Many professionals examine their career in a harder, more critical way as the New Year starts, prompting them to reconsider how they’re pacing. Most of the time, this includes determining whether they should stay loyal to their employer—or start the process of applying elsewhere or going freelance. Most Americans will spend far more time with their coworkers than their spouses, so remaining at a gig that doesn’t fulfill, challenge, or make you happy is not only a waste of time, but also energy and spirit. Instead of seeking the advice of career experts or coaches, many executives at leading companies have been through lots of professional ebbs and flows, so they recognize when it’s time to move on. Here, they explicitly note the hints you might be missing that it’s time to quit your job. ASAP.
1. You are consistently bringing negative energy into your home life
Julie Vessel, chief talent officer at MONO advertising agency, says it’s human nature to complain, since no one, nothing, and no job will ever be perfect. But professionals in the right jobs aren’t constantly stressing about their employment. When you finally sign off email, do you bring home a really poor attitude with your dirty dish from lunch? Toxic, consistent negativity could indicate your career is sucking your soul dry. “Can you leave your emotional baggage at work? If not, then maybe it’s time to think about what is causing you to dislike your job, and consider what you wish was different. Then, go in search of something that offers that,” she recommends.
2. You are too comfortable
While you might think being comfortable and confident in your role is indicative of success, Julie Hansen, CEO of Babbel US, says it could mean the opposite. In fact, those who are able to thrive within their careers are those who are brave enough to be uncomfortable. After all, as her father taught her, the best time to seek out your next move is when things are going well. “If you wait until you’re unhappy, you run the risk of taking just anything that comes by in order to get out, instead of the right next thing,” she explains. “Having success in a position is great–it makes us happy to go to work every day, and more able to apply ourselves completely to solving problems. But when you’re in control, you’re much better positioned to take your time and make sure you’ve got all the answers before needing to jump.”
3. You tell yourself it’s “just a job”
But is it, really? For those who consider themselves ambitious and set inspiring goals for both their careers and personal lives, a job is never merely just that. Instead, their 9 to 5 is an avenue where they propel their skills forward and dedicate themselves to a life of learning and progression. Vessel explains that when we begin to convince ourselves we shouldn’t care or expect so much, we are lowering our standards. “If this happens to you, use this as an opportunity to reflect on what it is that’s really, really bugging you. And beyond identifying the irritation, think about what it is you wish was different in your responsibilities, role, involvement, or team,” she explains. “If we give ourselves the chance to be honest, we can usually break it down to something specific about our work or role.” Depending on how close you are or how comfortable you feel, Vessel suggests finding a way to bring it up with your manager. “Before you jump ship to another job, give yourself the opportunity to see if what you’re missing or wanting can be attained where you are,” she says.
4. You can do your job with your eyes closed
Being highly skilled and deciding you want to take on new responsibilities at work is one thing—and mindlessly going through the motions instead of being engaged is another. Every professional can reach a plateau in a job they’re great at, but this doesn’t mean they’ve reached the top. Rather, it’s more like you’re idling, waiting for your career to steer you instead of taking the wheel yourself. Vessel explains that when you’re not being challenged, you will eventually get bored and won’t be inspired. “If you’re content clocking in and clocking out without much change day to day, this isn’t the advice for you,” she explains. “For those of us who are entrepreneurial-minded, however, stagnation is a breeder of resentment: for your job, your same old boss. If you find yourself in a position where your job is the easiest thing you have to do all day, it’s time to make a move.”
5. You don’t ever want to go to work
Sure, after your birthday weekend surrounded by everyone you love, toasting the good times, heading into an 8 a.m. Monday budget meeting is a major buzzkill. Or those post-vacation blues? They’re definitely a real thing. However, Thomas MacNeil, chief technology officer at eSalon, says that never wanting to go to work could mean you’ve outgrown your gig. “This is the start of the discontent. You’ve switched from being passionate at work to feeling like you’re just trying to survive. There are always issues and problems at any job, you’re there to solve them, but whether you see them as challenges that help you grow or problems that burn you out is entirely perspective,” he says. Though you should discuss your concerns with your manager, if nothing can be rectified, it’s likely smart to seek pastures new that make you want to run to the office . . . instead of running away.
6. You’re making careless mistakes
Sending over a client brief with a glaring error. Typing your email far too fast and making a grave typo. Scheduling meetings on top of one another. All of these fumbles happen, sure, but if they’re becoming the rule instead of the exception, it’s a sign you’re not concentrating fully. This could mean you’re not only disengaged, but that you’re no longer committed to your position, your manager, or your company, Vessel notes. It’s in your interest–and frankly, the interest of your coworkers and higher-ups—to ask for more responsibilities or find another gig that will keep you on your toes.
7. The environment is toxic
What’s unfortunate about starting at a new job is that you can’t predict the culture. Since all companies want to show the Instagram-filtered version of the office environment, you only know what really goes on between managers and coworkers once you’ve signed on the dotted line and joined the team. If over the past months—or even years—you’ve realized you’re in a toxic situation, founder and CEO of ABS Staffing Solutions Ariel Schur says it’s time to make a change. “It’s one thing for your boss to provide constructive feedback, but it’s quite another to be constantly mistreated or ridiculed. Having a toxic boss or negative work setting can make a job unbearable. Considering how many hours most people spend at their jobs, you don’t want it to be an unhealthy environment or agonizing daily situation,” she says. However, there is a difference between a one-off remark, or if it’s streaming from the top. “Assess whether there is potential for the situation to change by talking to your hiring manager or your boss’s boss, and if you have fully explored all avenues, it might be best to move on,” she says.
8. You are feeling physically (or mentally) unhealthy
Everyone knows when they’re performing to their top potential—and when they’re struggling. Even people who thoroughly love their jobs will feel emotionally and physically drained during hectic seasons, especially when we only have so much energy to contribute to our work. However, if you’ve noticed a downward spiral in your overall health and your ability to concentrate, Chris Chuang, cofounder and CEO of Republic Wireless, says it could be more than stress, but a bad career fit. “Work can be your passion, but it should not come at the cost of your life and health . . . ever. If your job is a detriment to your health, and your role or company does not allow flexibility or resources to improve it, then it’s time to move on. No job is worth sacrificing the one body you have,” he urges. To identity the cause of your angst, try to set smarter work-life boundaries and see if your condition improves. And as Chuang says, any employer who won’t be empathetic to you feeling overworked and overwhelmed isn’t a place you want on your resume.