When Is It Time to Quit Your Job?

when to leave a job

Leaving a job, particularly one that you thought was a great fit for you and your career, may be a difficult decision to make.

Sometimes that decision is easy — we know early on that it’s a matter of time before we jump or get pushed to leave.

But in most other cases, it is not that clear cut.

There are obviously benefits to staying or we wouldn’t still be here, but clearly something — maybe a lot of things — are nagging at us, or we wouldn’t be having that internal debate.

So how do you know when it’s time to stay or go? It’s much easier to decide to stay and hope that things get better, but in other cases you might as well get out now. Here are a few situations that should get you thinking about moving to a new job or a new organization.

1. Work is Making You Sick

This applies to your physical, emotional and mental well-being. If your job is making you physically ill to the point where you have constant headaches, severe stress symptoms or it’s literally keeping you awake nights, you need to seriously think about leaving.

Your body will give you signals when it is allergic to things like peanuts or strawberries and you listen. Why not listen to your body about work as well?

You should not undervalue the strain that the wrong job can have on your emotional or mental health. Sometimes that pressure will erupt physically, but more often it will show up as anxiety, depression or burn out.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and they have persisted for any period of time, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. They may recommend a break from work or from this particular job. Listen to their advice.

2. You are Bored

Some jobs are boring, mundane, mind-numbing wastes of time. If you are in one of these jobs, get out now. It never gets any better, and in fact it almost always gets worse. You are better than that job, you know it and your boss knows it.

Tell him or her that you are moving on. You can always get another job at least as good as this any day of the week, and if you can’t, you should move or go back to school. But get out of the dead-end job. There’s a reason they call it that.

If you are just bored some of the time, you might want to think about trying to make changes to spice up your work life. Talk to your supervisor, and tell them you want more challenges at work and that you are prepared to do more.

Those words are music to any manager’s ears, and you will be close to the top of their hit parade. They will give you more than enough. If you’re still bored, then it’s time to look around for another job.

3. Your Potential has Flatlined

Are you still being challenged by your current job? Do you have more to learn or experience? Do you believe that you are living up to your potential?

Do you feel like all your talents are being utilized regularly, and most importantly is there an opening and opportunity to grow? If you cannot answer yes to all of these questions then moving on is certainly an option.

Maybe this job had a good beginning, but you have outgrown it. Any time you feel like you can’t learn anything new is almost always a sign to look for another job. It might be somewhere else in your current company — see what’s available or might be available soon.

But think about it: Can you imagine yourself happy, content and prospering in two to five years from now? If not, you should leave and raise your potential heartbeat.

4. You Have More Enemies than Friends

This is not about whether people like you or not. Likes are for Facebook. You don’t have to like everybody at work and they don’t have to really care about you. You just have to act professionally and try to get along.

If, however, you become the target of nasty gossip or find yourself on the outside looking in when most of the social interaction is taking place in and around work, that might be a signal that this workplace is not a good fit for you.

We spend too much time at work not to get some measure of pleasure or at least satisfaction from our efforts. Unless you are a complete loner and want to spend all your time alone, having a few friends at work adds greatly to the pleasure quotient.

Most of us need at least one good confidant at work to share when times are good and especially when something goes wrong. We are social beings, and we need that interaction. If you are not getting that from work then you might be in the wrong job.

What about you? Have you left a job? What signs did you see that told you it was time to go?

(Photo by Rupert Ganzer / CC BY)

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miki martin

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in workplace wellness and conflict resolution. He is the author of Change the Things You Can (Dealing with Difficult People). For more information about Mike please visit: Change the Things You Can


  1. Criminology Enthusiast on the 30th December

    Irritating co-workers is one of the reason why i quit my job.

  2. Andrew on the 1st January

    Hi! Good checklist. For me the biggest reason was number 3. Even if I was learning new things and getting better every day, I felt my learning curve was becoming flat. Secondly, I thought I was working with the same issues and problems repeatedly without a chance to solve them permanently. Luckily, I got a chance for growth inside organization of the same employer as I enjoyed the culture.

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