In this article, we’ll help you confidently answer the question: “Should I quit my job?
Insane hours, a toxic work environment, lack of interest, bad management—all of these are reasons to quit a job.
But walking away from a secure position and facing the unknown can take a lot of courage. You may have a strong desire to reinvent yourself or figure out how to find your passion in life — without actually knowing what you want to do next.
Life is too short to be stuck in the wrong job. After all, the average person will spend 90,000 hours, or about one-third of their entire life, at work. So it’s certainly worth taking the time to make the right decision when it comes to your career.
So how can you really know when it’s time to quit a job?
I’ve created a set of questions to guide you. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear sense of whether or not it’s time for a career change — so you can move forward with confidence.
1. Do your values align with your current job?
Recognizing your values means understanding who you really are and what matters to you above all else. Honesty, quality, respect, teamwork—all of these are on the list of possible core values. When we live according to those fundamental beliefs, we design a life aligned with our true selves, full of purpose.
Oftentimes, when people feel discontent at their current position, it’s because the job doesn’t match their core values. This creates an internal conflict that you just can’t shake.
Let’s say you consider family a core value, but your employer expects you in the office for 70 hours a week. This can clearly cause a problem because you spend more time working than with your family.
Knowing your core values, you can determine if your current position allows you to live in alignment. If not, you might consider looking for work that does.
2. Will your current position help you achieve your long term goals?
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.The Writing Life, Annie Dillard
Where do you see yourself in the future? Will your current job will help you get there — or does it get in the way?
3. Does your job offer enough freedom and flexibility?
When most people consider quitting a job, numbers come to mind first. But having the right job is more than just what you earn. Some may consider freedom a more important priority.
A job doesn’t have to equal your greatest passion in life. You may also find fulfillment outside of work through a hobby, if your job leaves you with enough time and energy to pursue it.
For example, a client of mine who loves music doesn’t expect his work to satisfy his passion. Instead, he devotes enough time to his music to feel content. Meanwhile, he continues to earn money at his job, which provides enough freedom and flexibility for his true passion.
Consider the freedom you have at your current job, and whether you feel satisfied with the level of flexibility in your work requirements. You may need to speak up and negotiate better terms or decide it’s time to move on.
4. Do you feel like you’ve “checked out” of your job already?
Sometimes you’ve already left a job before you even realize it. You emotionally and psychologically have left the building, probably years prior — but you can’t seem to muster what it takes to add value to your current role.
I recall my final week as a school teacher. Sure, I would show up to the classroom, but once that morning bell rang, I was barely present emotionally to teach. I knew then. I wanted to quit my job, and it was time to start exploring an alternate future.
5. Do you find yourself at a crossroads?
Occasionally, we find ourselves at a point in life where we are presented with clear choices: two pathways that cannot coexist. Maybe you received a new job offer, an opportunity to travel, or expect a big change in your personal life.
Listen to your gut when you stand at the crossroads of what you should be doing and what you must be doing. Your intuition will guide you to follow your calling, your destiny. Then, you can begin to embrace change and work through the transition.
6. Can you negotiate what you want from your current job?
Sometimes people feel afraid to speak up and ask for what they want. But when you ask for nothing, that’s just what you’ll get.
Do you practice clear communication styles that express your needs openly and assertively?
Before you make a decision to quit, determine what you want from your current job and at least try to negotiate those terms.
Worst case: you’ll get no for an answer, but you’ll know it’s really time to move on.
7. Do you have a support system to help you through a career transition?
Ask yourself the practical question of how much risk you can take to change careers. Do you have a support system that can carry the load of employment, like wages and health benefits, so you can attend to reinvention?
That could be an indicator to lean in and accept the support.
8. Do you keep making excuses that hold you back?
In every person’s life, there comes a time when your head, heart, and gut knows it is time to change. But limited thinking patterns, like always waiting for perfect conditions or having a fixed mindset about your potential, can show up as excuses holding you back.
When everything inside you says it is time to go, listen and then respond.
Stop talking. Start doing.
You can’t continue waiting on the sidelines for your life to happen. You’ll never truly live if you spend your time wanting and wishing. Sometimes you just have to take the leap, even when it scares you.
9. Is the risk of staying greater than the risk of leaving?
Remaining in a toxic environment at work can have huge negative consequences that outweigh the risks of trying something new.
Even if you don’t know what will happen next, it is probably time to leave when the ambiguity of not knowing what comes next is more welcome than staying in a taxing, challenging, and toxic work situation.
10. Is this job costing your happiness?
You might stay in a job for the pay, but no amount of money can cover up discontent. Being happy at work matters.
Many times, a career change journey begins as a mission to find purpose. At some point, money cannot soothe a soul hungry for happiness and fulfillment. When you know you’re there, it’s time to consider leaving.
11. Could you put all your skills to better use elsewhere?
You will naturally develop new skills throughout your career, develop new interests, and strengthen your abilities.
Over time, you may recognize new ways that your working identity can play elsewhere. And sometimes, an interest outside of work leads you to a new area of expertise.
Chances are, you have some skills that easily transfer to a different industry or position. If you feel like your skill sets could serve better elsewhere… jump.
12. Do you feel physically or mentally ill because of your job?
No dollar amount is worth sacrificing your health. Work-related stress can have far-reaching effects on your health and performance.
If you feel physically, emotionally, or mentally compromised due to your working conditions, those are strong reasons for resignation.
13. Does this job hold you back from living up to your full potential?
Sometimes a job may feel good enough, while robbing you of greatness. Do you feel yourself learning and growing, or stagnant in a cycle of repetition?
To become a badass in life, you cannot settle for good enough. When you hide within your comfort zone, you hold yourself back from realizing your full potential.
14. Does your job hurt your family more than it helps?
Suzie Orman once said, “We don’t do our family any favors by staying in a job we hate.” We often bring home negative energy that can’t be compensated for by a paycheck.
No job is worth sacrificing your most important relationships.
That’s not to say you need to quit this second or not work again. More important is to strike that work-life balance that allows you to maintain the attention your relationships deserve.
15. Do you report to a toxic manager?
People don’t leave bad companies. They leave bad managers.Marcus Buckingham
A good manager knows how to strike a balance between leader vs. boss. Reporting to a toxic manager can cause a tremendous amount of day-to-day stress, which impacts your well-being and performance.
So even if you love your company, bad management can give plenty of reasons to quit a job.
What to do if you’re not ready to quit your job
Just because you have some valid reasons for resignation from your current position, doesn’t mean you are ready to jump head-first into the unknown. And you don’t have to.
It’s unrealistic to believe you’ll find your dream job right away — and that creates a lot of unnecessary pressure. In reality, it takes time and experimentation to really discover the right path for you.
If you’re not quite ready to quit, consider taking a bridge job.
A bridge job provides an in-between option so you can earn money while exploring possibilities for a new career identity. It serves as a safe haven, which ends up leading you down the transition path from one thing to another.
You can experiment with bridge jobs in different industries to see what you like, and what you don’t. You can even volunteer or take a part-time job on the side to try things out before you take the plunge and quit.
When you reach the point when you are ready for a career change, you don’t have to go through it alone. We have the tools and strategies, like our Career Reinvention online course, to help you move forward with confidence.