Every day, millions of people go to work asking themselves the same questions: What’s my job giving me? Would I be better off doing something else? Will I find something I like better if I look? According to a 2013 Gallup survey, if you don’t like your job, you’re in the majority. Around twice as many employees said they were “actively disengaged” from their jobs than those who reported the opposite. There are some things we can do to make our workplaces more pleasant, but there’s always a limit. Sometimes the best bet is to get out. Here are seven signs that it’s time to go.
Getting through work each day feels like trying to make it through a minefield. The negativity is pervasive. Your coworkers backstab, gossip, and try to take credit for each other’s work to get ahead. There’s hardly a single person you can have an honest conversation with or whom you look forward to seeing. You come home exhausted and dread getting up and doing it all over again.
The motivating fire that led you to take this job in the first place went out a while ago, and now you’re just going through the motions. You eagerly look forward to days off and count the days until your next vacation. There’s nothing at work that gets you excited any longer. It’s all dull, mindless repetition, and you feel trapped.
We need challenges and growth opportunities to keep us feeling motivated, alive, and vibrant. Has your job become so routine that you hardly have to think about it at all? Does it feel like your job could be done just as well by someone with a fraction of your skills? If you answered yes, you’re on autopilot. There’s no room to learn or advance, and it’s time to move on.
You could be in a job where you are proud of the work you’re doing, but no one seems to notice or care–not even your boss. You might be a self-motivated, hard worker, but since your efforts don’t get the attention they deserve, you wonder what the point is. Maybe you came up with some great ideas and presented them to your manager, but she just shrugged them off. Or worse, your extra effort is actually discouraged because it makes your coworkers–or even your supervisors–look bad. You get the sense you’re seen as a threat because you’re better than your role demands. It’s time to go.
Pretty much every job comes with some amount of drudgery, but we still need to feel proud of the work we do for our organizations. If telling people where you work makes you cringe, it’s a good sign you don’t have much respect for the company that employs you. Maybe the company is even doing something that goes against your personal morals and makes you feel uncomfortable. You should never feel compromised by your job–or hold your nose just to come to work each day. If you don’t believe in the work you’re doing, stop doing it.
Is what’s going on at work affecting your personal life? Do you find yourself arguing with your partner or snapping at your children because you come home tired and stressed out from the workday? Have you taken time off due to stress or are seriously considering doing so? Or find yourself feeling depressed when it’s time to return from days off or vacation, rather than well-rested? If you recognize any of these symptoms, it could be a sign your job is threatening some of the things that matter the most in your life.
You can’t see how your current position will move you towards your long-term career goals. Sometimes those goals shift over the course of our professional lives, and that’s okay. But it’s important to recognize when you’re no longer on the path you want to travel. Previously you felt good about being there, but you’ve grown and changed, and now you need something more stimulating–or just different. The thought of making a career change might make you nervous, but even worse is the dread that you won’t reach your potential or wind up doing what you really want if you don’t move on. So don’t wait–move on.