We’ve all asked, “Should I quit my job?” at some point, for all kinds of reasons! You may feel drained by long work hours, bored by daily tasks, or even micromanaged by a toxic boss, for example.
Such circumstances can cause career doubts.
A part of you believes there’s a better job out there, but the other part holds you back.
Are you being ungrateful, especially when many people don’t have jobs at all?
Are you reaching too high? Do you really have the skills, time, and energy to excel at a new job?
Is starting over at a new company worth the risk? What if the new job ends up being worse than the old one?
If any of these questions have crossed your mind, I know how it feels. Deciding whether to quit your job isn’t easy.
What I will say is this: each time I’ve asked myself, “Should I quit my job?” ultimately I followed through.
But that’s just me! Just because you’re wondering whether to quit your job doesn’t mean you automatically should. I considered many signs before finding the courage I needed to start over.
So here are thirteen signs to consider when you think, “Should I quit my job?”
I hope they provide clarity so you can make the best decision that feels right for you!
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Sign #1: You Have a Toxic Boss
This sign is one of the most obvious, and surprisingly common. A DDI study revealed 57% of employees have left a job because of their manager and another 32% have seriously considered it.
If you have a toxic boss, chances are, you know it! But here are some indicators:
- • You can’t do your work without your boss breathing down your neck. A toxic boss may even micromanage you to the point where your job becomes more difficult and less efficient.
- • If a problem arises, a toxic boss will immediately look for someone to blame. And let’s just say they won’t blame themselves! They may blame you for company problems you can’t control or even mistakes you didn’t make.
- • A toxic boss may take credit for your achievements they had no hand in, to support their ego and desire to appear successful.
- • A toxic boss will discourage honest feedback and shoot down ideas that could improve your role or the company, if it conflicts with his or her opinion.
- • For a toxic boss, nothing you do will be “enough.” They may even attempt to manipulate you into believing you’re not being a “team player” or “supporting the company vision” if you’re not working around the clock and more.
Oof! Those are some pretty intense qualities. That said, there are all kinds of toxic bosses, and while it’s important to respect bosses’ authority, toxic ones make things trickier.
If you feel you have a toxic boss that is causing you daily anxiety, making you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, and even resulting in physical problems like insomnia and stomach aches, it crosses the line.
Your personal and professional boundaries are important. And they are just as important in an employer-employee relationship as they are in any other relationship.
If you feel your boundaries aren’t being respected by a toxic boss, asking yourself, “Should I quit my job?” is entirely appropriate.
Sign #2: You Feel Invisible
For some people, being “invisible” at work doesn’t sound so bad! You can do your work in peace, grab that paycheck, and carry on.
But what happens when you do great work, solve difficult problems, and help others excel in your organization? Would feeling invisible feel so great, then?
I’d imagine all of us would like a little credit sometimes! It feels good to be recognized for good work. Validating, to know our opinions, work ethic, and abilities are appreciated.
If you feel invisible to your colleagues and superiors, that could result in being passed over a promotion, getting a raise, or even having job stability at the company.
Consequently, one of the signs that might lead you to ask, “Should I quit my job?” is feeling underappreciated.
There are a lot of ways companies can encourage employee appreciation.
For example, you can highlight employee achievements during company-wide meetings, do shoutouts on platforms like Slack, and create “spiffs” where employees are rewarded for achieving certain goals.
Simply hearing from a co-worker, “Great job!” can even do the trick!
If you’re not getting the recognition you feel you deserve, consider bringing this up with someone in the organization, if you’d like to stay at the company.
Sign #3: You’re Running Out of Steam
As a former civil litigation attorney, I’m intimately familiar with this sign! Is there such a thing as an attorney who isn’t running out of steam?
Thing is, in the world of law, workaholism is kind of embedded into the culture. Efforts are being made in some organizations to combat this, but many are still glorifying the live to work mentality.
As a self-proclaimed workaholic, I love to work! But some companies take it too far.
So if you’re working around the clock, you can barely get up in the morning, and you’re too exhausted to focus during the day, something needs to change.
Work-life balance is a thing. A good thing. We are so much more than our jobs. We have friends, families, hobbies, simple pleasures, and other ways we’d like to spend our time!
Don’t let a job take that away from you.
If you feel your burnout at your current job will have no end, it’s normal to ask yourself, “Should I quit my job?”
You could consider finding a new job with a shorter commute time, more manageable expectations, less travel requirements, more work from home hours, or whatever other adjustments you need to feel less burnt out.
If you’d like to keep your job, it’s worth having a conversation with your manager. Are there ways they can help facilitate greater work life balance?
If not, it could be time to call it quits.
Sign #4: You’re Not in Your Element
There’s nothing better than feeling like you’re in your element.
When you have a career that takes advantage of your skills and strengths, you feel confident, empowered, and influential.
Who doesn’t want that?
If the job you’re in doesn’t take advantage of your strengths, your employer is missing out. And so are you!
You deserve to have a job you feel you’re good at and growing in.
As far as growth goes, it means different things to different people.
Growth could mean taking on a new responsibility in your role. It could mean using your skills to help out a different department. It could mean ensuring you’re always intellectually stimulated.
It could even mean taking your existing responsibilities and doubling down on them.
For example, let’s say you’re in charge of running Google and Facebook ads at a tech company.
Let’s say the ads are performing well and generating lots of sales, thanks to you!
Perhaps your employer will increase the ad budget you have to work with, so you can spend more on ads and grow your impact.
What’s the flip side? Feeling like you’re a fish out of water.
This could mean struggling for a long period of time in a role, or simply feeling like you’re underutilized. We all want to take advantage of our strengths and feel useful.
If you feel like your role isn’t bringing out the best in you, it’s time to consider, “Should I quit my job?”
Sign #5: You’re Watching the Clock
Okay, so we all know this one. And that’s perhaps because, to some degree, we don’t want to work at all! Even if we’re satisfied with our job.
But if you sit down for the workday and immediately begin watching that clock, the universe may be trying to tell you something.
It’s, ironically, exhausting to have a job that bores you.
There’s little that helps the time “fly by,” so the day drags on for what seems like eternity. And when it’s finally over, you get a slight breather, only to begin again the next day.
Being bored doesn’t necessarily mean having nothing to do. Even as an attorney who worked long hours and completed tasks that leveraged my strengths, I still felt bored at times!
The work itself did not fill me with excitement. Or at the very least, non-boredom. And that was a problem.
If your work days are filled with clock-counting, surfing the web, and daydreams about another kind of life (been there), the job might not be for you.
I’m not saying that the job you have must instill absolute excitement in you at all times. But there’s a sliding scale.
In my mind, the gold standard is having a job you’re passionate about at all times. And while I truly believe this is possible, I also don’t think it’s required!
It’s more than fine to have a job that you simply like more than you dislike, especially as it’s work, after all.
But if your job isn’t meeting that bar, and you’re finding it tough to get through each day, it could be time to consider finding another job.
Sign #6: You Don’t Feel You’re Making an Impact
Another sign that it may be time to quit your job is feeling like you’re not making an impact.
Making an impact does not mean you have to be the CEO of a company.
For example, have you seen the movie Chef, now on Netflix? (If not, I 10/10 recommend it! We need more feel-good movies like that.)
In Chef, a head chef quits his bougie restaurant job and buys a food truck, where he has the freedom to create Cubano sandwiches on his own terms.
And the look on his customers’ faces, when they first bit into their delicious sandwiches? That’s impact.
Sure, you can get by in a job without feeling like you’re impacting anything. No judgment there, seriously.
But if you don’t feel impactful, and that’s important to you, having a job that provides that for you is pretty important, too.
For context, let’s take a scene from Chef itself. There’s a scene where the chef and his son are serving Cubano sandwiches from their food truck to a group for free, and the son attempts to serve them a burnt sandwich.
The chef takes his son off to the side and tells him:
I love it [cooking]. Everything that’s good that’s happened to me in my life came because of that.
I might not do everything great in my life, okay? I’m not perfect. I’m not the best husband, and I’m sorry if I wasn’t the best father, but I’m good at this. And I want to share this with you. I want to teach you what I learned.
I get to touch people’s lives with what I do. And it keeps me going and I love it. And I think if you give it a shot you might love it too. Now, should we have served that sandwich?
So ask yourself: what dish do you want to serve the world? And is it worth trying something new, to serve it?
Sign #7: You Don’t Vibe with the Culture
Vibes. They matter.
So what vibes is your company giving off?
What are the conversations with your peers like? What do your managers believe is the key to success? Do you feel in alignment with those around you?
For example, I didn’t vibe well with the culture of law firms. While many said they promoted work-life balance, the realities of the industry dictated otherwise.
Legal deadlines had to be met (even if we found out about them same-day). The work had to be impeccable. A tiny mistake could have far-reaching consequences. It was a work hard, work hard culture.
Then I became an account executive at a tech company. The culture? Well, there was a ping pong table just steps away from my desk (win). Pizza Fridays were a thing.
The mentality was work hard, play hard, which is just my style.
What’s your style?
Do you thrive in an ultra competitive environment, or a more collaborative one?
Do you like to work in a quiet space, or a loud one? Do you like to have clear structure and rules, or more flexibility?
There’s no objectively right or wrong culture (unless it’s toxic — see “toxic boss” above), but it differs between companies.
Is your company’s culture making you feel out of place, and even uncomfortable?
If so, it’s something to consider if you’re asking yourself, “Should I quit my job?”
Sign #8: You Feel Things Were Better Before
Onward and upward, right?
I believe that every job should be better than your last. And I know that the “should”s in this world don’t always come to pass, sometimes due to factors beyond our control.
But if you find yourself in a job that is worse than your last, that’s good food for thought.
Theoretically, if your prior job was better than your current one, you could explore returning to that job! But chances are, you’d rather not, because you left that one in the first place.
So the question becomes, how can we lead careers that have an upward trajectory, where each job is better than the last?
Well, we can’t guarantee that every single job is better than the last, especially if we end up in a role that is not what we expected.
But at that time, we can strive for an overall upward trajectory by considering another career move.
So if you feel your prior job was better than your current one, ask yourself why.
What qualities did your prior role have that you’re looking for now?
What caused you to leave that job? What’s causing you to now ask, “Should I quit my job?”
For example, my first “job” was when I was ten, helping to sell bath salts at a local street fair.
Part of the job involved me filling glass bottles with different colors of bath salts in a creative way, to be put on display.
That job helped me realize I love to be creative and chat with customers. And these are the same benefits I look for (and have) in my career today!
I also used past jobs to identify things I didn’t want in a role, such as high-pressure work environments with long hours.
If you feel your current job has more things you don’t want than do want, consider making a change.
Sign #9: You’re Not on Board
Considering whether you align with your company’s mission may not feel as urgent as dealing with a toxic boss for example, but it’s still an important consideration.
A company’s mission impacts all that a company does. It impacts company culture, goals, job duties, and day to day operations.
And if you’re not aligned with that mission, your work likely won’t feel fulfilling.
For example, let’s say you’re a content writer for an online dating app, but you believe singles should instead meet “organically” through mutual friends, events, or what have you.
This misalignment can lead to job dissatisfaction and even resentment.
A company’s mission also impacts how you see (or don’t see) your future at a company. Do you agree with the trajectory of the company, or do you feel you’d rather not stick around?
If it’s the latter, it’s worth asking yourself, “Should I quit my job?”
If you do decide to leave, that gives you the opportunity to find a company whose mission you better identify with.
When we are aligned with our employer’s mission, we feel like we’re contributing to a greater good. Like our work has significance.
And that serves as fuel to work with a sense of purpose and have a successful career.
Sign #10: You Can Do Better
I know it can be tough to land a new job, but if you truly believe better career opportunities await you, that’s something to consider.
For example, maybe you’re aware of openings for better jobs in your area. Maybe you have a strong network and can get referrals to companies. Maybe you even have a job offer already!
Even when there are such opportunities, it can feel nerve wracking to step into something new. That’s completely normal.
So before potentially quitting your job, ask yourself what a “better” job means to you. Chances are, it means many things!
Higher pay, for instance, can be an aspect that makes another job feel “better” than the last.
While money can’t buy happiness itself, it can buy food, shelter, niceties, vacations, and other things that certainly don’t hurt! And in my mind, there’s nothing wrong with considering money when comparing jobs.
Some other things you can consider:
- • Are there other jobs where I can better leverage my current skill set?
- • Can I find a role that excites me more?
- • Are there companies whose missions I am more aligned with?
- • Are there jobs that will provide me with more growth opportunities?
If you’re answering “yes” to any of these questions, thinking, “Should I quit my job?” makes sense!
Wanting to do better in your career is a worthy endeavor, and believing you can do better is the key.
Sign #11: You’ve Been Asking, “Should I Quit My Job?” for a While
If you’ve asked yourself, “Should I quit my job?” reflect on when the thought first came to mind.
Was it after a tough conversation with your boss? When a colleague got a promotion you felt you deserved? After you made a mistake?
In cases like this, it’s best to not jump ship immediately after you first think, “Should I quit my job?”
Deciding whether to quit a job is a big decision, and you don’t need to rush it. If you do decide to quit your job, quit with purpose! Ensure you have a clear reason for doing so.
If you’ve thought about quitting your job for a while, that length of time in itself can be a sign it might be time to leave.
Thinking — perhaps even dreaming! — of quitting your job can affect how you perform in your current job.
It can leave you feeling uninspired, unmotivated, and even mentally drained.
And if the company problems that caused you to consider quitting haven’t gone away, and won’t go away, your desire to quit your job will likely grow even stronger.
For example, let’s say the company you work for sells a product. You don’t think the product is nearly as great as your colleagues seem to think it is.
When customers complain, you actually kind of agree with them. And while you’ve shared their and your feedback with the company, the product isn’t going to change or improve.
In a case like that, your frustration will likely grow, and perhaps it’s best to cut ties.
If you do decide to quit your job, be sure to leave respectfully and gracefully, and leave a good impression if possible.
Sign #12: You’re More Afraid of Staying
This is one of the biggest signs it may be time to quit your job. So ask yourself:
“Am I more afraid of staying at my job than quitting my job?”
There are a lot of fears associated with quitting your job. What will people think? Will you be able to find another job?
Even if you do, will the same problems come up? What if you end up worse off?
So if you’re still more afraid of staying at your job than leaving it, that’s saying something!
In fact, it was this realization that caused me to quit my job as a civil litigation attorney. I quit my job right around the holidays.
In the weeks leading up to it, I remember observing the people who filled the city streets.
Some were excitedly discussing holiday plans. Others leaned back in their chairs during group lunches, in no hurry to return to work.
There seemed to be a special aura of joy that arrived with the holiday season.
I felt like I was observing things through a thick pane of glass. Like I wasn’t a part of it. Like my current job would forever prevent me from participating in the way I wanted to.
These thoughts took root in my mind, and stayed there until the day I quit. On that day, I forced myself into my boss’ office, where my boss was hurriedly completing the day’s tasks.
Stacks of papers filled the room — the desk, the floor, everywhere. The phone was ringing. My boss looked exacerbated.
And I knew that by stepping into her office to quit, I was wasting precious minutes that she could’ve used to meet the day’s impending deadlines.
Then the realization hit me: I didn’t want that.
I didn’t want to work my way up the corporate ladder, become a managing partner, litigate high-pressure cases, or miss holidays, relaxing lunches, and time spent with loved ones.
And so my greatest fear was staying in the job I was in. That fear gave me the courage to quit.
If you’re asking yourself, “Should I quit my job?” my guess is you have some fears too.
And if the fear of staying at your job outweighs your fear of leaving it, that’s a pretty good sign it’s time for a change.
Sign #13: You’re Ready for a New Chapter
Quitting a job doesn’t have to be because of “bad” things like a toxic boss. You may simply be ready for a new chapter.
Life can be a grand adventure, if you make it one. And you can move from one good thing to another simply to explore new lifestyles and ways of being.
Maybe you’d like to move to a new city, focus more on raising a family, go back to school, or even travel the world.
These are all entirely legitimate reasons to quit a job. Sometimes you have to end one chapter to begin another.
For example, my boyfriend and I are friends with a couple who recently returned from a year-long trip around the world after quitting their corporate jobs.
I’m sure many told them they had “a lot to lose,” but they also had a lot to gain. And judging by the way they talked about their experiences abroad, I’d say they gained a lot.
So long as you’re not dealing with a toxic boss, most employers will be understanding of the desire to start a new life chapter. It is absolutely possible to leave on good terms!
At the end of the day, we are all human, and we all want to have lives outside of work. Most people will honor that want, even if it means you quitting your job.
Another way to start a new chapter might be simply changing to a job that fits your current lifestyle better.
For example, let’s say you became a sales rep at a small startup in your 20s.
Maybe you joined the company because you relished in its “work hard, play hard” culture, and you loved the intensity and social aspects.
But maybe these qualities became less appealing over time, as you sought more nights in and developed other priorities.
Sometimes things are best suited for a certain time and place in our lives, and sometimes things change.
So if you’re looking for a change, it doesn’t hurt to ask yourself, “Should I quit my job?”
Go for the Gold
Answering, “Should I quit my job?” is no easy feat. Jobs provide us with predictability, greater financial stability, and more.
But a job can also take a toll on your mental, emotional, and physical health if it’s not in alignment with who you are, what you stand for, and what you want to achieve.
In cases like that, quitting your job might be the way to go.
Sure, there’s a chance you might have to try a few times before you find your dream job. But isn’t it worth the risk?
Life is about risk if you want to go for the gold. And personally, with one life to live, I’m shooting for nothing short of extraordinary.
So give yourself the gift of extraordinary. If any of the above signs resonate with you, allow yourself to consider, “Should I quit my job?”
Take your time to answer this question, and take stock of what you’d like out of a career.
With the food for thought above, and by following your heart, I know you’ll make the right choice. 🙂