Are you miserable in your job? Here are a dozen signs that it’s time to quit and move on:
- Your job is all consuming. Do you eat, drink, and sleep work? Are you working morning ‘til night? Do you come home from work trips and collapse on the couch, never calling friends or making plans because you are totally and completely exhausted? You never sign up for classes because the chance that you will be out of town for half of them is 99.99 percent. Book a vacation? Only if it’s nonrefundable. The likelihood of an important, must-attend meeting is more absolute than a vacation.
- Your work environment is competitive & not in a good way. Dog eat dog is an understatement. Publish or perish doesn’t even begin to describe the slow death that will come to you if you don’t come out fighting every single day. It doesn’t matter if you’re exhausted. Sleep is for the weak! You turn on your computer as soon as you wake up – hell you never turn it off because it takes too long to boot up and there could be emails you need to respond to. Beauty sleep be damned; you need to make sure that you look on top of things. Your email response must be at the top of the heap. You have to be the first one responding to an issue that is so urgent that your director needed to send it at 3 a.m. You need to show you’re dedicated, reliable, and providing the most intelligent and strategic response, with or without coffee.
- Your ideas are knocked down. Before you can even turn the pages of your PowerPoint, the meeting lead has read through it all and is already attacking the content and firing off questions at you. You feel under attack. You’re trying to get your footing and compose yourself but you’ve been knocked off your game. This is what they wanted to do. It makes them feel better about their job and you feel shitty about your own. Why use the meeting time to actually present the content? Why allow time for the presenter to go through each slide one by one, providing the necessary commentary and background details not present on each slide? Why not allow the presenter the courtesy of actually presenting? You’ve been asked to present but aren’t actually given the chance. Your ideas are knocked down before you can even present them.
- You keep getting offered more money each year and it’s hard to walk away. Dreaded & Desired, Golden Handcuffs. They keep you committed even when everything else points to the exit door. Each time you get a review, promotion, or more stock you quickly calculate how much money you’ll have if you stay. You consider how much is enough to make it worth your while. You think to yourself, “I can last another four years while my stock vests,” only to get another package year after year, thus staying until the end of time. You’ve chosen money over your own happiness. Maybe you think money should buy happiness but why do you feel so terrible?
- No one listens to you. You make a suggestion in a meeting only to hear a colleague next to you repeat it minutes later and take the credit. You’ve tried outlining and emailing your thoughts and suggestions, only to have your notes go unanswered. You see consultants come in and do similar work and everyone listens to them as if they are speaking the gospel. You even hire your own consultants to help with your workload. Your colleagues listen to them with baited breath as if they’ve never heard such wonders come out of a person. Never mind that your consultant is on the same page as you and speaking the same language. You’ve begun to feel that the only way anyone will hear you is if you leave and become a consultant.
- You’ve lost your confidence. You have so many years of experience that you’ve stopped keeping track of how long you’ve been in the industry. When you consider leaving, all you can think is, I don’t know how to do anything else. Your years of managing, marketing, and strategizing on projects aren’t adding up in your brain. You feel incapable of doing any of your current tasks and projects outside of your current company. You can’t imagine anyone would hire you. You don’t even know why you feel this way. You used to be confident. You’re so used to your working conditions that you have no idea what those years of being beaten down, criticized, and ignored has done to you.
- You keep getting sick. You can’t seem to figure out why but you’re always sick. You get colds or the flu on a regular basis and you don’t have kids. You have a frequent visitor punch card for the doctor’s office and they’re starting to wonder what’s wrong. You’ve taken so many antibiotics because you think, I don’t have time to be sick. You go to work even when you’re sick for fear of looking like a slacker and not doing your part. Or, you’re worried about how behind you’ll be if you don’t go into the office. You’ve even ended up with weird afflictions that you can’t explain like that twitch at your eye or the pain in your right leg. You can’t sleep without Ambien and you can’t wake up without a quad-latte (and you don’t even think this is a bad thing).
- You fantasize on a regular basis about a life the exact opposite of your current one. Do you go to Target during the day to get away from work? Do you romanticize about the life the moms in Target must lead, with their cute babies, strolling through the aisles without a care in the world? Do you wonder how people can be in a coffee shop in the middle of the day? Don’t they have jobs? If they do, what job allows you to be in a coffee shop in the middle of the day?
- Do you fantasize about taking an extended vacation? You’re dying for a break. You’d love to take more than a week off. Could you take two weeks off? It’s still not long enough. You contemplate getting pregnant so that you can enjoy the three-month maternity leave your company offers. Except you’re single remember? You peruse ticketsaroundtheworld.com and plot your escape wondering when is the best time to travel to SE Asia.
- You have extreme highs and lows. One day you’re flying business class to London and the next you’re crying on the front steps of your home over an urgent package that you missed because you were on that glamorous business trip. The next day you fly out for another business trip and come home exhausted, missing UPS again. The urgent shipment is ruined because a heat wave at home destroyed the contents and UPS doesn’t refrigerate even if the box says to do so. The roller coaster is no longer fun. You feel nauseous.
- You’re sticking around for some possible project/promotion/opportunity that may or may not happen. You’re miserable but you think, If I just stay for six more months, I’ll be able to add that project to my resume. You know it will be a hard few months but you think, It’s worth it to have that on my resume. So you stay, and four months in the project is canceled. You’ve stayed for a carrot.
- When someone asks you what you’d rather do, you say, I don’t know. You used to know what you wanted to do. You knew what you were passionate about. When someone asks, If you could do anything in the world, what would you do, you say, ‘sleep’ or ‘nothing’. When you’re asked what you’re passionate about you say, I don’t know. You stare blankly at people who ask this question. You feel emotionless. You feel dumb that you don’t know what you want to do. You wish you knew but all you feel is…nothing.
If any of this sounds familiar and a little too close to home, it’s time to make a different plan for your future. It’s time for a change. It doesn’t have to be a leap. It can be a small adjustment in your current job or a new division at your current company. Or maybe it’s an internal change that needs to happen within you to create more boundaries with colleagues. Whatever the situation, you don’t need to suffer. You don’t need to stay in a job that leaves you feeling this way.
Stay in a job because you love it and you get joy from it. Stay because it makes you happy and adds to your life, not because it is your life.
And if you need help making these changes, I’d love to be there for you!