Maybe you went to college, got a fancy job, and are earning a great salary that really impresses your parents. You feel so independent since you can buy nice groceries from Whole Foods and pay your own bills, finally. Problem is, when your weekend rolls around, you’re too drained or sad about your work life to fully enjoy it or to be present. Or perhaps you’ve been working for a company and have really enjoyed the work but think it’s time for a change. It’s hard to decide at what point you should quit and look for new opportunities.
Everyone will be in a situation at some point or another where you don’t like your job or you wish something about it would change. That’s totally normal.
If you felt called to read this, I want to start off with some ground work so we are all on the same page:
- It can only get better from here.
- You are never stuck in a situation.
- It is not embarrassing or shameful to quit a job and do what’s best for you.
- Your decision is up to only you.
- Each person has a different experience.
I’m very aware that millennials get attacked all the time for “not working hard”–but that is not my view of our generation. I believe we want to work with purpose and feel aligned to our goals. For me, not feeling aligned in my corporate consulting job was soul-crushing. I didn’t feel challenged or excited about my work.
I wasn’t sad at my job. I didn’t hate my boss. Nothing was necessarily “wrong” with the job itself. I just knew that it was not tapping into my personal strengths and fulfilling my dreams. I felt like each hour at the office was me wasting time that I could have spent doing a million other interesting things. I truly felt like if I died tomorrow, I would not be proud of the work I was doing.
If you’re reading this and feel like you can somewhat relate, but are not sure if you should quit your job, ask yourself these 5 questions to know if you’re ready to leave:
1. How do you feel when you tell people about your job? I vividly remember being at a party, and one girl asked me how my job was going. I felt so uncool about it, and the last thing I wanted to talk about was my job. I knew I was an interesting person, but the disconnect between my job and my own interests was so evident in this moment. My job did not portray who I was as a human being or what I valued. The people I didn’t respect would be so impressed by my title, and the people I did respect couldn’t care at all. If you don’t feel proud of your work, then that’s a good sign what you’re doing should not be long term.
Additional Takeaway: Avoid asking someone what they do for work as your ice breaker–instead, ask them what they do for fun!
2. Do you want to get promoted there? If the answer is “No,” ask yourself why. Most likely a “no” means that you probably don’t want to stay at the company, or getting promoted there is not important to you. In that case, brainstorm ideas of what kind of job would motivate you to grow at the company.
3. How do you look right now? Take 30 seconds to get up from your computer and go look in the mirror. I’m serious. How do you physically look right now? Look at your skin…hair…and weight. Unhappiness and stress in a job show physically. I was suffering with terrible skin one year ago–and as soon as I quit, within a few weeks my skin cleared up. It felt like magic. It also was a huge sign that I need to start listening to my body much, much sooner.
4. How do you talk to the people closest to you? You’re most vulnerable around the ones you love. Do you find yourself breaking down, venting whenever you have the opportunity, or crying over the little things when you’re around your best friend / lover / mom / dad / dog? That may be a sign that your work life is taking control over your emotions and spreading itself into your personal life. This flat out sucks, and it can be really difficult for you (and others around you) in this moment.
5. What does your intuition tell you? Sometimes it’s hard to convey to other people why you want to quit your job–especially if you have a “good job” that “gets your foot in the door” according to traditional society. Even if you can’t explain it, you might just feel it in your core that you’re not in the right place. Take a minute to stop thinking about what others would think of your potential decision, and listen to your own intuition.
OKAY, if you think you’re ready to make a switch in your career after asking yourself those five questions, it’s time to take action and take the next steps:
Analyze your current situation: Student loans. Bills. Rent….Not everyone has the means to quit a job when they don’t like it because they cannot afford a decrease in income or time off to look for jobs. I respect that, but I challenge you to think of ways to overcome this. If you’re in that situation, start to plan your exit and the types of salaries and jobs you’d be willing to accept.
On the other hand, If you’ve been saving money by cutting back on uber rides and ClassPass (my biggest discretionary expenses) and could actually afford to take three months without salary, then it may be beneficial for you to use that time and do something you’ve always wanted or spend it searching for a job.
Discover your values: Each of us have different desires and outcomes, and it’s important to match our careers to our priorities. Complete a value assessment and discover your top 5 values. Then, make sure your next job embodies at least one of those core values!
Journal about your previous jobs: Waste no time. Even if you’re currently in a job that you know you don’t like, but don’t know what to do, begin journaling. This is something I did while soul searching that helped me develop stronger self-awareness of what I liked and disliked career-wise.
Create a list of every job you’ve ever held and write the following about each:
- What you liked and disliked about the role
- What you liked and disliked about the manager
- What would’ve made the job better
- What you would have changed about the role
This is an exciting time for you to figure out how to get out of your comfort zone and do something you actually care about. Don’t ever be embarrassed to talk to people about your situation; more people feel this way about their jobs than you’d think. Remember, it’s great to listen to others, but it’s your life. Listen to yourself first and foremost!
Have you ever changed career paths?
Also by Lilia: 4 Ways to Start 2017 with Intention and Rock the New Year
Related: 5 Best Pieces of Career Advice I’ve Received (and One I’m Still Waiting to Hear)
5 Things to Feel Okay About Your Career
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