Signs It May be Time to Quit

Published: May 30, 2007

By Cynthia M Piccolo

Even the most contented employee thinks about quitting from time to time, and it's often attached to news of the next record-breaking lottery jackpot. But fantasies aside, there are many factors that can signal that it's time for you to look for new opportunities.

  • Your work or work environment is making you physically ill, e.g., constant stress causing regular headaches.

  • You are working in an unsafe environment.

  • You dread going to work every day – meaning, of course, something more serious than "I'd rather be watching my soap operas than working a 12-hour shift."

  • When your relationship with your boss and/or coworkers has tanked and, despite reasonable efforts, is beyond repair. In the case of the boss, it may be something like s/he has started freezing you out of things, or is perpetually finding fault, so that nothing that you can do is ever satisfactory. In the case of your coworkers, it may also be that they're freezing you out, or that they're engaging in activities such as bullying, malicious gossip, sabotage, or backstabbing – and your boss isn't doing anything about it.

  • Your work conditions change significantly for the worse, e.g., your hours are cut drastically.

  • You are being asked to do something that is illegal, and/or compromises your ethics and/or your license.

  • You are being misled, e.g., about promotions or salary increases that never materialize.

  • Your values clash with your employer's values, e.g., ideas of work-life balance, delivering quality work.

  • Your employer begins laying off staff, or is experiencing financial difficulties that don't look like they will improve. It may be best to get out while the getting is good, and before the local market is flooded with people who do what you do, and who are all looking for work.

  • Your job no longer suits you because you need benefits (e.g., flex-time, health coverage) that it can't or won't offer.

  • You want advancement, and there is no opportunity for it.

  • You're flying on autopilot – and you don't like it. Some people like routine, stability, and predictability, but for those who don't, this is a sign that it's time to look for new things. As we have mentioned before, while sometimes the line "I'm leaving because I need a new challenge" is little more than a cliché, it doesn't mean it's never true.

  • You're perpetually not doing your job, e.g., your personal internet and email use takes up most of your day, your breaks have taken on breaks, you do superficial work, or the minimum amount of work to avoid getting in trouble. (After all, this is either a sign that you're – as above – flying on autopilot, or that you simply hate your job.) And, as mentioned in an earlier article, if you're unsure about whether you're making the right decision, seek the advice of an outsider whom you trust.

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