Check out this comment from a reader in Hong Kong:
Iíve been visiting your site on and off for quite a while now.
Iíve been miserable at work and, although it took me almost a year, I eventually built up the courage, and Iíve finally quit my job!!
I think itís one of the best decisions Iíve ever made!
Iím now working out my one-month notification periodÖthen hopefully go on a vacation to Europe with my familyÖthen travel to Beijing to visit my loveÖ.
And most of all, Iíve found a new job too! No one knows how itíll go, but a change is definitely due and Iím looking forward to a fresh start.
Your site has definitely pushed me on.
:) One happy Office Lady in Hong Kong
First of all: Wooo-hooooo! Good for you, Office Lady, and good luck in the new job!
This of course raises an interesting question: How do you know it’s time to quit a bad job?
Should you quit at the first sign of trouble? As in “The cafeteria doesn’t have Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and besides the boss gave me a funny look at the last staff meeting – I’m outta here!”
Or do you only quit when all hope is gone. “Yes, I know my boss is a total jerk, my salary is lousy and my co-workers just covered my cubicle in mayonnaise-smeared saran wrap for the third time this week. But you never know – things might get better tomorrow!”
When is it time to quit? It’s a question I keep getting – and no wonder. Leaving a job has become one of life’s biggest decisions. It’s something that may affect every aspect of your life including your finances, your work life, your identity, your family and possibly even your social status and friendships.
I’ve quit three different jobs in my career and in every single case my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. In two of those cases I quit without having the next job lined up – it was simply time for me to move on NOW!
It seems most of us tend to stay in bad jobs waaaaay too long. I have talked to any number of people who have told me some variation of “I quit my job last year and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.” However, not a single person has ever told me that “I quit my job last year and it was a huge mistake. I should definitely have stayed on.”
This does not mean that it’s always the right decision to quit, but it does show that when in doubt, most of us stay on in bad jobs. Perhaps longer than is good for us.
We’ve been told that quitting your job is bad because:
- It makes you look less dependable to your next employer.
- It costs you money.
- It reduces your status.
- Quitting means giving up – and that’s bad. You should stay and slog it out.
And this may all be true or not, but here’s a question you must also ask yourself: What will staying in a bad job cost you? Because make no mistake: A bad work situation can cost you your energy, motivation, self-worth and even your health. Worst case, it can kill you.
Worst of all, staying in a bad job where you repeatedly feel demeaned or useless robs you of precisely those things you need to move on and find a new job. To actually get up and go out and find new work or finding the courage to quit without having the next job lined up takes energy, motivation, passion and confidence.
How do you know..?
Which brings us back to the original question: How do you know?
First of all: You will never know for sure. It’s not like you can calculate the exact optimal moment to quit your job. It will always be a judgment call, and like any other major decision in life, it’s not so much about making the right decision – it’s more about making a decision and then making it the right decision.
Secondly: You probably do know. Call it intuition, gut feeling, inner wisdom – if it’s time to quit, then somewhere inside of you a voice is probably going “I hate my job. It’s time to quit.” The trick is to listen to that voice.
That voice is often very quiet and very easy to quell. You’re maybe at work, in the middle of a meeting or an important task when suddenly you get the feeling that you really, really need to find a new job. That’s certainly not productive in the moment – right then you need to focus on whatever it is you’re doing. Also, as mentioned above, having to quit is a scary proposition. So you ignore that feeling and focus on work.
I firmly believe that you’re doing no one a favor by staying if you’re not happy at work. Not yourself, not your family and certainly not the company. The rare exception is the case where your or your families survival or fundamental welfare is at stake. If quitting a bad job means your family becomes homeless, the choice is clear – you stay until you have a better job lined up.
Barring this, it’s simple: If your job does not make you happy you should first try to fix it. If there’s no realistic hope that you ever will, it’s time to get out of Dodge.
So here are my top six tips for finding your quitting point:
- Give up the idea that you can know for sure whether or not it’s time to quit. It’s always going to be a leap.
- Listen to your intuition. Your gut may know before your mind.
- Remember what quitting can cost you – but also remember what staying in a bad job can cost you!
- Remember that the longer you stay in a bad job, the harder it gets to leave.
- Most people stay too long in bad jobs – mostly because they fear the uncertainty that comes with quitting.
- Most people, once they’ve quit, find that their situation improves. Maybe not immediately, but certainly after a few months.
What about you? Have you tried quitting a job? What was your quitting point? What happened – did you end up regretting it or being happy that you finally quit? Write a comment – I’d really like to know!