“How will I know it’s just time to walk away, whether I have a job or not?”

The question came from a friend who’s been struggling at work. The work isn’t aligned with her interests and , while she’s very good at it, she’s frustrated and unhappy. She wants to quit.

Is it ever okay to quit a “good” job if it’s just not a fit? Good question.

This week I listened to Simone Stolzoff, the author of The Good Enough Job: Reclaiming Life from Work, on the Ten Percent Happier podcast (it’s worth a listen!). His assertion is that we ask for too much from our jobs – we expect them to fulfill us. Sometimes it’s okay, and even great, to take a job that pays the bills, and intentionally pursue our interests and have our social/emotional needs met elsewhere.

I don’t disagree. And I believe there IS a time to quit, even without another offer in hand.

So, how do you know? Here are a few questions to ask yourself that can help you decide if it’s time to quite – looking at the job itself, and then how the work may be impacting your life.

About the job:

  • Do you have the tools to get your job done well?
  • Do you have a good working relationship with your supervisor and peers?
  • Are your performance reviews positive?
  • Do you have close connections at work that support you in your efforts?
  • Has there been change at work (assignments, boss, co-workers, etc.) that has been difficult? Is it temporary?

About you:

  • How are you feeling as you prepare to get up and go to work?
  • How are you feeling at the end of the day?
  • Have there been any changes to your sleeping and eating habits that could be due to work stress?
  • Are you finding yourself more easily frustrated, angry or sad lately? Is this impacting key relationships?
  • Have these feelings been consistent for longer than a few weeks?
  • The average time from application to offer is now 47 days . And, it takes most people several weeks to ramp up for an effective search. Do you have the financial runway for that?

Take notes on your answers to these questions, and notice if you are resisting answering clearly. Write that down too. Is the balance of the list leaning toward positive feelings and situations, but you still want something new? If so, stay and start researching what’s next. Take time for self-care (exercising, meditating, spending time with positive people, reading, hobbies, etc.). Update your resume and LinkedIn, begin connecting with people who may have insights on your next role, and check in again in 3 months.

If your responses are mostly not great, leaning to the negative, and in a combination that is creating misery, there is no shame in leaving. Don’t worry about gaps on your resume – they mean far less than ever before!

Once upon a time, I stayed in a job I knew was a bad fit from day one. I was so stressed out that I developed all sorts of physical issues, and unsurprisingly, my performance suffered. It took me several years to regain my health and my confidence. I should have left.