How to know when to quit your job

All good (and bad) things come to an end.

When we embrace this fact, endings become easier.

You’re able to expect endings and prepare for the better things that lie ahead instead of dwelling on the past.

As you hone in on your career path, there are going to be new opportunities within and outside your expertise.

You may find that after years of preparing for a specific job that it no longer fits how you want your future to look. (I know this feeling very well!)

This is more than okay, and it just means that you have a solid foundation to work with when it comes time to leave.

If you’re unsure of whether or not you should leave your job, I can help you know exactly when it’s time to quit your job. 

If you want to listen instead of read, here’s the podcast episode that goes along with this post —Leave When You’re Happy.

How To Know When To Leave

People ask me all the time when to quit their jobs or how I knew when it was time for me to quit my job.

The truth: there is no right time.

Only YOU know the right time to quit.

My goal as your teacher and coach is to help you make the best decision for you.

You can decide whatever you want, just like your reason.

I think the best way to leave is to leave when you’re happy.

Leave because you want to. Leave because that chapter is over. Leave because the job has completed (for you, in your season).

Don’t leave because you think happiness is somewhere else.

I’ve quit practicing law and financial planning, so I know what it’s like to work your whole life for a career, then realize it’s not at all what you want to do.

You can read more about how I felt quitting my jobs here…

So, how can you make the best decision for you?

How do you know when it’s time to quit your job?

Here are signs to look for when you’re thinking about knowing when to leave your job… 

1. You’re in a work environment you don’t like.

You spend so much time at work. It’s important to have a supportive work environment. Remember that you decide whether you like something or not by your thoughts about it. But it may be something you don’t want to like. And in this case, it’s a reason to leave. For example, if there’s a superior harassing people, I wouldn’t want to do thought work around that. I would want to leave because I want to make it mean that it’s uncomfortable to be in an environment like that. 

2. The scheduling and hours no longer work for a new season of your life.

If there’s been a change in the hours or scheduling that interferes with your life, such as childcare, this is a good indicator it’s your time to move on. The chapter of this job can now be complete (I love thinking of it this way). You have to make the ending so there’s room for the next season to start. 

3. You’re weighing your current job against a new job offer you’ve received.

Be sure that this new opportunity has everything you’re looking for. Additionally, confirm that the job offer is secured before quitting your current one. You might have a hard time getting it back, should something fall through.

4. You think about 10 years from now and know that you’d advise your current self to quit.

If you know that your future self would quit this job, this is a huge sign that it’s time to quit. It’s funny how our future self always has such good advice. This is because we’re thinking so clearly, without the fear and doubt we have in our present circumstances. So, ask yourself what your future self would tell you to do about this job. She knows! 🙂

5. You’re being underpaid or underutilized.

If you’re not paid enough for the value you provide, or you’re not utilized enough, and you’ve taken the necessary steps to try and remedy these issues, then it may be time to find a place where you are valued for the work that you do. You can overdeliver all you want (and I highly recommend it), but sometimes, the job won’t recognize it, and you need to move on. 

6. When you envision where you’ll end up in the company, it’s not what you want to do.

Take a look at where your next promotion lands you within your company. If you’re in line to take over your boss’ position, but you don’t like what your boss does on a daily basis, then this trajectory likely isn’t for you. 

I experienced this as a lawyer. I saw what it was like to be a partner, working all weekend long. It wasn’t where I wanted to go with my career. So, I made the choice early on to get out and get on a different path.

7. The company isn’t doing well.

If you start to sense that there is trouble within the company that may affect your job, be prepared and do your research about what other jobs may be out there. Keep a close eye on the issue so that you’re not blindsided.

8. You’re being pulled in a different and new direction.

If you’re being pulled in a different and new direction, this is a sign it’s time to quit your job. As you grow and change, this is very likely to happen. I know from experience. I started a baby finance blog that led to me quitting law to become a financial planner. Then, I continued to grow my blog into a business, which lead to me quitting financal planning to be an online business owner. I was always being pulled into a new direction. I knew I need to end my chapters as lawyer and financial advisor in order to move forward in my new chapter.

9. You’re reading this blog post!

Seriously, though. If you’re spending a lot of mental energy thinking about quitting and reading posts about it, it’s likely time to quit your job.

If none of these issues identify what you’re feeling, write down what it is you’re feeling and try to pinpoint the root of the issue.

It’s natural for issues to arise within any job and sometimes they can be easily resolved or they can just pass with time.

Also, I highly suggest getting around the people who are doing something that excites you. Ask them if they’d be willing to answer a few questions or even better, grab a cup of coffee. Shadow them, as silly as it sounds, so you can know if you really want to do it.

Be thoughtful about the process of finding what it is to do as your career.

When you make a decision such as quitting your current job, it’s not something to be impulsive about.

In other words, think about the consequences!

Be Okay With The Consequences

As with every decision, there will be consequences.

Sometimes there will be negative consequences that come along with the right decision for you. 

Remember: problems are forever. There’s no place where you arrive where you’re problem free. 

I say this because I want you to know that switching jobs isn’t going to be what creates happiness for you. Happiness is within you. The job is not there to make you happy. You will have problems in your next job, too.

First things first, get your money right. If you’re leaving a job without another job in place, it’s important that you have an emergency fund with at least 6 months worth of expenses.

If you’re not prepared to leave for this reason, then it’s a good idea for you to stay a bit longer and save money.

If you’re leaving on bad terms, you may not have a good reference from your employer.

With that, you may also lose out on the network you’ve built up. When I quit my law job after 4.5 years of practicing, I lost out on my social circle.

This was okay for me though, because I knew I had become someone different – the person ready for a new beginning in financial planning. This meant that going to events tailored to lawyers was no longer part of my identity.

When you give up a career in a specific profession, it’s going to feel like you’re giving up who you are.

While all of these consequences are good to be aware of, they’re nothing that should hold you back from pursuing what you want to do in life.

All of the reasons that you have for wanting to leave your job help you to go in a certain direction.

The freedom from vs. freedom to concept from Dan Sullivan states that it’s easier to know what you want to leave than where you want to go.

This is OK just be aware of it and try to figure out where you’re headed.

Preparing for the consequences and being okay with them is part of planning for an ending.

When you plan for endings, they don’t catch you by surprise.

Plan For Endings (They’re Supposed To Happen)

Dr. Henry Cloud wrote a book called Necessary Endings that reframes the idea of an ending.

Instead of thinking negatively about the ending, reframe it and think about it positively. 

Think about leaving a job (or any other ending) as a neutral choice that means the season is complete. It’s over.

Life was designed for endings. Endings are normal, and quite literally, necessary. 

Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter all come to an end. Within each season, it’s important to take care of certain things. Some seasons you prepare the flowers to bloom and others you prep the house for the cold.

The same goes for the seasons in your life.

Start to expect endings and know that they are apart of the seasons of your life.

There will always be a new beginning at the other side of an ending.

Things are supposed to end.

Even marriages that last a lifetime end, because someone dies. Sorry to be morbid, but it’s true!

This is why it’s important not to have your worth dependent on things like your job or partner.

You will be so much more resilient because you won’t be dependent on other things.

You’ll be able to adapt more easily when you’re prepared for endings.

The more adaptable you are, the more resilient you are, the more able you will be to design your dream life no matter what is going on.

The good news is, life offers more opportunities than you can take.

Take the invention of Uber and Lyft, for example.

If you’re a taxi cab driver, then you’re seeing the writing on the wall and looking ahead into Uber or Lyft instead of depending on the cab business.

When you plan for a certain career path to end, you prepare yourself to accept the beginning of another with poise and grace.

This ending is going to have a specific meaning in your life and it’s up to you to make it mean what you want.

Decide Ahead Of Time What To Make It Mean

You can make what you do mean whatever you want.

Do whatever you want, just like your reason.

If you’re leaving your job to become a happier, more independent person, great!

This is a great meaning that will carry you through the trials that may follow once you make the decision.

It’s important for you to have a meaning behind leaving your job.

By making decisions with intention, you are able to stay vigilant when doubt creeps in.

Just intending and desiring to do something, doesn’t mean you will actually do it. You have to take action.

The more you say no and the more you don’t make it mean something, the more you will create the exact life you want because you won’t be saying yes to what other people want you to do.

Just because you’re leaving your job and it is ending, don’t make it mean that something has gone wrong.

Make it mean something has gone right and you’re on the path to great things.

Your meaning will help to create your vision.

When your vision is clear, your future is bright.

Get Clear On Your Vision

When you get clear about where you’re going and you have this idea of who you want to be, you will get to a point where endings aren’t uncomfortable anymore.

You’ll know that you’re identifying with who you want to be if you have the results that you want.

The more you do it, the easier it gets.

Every time I quit my job, each ‘quit’ got easier.

Become the person you’re trying to become now so that you feel in alignment with your new direction (making leaving easy).

Having a hard time adopting the mindset of who you want to be? Create an alter ego.

Start doing side work like the work you want to do, if possible. While I was an attorney, I started a blog because it was something I wanted to do.

As I said before, get around the people who are doing what you want to do.

Create your future from your future by deciding on your vision and remaining clear about it throughout the changes that will inevitably come when leaving your job.

If you envision yourself leaving your job on good terms, then create the alter ego needed to make it happen and leave when you’re happy.

Leave When You’re Happy

I learned how to leave jobs when I’m happy and it has made all the difference.

I want you to be able to leave when you’re happy – just because you want to, not because you have to.

A job doesn’t have to be so bad for you to leave.

When I decided to leave my career in financial planning, it wasn’t because my job was something I needed to leave, but something I wanted to leave. I knew that the future results I wanted of making more money and running my own business wasn’t going to come about while being a financial planner.

That meant giving up my job and my identity, and while it wasn’t easy, it was worth it.

Most people think happiness is just around the corner from changing the circumstance.

You see this in a lot of people who jump from job to job to find that happiness.

I am all for intentional change, but it’s important to know you won’t be happier because of it.

Notice if this is something you find yourself doing, and coach yourself to have more positive thoughts in the now.

Create a life that makes you happy right now, so that going forward you can do things just because you want to do them, instead of trying to find that happiness.

You’ll be able to stop expecting your job to make you happy.

More importantly, you’ll be able to leave just because you want to, instead of it being because you have to.

A Final Note!

At the end of the day, only you know when the time is right to leave.

Be smart about your decision and not impulsive.

Do this with positive thoughts. Coach yourself through it and know that endings are a natural part of life.

Leave your job because you want to. Don’t wait until something has gone terribly wrong. Leave when you’re happy.