How to know when it’s time to leave a job

Should I stay or should I go?

If you’re asking this question, chances are you’re pretty unhappy in your current job. The sad truth is, you’re not alone. About 70% of Americans are dissatisfied with their current work situation. But just because the majority of Americans feel this way doesn’t mean you have to—life is too short for a boring nine-to-five job.

The good news is, simply questioning whether you should stay in your current job or look for something different doesn’t mean it’s time to leave. There are many factors to consider before you put in your two-week notice.

Don’t rush through this process, folks—take care to make the most informed decision possible.

Let’s walk through a few factors to consider before you make this decision.

How to Get Clarity and Decide If You Should Leave Your Current Job

It’s always good to seek clarity before you make any decision, but it’s especially important before you decide to leave a job that could potentially get better with a little bit of work.

First things first, figure out exactly why you’re asking yourself if you should stay or go. You need to get to the root of the problem. Once you know the real problem, you can decide whether it’s worth addressing and staying, or getting the heck out of there.

There are 5 common reasons people are unhappy at work

Maybe your reason isn’t on this list, but you can still use it to help you pinpoint exactly what part of your job is making you

1. Lack of passion

A lack of passion in your work is a huge red flag. This is one of the few issues that almost always means it’s time to leave your job. Why? Because when you lack passion for your work, every hour you spend in the workplace and every single thing you produce will feel meaningless—and that’s no way to live.

In her book Happiness at Work, Jessica Pryce-Jones estimates we’ll spend 90,000 hours of our lifetime at work. 2 You can’t spend 90,000 hours of your life miserable in a dead-end, passionless job. At the end of the day, it’s not just about work—it’s about your life as a whole. After all, an unhappy worker is an unhappy person.

2. Toxic workplace

A toxic workplace might feel like enough reason to pack up a box and run. But that’s not always the case, because toxicity can be addressed.

If the toxic workplace culture is coming from your peers, talk to your leader about it. If they still haven’t addressed the problem after a few weeks, then I’d encourage you to start thinking about your transition out.

Now, if the toxicity is coming from your leader, that’s a tougher call. If you feel like your leader is humble and willing to listen to respectful feedback, then I’d encourage you to
have a conversation with them.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t blame you for starting the job search without addressing your toxic leader first. Unfortunately, if your leader is causing the toxicity, it won’t be long before their attitude seeps into the rest of the office culture—if it hasn’t already.

3. Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed with your workload is definitely fixable. You’ve either said yes to too many responsibilities or your leader misunderstands how much you can carry. If you’re overwhelmed, have a conversation with your leader about reprioritizing your work or getting help.

If they’re unwilling to help, then you’ve got further confirmation that it’s time to leave.

4. Underappreciated

Did you know 79% of people who leave their job say it’s because of a lack of appreciation? When it comes to feeling underappreciated, you should take a good look at your organization as a whole. Do you notice a lack of recognition as a pattern across the culture of the company, or is it only a problem for you and a few others?

If it’s a culture-wide problem, it’s probably time to look for another job. If you believe it’s only a problem you and a few others experience, take it to your leader. Be open and ask them questions like:

  •  Is my work providing value to the organization?
  • Are you measuring what I produce?
  • Can we talk about opportunities for advancement?

These questions should get your leader thinking about the value you bring to the organization and how they can do a better job of recognizing your hard work.

5. Boredom

I get calls on my show all the time from people who are bored at work. They might love the organization’s mission, but every day at the office is a snooze fest. That’s not the worst problem to have because, once again, this can be addressed. Like most problems you have in the workplace, this one also involves going straight to your leader.

Let them know you’re looking for a new challenge and opportunities to grow in the organization. Take the time to come up with a plan before you speak with your leader. Think about other jobs within the company you might enjoy, courses or online classes you could take, or conferences you can attend and run your ideas by them.

If your leader is not receptive to your desire for growth, then you’ve got yet another reason to start packing up your desk.

Leaders should be passionate about seeing their team members grow. If you talk to them and they never follow up with you about a plan for growth, that’s problematic—don’t waste your time being a part of that culture.

In my book The Proximity Principle, I talk about the importance of being in a place where you can develop and maximize your strengths and talents—a place where there is a culture of developing and growing their team members for the purpose of advancement. If this isn’t available to you, it’s time to move on.

You were created to live a life of purpose. So, if you’ve realized you’re not fulfilled in your current work situation, then don’t be afraid to start the transition process so you can make room to step into your sweet spot.

You matter, and you have what it takes. Press on!

Ken Coleman is a #1 national best-selling author, career expert and nationally syndicated radio host of The Ken Coleman Show. Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality. The Ken Coleman Show is a caller-driven career show that helps listeners who are stuck in a job they hate or searching for something more out of their career. His second book, The Proximity Principle: The Proven Strategy That Will Lead To The Career You Love, was released May 2019. Connect with Ken on Twitter at @KenColeman, on Instagram at @KenColemanShow, and online at or