We’ve all been there. Staying in a job that drains you can take a serious toll on your wellbeing, but at what point can you know for sure that it’s time to move on? Ultimately, a decision to leave will have to depend heavily on personal circumstances, but waiting until you reach your breaking point is probably not the healthiest option. Watch out for these telltale signs that you’re ready to go. If you recognize any of them, start putting together an action plan to get out and save your sanity.
1. You really don’t want to go to work
You’d think this would be an obvious red flag, but the truth is an alarming amount of people get up every day and go to jobs that don’t make them happy. According to research conducted by Gallup, almost 70 percent of working Americans feel disengaged at work. The global figures are even more shocking, with less than 15 percent engagement. With statistics like these, it’s easy to talk yourself into thinking hating your job is just part of being an adult. Well, millions of working people worldwide who do report feeling engaged would disagree with you on that.
Consider how much time and effort you can waste doing something that doesn’t fulfill you. If you work an eight-hour day for forty years in a career that doesn’t bring you joy and satisfaction, you’ll have spent the equivalent of ten years of your life in a state of disengagement. That total will go up with every extra minute you spend at work, something most of us do at least occasionally. Ask yourself, is it worth it?
2. Lack of recognition and validation
If you’re someone who’s lucky enough to have a boss with whom you can have an open dialogue, you may have spoken up about the things that aren’t quite right with your job. The hours are either too long or not enough, or your position doesn’t correlate with the amount of hard work and commitment you’ve shown to the company over the years.
However, if the person on the other side of the conversation isn’t open to hearing you, what you want may never line up with what they’re willing to give you. This can literally end up making you sick. According to researcher Brad Gilbreath, your relationship with your boss can affect your overall wellbeing almost as much as your relationship with your spouse.
Each time your boss fails to recognize your needs and you accept that this is “just the way it is,” you reinforce their belief that they don’t have to give you what you’re asking for in order to keep you. You also risk your mental and physical health in the process.
3. You’re experiencing signs of burnout, including depression-like symptoms
About eighteen months ago, I walked away from my desk, closed the door behind me in the restroom, and let out one of those wish-my-mom-were-here-to-comfort-me kind of cries. Earlier in the year, for reasons of convenience, I’d accepted a job for which I was completely unsuited. Within a matter of months, I’d gone from feeling cautiously excited about this “big break” to feeling drained by a position that had never truly interested me to begin with. I’d hit my breaking point. The next day, I handed in my resignation.
If you’re experiencing depression-like symptoms, exhaustion, or any of the other telltale signs of burnout, chances are you’re in the wrong job, even if you’re working in your ideal industry. Quitting on the spot won’t be an option for everyone, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can to at least get the wheels in motion.
What to do next
Everyone has the right to pursue an occupation that fulfills, inspires, and energizes them. If you’re ready to quit and you can do so without risking serious financial or other implications, maybe taking the leap is just the catalyst you need to set you on the right track.
If leaving now just isn’t viable, don’t feel discouraged. Instead, start taking baby steps toward getting out of the work situation you’re in. Your talents and aspirations deserve to be recognized and validated, so spare no effort in creating space in your life for a job that will let them shine.