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When Should Your Quit Your Job?

Are you stuck in a job that's draining you, but unsure whether to call it a day? This guide will help you identify if it's time to move on.

A picture of a woman looking at her laptop wondering if she should quit her job

The average person changes their job around 12 times during their lifetime. For Gen Z, it's much higher (up to 10 times between the ages of 18 and 34).

There are many good reasons for this.

Better progression, feeling bored, being enticed away with the allure of higher pay. Sometimes though, you end up staying. Perhaps you aren't getting other offers, or perhaps fear of the unknown is keeping you trapped in your role.

The impact of that, when you truly hate your job, can be profound. Stress, insomnia, anxiety and depression can all result.

But I would go one step further. In her book, Regrets of the Dying, palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware wrote about the top 5 most common regrets she heard. Of these, the number 1 was "I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me".

This can of course refer to a wide range of topics, but I would not be surprised if these related to careers.

And yet.

Staying is very seductive. The security of a pay-check can be a tonic, and the comfort and familiarity is so warm and reassuring. These can both keep you lulled and content enough to stay. Plus, you may fall into seductive avoidance behaviours which make it tricky to face into change.

So, deciding if and when to quit your job is a deeply personal decision. After all, only you know the specific circumstances of your life. There will be trade-offs to make. Things to consider. Consequences, both of staying and of leaving.

During my career in corporate HR, I supported many people with their career development. Whether through 121s or personal coaching, I have been in hundreds of discussions about how engaged, happy and motivated people feel in their work.

In this guide, I'm sharing my expert opinions and insights on when to finally call it quits, and what to do if you find yourself still stuck in indecision.

So what are we waiting for? Let's dive in.


Reason #1 to Quit: It's toxic

As I covered in my most recent webinar, defining what 'toxic' looks like can vary from person to person. However, if you notice that:

  • Your manager is gaslighting you or pitting people against each other

  • There are zero boundaries around the hours you're expected to work

  • There's a normalised culture of nastiness and back-stabbing

  • You see brazen misogyny and other discrimination

  • Colleagues are utterly unsupported

I would call that toxic.

That kind of environment is so difficult to thrive in. You'll end up second-guessing yourself, your confidence will be in tatters, and your mental health will suffer.

Reason #2 To Quit: There's no scope for growth

What I don't mean, is you went for a promotion one time and didn't get it.

No, this is about a lack of progression and growth opportunities as a whole. This could look like:

  • No feedback

  • No stretch assignments

  • No sign-off to shadow different teams

  • No opportunity to apply for job rotations or secondments

  • Your requests to discuss your next role are rebuffed or minimised

In those instances, you've already gotten everything you can out of this place. If you stay, you'll wind up bored and stagnated, which can lead to burnout fast.

Reason #3 to Quit: You can't see the impact of what you do

Now this is a personal one.

For me, being able to see that what I was doing mattered, was fundamental to feeling like my day was time well spent. On the occasions where projects I spent months on got shelved time and again, or proposals were dismissed out of hand, or I spent a great deal of energy trying to convince the higher-ups that the HR agenda was important...

Man, that was draining, and it took a toll.

Burnout isn't just about excessive workloads. It can occur when you have no purpose.

So, do you feel that what you're doing actually matters?

Reason #4 to Quit: You are Chronically Under-Compensated

This is not a case of being a bit disappointed with your pay-rise. This is about being in a role where:

  • You are consistently paid under the market value for the position

  • You are well below the median of your level's pay scale

  • Your pay rises are well below inflation for years

  • There's very few additional benefits

Only you can know how much money means to you, however, this isn't really about the money itself.

It's about fairness. It's about being paid your worth and having your value and contributions being recognised, vs being taken for granted.

Reason #5 to Quit: It's taking a serious toll on your mental health

Maybe you experience some of the above.

Maybe you're experiencing none of these examples specifically, yet you still feel miserable.

How do you know if these feelings are related to your job?

Listen to your heart and your stomach when the alarm goes off in the morning. How does your body react to the sign that you have to go to work?

Depression, anxiety and burnout are common right now. Yes. We've all been though a hell of a pandemic, a cost of living crisis, global conflict, and a lot of people are struggling. But feeling this way because of your job not normal, and shouldn't be normalised.

Your job shouldn't make you miserable.

It is not worth it.

What To Do If You're Trapped by Indecision

"All this makes sense, but I still don't know what to do!", I hear you cry. Here's how I would recommend you move from indecision into action.

  • As I explain in my free guide - What To Do If You Hate Your Job - start by getting curious. Don't assign judgment or blame here, but get inquisitive about what actually feels wrong about this role. Is it unique to this company? Is it just that it feels hard because it's new? What's actually going on for you?

  • Take one small step. The moment you actually start doing instead of just thinking, things will become clearer. Talk to someone you trust like a mentor or coach. Make a list of all the things you're doing every day for 1 week, and rank them for whether they give your energy or drain it. Have some conversations with friends about what they enjoy about their jobs, and see how it makes you feel. You're gathering data.

  • Take a larger step. Regardless of whether you feel committed to change or not, start applying to roles that pique your interest. If nothing else, you will learn a lot about the roles and different companies by the process of applying, and hopefully going for the interview. Being offered the role doesn't mean you have to take it, but it does give you options. If you need help smashing this, check out my free Winning Interview Script and Winning Cover Letter.

Ultimately, it's a personal decision about whether to stay or go. I personally believe that, given we have approximately 4500 weeks on this earth, being unhappy in your career is not worth it. The question is, what does 'enough is enough' look like for YOU?

Still not sure and want to talk it through? I offer 1:1 Career Coaching to support you through these decisions. Check them out here and let me support you to figure out what you actually want from your work!

Always on your side,

CEO and Founder, Clarity Coaching with Louise


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