10 Signs It’s Time To Leave Your Job

COVID-19 has forced tens of millions of people into unemployment. I’d venture to guess most of them didn’t want to be laid off or let go. People generally like to have control over their professional futures. It’s unsettling, at a minimum, to have your income cut off, much less your sense of purpose and productive efforts.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in a position to decide your future, you should feel grateful. But never let gratitude turn into complacency. You should always be thinking intentionally about the big choices you make, particularly those related to your work.
Perhaps COVID-19 has uncovered some internal discontentment you have about your work. Or maybe you’ve longed for a change but haven’t acted upon that desire.
Whatever your reasoning might be, here are 10 signs it’s time to leave your job:

1. You stare at the clock all day, waiting to go home.

There’s probably no better sign than this indicating you don’t like what you do. No one has the perfect job, but a good job should excite you and occupy you enough to avoid staring at the clock on the wall or the digital clock on the corner of your computer screen. The occasional Facebook session or Instagram scroll becomes a bit more than occasional. Your lunch break is no longer just a break. You find any reason under the sun to not be productive.
If you find yourself anxiously longing for 5pm, it might be time to take your talents somewhere else.

2. You rarely if ever feel invested in the work you’re doing and/or the people you’re doing it with.

Again, you might not like every aspect of your job…that’s natural! But you should either enjoy the fundamental function of your job or the people you work with.
If you enjoy both, great! If you enjoy one of those two things, you might be able to remain happy and fulfilled where you are, but definitely keep your radar on for signs of internal discontent. If you enjoy neither of those things, it’s almost a guarantee that you’d be better served in another role.
You should feel meaningfully invested in the work you do.

3. Your company (or your department) faces an uncertain future.

When you work for someone else, much of your career trajectory is out of your control. That’s a given, but you can control where you work and what you do. If your company is facing bankruptcy or a reorganization or a turbulent business environment, even if you make great money or enjoy your job or the people you work with, circumstances might force you into a decision that you’d rather not make.
If you take charge and make proactive rather than reactive decisions, you will likely avoid some personal turbulence. The onus is on you to maintain a proactive and forward-thinking approach to your career.
Make the most of your circumstances if you don’t want your circumstances to make you.

4. Your accomplishments and contributions are routinely overlooked, unrecognized, or derided.

You might be a superstar at what you do. You come to work and feel both proud and excited every day. But your colleagues (and/or your superiors) don’t see things the same way. They might overlook your work, viewing it as trivial or unimportant. They might leave it unrecognized, depriving you of any feedback or understanding as to how your peers feel about you. Worst of all, they may have a totally different view of your work; they might think it’s lame or amateurish or insufficient.
You can try to defend yourself (and in many instances, you should toot your own horn), but if you see a continuous disconnect between how you see your performance and how your company sees it, you should think about finding a work environment that sees your output the way you see it and rewards you accordingly.
It’s on you to find a slice of the world that values you properly.

5. You have viable alternatives ready to go.

You’ve felt the grass is greener on the other side for a while, so you’ve wisely scoured the landscape for other opportunities. You’ve done a few interviews and have landed a couple of enticing job offers from companies you like doing things you enjoy.
Or you spend a couple hours every day working on your ebook or your blog or your coaching practice. Your money and your efforts work for you, not the other way around. You don’t even need your 9-to-5 paycheck to pay the bills or make you comfortable. You could sail across the world without sweating about your bank account. And you’d rather not sweat about making a deadline or talking to that Negative Nancy you work for or dealing with that hour-long commute you can’t stand.
If this is you, perhaps you’re ready to wade into the abyss and focus on your passive income streams.

6. You have enough savings to withstand an indefinite period without a regular, stable income.

As a rule of thumb, you should try to maintain an emergency stash of savings equivalent to six months of regular expenses. You can apply that logic when contemplating a career pivot that could leave you unemployed for an indefinite period of time.
Particularly in troubling economic environments like the one we face now, you never know when you’ll be employed again. And no matter how hard you try, when you are a job candidate, your employment is ultimately out of your control. Someone else has to believe in you and decide to act on their conviction.
Whether you decide to work for someone else or work for yourself, make sure you make an informed and deliberate decision.

7. You don’t drink the company Kool Aid.

You shudder when the CEO drones on and on about the organizational mission or where your company is headed. You don’t see yourself aligning with the organizational culture. You like working in solitude with your headphones on, but your peers prefer loud gossip sessions and speakerphone shouting and pestering you all day long. You like handling things via email and instant messaging when possible, but your colleagues insist on hour-long meetings to solve even the most trivial of concerns. You like treating your customers like kings, but your company sees them as easily replaceable or unimportant.
You don’t have to drink the company Kool Aid. But it sure helps, and if you don’t, it might mean that you’re better served working somewhere else.

8. You often make careless mistakes that stem from inattentiveness and lack of discipline.

During performance reviews, your boss points out careless mistakes that you didn’t even notice (or worse, you noticed but didn’t care to fix them). You typically produce spotless, top-notch work, but since you don’t really care about your job, inattentiveness and lack of discipline stimulate abnormal errors or omissions. You walk into meetings unprepared and remain disengaged. You deliver presentations without substance or vigor. You can’t really explain what you do to a coworker or a friend.
You know yourself better than anyone else. If you feel your engine slipping, act now before the check engine light blares at you.

9. You can’t compartmentalize your work life from the rest of your life.

Your boss launches ad hominem attacks (or worse) at you. Your coworkers see you as a weak link in the pack. You can’t handle the 12-hour days anymore. You bring the baggage you carry from the workplace everywhere you go: dinners with your significant other, quarantine Zoom calls with your friends and family, or virtual happy hour (I can’t wait to do some non-virtual things again!). You see your work in a predominantly negative light, and you can’t separate that from the rock star you are outside of your job.
If work makes you happy, let it flow into the rest of your life. If it doesn’t, decide if the negativity is worth it.

10. You just have a gut feeling that there’s something better for you “out there”, not “right here” where you are.

You’ll likely hear a lot of people telling you not to leave, not to jump into uncertain territory, not to do what your gut says, not to try something new.
Don’t listen to the “not to” people in your life. They don’t have the same life experiences or priorities as you. They aren’t you. Uncertainty and risk probably scare them, and they project their inadequacies onto you precisely as you face one of the toughest decisions you may ever have to make.
You hold the keys to your career. Do what makes you happy and fulfilled, not what other people think will check off your boxes. In the words of Oscar Wilde:
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
When you’re done working and you can sip Mai Tais on the beach, wouldn’t it be nice to belt out a little Frank Sinatra and confidently shout that you did it your way?
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