There comes a time in life when you gotta strap on your big girl/boy pants and take action. For many of us, quitting a job scares the pants off us.
It scares me.
Yet, I know I must do it to feel free again. Feeling free from an employment-induced coma is a huge relief (so I’m told).
But the guilt of quitting your job when many unemployed people would kill to have yours makes us feel ungrateful. So we stay far too long in crappy jobs that rot our soul. These are the signs I’ve noticed that have led me to do the unthinkable and quit (shortly).
Sign #1 — Flow states no longer exist
Flow states require distraction-free working. If your mind is handcuffed to your phone, then you can’t effectively get deep work done. Why is your mind so concerned with your phone? Two words: Your boss. Two more words: Getting fired.
We start to believe if we’re not on call then our boss will get angry or we’ll be fired for missing an important notification of a catastrophic event. Fear of being unavailable sabotages your productivity.
When you’re unproductive you feel like you’re not getting the important work done. This reality can leave you feeling empty at the end of the day. Productivity expert Jari Roomer says a flow state is a Modern-Day Superpower. Jari discovered by studying Isaac Newton that he produced his best work in a flow state.
A flow state is the genius zone. Consistent non-flow-states make you feel dumb. Feeling dumb at work is one reason I’m quitting my job.
Sign #2 — You’re disengaged in meetings
Thank god it’s not mandatory (yet) to have your camera on during Zoom calls. If my webcam was on you’d see a 30-something man in his bedroom, with the blind down, in almost complete darkness, crawled up in the corner, looking like a junkie, with bags under his eyes, hair messier than Einstein’s, in top to bottom Teletubby comfort-wear, looking off into the abyss.
I couldn’t tell you the agenda for the meeting or what’s supposed to happen. A sudden question hurled at me by an unsuspecting colleague is met with avoidance and “I’ll come back to you.”
Sign #3 — You’re angry while working on your after-hours passions
Writing is what I do after work hours. A few readers have told me a couple of stories I wrote sound angrier than normal. That’s when it hit me: a crappy job situation that makes you angry bleeds into every area of your life.
You can’t quarantine work anger so it only shows up during specific times. Anger is uncontrollable. You either deal with the source of work anger (and quit) or allow it to keep sabotaging your bigger goals in life. Regular studies continuously find that the majority of employees are dissatisfied. So many people are angry because of their work situation.
Anger can be a sign to quit.
Sign #4 — Your calendar looks like a series of back-to-back meetings
Back-to-back meetings make you feel like you have no control of your life. I’m at a stage where I’m having meetings about meetings that are yet to occur. People don’t show up to meetings, or they cancel one minute before, or they continuously move the meeting at the last minute and expect us all to show up at the new time.
A blank calendar helps you think. Meetings are a productivity nightmare that can make you hate having the control of your time being outsourced to a microsoft calendar monkey who loves meetings for entertainment and to escape loneliness.
Wanting to own your time again is a sign to quit.
Sign #5 — You want to be reckless on Sunday night to numb the pain
I have to watch a movie and eat gelato on Sundays. It’s the only way to numb the pain of the next day. I hope (often) that the workweek doesn’t start. Normally I try to eat healthy, but the continual creep back into junk food life is a way for me to unconsciously numb the pain.
Junk food can be a band-aid for a crappy job. But only for so long.
Sign #6 — The balance of optimism and pessimism is way off
I am naturally an optimistic person. In the last three months, the balance has shifted slightly. I’m saying things like “there is no way out for the client.” I am seeing client problems as worse than they are. I’m using absolutes and saying stupid stuff like “they’ll leave us for a competitor.”
When you can’t be positive at work anymore, it’s a sign you may have lost faith in either your job or your employer.
Sign #7 — Monday morning is your worst nightmare
Monday is when I edit my writing. The task is supposed to be done by 9 am. Right now I’m editing way past 9 am. I’m avoiding starting work. My email inbox feels like living through an apocalypse. The start time on Monday gets later and later. Some days I feel like I need to call in for a Monday Morning Sickie. The sickie is an excuse for a lack of motivation.
Not knowing why you show up to all these meetings anymore is another sign.
Sign #8 — You secretly can’t stand your boss. And you’re started showing it
You try to be nice to them. You try to tolerate their complete incompetence and pretend you’re okay with it. But then others start noticing. You can’t avoid it anymore. You don’t hate them, but you simply know they’re not the one for you. If the leader you work with sucks, your job will be a nightmare.
Once you notice you don’t respect them, you accidentally start to reveal to others how incompetent they are. This is a sign it might be time to quit.
A boss is a mentor. Don’t forget that.
What to Do If You Know It’s Time to Quit
You don’t need to quit a job in a rage. What worked for me is creating a pros and cons list. One side lists why you should quit. The other side lists why you should stay. Seeing both sides written down helps you see your reality clearly.
In my case, the list of reasons to quit was overwhelming. To stay would simply be stupid. Your intuition also guides you. Deep down you know when it’s time to move on. You can feel it. You start daydreaming of a different life. You envy the careers of others when you log into LinkedIn.
Before you quit, do this
Talk to people, who know you well, about quitting. Float the idea with people you respect. Get their feedback. You may be stuck in a delusional rage. When I asked several people I trust about quitting they all said some version of “You’re an idiot. Go and do your thing and stop holding yourself back.”
When you hear positive validation from people you trust it makes the decision to quit your job easier.
It’s okay to quit. Quitting isn’t failure. Quitting is a new direction.
This article first appeared on Medium.