Time to Quit
Going to a job you don't like is exhausting. When the alarm goes off each morning, it's like a siren sounding for the end of days. It may be a bit dramatic, but when you're in the situation, it feels like nothing will fix the problem.
There will come a time when you need to evaluate your situation. Is it worth it? Are you just having boss troubles? Can it be fixed?
We asked some experts to guide you through your decision making. If more than one or, a few, ring true, it may be time to plan your next steps. [See Related Story: Ready to Move On? How to Tell It's Time to Quit Your Job]
Sure, some days at work are more exciting than others, but if you find that every day in the office is a snooze-fest, it may be time to find a new gig.
As an executive career coach and former employee turned entrepreneur, Jessica Manca knows a few things about calling it quits. But she cites boredom as the number one sign that it's time to throw in the towel.
Manca — whose company, Managing Mindspaces, helps professionals balance their paychecks with their passions — said that if you're bored, have lost motivation, are just going through the motions or are procrastinating more than usual at work, you may want to consider looking for a more fulfilling job.
No room for growth
Being comfortable in your position is a good thing. However, being so comfortable in your position that you're never challenged or intrigued is definitely not a good thing. If your job just doesn't stimulate you like it used to, it might be time to move on.
"Once you stop learning and growing in your job, it's time to look for something else," said Adam Grealish, founder of Roletroll.com, a job recommendation engine for finance and tech workers.
Steve Langerud, a workplace consultant and human relations specialist, agrees. Langerud said it's time to quit when you want to develop new skills that you simply can't learn at your current job.
It physically affects you
If just thinking about your job makes you want to throw up, guess what? It's time to quit.
"I would wake up feeling sick to my stomach, dreading the drive into work," said Myra Dorsey, owner of La Bodi Massage, who worked for three Fortune 500 companies before founding her own company in 2011.
Lori Malett, president of Hatch Staffing Services, said her formula for knowing when it's time to quit also involves certain stomach-turning feelings.
"It is time to quit when you wake up every day with a pit in your stomach, dreading getting in the shower and going to work," said Malett. "It is time to quit when you leave work each day, already dreading and thinking about coming in the next day."
You don't fit in
Sometimes, it takes a while to adjust to a new job. But if you've been in the same position for some time, and you still don't feel like you fit in, you might want to seek employment elsewhere.
Karin Hurt — leadership consultant, speaker, educator and CEO of Let's Grow Leaders — said that when there are no kindred spirits in sight, it's time to find a new job. Not fitting in, Hurt said, might do more than hold you back from making friends; more importantly, it might keep you from finding the mentors you need to grow in your career.
This double whammy of lack of work friends and lack of guidance is a lonely place to be, Hurt said, and can lead to other negative ramifications at work, like feeling grouchy, unappreciated or trapped.
Your mental health takes a hit
If your current position causes you so much stress that you fear your mental health is at stake, get out of there, fast.
"When I started waking up at night shaking because I was having nightmares about my boss, I knew it was time to quit," said Suzi Istvan, a brand strategist and web developer. "A job isn't worth losing sanity!"
Teacher Tom Mulherin relayed a similar message. After working for a year in a failing school system, Mulherin said he decided that his mental health, self-respect and need to escape stress were too important; he couldn't let his nightmare of a job continue to jeopardize them.
"I gave my two weeks' notice to my employer, and almost immediately felt a sense of liberation, positive momentum and relief that I have not felt in a period of time," Mulherin said.
Things are going from bad to worse
Some days at work are bound to be better than others, but if you get the impression that each new day on the job is a little worse than the one before it, it might be quitting time.
"I would say it is time to quit once the factors determining your job satisfaction are changing permanently for the worse, with no hope of improvement," said Liz Jackson, a Utah-based web development professional.
As Jackson explained, if the company you work for makes a big change — hiring scores of new employees, changing its management structure, etc. — you might find that you no longer like working for that company. Recognizing this fact, and being proactive about it, is a healthy reason to quit, she said.
Retirement seems much too far away
If you're decades away from retirement but can't stop dreaming about it, you may want to consider changing careers. That was the case for Gregory Gass, who, after nearly 10 years as a pediatric anesthesiologist, left his job to pursue a career as a psychiatrist. How did he know it was time to make a change?
"All I could think about was how quickly I could retire," Gass said. "I was 38."
Something better comes along
Perhaps one of the clearest signs that it's time to quit your job is if a better position becomes available to you. But judging a "better" opportunity isn't as clear-cut as you might think. Just because another position pays more, that doesn't mean you'll be happier in it.
Langerud said you can judge if something is actually a better opportunity (and a viable reason to quit) by whether or not the new position "feels like home or fills a deeper need." Langerud has himself quit many a job, for many a reason, he said, but quitting for something more than just a bigger paycheck leads to better career opportunities.
Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.