We’ve all heard the saying, “Do something you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. While part of that is true, there are other things besides passion that you should have fulfilled in your professional career. For example, potential advancements and skill growth. Wanting to quit your job doesn’t happen on impulse. It’s a number of signs that occur over time that will eventually lead to a decision of wanting to seek a more fulfilling career elsewhere.
Here are a few signs that you should look out for before considering to quit your job:
- Your job is affecting your health or causing extreme stress.
The research is clear that stress impacts our health and capacity in insidious and dangerous ways. We all have stress, but when it starts to feel unsustainable, then it’s time to go. The Mayo Clinic website has a helpful list of common symptoms related to stress. If your job is causing these, it’s not worth it.
- There’s nowhere to advance.
There’s an expected rhythm to a career, where we take on more responsibility, get new challenges, and increase our income. While it doesn’t have to be this linear — many people make work-life tradeoffs at various times — there still should be potential at your job.
If you find yourself topped out at your job, without any advancement opportunity, then it’s a good reason to start looking. If you like your job, it can be easy to become complacent. But beware. Having a long stint at a job with no sign of advancement can hurt you in the end. Perhaps that’s why, according to Gallup, it’s the #1 reason that people leave.
- Your job isn’t letting you grow your skills.
Even if you can’t get promoted, it can be advantageous to stay at a job if you’re continuing to learn and expand your skills. Working at small, entrepreneurial companies often fall into this category, where there’s not a management track but a lot of cross-functional learning. It goes back to the Gallup research that people want to be able to do great work. So when your job stops providing opportunities to try new roles or take on challenges, it may be time to update your resume.
One caveat: make sure that you’ve fully explored the opportunities at your current company. It’s an all-too-frequent occurrence that employers find out what employees want in the exit interview, when they would have been amenable the whole time. It’s a missed opportunity all around so don’t hold back from asking for what you want.
- You’re living with chronic uncertainty.
This is a nuanced point because you could argue that all companies operate with uncertainty in these uncertain times. However, some are mired in uncertainty to the point that it’s running the culture. These are organizations that are always up for sale, or continually downsizing, or in shrinking markets.
While it might be noble to stay on board and try to help the transition, often you have to save yourself. There’s a reason that the best performers leave when a company is in transition. They know that it’s better to be somewhere else that has a line of sight to the future. When that’s gone, the chronic uncertainty shuts down opportunities for everyone in a perpetual “wait and see.” It’s wearing, and hard to come back from.
- You’ve mentally checked out.
Whether for lack of growth or boredom, sometimes employees just check out. You know when this happens to you as you stop innovating, stretching or bringing energy. You cease to care.
This treading water can seem like it’s your own private thought, but it shows. It’s a drag on the entire organization to have workers just going through the motions, and it’s even worse on your own career. Instead of keeping your head down, put some energy into finding a job you can be passionate about again.