When Should You Quit Your Job?

It's sooner than you think

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If your job sucks, don’t wait for it to suck more.

If you’re thinking about quitting your job, I’d like to make the argument that you can.

Not that you should—and I want to make that distinction at the top. There are hundreds of reasons why you shouldn’t quit a job. You have a health insurance plan that you need. You don’t have another job lined up and will be financially vulnerable. While your current job sucks, there aren’t many other better jobs out there.

What I want to do is narrow in on the instances where you might be unsure if quitting your job is the right move. Perhaps you’ve hit a plateau. Maybe you’re you’ve become complacent. You go to work and even the sight of your boss makes you fill with dread.

In these instances, I want to entertain the idea that it is ok to walk away.

It’s easy to be hopeful about a job, especially at the beginning. New jobs are exciting! And promising! You picture a new job as somehow different from your last jobs. For many, there’s the moment where it becomes clear that it’s all the same—and it’s fucking tiring. You go from feeling energized and challenged to burnt out and bored.

That’s not a good place to be. Feeling negative and down on your work sucks.

Beyond the practical, there are a hundred reasons why quitting your job might seem impossible. You might feel indebted to your employers, or you might be holding out hope that your boss will see in you what you see in yourself. Every time you’re passed over for a promotion or salary increase, you might still believe your time is coming soon.

What’s harmful about this mindset is that it causes you to question your value. If you ever feel like your employer doesn’t honor your worth you need to go.

Even if you don’t quit your job, entertaining the idea of quitting forces you to consider both your worth and your goals. Are you willing to wait until another promotion comes up? Do you think your superiors see in you what you see in yourself? How critically have your thought about your future, and will this job serve your goals?

If the answer is no, it’s ok to walk away.

You can quit a job respectfully and with kindness—and it’s ok to be upfront about the reasons you’re leaving. And, if your employer does value your worth and you made a mistake, you can likely come back.

If you’re considering leaving a job, think about the things you want that you’re currently not getting. Find a way to express them to your boss or someone in leadership. Sometimes, the simple act of articulating your needs can get you where you want within the company.

I was inspired to write this piece because of an episode of The Cut, a podcast from New York Magazine. In this episode, the hosts interviewed folks who grappled with feeling stuck at their jobs. They expressed a mental shift they had to make to realize that quitting might be the best answer to their problems.

Quitting a job isn’t about saying “fuck you” to an employer (although sometimes it is). It’s about putting yourself first.

I remember someone once told me to quit a job before I got resentful. I didn’t fully understand what that meant until I quit my last job. I wasn’t learning, I was constantly frustrated, and the job didn’t provide me with the opportunities I had hoped for. For months, my only answer was just to wait. I just assumed I’d have to wait this out until things got better, but as I did I got closer and closer to crossing the line from stagnation to resentment. Not only were things never going to get better, but I was just getting more and more bitter about it. The only person that affected was me.

Quit while you’re ahead.

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