We are all in pursuit of our dream job, and while some of us may already be settled into the perfect career, others of us are questioning the roles we’re currently in. At some point or another, all of us have asked ourselves, should I quit?
We’ve weighed the pros and cons, had discussions with our loved ones and mentors, and made decisions about our jobs based on the outcome of these lists and conversations. But, when do we really know that it’s time to leave a job and pursue something different? Are there situations where we might need to dig in our heels, endure the frustration, and stay longer than we thought we would? In today’s world of living-for-the-moment and chasing our dreams, how do we view jobs that may not be our passion?
Here are some thoughts to consider while discerning whether we need to tough it out in the job we’re in or turn in our two weeks notice.
WHEN WE SHOULD QUIT
When there’s no more room for growth.
An important benchmark of any job is the opportunity (or lack thereof) for growth within your company. Even higher-ups with years and years of experience in their role will acknowledge that one of the reasons that they continue on is because they are always identifying ways in which they can grow and change as they work. As human beings, craving an environment of growth is at the core of who we are. Gretchen Rubin, a popular author on the topic of happiness, conducted scores of research on what brings people joy, and she found that “a key element of a happy life is a sense of growth – of learning, of fixing something, of helping someone, of creating something, of improving something.” If you’ve explored every opportunity for growth and additional options don’t exist any longer, it may be worth considering a career change.
It’s important to put growth into context, understanding that being promoted from sales associate directly to CEO isn’t realistic. Instead, analyze the practical ways in which you can continue to grow long-term, both professionally and personally, exploring every option. If no opportunity remains, it might be time to move on.
…analyze the practical ways in which you can continue to grow long-term, both professionally and personally, exploring every option.
When you’re opening your own business.
So many amazing young women are spending their days working 9-5 jobs to pay the bills while they pursue their passion projects outside of office hours. They are filling their free time thinking about business strategies, testing potential new products, developing web sites and social media accounts, obtaining investors, and checking items off of their new company to-do lists. There comes a point in any entrepreneur’s life when it’s time to convert their side hustle into a full-time gig, and most business owners need to let go of the safety and comfort that comes along with their day jobs in order to move forward.
It’s for this reason that we don’t always see investors fund projects dreamt up by people who are still working other jobs to provide themselves with additional income; in their minds, true entrepreneurs need the push, the risk, and the drive that comes from quitting their full-time jobs, freeing them up to chase after their dreams more wholeheartedly.
When the office culture is abusive or derogatory.
This seems like an obvious point, but we’ve heard more stories than we’d care to admit about young women working in offices that turn the other cheek towards – nay, encourage – abusive or derogatory corporate culture. This can come in many forms, from expecting employees to work ridiculous hours and demanding they accomplish personal tasks for their supervisors to turning a blind eye to offensive verbiage when it’s used in conversations or in emails. If you find yourself in an office environment that’s cruel or emotionally dangerous, it is time to move on. No paycheck, promotion, or connection is worth the personal sacrifice that you will make by remaining in a toxic setting.
WHEN WE SHOULD STAY
When the positives outweigh the negatives.
It’s easy to believe that everything in our life – relationships, careers, vacations, homes – should fall into a clear-cut realm of perfection, when, in fact, striving towards perfection will lead to disappointment. Trying our best is certainly important, but seeking to reach an unattainable status will ultimately bring us down. Instead, make up a list of each aspect of your job, marking each item as either positive or negative. You may be surprised to find that even the littlest of things – a great vacation policy, the chance to work with a colleague who has become your mentor, excellent access to exciting people in your industry – will start to add up, and soon the positive column will outnumber the negative one.
Instead of focusing on the hard, frustrating parts of our jobs – the cranky boss, the paper tray that is always jammed, the redundant assignment that we’re continually asked to complete – we can change our mindset to practice gratitude towards the positive pieces of our work.
When the going gets tough (the tough get going).
There’s no doubt about it; life will throw us curveballs. Our jobs are no exception, a reality we understand frequently as we encounter setbacks and struggles as we trudge through the daily grind. Even those of us working in our dream careers have days that certainly necessitate a glass of wine or a super-long yoga class after hours, allowing us to relax and unwind and leave the stress of the day at the office. But setbacks, though frustrating, are not necessarily a cue to quit. Instead, they may serve as just the motivation we need to think creatively, actively problem-solve, and overcome obstacles. We will always benefit from striving to conquer our problems in the office, either professionally (with a positive acknowledgement from a supervisor or co-worker) or personally (by strengthening our resilience).
…setbacks, though frustrating, are not necessarily a cue to quit.
When relationships can become resources.
We have all met people (or maybe even just one person) at work that make our days brighter. They encourage us and challenge us, and they walk alongside us through whatever the workday may bring. They facilitate new connections and they brainstorm exciting ideas with us, collaborating on projects and supporting us as we learn and grow. Positive relationships with coworkers can not only provide us with personal fulfillment, but they can also lead to new collaborations and potential career opportunities in the future.
Some entrepreneurs find their business partners after working together in a different setting, and allowing their business skills to grow within the same professional context provided them with the resources, ideas, and practices they needed to forge ahead into the world of business ownership. Similarly, others have found the connection they needed to move to a different job thanks to an introduction from a coworker at their existing place of work. Valuing the people you work with can undoubtedly make your daily life better while potentially smoothing the path for your future career.
How do you determine whether you should stay in a job or quit?
Image via Edith Young