Are you happy and satisfied at your work? If so, don’t change anything, there’s all the reason to just keep going.
Ideally, you’re also getting paid so you can afford your living expenses. It can however happen that something starts to feel off at some point. You’ll have to dissect the different areas of your professional environment and find out what is causing you the discomfort. And then, of course, act upon it.
Summed up below are several commonly occurring and important reasons I chose to quit my job in the past. Maybe some of these will be applicable to your situation too. After the reason, I included some ‘solutions’ or ways you can counteract your situation:
- You’re not learning anymore.
Even worse, you got bored. Work has become a drag, an endless daily routine where you’re spending your days doing the same things in the same ways. What now?
The typical period where you’re mentored as a newbie is anything from one to six months. It can be longer depending on the job difficulty. Afterwards, if you’re eager to learn, don’t wish for things to get easy. Continue the grind. To always continue learning and keep pushing personal boundaries will give you more satisfaction on the long run. It means you are evolving and growing into a better you with an upgraded skill set.
How to counteract:
First of all: reach out to your manager and ask where you can help out and what projects need support! Tell him/her you want to learn and improve your current skillset. Ask in the chat or walk over personally to see if anyone from your team needs help.
If your employer is not supportive of your learning, or not helping to develop your skills, teach yourself new things! Do not just sit around, or read dumb things on the internet or 9gag or YouTube’s comment section. You could be using dead time to educate yourself instead! As long as it’s related to your career path, this willingness to learn cannot be punished. In another article I wrote the ‘How to educate yourself at your job’ you will find a bulleted list of tips.
2. A similar job is available elsewhere under better conditions and pay.
This one is easy. If a switch makes your personal and working life better in every way, it’s obvious what to do. It can be tempting to stick around, out of comfort because you are acquainted with your tasks and you know what to do and how everything works, or if your team is really nice (you never know what you get, teammate-wise, until you are on the inside) and you get along with everyone. The work you do however is also important, if not, the most important.
How to counteract:
Try to negotiate these ‘missing’ perks with your current employer first before you make radical decisions. In the meantime, how about testing the waters and applying for that other gig? You don’t have it yet, first apply and see if you have a shot to even begin with, before you throw what you currently have overboard.
3. It’s a dead-end job.
There are no real roles to evolve or grow into. The longer you stay in the same position, the more you will stay on the same level, or worse, stagnate, making it more difficult to transition into something a better role, and more likely that you’ll end up switching to something of the same caliber.
There can also be signs that your department will be digitalised or be made redundant soon. How can you recognise this?
- Your managers are jumping ship or switching to other departments in flocks
- The headcount in your team had shrunk considerably in a short period of time.
- Software to speed up the work is in progress. Meaning that as soon as it arrives, the headcount in your department will shrink even further.
If you recognise any of the above, my young grasshoppers, I would consider jumping ship before you are forced to do so. It can of course also be that a company will move people to more valuable jobs once old ones are automated. Consult with your company. If they are transparent and open, they will let you in on what’s going on and you will have enough intel to make your next move.
How to counteract:
Build up ties inside and outside the company and see where you can be a fit. If your jobs is on it’s way out, get your manager to help you get a different role inside the company.
If you are not satisfied with the information you receive or you are not receiving any help: GTFO :) Resign, polish up your cv, find a different project and start doing something new. Use the tips in this article to occupy yourself in the meantime.
4. The environment or culture is toxic.
Overwork is promoted. People shout and curse at each other more than they need to. The atmosphere is always stressy. These are signs of a toxic workplace. If you find yourself in one, you might want to reconsider staying. In the past I recall management praising one of the employees for taking on sales calls, while he was sick at home in bed with a fever! As a manager, this is not something I would want to promote. As much as I’d want my company to be profitable, the employees working there support this cause and I need them to be healthy, fit and happy. I don’t want them to sacrifice their personal lives as much as I don’t want to do that with mine. That is more a sign of bad management than employee dedication. One person or all employees should not be stretched because there are not enough people.
How to counteract:
Speak up, also and especially when management is doing something they shouldn’t. Try to not get seduced into taking part in the status quo. Don’t do things just because the rest of the staff is doing so. Never feel guilty for leaving the office in time. Show (yourself) that you respect yourself and your time and that you take your own time and life seriously. If not, others might try to take advantage of this. Respect yourself first, always.
5. You’re wasting hours commuting.
I have plenty of friends who see no issue in commuting at all. As much as I enjoy the colourfulness of public transport in Berlin, I don’t enjoy sharing a confined space with so many people in the early morning. Or late afternoon. Or ever, ha.
How to counteract:
Ask for the possibility to work remotely. In case this is not an option, try to commute shortly before rush hour so that you’ll have space to breathe, and to open your book in the trains! Otherwise, try to make use of this ‘dead time’ commuting by listening to something on Audible, or on any podcasting app. Consider investing in a quality noise-cancelling headset so you can properly listen to whatever you want to listen to (and not dismiss the outside noise by raising the volume and destroying your hearing).
6. It’s negatively affecting your health.
Going to sleep dreading the next day, waking up without energy, not liking the things you’re about to, counting the hours at work until you go home, all of these things can cause your anxiety levels to go up, leading to chronic stress. This can have all sorts of effects on you in the long-term.
To name one example: I once had a call-center job. The day I received coaching to shorten my call-time I had a 45-min call with a customer who would not stop complaining, no matter what I tried or said. From this moment onwards, I got anxious whenever the timer in-between back-office and the hotline where you talk with customers started to run. All the time. A few weeks later I had a meltdown and, while lying in bed curled up in a ball, I called the employment agency, crying, telling them I couldn’t come to work anymore. The next day, the call-center terminated my contract without notice. (It did solve my ‘issue’, even though I’d rather have ended this working relationship in a different way. Customer service jobs can be mentally demanding. Do not shout at someone if you don’t get what you hoped for. People here can help you, but only with the tools they are given. Be kind to this other human being on the other end of the phone.)
How to counteract:
It depends. If a job is not good for you for your health in whatever way, I’d say: GTFO. Otherwise: see if you can get structural breaks in. Try working with a Pomodoro timer. In case you are not taking care of yourself outside of work too (healthy nutrition, meditation, regular movement and your hours of sleep), it might be a good idea to fix some things here too, as your habits will have an influence on your overall health and also your mood at work.
7. You found out it’s just not an area you want to get deeper into or are interested in.
Yes, you signed a contract. But a trial period is covered in here for a reason. It is not what you thought it would be? Make use of the escape route. Under no circumstance are you obliged to stay endlessly. If a job is not what you hoped it to be, just change the direction! The sooner the better, because you can only invest your time in something once. And an employer will not have invested as much in you. Deep down, you will know if it’s right for you or not.
How to counteract:
For as long as you are there, do your best to get the most out of it anyway! Do your job as well as you can. Change your mindset and look at what you can gain from this. What can you learn here? How can you excel every day? How will staying here, at least for now, benefit you? What relationships can you build? How can you use this position to get closer to your goals? When issues arise (not if, because they always will), go deep into them, and learn from them. Share what you learn with the others. Help and support your colleagues where you can.
When to make the final decision?
Ideally before you are past the point of no return to prevent any not-so-well-through-thought behaviour you might regret later. There is no one perfect time. Think about what is most important for you in your work and what you need to feel satisfied. Discover the pain points, and undertake action to counteract any negatives at your current position.
What are the current pros and cons? Write all of them down. Give them each an importancy rating from let’s say, one to three. Then see which side has the highest score. Base your decision on the outcome of these numbers.
Ideally you also have a rough idea of what to do next. Something new lined up, or projects to work on. It’s better to prevent slipping down a deep hole of hopelessness and feeling lost. If you however are okay and comfortable with insecurity and you don’t exactly need to know what’s next, then go with this. In the end, this is entirely up to you.
Any job I take on must provide me with more than just a paycheck and give me the opportunity to learn something new every day. What has helped me to clear up mental space and be able to make decisions from a higher level of consciousness: getting my finances in order by keeping track of all my spending. This enabled me to look at more than just that next paycheck. Otherwise I’d be trapped and only hustling for cash, and that is something I do not want. (I wrote an article about a Google Sheet called the Digital Household Booklet, a simple solution that helped me improve my financial health and move up on the hierarchy of needs. I use it to see how much I have, and how much I can spend at all times. You can do the same😉)
Whatever you choose, remember that eventually all will fall into place if you are willing to keep exploring, learning, trying things out and adjusting where needed.