“Why would I quit my good job?”
Even if we’re not happy, many of us stop short of leaving because of that question. If you have good benefits, decent pay, and a reasonable boss, you feel ungrateful for wanting to go (even if you dread the work itself). You know many people would kill for the positive things you just listed off.
If you’re torn between whether you should leave, or try to make it work, ask yourself the following questions.
Do you spend a good amount of your workday reading random articles or thinking about vacations you have no intention of going on? I get it—it’s fun to fantasize—but at a certain point, it’s a red flag that your job isn’t engaging enough.
Follow-up question: “Am I just easily distracted?”
In many situations, these sorts of distractions come down to your ability to focus, not how well your job suits you. If this is the case, you’re better off making a concerted effort to improve your focus and develop productivity skills than looking for a new role. A great place to start is reading Brian Tracy’s famous book, Eat That Frog.
On the other hand, if you typically have laser focus and realize you’ve recently stopped caring, it may be time to move on.
Make a list of the things that would need to change for your job to be really fulfilling for you. Maybe your workload is massive, or maybe your team is structured in a way that causes friction. If your unhappiness is stemming from something circumstantial, talk to your boss and see if you can change things for the better.
Follow-up question: “Are these changes about me (and not my job)?”
Often, when I ask my clients to do this exercise, they wind up with a list of things they’d need to change in themselves in order for their job to make them happy.
What this signals to me is that they aren’t unhappy with the work. Rather, they feel they’re holding themselves back in some way. Building new skills can be a way to boost your confidence and open yourself up to new opportunities—both in current and future roles.
Online courses provide tons of training and advice. Along with that, I’d recommend reading books in your area of focus as well. Once you’ve changed up what you have to offer, it’ll be easier to assess whether it’s you (or where you are) that isn’t quite working.
Fear is a powerful motivator—and understandably so. It’s disconcerting not to know where your next paycheck is coming from. However, if all your job does is help you pay your bills, I encourage you to see if there are other opportunities you’d find more compelling (without bankrupting yourself).
Follow-up question: “Am I unhappy because I’m financially vulnerable?”
I’ve repeatedly noticed that when people are stressed about money, they become more risk-averse in general. Their anxiety about losing their job actually drives them to underperform. This drop in performance makes them more anxious, and as result, they begin to hate their job.
If this describes you, then the next step for you is to buckle down and get brutal about your finances. How can you–right now–budget a life that leaves you a financial safety net and takes the pressure off?
This will help you either way, because if you secure yourself financially and you’re still unhappy, you’ll know it’s time to go.
The last question you should ask yourself is: “Am I afraid of what people will say?” This is a fundamental fear that holds people back. Many of us are terrified of what people will say when we quit a “good job”—especially if it’s for something less profitable or uncertain. They might think you’re ungrateful, insane, overconfident—who knows, maybe all of the above!
Forget them. Would it be really be worth staying in a job you don’t like—each and every day—just to have other people be impressed with you? Those people could think you were a hero, but you’d still be unhappy. Make this choice about you and your personal happiness, and you’ll come to the right decision.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Muse and is reprinted with permission.