Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay?
How to Know When to Leave Your Job
Let’s face it, everyone has had a job they hated, probably multiple jobs they’ve hated. And a lot of times we’ve quit these jobs but there are also a lot of times where we stick it out and stay even if we’re completely miserable.
If you’re one of the many people stuck in a job that you desperately want to leave what keeps you there? What’s holding you back from making the decision to leave?
Why is it too good to leave but too bad to stay?
Here are some common scenarios for those of us who have been in this situation:
- We go back and forth, one day we’re leaving and the next we’re staying.
- We make lists of the pros and cons. And if we’re honest when we’re making this type of list there are always more cons than pros.
- We ask our friends, family, and maybe even strangers what they think we should do. And based on who we ask we get several answers. Friends want to support us so they back up all our reasons for leaving. Family, even though they want us to be happy, worries that we’ll end up poor and even more miserable.
- We have a good day, and convince ourselves it’s finally on the upswing only to be beaten down again in a week. And these good days are few and far between so we cling to them.
- We delay making a decision because we’re scared of the unknown. What if we end up in an even worse situation? What if we make a mistake?
- We justify choosing inaction because on the outside it appears that we have things better than some people.
Any way you look at it you’re stuck and miserable and you desperately want a change.
So how do you know when it’s time to leave your job?
You’re in a toxic environment or you’re being abused. I use the word abused with a lot of caution. It is a very strong word. There are some people who when they’re being held accountable or disagree with someone in authority say they feel abused. That is not the situation I’m talking about. I’m talking about when someone at your workplace is exhibiting behavior like swearing at you, verbally threatening you, or in some way causing you to fear for your safety.
These types of behavior bring about toxicity in the workplace and create an environment lacking in psychological safety. If you’re continuously being put down or feel as if your job is threatened by doing something wrong it can be debilitating.
I know, I’ve been there. I remember sitting in my boss’s office watching his face get redder and redder, spit flying from his mouth right before he threw a pen at me. Thinking about it now makes me anxious. At the time I was frozen with fear, I could not perform my job for fear of getting this treatment again or worse. I was living in a continuous state of fight or flight.
If you experience this it’s not only time to contact HR but it’s definitely time to remove yourself from the situation. No job is worth this type of behavior.
Your mental and/or physical health is suffering. Obviously, if you’re in a toxic environment or being abused your health is suffering but here I’m talking about the type of suffering that comes with working too many hours, always feeling not good enough, doing a job that drains your energy, being asked to be that magical unicorn that can do everything from transforming your company’s culture overnight to developing a cure for cancer.
Maybe you’re burned out, chronically stressed, or you’ve developed anxiety or depression. Your hours are so intense that you’re wiped out when you’re done with work and you have no time or energy to spend on what’s important to you. And forget about exercise or eating right! Or despite the burnout and exhaustion, you can’t sleep and therefore can’t rest and restore.
With the shift to working from home because of the COVID pandemic, a lot of people are finding they’re working more hours and it’s become more difficult to get away from work without the transition between the office and home. This situation, if left to continue, can lead to the type of mental or physical health problems I’m talking about.
Lack of fulfillment. So while those first two ways to know when to leave your job are obvious, this one is a little more subtle. When you’re in a job where you get no sense of fulfillment and feel unaligned with your purpose, desires, and skills it can be soul-sucking. You feel like there’s no point in your work. And while you appreciate that you get paid to do something like this you might feel a little guilty, after all some people can’t get a job and here you have one that you think is unnecessary.
Just as when your physical and mental health are suffering, when you’re lacking fulfillment and purpose in your job you can experience a lot of the same thoughts and feelings. Pessimism, hopelessness, exhaustion, overwhelm, restlessness, or feeling dejected, lost, angry, disheartened are sometimes used to describe how it feels without purpose.
The thing is that we spend a lot of time engaged in work so why not be doing something that provides joy and energy and brings a sense of helping the greater good?
Gone are the days our parents or grandparents talk about where you work for one company for 40 years, retire with a pension, and hope you’re healthy enough to enjoy the time you have left.
These days we know it’s possible to work on your own terms doing something you love that provides both a sense of fulfillment and financial stability.
So if you’re facing any of the three situations above consider how you might make that transition and finally leave your job. Think about how life would feel to be in a career aligned with your purpose, one where you feel a sense of flow, joy, happiness, passion, enthusiasm, motivation, calmness, peace, energetic, and confident. It starts with that first courageous decision to leave the known for the unknown and take a risk on finding the fulfillment you desire.