First of all, you have to figure out whether you hate your job enough to leave it or whether you just need to change things up. Like get yourself on a new team. Or get yourself to a new location. Or get yourself a new boss. Or maybe become the new boss.
The signs are usually clear: you’re constantly stressed about work. You feel as though you don’t fit in any longer. You’ve lost interest in the work you’re doing. Maybe, you think, you were never all that interested in the first place. Some people don’t even know they’re unhappy with their job until they realize it’s what’s keeping them up at night wondering, “What should I do? I’m miserable!”
It’s tempting to let your independent side say: “If I’m this unhappy… I should just quit.” But then your sensible side takes over and says: “Oh no! I can’t quit! The money/commute/benefits are too good. I have to stay.”
So how do you decide? When is it the right time for you to quit, and when is it more practical for you to stay – at least for a while?
When it’s time to quit
Ask yourself these questions: Are you are in danger of burning bridges with good people because of your frustration at work? Do you no longer like the person you see when you look in the mirror? Would you rather do almost anything other than go to work (like having oral surgery?) Do you find yourself putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own?
Then it’s probably time to move on. Sometimes a job or situation can become so toxic for you that the money, the benefits, and the commute can’t offset the fact that the job is killing you, and nothing is worth that.
Once you’ve decided to get out of Dodge, you’ll want to consider your options. Can you quit and then find a new job, or do you need to job search while you’re still holding down your current position?
Then you’ll need to consider what a ‘better’ or ‘ideal’ job would look like, and what factors will be important in your next job. Will you want to stay in your current field or explore a career change?
Finding a new job that fulfills you and makes you happy to go to the office every day won’t be easy, but now that you know more about what you want – and about what you certainly don’t want, your task will be less burdensome.
When it’s best to stay
To help you decide whether you should stay in your current job, ask yourself these questions: Even though your job bores you now, do you think you can get re-energized by doing something new or by changing roles in some way? Is your current financial situation such that you absolutely cannot go without your paycheck? Is there a new skill you can learn that will help your career out in the long-term that might justify staying in this job for a while longer? Is this just an unusual bad patch for your company – or perhaps for you personally?
If the answer to any one of these questions is yes, you should consider staying for a while longer.
If you can change your role or perhaps switch to a new team, you may rediscover the excitement you felt when you first began working at your company. If you can negotiate a salary hike, you’ll reduce your stress levels and feel more self-worth (but on the other hand, if your salary isn’t going anywhere, you should definitely be on the lookout for a new position). If you can get management to offer you training in a desirable skill, stick around: it will look great on your new resume. And if your company is going through a bad patch, wait it out: you’ll be rewarded for your loyalty.
And if you’re the one going through a bad patch, be aware that it’s definitely not the right time to go job-hunting. Take the time to get yourself straightened out and maybe you’ll discover that it isn’t your job you hate… it’s just a passing cloud. Happens to the best of us.