If you’re like many people who are unhappy at work, you’re waiting for a clear sign that it’s time to go. Why is it that just wanting to leave isn’t enough for most of us? Why do we feel like we need someone to give us permission to make a change? Of course, we’re all worried about making sure we can find a new job – that’s real. Many people also feel guilty for wanting to leave or maybe even shame for not being able to “make it work.”
Ten Signs It’s Time to Change Jobs
The truth is that jobs, like most things in life, will come to an end. They’re not meant to last forever. The trick is for you to choose when you leave and do it in a way that doesn’t burn bridges behind you. When people wait too long to quit, they often get fired, or it takes months to repair the damage done to their physical, mental, and emotional health.
Rather than let any of those things happen to you, it’s better to be proactive and make the choice to change jobs on your own before you get burned out. If you’re waiting for a signal to quit, here are 10clear-cut signs that it’s time to change jobs.
- You feel overwhelmed and stuck. If the thought of finding another job is overwhelming to you, it is likely because you’re already burned out. Burnout is like being in quicksand: the longer you’re in it, the faster you sink, and the harder it is to recover from your exhaustion. It takes a lot of time to catch your breath and get your energy back after leaving a job that is toxic to you. Many people don’t factor in the time they will need to “get back to normal” before starting a new job, and they end up finding themselves back in the same types of situations.
- You keep making excuses for not leaving. You’re spouting the same monologue on repeat that goes something like this, “I really need to find a new job, but I can’t because….. and I’m worried that I might…. I just need to stick it out until… so I think it’s just easier to stay for now.” Heads up: this story is never going to change until you leave! Your current situation is keeping you from seeing all the options available to you. Once you leave, you will see that your reasons for staying were likely rooted in your own fear of change.
- Your self-care is taking a hit. Maybe you’re eating, drinking, or smoking more than feels healthy. Maybe you’re neglecting important relationships or not taking time to exercise or get good sleep. All of these are signs that it’s time for a change. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t have the energy to take care of anything else that’s important to you. This cycle will ultimately push you further into burnout and lengthen the time it takes to get back to your regular self.
- Your self-esteem is taking a hit. If your workplace leaves you feeling hopeless, worthless, or questioning your place in the world, it’s time to go. Toxic workplaces are a major source of depression and anxiety, and it can take months to build yourself back up, even after leaving. Remember, no salary is worth trading your self-worth.
- You feel bored by your work or have a hard time focusing. If your mind is frequently wandering, you’re already mentally left. You may find yourself taking extended breaks, long lunches, or distracting yourself with mindless scrolling on your phone. If you can’t remember the last time a task at work excited you, that’s a good sign it’s time to change jobs. You’ll likely be amazed by how much a new workplace can energize you.
- You make frequent mistakes or find yourself consistently doing the minimum. Your work used to be nearly perfect, and now things keep slipping through the cracks. Maybe your productivity and ability to focus on the details only go up when someone’s really watching. Or maybe your co-workers have to pick up the slack, and you don’t really feel bad about it like you might have before. These are clear-cut signs that you don’t care like you used to and that you’re ready for a change. In addition to freeing you to put your energy elsewhere, it also means that your workplace can get someone in that position who truly wants to be there.
- You’re not growing professionally. If you’re stuck in a job that doesn’t allow you to sharpen your skills or develop new ones, it’s time to go. Research shows that learning at work can boost our confidence as well as our happiness! Workplaces where you’re just a cog in a machine, rather than someone with goals and dreams, aren’t worth your time. Additionally, it’s important to have a boss that invests in you as a whole person, not just as someone who can perform a specific function.
- Your grouchiness is starting to impact your relationships. Your default mindset is “I hate everyone and everything” and you don’t want to be around people you usually love hanging out with. People may have distanced themselves from you, or they’re braced for a lot of complaining and frustration when you come around. They may comment that you used to be more fun and happier and that you haven’t been “you” for a while.
- You have toxic co-workers or your boss is a jerk. Every day begins with dread because you know someone will say or do something to upset you and derail your whole day. It’s not safe to be in a toxic culture that consists of backstabbing, talking down, and gossiping. You also don’t feel safe doing your best work when all your boss cares about is pointing out your mistakes. This is yet another reason to run – not walk – out of that job.
- You feel overworked, unappreciated, and underpaid. When did a 9-5 job get replaced by the never-ending workday? Are you getting paid for all those extra hours you’re putting in? When was the last time you got a raise? And where is the recognition and appreciation for all your hard work? If your days are full of meetings, your nights are spent playing catch-up, and no one is acknowledging your efforts, it may be time to change jobs and find something more ideal.
If you’re still reading, that’s also a good sign that it’s time to change jobs! Maybe your job is leaving you overwhelmed, bored, and underappreciated. Or maybe your work life is becoming your whole life. If any of these are true, here are some concrete next steps you can take:
- Take some time off, even one day. Really take that time off (put an away message on your email and stay clear of work!) and do things that you enjoy. This time can help you feel like yourself again.
- Make two lists: work tasks you enjoy and work tasks that drain you. Use the lists to guide your job search.
- Work with a career coach to reflect on your strengths and values so you can find a job you truly enjoy.
Bio: Dr. Ariela M. Freedman is the Owner and Founder of the Compass Within Online Career Transition Coaching Program and MavenTree Consulting, both based in Atlanta, GA.
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