Why you should listen when your gut is telling you to move on with your career.
People quit their jobs for a multitude of reasons, but often the decision is tied to demanding bosses, unreasonable deadlines and a feeling that the situation will never get better.
When one bad or blah day at work becomes a pattern, it may be a sign that the underlying problem is the job itself ― and there is no longer anything to be gained by staying.
Sometimes people get a gut feeling that leads them toward the door long before they consider handing in their resignation. Could that be you? Here are signs that you may be ready to quit your job:
1. You realize you’re being undervalued.
Wanting a bigger paycheck (no surprise!) is the top reason that people decide to quit their jobs, according to a PayScale survey of over 38,000 respondents.
“The pay gap continues to be an issue for women, more specifically for Black, Indigenous, and other women of color. Compensation should match our contributions in the workplace, and when it doesn’t, we feel undervalued,” said workplace strategist Keni Dominguez.
If you’ve confirmed that you are underpaid and you’re not able to obtain a raise in a reasonable amount of time, Dominguez suggested reaching out to your network to see if anyone knows of new opportunities that could be a good fit.
The danger of staying is that you may start to sell yourself short, too. “The longer you stay someplace where you don’t feel like you’re valued or compensated adequately, it impacts how you think about your career and your work in general,” said Cicely Horsham-Brathwaite, a licensed psychologist and executive coach. “It lessens your awareness of what your strengths are, your skills are. You start to view yourself based on how your manager or the company demonstrates their value for you.”
2. You realize your workplace values burnout culture.
When you’re expected to be available 24/7 and there is little tolerance for taking vacation or sick leave, you’re at a company that wants employees to work until they burn out. Get out while you can.
“They’re much more interested in you serving the company rather than the company serving you in any way,” said Lisa Orbé-Austin, a licensed psychologist and executive coach.
“An organization that has a burnout culture, I think it’s particularly dangerous for professionals because oftentimes they leave you with nothing left,” she added. “And it can be hard to search, it can be hard to be motivated to think about your next move if you’re in a burnout culture.”
3. You need to numb yourself after work to do your work.
Burnout is a condition of chronic workplace stress that can lead you to feel increasingly disengaged and cynical about your job.
As a result, you may engage in numbing behaviors to survive the week or overindulge over the weekend to face Monday, Orbé-Austin said. People may “start drinking or they start playing video games to detach” when the workday ends, she said, noting that these behaviors can be an attempt to “soothe from the pain of the day.”
To determine whether your numbing behavior is related to work, track your symptoms, including when they are triggered and how often you engage in them, Orbé-Austin said.
4. The job is causing you physical stress.
If the thought of your job is tormenting you with sleepless nights, muscle aches, stomach aches, headaches and other physical symptoms of stress, these are signs that your job is toxic. Long hours, lack of autonomy and economic insecurity can all contribute to the kind of harmful workplace environment that you need to ditch rather than try to cope with, organizational behavior experts previously told HuffPost.
“If you’ve reached a point where you dread going to the office, it’s definitely time to go.”
When we are in periods of intense stress, it’s hard to make rational decisions. Horsham-Brathwaite advised talking with a mental health professional to weigh your options, including quitting or taking a leave of absence if your health has been compromised.
5. You cry over going to work.
Career empowerment coach Melanie Denny said if you cry every day you go to work, that’s a sign to pay attention to.
“If you’ve reached a point where you dread going to the office, it’s definitely time to go. Although there are several reasons you may feel this way, none of them are worth your sanity and mental wellbeing,” Denny said. “Get out of there ASAP.”
6. You can’t be yourself at work.
Pretending to be someone you’re not in order to succeed can take a heavy psychological toll.
“If you are in an environment that seeks conformity from people in order to be successful, that can begin to feel untenable,” said Horsham-Brathwaite. She gave the example of people who thrive on collaboration and sharing ideas being stuck in workplaces that value competition and individualism.
“I’ve heard people say, ‘I used to be warm and caring, I used to be relaxed. Now I find myself being manipulative or cutthroat and I almost don’t know who I am anymore,’” Horsham-Brathwaite said.
“If you feel the need to constantly code-switch or act like someone you’re not to fit in or gain approval from your boss, it’s not fair to you,” Denny said. “You cannot shine your light and be at your best if you’re not being who you are. There are many companies out there that allow you to share your personality and be unapologetically who you are. Start looking.”
7. You are bored.
Learning keeps us motivated, and when you stop learning, it’s often a sign that you have outgrown your job. “If the work that you are doing doesn’t allow you to feel like you are accomplishing or achieving, I think that contributes to boredom for the people that I see,” said Horsham-Brathwaite.
If you feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over and you’re not getting opportunities to do the next thing that you’re ready for, that could be a sign you should move on, Orbé-Austin said.
8. You spend more time thinking about opportunities outside your actual job.
If you find yourself being consumed by a passion that isn’t part of your job, that could be a sign that you are ready for a career switch.
“One of the biggest [signs of this] is where you just feel unsettled,” said Ramona Ortega, founder of My Money My Future, a personal finance platform. “Your interest in something else is compelling you to do research, read about it, go to meetup groups.”
Ortega said that when she finds herself reading, talking and daydreaming about a new career direction, that’s generally her cue that she’s ready for a change. When she was thinking of starting My Money My Future, she said she was compelled to act by “the nagging of ‘I have to do this, because if not me, whom?’”
9. You feel uneasy.
Listen to the part of you that feels “off” when you’re at work.
“When you are not at ease with yourself … that is the cue you need to be moving in another direction,” media mogul Oprah Winfrey told a group of Stanford Graduate School of Business students in 2014. “The way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, ‘What is the next right move?’ Not thinking about, ‘Ohh, I got all of this to ―.’ ‘What is the next right move?’”
If you’re weighing whether quitting is your next right move, consider how much this feeling of unease has impacted all areas of your work.
“Most people aren’t jumping up and down for their jobs, but there’s still something they like about it ― they like their co-workers, they like coming into the office, they generally don’t mind their jobs or they’re looking for opportunities inside their company,” Ortega said. “They’re at ease, even if it’s not exciting every day.”
But when you’re “generally feeling uneasy with almost everything about your job, that’s probably the time” to leave, she said.
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