“I think I want to quit my job”, you say. “No sh*t, Sherlock!” says your friend. “You’ve been saying that for days/months/years (insert timeframe here). Just put us all out of our misery and get on with it, for the love of God!”
You swing back and forth like an indecisive pendulum. Should I really leave? Maybe it’s not that bad. Perhaps if I just stick it out for a bit longer, it will get better.
Or will it?
I was the same as you up until last year. The signs were literally everywhere, slapping me in the face daily like a wet fish.
But still, I stayed on. I become more and more miserable until I felt like I had no choice but to leave.
I wish I had done it earlier, I would have saved myself a lot of stress and anxiety.
We all love a bit of hindsight though, so here are the 18 glaring signs that tell you if you are ready to quit your job.
On a serious note, most of the below points are quite lighthearted but, if you are at risk in any way, please tell someone and look to leave. Bullying, sexual harassment or illegal behaviour are never okay.
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Previously you looked at those above you and thought ‘what do I need to do to get to where they are?!’.
You worked harder and longer, watching and learning. Emulating what they did. Eager for 1-2-1 catch-ups to check your progress and get advice for development.
Then one day, something changes. You see the bags under their eyes, the third missed parents’ evening, the constant pressure from the owners and shareholders.
It happens so abruptly. Like a car crash after the driver in front slammed on the brakes when they realised they’d been going the wrong way. ‘I don’t want this‘.
But if you don’t want your boss’s job, why the hell are you there?
Whispering in the office kitchen. Furtive looks. Rumours circulating over who might have been ‘let go’.
Everyone works in isolation, departments don’t talk to each other, blame culture permeates.
It’s like a grown-up office re-make of ‘Mean Girls’.
Stress can do a fair bit of damage. Heart palpitations*, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, nausea. The list goes on.
A friend of mine even got tinnitus (constant ringing in your ears) from the stress of work.
After I left my job, it took me months to catch up on sleep, and slowly get rid of the feeling that I was constantly on the edge.
Life is too short to stay somewhere that damages your health.
*If you are experiencing any worrying symptoms, please go and see your Doctor.
Check back over your browsing history, and it is filled with blog posts and articles entitled ‘should you quit your job’, ‘how do I know when to quit’, ‘someone please help me, I hate my job!!’.
Each article says the same thing, you identify with all of it. Then you put your phone down and get ready for work.
Your friend asks if you can meet her for dinner. You say yes but add the disclaimer you may be late due to an important deadline. You end up canceling.
Holidays are planned around peak work times. If your colleague gets in their request in first, you have to change your dates.
Your work phone is a parasite. Sucking your focus as you refresh your emails for the 500th time.
You’ve been slowly stashing cash, dreaming of the day when you can just walk out the door. You don’t have time for interviews so leaving without a plan might be your only option.
Side note: you may not have been doing this, but instead, buying things to make you feel better. If so, have a read of my other posts below and get started building your escape fund. It is so worth it, I promise.
Most of us chose A-levels or university courses based on what we liked when we were teenagers. That was a bloody long time ago.
Way back then, I valued wearing cool clothes, clubbing, and alcohol. Now, I value my time, my health and freshly washed sheets.
It’s like putting on a jacket in your teens and then waking up wearing it in your mid-thirties and realising it doesn’t fit anymore.
There is a much longer point to be made about values, but that’s for another post.
If you want to have a look at a list of values to see how yours have changed, have a read here.
You stare out of your office window, engrossed with ideas of working for yourself in your pyjamas. No one looking over your shoulder or hours of mind-numbing meetings. Total autonomy and control over your time.
Maybe you know what business you want to start, maybe you don’t. Regardless, you think it’s the answer to all of your prayers.
You don’t aspire to your boss’s job, but you don’t aspire to anyone else’s either.
The further up the ladder you get, the less you are doing the parts of the job you love. Instead, it’s politics, bureaucracy, and meetings.
The thought of applying to another company makes your whole body sag. You can’t muster the energy for interviews, you’re too tired to sound ‘upbeat’.
Is it time for a career change? Your brain is too fried to make that kind of decision. You just need to get out and get some headspace.
Ah, the dreaded ‘it’s a real opportunity for you to get noticed by senior colleagues’ line. Which actually translates as ‘we’ve got a load of extra work for you outside of your already ridiculous schedule’.
Back in the day, you’d have jumped at these ‘opportunities’, desparate for the chance to prove yourself and maybe secure that lucrative promotion.
Now you just roll your eyes and kiss goodbye to your weekend.
I mean, this one speaks for itself.
Before, you’d spy a senior company member in the kitchen. Taking a deep breath, you’d walk in trying to think of something clever to say so they’d notice you.
The conversations were awkward. You’d leave and spend all day wondering if you’d ballsed it up.
Now you hide under your desk hoping they didn’t see you browsing Facebook.
Your role has expanded, more responsibilities or headcount added. Which is funny because you don’t seem to be paid any extra.
You’ve raised it with your boss, and received a vague mumbling about ‘reviewing in 6 months’ but nothing seems to happen. The work keeps piling on and you aren’t being paid for it.
‘Why can’t my life be like theirs’ you wonder as yet another sunset photo of a woman doing beach yoga pops up.
You follow all the travel bloggers, deflating a little more each time another #dreamlife photo is posted.
You’re not stupid, you know that behind those whitened smiles and sunkissed highlights are tales of diarrhea and flight delays which are conveniently left out.
But you still can’t help scrolling compulsively, as if to find that one photo that will prompt you to resign.
Your friends are sick of it, your family just nod and grimace. All you do is moan about your job.
Conversations are no longer two-way, now it’s a stream of consciousness diatribe about your workplace.
Your chats end with you stopping for breath and saying ‘sorry mate, I’ve just rambled at you for half an hour. I’ve really got to go now, I’m late for a meeting, you’re ok though right? Cool, speak later’.
You know you are being a crap friend, which makes you hate your job even more.
You used to love your job with a big L. The industry was exciting. You believed in what you were doing. You were going to make a difference! Everything felt sparkly and covered in glitter.
Fast forward a few years, and glitter is not what things are covered in.
You’ve been behind the scenes, and you don’t like the stage direction.
Perhaps it’s the bureaucracy or the endless admin, or that you don’t feel like you are actually making a difference. You are just another cog in an endless turning wheel.
Up until now, you kept thinking. “At least I am earning money, if I didn’t have a job I wouldn’t be able to pay for my new shoes/expensive holiday/overpriced cocktail”.
Now, you just don’t give a toss. You’d happily wear old trainers, sit in a cardboard box and drink tap water than stay another day in your job.
You already know you want to leave, otherwise, you wouldn’t have read this post, right?
So what now?
If you know you want to quit your job, what should you do?
Knowing you want to leave and actually resigning are two very different things. It took me MONTHS to finally pluck up the courage to hand in my resignation.
I’ll tell you what though, as soon as I did I felt the weight lift from my shoulders. Cliched I know, but that’s truly what it felt like.
It’s scary to leap into the unknown. We try and convince ourselves that ‘it’s better the devil you know’ but when work is affecting your health, relationships and confidence, ‘hanging in there’ is probably not the solution.
Which ones did you agree with? What steps are you going to take if you are ready to quit your job?