At some point in your career, you’ll reach a point when you’re at the end of a rapidly fraying rope. And all you want to do is tell everyone off. And you may have visions of quitting and walking out in a blaze of glory.
First off, you likely have every right to feel the way you do. But I don’t want you to continue to suffer because of that person or situation that continues to plague you. If you do decide to quit, I want you to consider your emotions but make the decision with your exceptional reasoning powers. There are times when quitting is the right thing to do. But there are also times when it may hurt you more than help you.
How Can I Tell When it’s Time to Quit?
Let’s break this down. Scroll to the challenge that is causing your misery
Challenging Boss, Team or Co-Worker
Have you tried to resolve the source of conflict?
Is there a management change in site?
No- Ask for a “new opportunity.” If the frustration with your boss is reaching a critical point and you can’t wait for the change to come (or if that’s unlikely because you work for a small company), it may be time to look for a new job.
Yes- If you’re able to, hang on and give your new boss a chance.
The Schedule is Grueling
Are there obligations that are self-imposed but not necessary to success?
Yes- take time to identify the “must-attend” vs. “nice to attend” and cut back on the latter. If you’re traveling too much, find ways to leverage technology to reduce travel.
Can you remove items from your plate?
- Start conversations to gain clearance to hire someone to help you
- Prioritize and spend less time on non-essential items (you should do this anyway)
No- This would be a good time to sit down and think about what’s most important to you. Is it collecting a paycheck to cover expenses? Is it more time to devote to your personal life? Is it climbing the ladder? Once you become clear on what’s important, structure your life accordingly. If the work load you are being asked to manage is unrealistic and in clear conflict with your top priorities, it may be time to look for a new job.
You Are Under-Appreciated
If you’re getting paid less or stuck at a level lower than those with the same amount of experience, it’s time to think about your next move.
Have you made it clear that you want a raise/promotion?
No- Your needs may not be known. Don’t be afraid to share your expectations with management.
Yes- If you agreed to a timeline after which your performance would be evaluated and a decision about a raise/promotion would be made, revisit this conversation with your boss. If these conversations are fruitless, it may be time to brush up your resume and start networking. If you get an offer, you can leverage it to get what you want at your current job. Or find a new role where your contributions are appropriately recognized.
The Work is Not a Match
If you find yourself under-stimulated or not using the skills that you would like in the role you’re in, lift up your head and start to evaluate.
Have you requested a new challenge?
No- If you’re under-stimulated, focus on a few small wins and follow them up with a request to try something different. If you’re in a role that doesn’t match your skillset, you may be under-performing, which can be tricky when asking for a new challenge. This may be a good time to highlight your past achievements and ask for a personality assessment to help your boss see the mismatch. You must first establish that this isn’t related to motivation but rather, that your potential will be fully realized in a role that aligns better with your natural skillset.
Yes- if you’ve continued to demonstrate success in your current role, you’ve had the conversation with management about wanting a new challenge and a substantial amount of time has passed with no movement in sight, it may be time to use your smarts to look elsewhere.
Something Else is Bothering Me
If I haven’t addressed your grievance in the above, a good rule of thumb is to evaluate if you can, in a professional manner, request a change to your current situation. Gauge the reaction to your request and if you don’t sense that the pin in your side is going to be removed anytime soon, you may want to see what else is out there. Learning about other opportunities can often lead to clarity about what you really want to do.
Prevent a Career-Limiting Move
Whatever you do, be sure to approach the thing that is bothering you EARLY and with PROFESSIONALISM. When we are stuck in a stressful situation for too long, we do have the tendency to let our emotions take the steering wheel.
You want to be the one in control of your own destiny without any regrets. Bottom line: there are times when quitting is the best thing you could ever do for yourself. And there are times when you need to ride out the challenges around you, reflect on what you can learn from the experience, and find ways to cope until things get better (wine and chocolate help). Don’t forget, this experience is likely a small chapter in your long book of life. As the saying goes, “this too shall pass.” And if it doesn’t or you just can’t take it anymore, you may be surprised by all the doors that start opening when you start looking.
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