No matter how positive and optimistic you’re about your life and career, there’ll be times when you wonder, “should I quit my job?”.
Your gut instinct might tell you that it’s time to quit but you wouldn’t know how to objectively evaluate your situation.
Business schools and universities focus on teaching students how to get a job, when to apply, how to prepare, and how to ace the interview. But they hardly teach them when it’s the right time to quit a job. What are the red flags you should watch out for? What’s considered normal and what should be the clearest sign that it’s time to quit?
If you’re currently in a job that is in demand, you might wonder, “why should I quit my job?” After all, every office has its problems. What’s to say that the next one will be any different?
Quitting a job is not an easy decision. You need another job lined up or at the least, interviews or an idea about which direction you’re headed.
What you need is a set of criteria to assess the situation. It should cover all aspects of your job and yet be universal enough that anyone in any stage of their career can apply it. Here are eight signs that it’s time to finally quit:
8 signs that say it’s time to quit
1. You’re constantly stressed
This is the clearest sign that things are not well with your current job. It’s one thing to be under pressure once in a while. That could be due to a short deadline or an irate customer or client.
But it’s totally different if you’re always stressed. How do you respond when a colleague or a friend asks you in the middle of the day how you are feeling? Once you leave your office, do you have the energy to go out with your friends?
This stress will start off as psychological and soon have physical manifestations. You might have constant headaches, stomach aches, or an overall sense of lethargy. You might also be unable to get a good night’s sleep when you’re stressed.
There’s an easy way to analyse this. Think about those times when you’re not stressed in your job. If it takes you more than a few seconds to answer, it’s a sign that it’s time to consider quitting your job.
Another way is to note down your energy levels on a scale of one to ten during the day. If it’s below five for most part your job is putting you under undue stress. It’s simply not worth it.
2. You hate Mondays
Another way of saying you can’t stand your workplace is that Sunday evenings are miserable for you considering what’s coming up next.
But that’s alright. What matters is how you approach the idea of going to work. If it fills you with dread, then it’s time to take remedial action.
Not everyone is excited about going to work or meeting a client or joining another Zoom meeting or reading another performance review. But for a lot of people, it won’t lead to a situation where they constantly think, “should I quit?”
That’s because a positive aspect about their jobs will compensate for any negative outcomes. Maybe their client is truly difficult but their boss is considerate. Perhaps they constantly work late but their paycheque makes up for that.
3. You’re undervalued
Professional growth, job satisfaction, work culture, training, and personal development are always secondary. What matters the most in any job is the monetary compensation. Anyone who might argue otherwise is adequately compensated.
Your paycheque is your primary motivation for getting to the office. That’s your worth, according to your company. It’s how much they value and respect you. If you’re underpaid, it means that your current company doesn’t respect you enough.
You can easily find out the average compensation for someone with your qualifications and experience in your industry. You can ask headhunters or search job postings to get the median salary. If yours is below, then there is trouble on three fronts.
First of all, you’re already behind your peers. Even if you do excellent work on several projects, any increase in your salary will only take you to the average. And that’s not where you want to be.
Secondly, the longer you work for lower pay, the harder it’ll be for you to correct it. Prospective employers may feel that you’re not talented enough. Even if they offer you a raise, it’ll still not be enough to make up for the lost time.
Thirdly, you may find it difficult to move up even within the system as your paycheque is also an indicator of the potential the company sees in you. It’ll also be embarrassing when your subordinates or peers know about how much the company pays you.
Before deciding to put in your papers, it’s always good to ask for a raise, that too, in writing. If the company doesn’t seem interested in it, it’s time to get out the door as early as possible.
4. You can’t stand your boss (and vice versa)
How content, happy, or relaxed you are in your office depends on the kind of boss you have. And let’s not forget that you spend more than a third of your day at work. So, your boss has an unfair influence on your quality of life and your growth trajectory.
If you get a boss who’s fair and invested in you, that’s an excellent sign that your job will have more good days than bad days. Even if they’re stern or demanding, if you sense that they are interested in your growth and overall wellbeing, you’ve got it better than most.
But at times, you get a boss who doesn’t care for you. They flood you with work and are always looking for opportunities to blame you. Sometimes they may revel in criticising you in front of others. Importantly, they don’t appreciate the good work that you do.
Remember that your boss’s evaluation plays an important role in your promotions or increments. If they dislike you, it’s not just your present but also your future well-being that’s in question.
Since you can’t change your boss’s behaviour, especially if it’s someone with experience and authority in the system, the right thing to do is look for a new boss. In other words, it’s time to quit.
5. You don’t like who you are at work
This is one of those things that won’t happen overnight. It’s the cumulative effects of long hours, a bad boss, and under-appreciation at work. It’ll slowly compound without you realising it. But in all likelihood, others may realise it before you.
If you’re always under pressure at work, you may become irritable over time. While you might think that this happens to everyone, the truth is that it doesn’t. Not everyone becomes hot-tempered because of what happens at work.
You may realise that you are becoming impatient too often. You may unnecessarily raise your voice at your juniors or your peers. The smallest inconveniences may make you angry.
Your job can deeply change your personality. If it leaves you stressed and fatigued, it’ll leave you exhausted in other spheres of your life. Soon, your family and friends will notice that you’re changing.
That’s when you begin to hear sentences that begin with “you used to be…”
Those close to you’ll start saying, “You used to be funny,” or “You used to be so lively.” If you start hearing it often, it’s time to seek a new workplace.
6. You’ve hit a dead end
If you don’t see a path to advance your career, your current job may be hurting your interests. If it doesn’t give you ample opportunities to either showcase your talent or grow as a professional, it’s time to start searching for new jobs in Australia.
There are three facets to this issue. The first is that your job doesn’t offer you chances to apply your knowledge. Usually, if the pay is good, people may forget this, at least in the beginning.
Secondly, if the company has decided to cancel the project that you were working on, and is not giving you any more important responsibilities, it’s bad news for your career. Finally, if there are no upskilling or reskilling opportunities within the system, your skills will become obsolete in the long term.
The solution to these is to either be involved in the right projects or invest in training. If your current job doesn’t encourage these, it’s time to find a new job. Remember, lack of progress is stagnation.
Think about it this way: You’ll have to define your achievements in your present job. You may have to answer your current HR or a recruiter from another company. Make sure that your actions help you formulate an answer.
7. You don’t want to end up like your senior management
Do you want to be like the senior management in your office? Do the seniors in the system inspire you? Can you imagine being in their position with their responsibilities years from now? Do you believe what they’re doing matters?
If the answer’s no to a majority of these questions, your current job isn’t ideal for you. The leadership in your current workplace is what you can realistically be in a few years. If they don’t seem like the kind of individuals you want to become, it’s time to find a new job.
This may not be just limited to their professional lives. If your seniors don’t get to spend time with their families and are always talking about their regrets, those are signs for you to move on.
If after all the effort you put in over the years you can’t see yourself happy and fulfilled, the job is not for you.
8. You’re interested in something else
Sometimes, it may be time to quit not because you’re in the wrong place but you’re feeling right about something else.
It could be a side project that you’ve been working on for some time or it could be a business proposition that doesn’t come very often. Or, it could be something you’ve always wanted to do. Something you’re thinking more and more about.
If so, it’s time to proudly say that “It’s time to quit my job.” Not because the present is limiting but the future looks limitless. If you’re driven by something else, your current job shouldn’t stand in the way of your dreams.
After all, you don’t want to end up 20 years from now wondering what might have been.
So what now?
Quitting your job is only part of the broader solution. You should also invest in training and education as a pathway to getting a better job. Upskilling and re-skilling are necessary to not just find the ideal job but also land it with the right title, remuneration, and perks.