I resigned from work a few weeks ago, which inspired me to write this article. It was a daunting decision. However, I felt indifferent when I turned in my resignation paperwork and equipment.
Many decisions lie ahead, none of them easy.
—Commander Shepard, Mass Effect (2007)
When It's Time to Quit Your Job
Careers make up a large portion of our lives, and our jobs will often be a source of some stress or anxiety. Temporary projects, working shorthanded, or facing new unrealistic goals and expectations can make for times when your job could be more enjoyable or rewarding. While this is part of life, how do you know when the stresses are more than temporary? Often, it is not.
Sometimes, it's best to cut ties sooner rather than later. This article explores the signs that your job-related fatigue and stress are more than temporary setbacks. When a job negatively impacts other areas of your life, it can be best to start looking elsewhere. Below are a few examples that may call for handing in that two-week notice.
1. Your Job Is All You Think About
Having some work-related anxiety or stress on a Sunday night before a big workweek or during high-pressure times of the year is one thing. It's another thing entirely if you begin dreading work the second you leave. If your Monday-Friday job fills you with anxiety the second you wake up on Saturday morning, it becomes unhealthy. Weekends and time away are essential for mental health. If your dislike for your work is bleeding into your time, it may be best to look elsewhere.
Similarly, suppose you become preoccupied with dreading the next day, every night after work. In that case, your career is damaging your mental health. In short, if the negative emotions created by your work are perpetual rather than temporary, it's time to leave.
2. The Workplace Is Toxic
To be clear, having a petty dispute with a coworker or two is not toxic. A toxic environment is one of pervasive, unavoidable misery. It may consist of open hostility from or between upper management or constant human resources issues and litigation. A culture of insubordination and apathy may exist unilaterally across all lower-level employees. Many quit without notice or openly discuss doing so. There may be substance abuse issues during the workday.
The odds of rising above an environment like this and succeeding are slim. The odds are far more significant that you will get dragged down by, or into, such an environment yourself. Save the time and heartache and begin searching for alternative employment.
Check out my five universal tips for dealing with lazy coworkers and the common myths about chronic pain. Chronic pain is why I sold my motorcycles.
3. You've Stagnated
It would help to achieve a middle or upper-level position where you're comfortable maintaining mobility. Sure, there will be times when you must learn your current role and prove your worth before moving up. That's perfectly acceptable. Another matter is staying in a position where you need to be more personal or financially satisfied.
Suppose you've been doing solid work in the same position for many years without a significant raise or promotion. In that case, it may be worth asking why. Is your company's structure one in which you're unlikely to move up due to people clinging to higher positions, or are you outright taken for granted? Either way, address whether you could reasonably do better elsewhere. With most people working for 40 or so years in their professional lives, spending ten years in one position is the equivalent of a quarter of your career. Move on before you're stuck.
4. Your Field Is Becoming Irrelevant
Changing times sometimes cause ripple effects in our economy. While never pleasant to deal with, it always helps to address reality. Suppose your industry or field is losing market share or fading away entirely. In that case, there is no reward for being the last one standing. Telephone operators, newspaper printers, and radio maintenance specialists can offer some advice in this regard.
Look at industries that require similar skills and make the jump sooner rather than later. If your talent is highly specialized, this may be easier. Try any educational courses offered by your current employer or try to transfer departments to get exposure to different areas of expertise. If you're close to retirement age, it may be possible to hang on for a few more years, but if you're middle-aged or younger, don't close your eyes and hope for the best. It can hurt you in the long run.
Although not a medical condition, the APA Dictionary of Psychology defines burnout as "physical, emotional or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes towards oneself and others."
Is quitting going to fix burnout? Maybe. Sometimes, you need to reset mentally and physically. Take an extended vacation from work. Give yourself some time for yourself. Spend time with the family. Go on a family vacation, perhaps. Then, assess your work situation. You have burnout if you return to work and feel physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion. It is best to consider quitting.
Take a break from the monotonousness of your current job. If, after your vacation, you still feel burned out, then consider leaving that job. Before doing that, however, I recommend you have substantial savings and alternative employment.
These are just a few of the most significant signs it's time for a change. The accumulation of many smaller items can also result in an unhealthy situation. While ultimately up to the individual in each case, it can be easy to ignore your surroundings while focusing on your daily responsibilities. Taking a step back and coming to an honest self-assessment about yourself and your career can save time, money, and heartache in the future. If any of the above signs apply to your job, do yourself a favor and start looking elsewhere today.
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