Boy, have I been in this place.
I kept asking myself, “Should I do it? What are the signs that it’s time to quit my job?”
For me, I saw 7 signs glowing neon bright, jumping up and down, yelling for my attention. But I wasn’t quite sure those signs meant I needed to take action!
If, like most Gen Xers, you were raised to be a “good girl” who doesn’t make waves and isn’t selfish, you might be pushing the signs away like I did.
You might even think that listening to that insistent inner voice that’s telling you “uh, hey… maybe you need to do something you actually enjoy” is the definition of ungrateful.
And I get it. But consider this.
Living a healthy, happy, productive life is the best way to give back and be grateful.
That means not giving up and, instead, focusing your energy on living your best life really is the right thing to do.
So let me tell you how you know when it’s time to quit your job…
And why it’s important to understand when enough is enough and walk away or, at the very least, start exploring other options.
7 signs that it’s time to quit your job
The first sign on the list… because it’s the one that grabs your attention, but it’s also the one that feels most self-indulgent, is you HATE your job.
And you aren’t alone. Omidyar Network partnered with Gallup, Lumina Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on a study to comprehensively measure job quality.
A key finding uncovered by their research: only forty percent of employed Americans are in good jobs, meaning they express high satisfaction across 10 important job characteristics.
That means that 60 percent of employed Americans aren’t in good jobs, aren’t satisfied, aren’t happy in an activity that absorbs almost half of their waking hours during their adult lives. Ick.
What does that look like for you? You don’t want to get up in the morning. You hit snooze as many times as possible to delay the reality that you have to go to work… even if your commute consists of just walking across the house to your home office.
Maybe you thought working remotely would help. It did for a little while. But the underlying problems didn’t go away. The job’s still boring. It’s not fulfilling. Your skills and abilities crying out to be used!
You keep talking yourself around hating it. And you think you should feel lucky to have a job at all. But you feel trapped and stuck. Push these feelings away long enough, and you end up experiencing the next sign.
The second sign that it’s time to quit your job is that your job is making you stressed out and sick.
There’s zero question that stress can and will make you sick. Study after study shows the negative effects of stress on your body. Headaches, stomachs, low energy, aches and pains, and grinding teeth are all signals that you are under too much stress.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s impossible to eliminate all stress from your life. But our bodies are not set up to stay stuck in stress response mode. According to the Mayo Clinic, “long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follows can disrupt almost all your body’s processes.”
What does this look like for you? You can’t enjoy your evenings or weekends any more because you dread going back to work. Sundays used to be wonderful, but now you wake up feeling slightly (or not-so-slightly) cranky and ill, and you’re off-kilter all day long.
Is this the lesson you want to pass on to your children? That life sucks, and then you die?
Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but It feels like the fun’s gone. You convince yourself that it’s just part of being a grown-up. Dad always said, “that’s why they call it work.” But it doesn’t have to be that way.
And the stress and your unhappiness don’t just affect you. Everyone in your orbit, whether it’s your partner, your children, your parents, your friends, or your pets, is going to keep feeling the pain unless you do something about it.
The third telltale sign that it’s time to quit your job is there’s no room to move up at your company.
Sometimes this happens because you’ve simply maxed out the growth curve. Without being an owner or partner, without some additional education, license, or certification, there is no next level for you.
Or maybe you have zero interest in the position you might be promoted to fill. For example, when I was managing the Client Services division at a tech startup in the early 90s, the next step for me was a VP position in development. I was decisively NOT interested because, from my perspective, the VPs had a lot of responsibility and almost no real authority. So they caught a lot of blame but were powerless when it came to preventing problems in the first place. No thank you.
If you aren’t moving up – or at least moving laterally to a position that interests you – then what about the money?
Here’s the problem. If you aren’t climbing the ladder any higher, and you’ve been in your job for awhile, you probably are close to the high end of the pay scale for that position. Which means salary increases get tinier and tinier.
Last, there may be no room for you to move up simply because your employer isn’t growing… or is outright struggling to stay afloat. If that’s the case, my hope is you already are well on your way to developing an exit strategy.
The fourth warning sign that it’s time to quit your job is that the company culture is not in sync with what you believe in and hold dear.
We are all capable of turning a blind eye or holding our noses to collect a paycheck when our employer does something we don’t like or don’t agree with.
But when the corporate culture and the ingrained beliefs and behavior that inform decision-making and communication at the company feel plain wrong, you lose a piece of yourself every time you walk in that door. And you find yourself asking what you really stand for. How can you maintain your sense of integrity?
It adds to your stress level to fight the constant internal battle caused by the disconnect between your beliefs and the culture that surrounds you. And we’ve already talked about what that stress does to you.
The first four signs feel pretty negative. Let’s switch the narrative a bit.
The fifth sign that it’s time to quit your job is when you have skills that will easily transfer to other opportunities.
I talk about this all the time. As a Gen Xer, you don’t get where you are without amassing a huge pile of skills and knowledge.
It’s just a matter of deciding how to use those skills in a different way, for a different industry, or maybe to launch a business.
Not sure how to connect those dots? I can help.
Check out my course Your License to Shine™ and learn how to leverage your current skills and knowledge into new opportunities you’ll love, and get a step-by-step action plan to make it happen RIGHT NOW!
The sixth sign that says it’s time to quit your job? You want to make a difference – and it’s not happening where you are.
I see the same spark in all of my clients. And a lot of that comes simply from the perspective we gain after the age of 40. Maybe your kids are growing up and don’t need you as much.
You start to consider your journey, what your life means, what potential in you is unrealized, what impact you might still have on the people you care about, your community, the world… if you’ll give yourself permission to do something about it.
What if the 40 plus hours a week you spend at your job (and add in commuting time if you travel to and from) was focused on making a difference – however you define that? That’s pretty powerful stuff. And there’s lots of ways to give back and still make a living. I promise.
Finally, we come to sign number seven that tells you it’s time to quit your job.
It’s pretty simple. You want more. Whether that’s more money, more freedom to travel or do work that matters or volunteer or run for office, or more flexibility to spend time with family or care for aging parents, that’s all ok.
As I said above, and I can’t emphasize this enough, living a healthy, happy, productive life is the best way to give back and be grateful. You might feel uncomfortable with the idea of wanting more, and that’s not your fault.
Maybe you were told it was selfish or unladylike or greedy or ungrateful. But none of that is true.
We show up for the people we care about at the highest level physically, emotionally, and energetically when we show up for ourselves, too.
Want to explore options and uncover your hidden talents? Check out this post to learn how.