We all want to love the work we do. But if you’re like the average American—who will change jobs 12 times before they’re 52 —chances are you might end up at a job you hate at some point. A recent Gallup poll found that 66 percent of Americans aren’t fully engaged or enthusiastic about their jobs. That’s a lot of people just “working for the weekend.” And hating a job can reverberate through much more than just the hours of 9 to 5. When we’re unhappy in our work, it can affect every aspect of our lives, from getting sick more frequently to losing sleep to depression and anxiety.
So if you hate your job, it may be time to quit. And while, sure, it can be stressful to leave, it doesn’t have to be. But it’s important to ask yourself these three questions before quitting. We’ll also explore the ways to quit your job without burning bridges.
1. Is this a passing emotion?
In short, are you having a brief bad spell? Or is this the tenth Monday in a row when you’ve awakened at home and dreaded heading to work?
Think about what Steve Jobs said in his 2005 speech at Stanford University:
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” If you put a percentage on it, how often do you find yourself wishing you don’t have to go to work?
Of course, you’re going to have bad days sometimes. But people who work for 40 years get about 8,800 working days. So when bad days become too regular, it’s time to think about moving on.
2. Does your job negatively affect your life?
Work is essential, but it’s not the only thing in life. It would help if you asked yourself these questions
- Is this job negatively affecting my health? How so?
- Does it have a detrimental effect on my relationships with the people most important to me?
If the answer to these questions are yes, then it may be time to re-consider the job you’re in.
3. Do you feel like you’ve stopped growing professionally?
If you feel stagnant professionally, it could be a sign that you are in the wrong field. For instance, you could have been in the same job for over three years but are not growing with the company or learning anything new. It’s essential to never stop growing and learning. Since we spend a majority of our waking hours at work, it stands to reason that this is a crucial question. In fact, a British study based on the lives of 600,000 people concluded that “lifelong learning” was one of seven factors that led to greater longevity.
When you’re always learning in your role, you open yourself up to new opportunities at your current company, more chances for promotions, a higher likelihood of earning more income, and even making yourself more valuable when you move on to the next venture.
Try cataloging where you’ve learned and grown in this job. Is it difficult to find even a few examples? If you’re putting in hours, trading your time for money, and helping build someone else’s wealth — but not growing, learning, and gaining things that you value — then think about quitting.
Everything up to here is about whether you should quit once you’ve decided that it’s time to quit your job. But, of course, once you’ve made that decision, there is nothing at all wrong with sticking it out another three or six months — whatever you need, frankly — to formulate a plan.
Maybe it’s about getting serious about a job search, or starting to lay the groundwork for a side hustle that could turn into something bigger, or finding ways to cut spending and build up your savings before moving on.
Here’s the best way to quit your job that will leave you prepared for the future.
Find Your Next Job Before You Leave
Though this might seem like an obvious first step before quitting a job you hate, some job seekers still make the mistake of not lining up for their next gig. Research shows it’s easier to get a job offer when you’re still employed.
Before you quit, update your resume and LinkedIn profile, and start your job search during non work hours. Begin to ask for recommendations from former supervisors and colleagues. Also, save work samples to help build your portfolio. Need some help? Check out our blog.
When preparing to search for a new job, make sure to register and upload your resume to popular job websites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and CareerBuilder. Companies and recruiters scan these sites frequently. Also, turn on notifications so that you receive daily job alert emails.
Inform Your Employer
Once you find a job and decide to leave your current job, you need to tell your employer. It would be best to leave your current employer on good terms, as you might need them to act as your references in the future. Tips for telling your boss that you are leaving include:
Give two weeks’ notice, if possible, and try to tell your boss in person. This might be nerve-wracking, but it is the polite, professional thing to do.
Keep it brief. One way to keep the conversation positive is to be general and concise about your reason for leaving. For example, you can simply say you are leaving for “a new opportunity” or another general reason. Maybe you can also offer to help find and train your replacement to go the extra mile and show you still care about the team you’re leaving.
Remember: Transitions can be scary, but the average American spends over 90,000 hours at their job over a lifetime. You deserve to spend that time doing something that fuels your bank account and your career and what gets you excited. Do you want more tips and tricks on navigating your professional life? The Meratas blog has you covered on building the best career for you!