No one wants to look like a quitter. No matter how unhappy you are in your job, it’s difficult to actually pull the plug, decide that it’s time to start hunting for another gig, and gracefully say your goodbyes to your current boss and colleagues. We’re taught to persevere and to stick with things, which can make it super difficult to have a clear picture of whether or not we should actually leave a job.
Moving on to a new opportunity, however, does not make you a quitter, and there are very legitimate reasons to leave your current position. Read on to learn more about a handful of them.
1. You never feel clear on what success looks like on the job. International career coach Markie Keelan calls this one of the biggest workplace red flags. “If your superior has not laid out clear guidelines of how your work will be reviewed or boundaries for what is and is not your responsibility, you are then at risk of being evaluated completely subjectively, putting you at a huge disadvantage to take control of your work life,” she says. Seek out opportunities that will more easily set you up to understand expectations and be successful.
2. It feels like there’s nothing left to learn and discover. Whether you realize it or not, the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning — even when you’re feeling the most exhausted and the least motivated — is probably the potential to learn and do more as a professional. Once that’s gone, you need to take a good, long look at what you’re doing. CertaHosting director Jeremy Rose tells us that losing the ability to grow on the job is an early sign of boredom and dissatisfaction, which may kick off a downhill spiral that will make things even worse for you at the office. Get ahead of the problem if you can.
3. You don’t look up to anyone at your company. “Even if you are in a C-suite position or at leading a company, you still need to be around people that you can learn from, who challenge your ideas and push you to grow,” CEO and co-founder of Mentorly Ashley Werhun says. There should always be something that you’re working toward, someone in your current organization who you kind of want to be when you grow up. It’s what motivates you to grow in your role and do your best work. Once you’ve lost sight of that professional hero, it may be time to move on and find a new one.
4. You’re constantly trying to avoid certain people at the office. You’re planning longer routes from your cubicle to the bathroom so you don’t have to interact with your boss outside of formal meetings. One of your coworkers makes you so uncomfortable that you wait to go out for lunch until mid-afternoon, even though your stomach has been growling since breakfast. Red flag! If this sounds like you, psychotherapist Jenny Maenpaa recommends that you spend some thinking about how long you really want to stay in this environment.
5. The commute is taking a serious toll. Most commutes aren’t especially fun, but if yours is exhausting you mentally or financially and there’s never a day that you show up to work feeling good, you’ve got a problem. It may be worth investigating job options that won’t require such demanding travel, per career strategist Lola Salvador Akinwunmi. Remember: This is a fixable issue.
6. Your physical health is suffering. “It’s well-known that stress decreases your immune response, leaving you vulnerable to illness,” career coach Sara Young Wang tells us. “Work stress — be it from having an overly demanding job or simply not enjoying the work you do — can take a huge toll on your physical health.” And while you may not be able to avoid the occasional stomachache or cold when you’re stressed about an upcoming presentation or meeting, this shouldn’t be your constant state. Unrelenting stress about your job may lead to adrenal fatigue, Wang says, which should be an obvious sign that you need to get out of your current situation.
7. You have bad dreams about work on a weekly basis. This is a literal nightmare scenario, and conscious organizational psychologist Natalie Underdown tells us that it’s a sign of a serious unresolved issue in your professional environment. Quitting isn’t necessarily the first or best solution, but it may be something to consider if the bad dreams don’t go away.
8. You don’t feel like your current position puts your strengths to use. “It is in your best interest to walk away from a career that ignores your best skills and abilities,” career maximization strategist Tonya N. Sloans says. “You should not spend your life doing everything other than what you do extremely well.” If there aren’t opportunities within your current company that will let you put your strengths on display, start putting feelers out elsewhere.
9. Your work-life balance is non-existent. There’s a lot of debate out there about whether or not work-life balance can ever actually be a thing for any of us, but the bottom line is that if your employer puts such unreasonable demands on you and your time that you can’t even begin to cultivate a personal life, you’re probably dealing with a toxic workplace. “If you recognize this toxic work culture, then it’s time to find a company who values its employees, shares the workload by investing in their staff, and favors productivity and efficiency over the number of hours you sit at your desk,” career and business blogger Gemma Roberts says.
10. You’re feeling undervalued. Sadly, we don’t live in a world where everyone gets the promotion they deserve all the time, but if you’re consistently getting passed over for new opportunities that you’ve proven yourself capable of, we understand if you’re feeling like you have one foot out the door. Certified professional coach Megan Murphy validates it too. If you feel like management doesn’t value your efforts for a long period of time, it’s okay to start looking at other options.
11. Every day feels exactly the same. “While routine is normal and quite healthy, if nothing ever changes at work, you’ll become bored and possibly disengaged with your work,” Samantha Spica of Fairygodboss says. When this boredom starts kicking in, it’s time to start asking for new challenges or assignments… and if that doesn’t happen, to get into the early stages of a job search.
12. Your side hustle or passion project is sustainable as a business of its own. This is cause for celebration… and to reconsider your nine-to-five position. Professional encourager Karen Southall Watts reminds you that a lucrative side hustle that makes you feel more fulfilled and happy than your so-called day job is a perfectly legit reason to put in your notice.
13. You’re sick of being involved in emotional office drama. “It sometimes feels good to have a pulse on all the office gossip or to be trusted by coworkers with personal and emotional issues, but becoming the unofficial office therapist gives you a whole extra job to do and takes a toll on your mental and emotional energy,” Supportiv co-founder Helena Plater-Zyberk notes. It’s okay to feel like you want to remove yourself from this situation. You can maintain those relationships — and perhaps become an even better sounding board — once you’ve found yourself a new position.
14. There’s a high turnover rate at your company. Does it suddenly feel like everyone and their mother is quitting? Yes, yes, we know that you shouldn’t do something just because other people seem to be doing it, but company turnover rates are a real thing, and a high one “may be an indicator that the company has a toxic work environment or poor leadership or that employees are simply unhappy in their roles,” MyCorporation.com director of operations Dana Case says.
RELATED: The 7 Worst Reasons to Quit Your Job
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