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When is it the right time to quit your job?

A toxic workplace is rarely worth staying in.

When is it the right time to quit your job?
[Photo: imtmphoto/iStock]

Of all the decisions that you’ll have to make over the course of your career, one of the biggest is when it’s the right time to leave a job?

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Like many career decisions, the answer isn’t straightforward. As we discuss in this week’s episode of Secrets Of The Most Productive People, some signs are more obvious than others. For starters, a toxic workplace is almost always never worth staying in (there are exceptions, but not many). When a role or company no longer offers you the opportunities to grow, it might be time to look elsewhere. And when your job starts to impact other areas of your life in a negative way, you should, at minimum, assess the possibility of change.

It’s not an easy decision to make, and what makes sense for one person may not necessarily be the right course of action for another. As with anything, the key lies in self-awareness and honesty with yourself. Start by asking yourself these three questions:

1. Why do I feel the need to quit?  You accepted your job for a reason, so it’s worth examining why you feel the need to move on. We tend to quit something when something makes us unhappy and uncomfortable, but to ensure that quitting will really make you happier, you need to look closely at your reasons. If it’s pride and ego, think twice. But if you find that you want to quit because your motivations no longer align with your job, then that’s a valid reason to leave.

2. Have I done everything to make this work for me? Sometimes, your frustration with a job may be because of a major change. It might be to your benefit to try and embrace it first. Sometimes it requires you to try different things to get different results. Of course, there is a point when no amount of change is going to give you the results you want. So when that happens, it might be best to move on.

3. What do I have to gain by quitting? Everything has an opportunity cost. And sometimes, quitting something means you gain more resources to do something that’s more important to you. If you have a lot more to gain by quitting than you do to lose, then that’s a sign that you should at least seriously consider leaving.

This will be the last regular episode for season 3 of Secrets Of The Most Productive People, but we’ll have several special bonus episodes during November and December (including a live episode at the Fast Company Innovation Festival), and we’ll be back with Season 4 in 2020. You can find Secrets of the Most Productive People on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotifyRadioPublic, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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About the author

Anisa is the assistant editor for Fast Company's Work Life section. She covers everything from productivity to the future of work

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