4 undeniable signs that it’s time to quit your job

Jonathan Yabut
Quitting can be a good thing when you know that the timing, and your reasons, are right

Does this sound familar? You are hyperactive and mighty on your first year, and then you plummet like a roller coaster by the time you hit your fifth year. You are were one of the high-flyers in the company, but these days you’re not giving your best. You’ve lost the spark, the passion, and the flame – you finally want to quit.

You want to quit, but you’re not sure why, and you can’t put your finger on it. Maybe you hate your new boss, you’re fed up with the perceived incompetence of people in your organization, you got an invitation from a recruiter on LinkedIn, or you simply don’t feel excited about your job anymore. 

The strong feeling of wanting to quit should always be examined, not ignored. Here are 4 signs that can guide you to justify that it’s time to start clearing your desk.


More from Jonathan Yabut: 

1. You’re too stressed and exhausted, it’s on a different level

While “stress” may be relative to each one of us, there will be jobs that are clearly beyond the workload you were expecting. You feel tired every day, and you dread waking up in the morning because you know what’s ahead of you, and it’s usually not good. 

 “Hey, you look tired,” says your college friend, who meets you on a Friday night for drinks. The litmus test to knowing if you’re too exhausted from your job is when people start noticing it – physically.

You get sick easily, you have adjusted to 4-5 hours of sleep everyday (heard of the Indian CEO who died, despite this deliberate lifestyle?), and you’re either losing weight (for not ingesting much proper food) or gaining some more (because of stress eating).

All the work stress is not worth it if you’re going to end up in the hospital anyway.  

You may be one of those who are happily tired—folks who love their job and are addicted to the everyday adrenaline rush no matter how many items they cross off their list. But you may also be one of those who are simply tired because the demands are just too much, whether quantitatively or qualitatively. 

Unfortunately, this is when you might have underestimated the job description before signing that contract or an organizational change burdened you to do more work. If you painfully think that you deserve (and can find elsewhere) a job that is more manageable and suited to your lifestyle, then you should seriously consider moving out. 

Remember that your role in this world is to live a life through a job, not end it with one.

2. Your career is stagnating; you’re not learning anything new

“We’re not growing together anymore,” says your most recent ex-girlfriend. This is the same cue that can indicate your readiness to move out.

Like any relationship, your job shouldn’t just help pay the bills. It should also transform you into a better person – smarter, more open-minded, more ambitious, and more collected (the same things that make you a “catch” once you become single again).

While “salary” is intuitively at the top of the list for most people’s considerations in choosing a job, research shows that people are also motivated by interesting work, challenge, and increasing responsibility.

When going to work isn’t anymore a joyful chore of learning things that excite you, it’s time to consider something else.

When I worked in a telecommunications company as a marketing executive, I learned how to interact with other people like engineers and accountants who didn’t report to me, but with whom I needed to work to get my project done.

When I worked in a pharmaceutical company, I was forced to drive for 4-6 hours along NLEX to visit far-flung pharmacies and hospitals. Like any salesman, I learned how to talk to strangers and make connections in an instant. I was the most absorbent sponge. And when I felt that I had absorbed everything that I needed to absorb, I knew I was ready to leave.

I left because I was thirsty for more mistakes and lessons that can only be found in a new environment that I knew nothing about.

Unless you’re satisfied with what you have, you should leave if you’re not learning anything new anymore (and not just because you didn’t get promoted as you expected). Quit if your work has started to become a daily routine that only makes you duller and not sharper.

Your work is supposed to make you feel that you are a value-adding asset to the process, not a filler. During these times, it is only you who can make that final decision, not your boss, and not your company.   

 “Remember that your role in this world is to live a life through a job, not end it with one.”   

3. You’re not enjoying the company of your team

Many Pinoys will stay in a company despite the not-so-good pay and the two-hour commute because they enjoy the company of their colleagues. “Welcome Jonathan to the <insert company name here> family!” said the glossy neon banner posted on my cubicle on my first day at work.

I still remember that special day when I first knew that I was in the right company of people. Unfortunately, not all of us will be blessed with this fate. Some of us will confront a phase in our corporate careers when we “just don’t fit in.” I usually give myself 6 months to determine if I’m with the right bunch of folks.

WORK FRIENDS. Sometimes, it clicks

During my first 90 days, I join every opportunity to get to know people: those company parties, those sports fests, and those “HR needs volunteers” moments. But there will be times when no matter how hard your heart is willing to beat, the people around don’t in the same way. They don’t laugh at your jokes, they don’t invite you for lunch, and they disappointingly find How To Get Away With Murder boring (how could they, right?!).

You will naturally feel bad about rejection but don’t ever feel that it’s all about you. There will be organizations in this lifetime that weren’t meant for you – and this makes you unique.

You don’t owe them your personal reasons, but you have all the right to leave—and be happy in the company of people who truly care about you.

It is these during these glorious moments of realizing what you don’t like when you finally appreciate the things that you truly like. Do you ever wonder why some employees quit their jobs and go back to their former companies? The answer is because they’ve realized the same thing. 

4. You can’t seem to respect or look up to your boss

Most people quit their bosses, not their jobs. Research published by Gallup Poll in 2011 showed that 80% of people leave their jobs because they can’t manage the relationship with their boss and not the demands of their job. 

Motivation is a key driver to stay committed to your job—and your boss is partly responsible for this. He should know how to inspire you (or remind you of your inspirations) to get things done.

HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR BOSS? Time to assess

Ever wondered why many folks hire a personal trainer? It’s not just because they need an instructor to tell them what to do, but because they need someone to push and pressure them when the Force isn’t strong enough to get them to head to the gym.

During those stressful moments when you hate your job, you should be gritty enough to push because either you want to impress your boss or because you believe that he’s stretching you to become the next superstar.

You know that your interest is in good hands because it is in his hands. We all need a boss that will make us whisper to ourselves, “I want to become like you.”

Ask yourself: do you want to become like your boss too (or become an even better version of him)? Do you aspire to manage that bigger scope of work that he is currently handling? Do you think you will get along with him well in the next 12 or 24 months?

If you answered no, you might want to get transferred to another team or organization because sooner or later he will likely be the reason that you will leave the company. And you will likely leave because you know that you deserve someone better.

A word of caution though: you should quit your boss if you don’t believe in his or her leadership and management philosophy, but you might want to think twice if your boss is just stretching you to the extreme.

I’ve had bosses who were worse than Miranda Priestley or Cruella de Vil but I learned a lot from them and stayed longer, because I knew that nothing could replace the skills and talent they transferred to me.

Don’t quit a tough boss who polishes you painfully like a rough diamond. You might be thankful years later when you look back.

At the end of the day 

Quitting is a good thing when the time and reasons are right. Most folks hesitate to quit because of fear of losing or the stigma of giving up.

But remember that there’s also an upside to quitting: the faster you make the right decision to move out, the lesser opportunity cost you incur for joining a new company that fits you well, and one that can truly set you up for success.

Finally, before you hand down that resignation letter, do note that it is also your responsibility to exhaust all solutions first in the most objective way. Good luck in your next step! – Rappler.com

Jonathan Yabut is the winner of the hit reality business TV show, The Apprentice Asia, and was popularly known in the show for his people skills, leadership and passionate speeches in the “boardroom.” He is currently based in Kuala Lumpur as the Chief of Staff of AirAsia reporting to Malaysian business mogul, Tony Fernandes. Apart from work, he engages in motivational talks about youth, leadership and entrepreneurship across Southeast Asia and is represented by the London Speaker Bureau. He recently launched his book about his journey to becoming the first Asian Apprentice, From Grit to Great. Visit his website at jonathanyabut.com