negatives, and it matters that you feel a sense of fulfillment from what you do for a living.
Sometimes—especially in younger years—you may feel fulfilled just by making enough money and working with people you enjoy being around. But most people need more sooner or later. They want to apply themselves in ways that feel meaningful and that stimulate them. Finding that satisfaction in what you do is a key difference between a career and a job.
If you settle for a job simply because you need one, it may suffice for a while, but over time you’re likely to get complacent. You might tell yourself, “It’s just a job” or “I’ll do something else eventually.” That complacency can gradually eat at you, though, because you know you’re not doing what you want to do.
That’s a common scenario, but certainly not the only reason people grow to resent their job. There are countless reasons (and sometimes there are external factors pointing toward the exit), but there’s no point laying them out here. More importantly, you must be able to distinguish between a rough patch and when it’s time to move on.
This starts with a thoughtful evaluation of whether there’s a way to successfully resolve your concerns and problems; if you can improve things with a conversation with your boss, feel better about your situation, and avoid having to find new work, that’s probably preferable.
But sometimes, things can’t be satisfactorily resolved. Sometimes, it’s time to go, period. And that’s why you need to know how to know it’s time to leave your job. There are some common signs, and even one is often enough to make the resolution to head elsewhere. If more than one ring true for you, consider it a green light to start your new job search.
Signs that It’s Time to Quit
- You’re not using enough of your skills, being challenged, or working at as high a level as you’re qualified for, and there’s no opportunity to step up
- You aren’t doing any work that stimulates you or relates to your interests pertaining to the job, and there’s no opportunity to start doing so
- You’ve hit the ceiling as far as promotions and/or pay go, and you’re not satisfied where you are
- You aren’t engaged or offered any type of professional development
- You constantly feel undervalued or unappreciated
- You don’t see any point to what you’re doing, or the goals and results seem meaningless or even negative
- You don’t share the company’s values or appreciate its culture
- You dread going to work
- You’re unhappy through all or most of your workday
- You spend time at work (and maybe outside of work, too) fantasizing about quitting
- You spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about your job to family or friends (more than the typical venting that everyone does from time to time)
- You regularly bring negativity home with you from the workplace
- You’re procrastinating more often or for longer
- You’re becoming less and less concerned about your productivity and/or the quality of your work—or you simply just don’t care anymore
- You frequently feel irritable while on the job, or perhaps you feel physically or mentally unwell at work
- Your work environment is decidedly negative (this can be related to co-workers, management practices, constant fear about job security, company culture, etc.)
- You see that the financial security of your employer looks grim, or there are mass layoffs or an exodus of employees
- You find yourself looking at other job listings and descriptions and see some that excite you
- You’re reading articles about how to know it’s time to leave your job