So you’ve been at your job for a sufficient period of time now and you’re becoming increasingly dissatisfied. But how do you tell when it’s not just a slump and when it is really time to call it quits?
Everyone has different thresholds to meet before they decide that they’ve had enough, but the following are mine.
1. When you are under undue stress
Stress is inherent in every job at some point of time or another, but if you are under a disproportionate amount of stress and are struggling to cope with it, the stress could reach unhealthy levels. In extreme cases, stress manifests itself in physical ailments. Don’t let yourself get to that point.
2. When you are already mentally out the door
Dreading going to work is the first clear-cut sign that your current job is a rut you need to climb out of as soon as possible. There is a stark difference between being physically tired from a job that pushes you to work hard, and having had enough of it.
If the thought of going to work makes you want to pull your hair out in agony, then maybe it is time to consider exploring options in a new environment. After all, if you’re feeling like this, you may be physically there, but mentally, you’ve already got one foot out the door.
3. When there is no room for growth
A job is a job – it pays the bills so you don’t have to worry about having the electricity cut off at home, but it should also be an avenue for learning and growth.
From the moment you enter a new job, your learning curve should be upwards, whether it be in terms of technical skills, industry know-how, and people management skills. It is only natural for you to aim to move upwards into positions that expose you to new challenges and greater responsibilities.
However, that doesn’t always happen, even when we excel at work.
Some of us wait for promotions that never come, and for benefits that are promised but never realised, even after years of hard work. Carefully evaluate the reasons for this: is the company you are currently in not doing well and going through an unstable phase? Is there an underlying reason why recognition is not given to you for your work contributions? Or is there simply a lack of opportunities available due to its size or structure?
If the latter is the cause behind this lack of advancement, then only a change in environment can solve this.
4. When your work environment is toxic
With every social setting comes its own set of problems. Mild ones come in the form of not clicking well with colleagues due to background or personality differences. Of course, this isn’t a reason to quit, unless you are being bullied.
More serious issues arise when there is disagreement in ethics – in the unfair treatment of co-workers, in projects when corners are cut or vendors are short-changed, to name a few examples.
If you have seen enough to decide that such an environment is not one you want to be part of, it is a good reason to start packing your bags.
5. Bad management
There is no need to sugar-coat this: bad management is everywhere. It comes in the form of supervisors who lack people skills, and in the form of bosses who expect 150% effort from their employees but who are also too stingy to give performance bonuses even to their long-time staff. Verbally abusive supervisors are also, unfortunately, very common.
Poor, as well as antiquated, management practices are prolific no matter which industry you may be in.
Disputes with management are often the main reasons why people leave a job; bad management can really be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, since our work lives are essentially at the mercy of the people who hold the power (and the purse strings!). Who wants to live life like that?
6. If you have dreams of doing something else
Many of us are stuck in jobs for which we have no passion. When a turning point or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes, it could be the best chance to leave.
It could be anything – apparently someone quit his job to climb Mount Everest! You may have had a lifelong passion that you’ve always wanted to pursue, but never had the chance to do so – why not now? (I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Maybe I should take up my own advice!) Maybe you want to go back to school full-time to do another degree.
Or maybe you’ve just decided that the life you’ve been living is no longer what you want: you want to see the world and meet new people, and your desk job is not the way to do it. You want flexible hours, the freedom to work remotely, and the freedom to dictate your own schedule.
Sometimes there is really no better time than now to do the things we wish to do, before we get older, or weighed down by more commitments. As the saying goes, we each only have one life, and we should make the most of it – certainly not by slogging away at 40-hour work weeks!
Of course, there are many other factors to consider before making such a decision, especially for those who have dependents and other financial commitments. Quitting your job is a big decision to make, and not one that should be made lightly. It would be wise to weigh the pros and cons, and explore all options possible at your current company.
Once these have been exhausted and you still have no reason good enough to make you want to stay, your next step should be obvious.
It may be nerve-wracking to think of jumping into a totally new environment in a new job, but you mustn’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from discovering new shores! There is always a 50 (or more) percent chance of your new job being a great one, but if you don’t get your foot out from the door you’re currently behind, you’ll never find it.
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