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Here are the best reasons to quit a high-powered job — or salvage it


Dream of quitting your job? Here’s some good news: The unemployment rate has hit a 49-year low, giving workers more leverage, and the data indicates that people who switch jobs end up earning more.

A strong economy isn’t the only indicator that it’s the right time to move on from a job, though. Sometimes, your current role sends clear signals that it’s time to get out — stat.

“Sunday scaries, or a feeling of dread that you have to go into work on Monday, are often the first sign of trouble,” said Melody Wilding, LMSW, an executive coach who specializes in helping ambitious professionals thrive at work.

While career experts recommend trying to mold a soul-crushing job into a fulfilling experience, at some point your best option is to throw in the towel. Here are six breaking points that indicate it’s the right time to brush up your resume.

Read more: The ultimate guide to creating an impressive LinkedIn resume, according to an expert recruiter, hiring manager, professor, and career coach

Your job is affecting your health

Every job can cause stress from time to time. Some roles, though, cause prolonged, acute stress that puts workers at risk for burnout, an occupation-related syndrome now recognized by the World Health Organization. It can get to the point that the stress is no longer worth the paycheck.

“Physical signs to watch out for include trouble sleeping, stomach pains, and hair loss,” said Wilding.

You don’t have to take on all of the responsibilities at your company on your own. Delegate tasks to spread work out among your team, and seek out a mental health professional to learn how to manage stress. If things don’t improve soon, put in your two-week’s notice for the sake of your health.

“No job is worth sacrificing your wellbeing for. If you find yourself in a toxic workplace situation, then it’s wise to consider moving elsewhere,” said Widling.

Your work feels meaningless

Work should provide a sense of purpose. It might be helping you achieve a financial goal (like paying off debt or saving for a house), or perhaps it’s connecting you to something bigger, such as improving your community.

“We all need meaning in our lives, and work is where we spend a whole lot of our time, so having that as one of our sources makes a lot of sense … but it’s on us to figure out how to create that for ourselves,” said Rebecca Fraser-Thill, a Pivot career coach and the director of faculty engagement and outreach for Bates Center for Purposeful Work, which helps people find employment that aligns with their interests and values.

Many of us get stuck in roles that lack meaning, though. In fact, 66 percent of American workers surveyed in a recent Gallup poll were not engaged or were actively disengaged with their jobs. This obviously makes the day-to-day difficult for workers to endure, but also leads to overall lower productivity, more accidents and reduced profitability for the organization — a lose-lose scenario.

The moment your job starts to feel meaningless, take action. Think about your values and goals — does your position align with them? Can it? If not, it might mean it’s time to find something else to do with your career.

Melody Wilding.
Courtesy of Melody Wilding

You’re bored and there’s no room for growth

Have things gotten stagnant at work? A dead-end job can prevent you from reaching your full potential in the long term.

“Humans are driven by a desire to continually learn and grow. If there’s a lack of advancement opportunities in your role, you can become discouraged and disengaged,” said Wilding.

Before giving up, find a way to challenge yourself. What’s missing at your organization? What big-picture ideas do you have brewing that could transform your company? Pick one demanding task and throw your energy into it. A fresh project could breathe new life into a position that’s gone stale.

If things still aren’t heading in the right direction, pivot away from your current role into a more challenging position somewhere else.

Your relationships at the office have soured beyond repair

The people you work with can turn an average job into a sublime experience — or an amazing position into a soul-destroying endeavor. Feeling friction with the staff? First, explore how you might be contributing to the dynamic and express your concerns, said Wilding. While intimidating, honest and open communication can go a long way to warming up frigid relationships.

But sometimes, a workplace can become so toxic that it’s beyond repair and the best thing for you to do is leave. As you begin your search for a new position, make a list of everything that wasn’t working at your last company and the key attributes you’d like to have at your next workplace. That will help you zero in on a culture that will help you thrive in your future role.

Read more: I was such a bad micromanager that all my employees quit — and it taught me the one trait all powerful leaders need

Your side hustle has taken off

It’s more common than ever for workers to moonlight on passion projects. But let’s get real: Working a full-time job and putting in extra hours on your side hustle can leave you sapped for energy. If you love your side hustle and it’s starting to look like a reliable way to earn a living, it might be time to ditch your 9-to-5 to pursue your passion.

“Consider making the leap when your side hustle is bringing in consistent income and you have a plan for how you’d scale it,” said Wilding. “Be smart about timing. Before quitting, you should evaluate your financial picture. Figure out how much runway you have.”

In a survey of 3,560 people conducted by The Hustle, only 51 percent of people said they loved their primary job, whereas more than three quarters of respondents said they loved their side hustle. Those extra hours you’ve been spending on that gig can pay off in a satisfying career for life.

Your job is invading your personal life

It’s human nature to complain about your job from time to time. But when occasionally blowing off steam turns into round-the-clock grumbling, you end up sabotaging the few precious hours you have away from the office and potentially damaging your relationships in the process.

“You know your job is negatively affecting your home life if you find yourself constantly complaining about work or distracted by job priorities in your off time,” said Wilding. “You may not be able to be fully present at home, which can lead to arguments.”

Don’t let job-related misery become a constant state of being. Consider cutting your losses and moving on to greener pastures that make you happy from 9 to 5 — and beyond.


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