How to Decide whether to Quit Your Job
Some people are happy with their jobs and know they want to keep them. Other people are clear that they want to quit. They don’t have to wrestle with whether they should or not.
For some people, though, the decision to quit or stay is a tough one. Maybe the job offers immense challenge but a miserable commute. Or the team is great, but the higher-ups are bone-headed. Or the work is exciting but the time off … well, there isn’t any.
The important thing in deciding whether to quit or stay is to be sure you’ve examined the issue as clearly and objectively as you can.
For example, if you’re bored stiff and feel certain you’ve learned all you can in your job, it may be time to move on. Then again, that boredom may signal that it’s worth seeking a promotion, transferring to another department or project, or even proposing a position that doesn’t yet exist but that you could fill perfectly.
Similarly, if your job is a significant source of stress, it may be wise to leave. Then again, if the salary and benefits enable you to live the life you want outside of work, maybe you need to learn to manage that stress; after all, there’s no certainty that another job will be any less stressful.
One way to consider whether to stay or leave is to try futurecasting. This is a process often used at the organizational level to imagine the distant future, but it can also help in imagining the near future for you personally.
To futurecast about your job, imagine you’ve made the decision either to keep your job or to quit. Really go inside your head and imagine a future in which you’ve made the decision. Then notice how you feel about it. I once used this technique with a tough decision, and when I considered one possible alternative and immediately reacted with “no way,” I knew that it wasn’t the right decision.
In general, it may be time to quit when you’re relentlessly frustrated or unhappy and don’t see any avenues for improvement. In that case, there’s nothing to lose by seeing what opportunities exist elsewhere.
But don’t fool yourself into thinking that a new job will solve all your problems. Recall my friend Brad, who was clear that he wanted a new job, but each job he interviewed for turned out to have its own serious disadvantages. The experience of job hunting led him to see the negatives in his current job as much less important than the positives he’d be giving up by changing jobs. He started by being miserable and wanting to quit. He ended up being content with staying.
In the current environment especially, it’s worth thinking carefully about whether you’re unsatisfied enough in your job to leave a sure thing.