4 Concrete Signs That It’s Time To Make An Exit

Oct 30, 2015 1 Min Read


Quitting can be a good thing when you know that the reasons are right

Does this sound familiar: you’re hyperactive and mighty on your first year, and then you plummet like a roller coaster by the time you hit your fifth year.

You were undoubtedly one of the high-flyers of 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. Maybe you hate your new boss, you’re fed up with the incompetence of people in your organisation, 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 four motivated signs that can guide you to justify that it’s time to start cleaning your desk.

1. You’re stressed and exhausted – and 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 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 four to five hours of sleep every day (heard of the chief executive officer who died with this deliberate lifestyle?), and you’re either losing weight (for lack of proper eating) or gaining more (because of stress eating).

All the work stress is not worth it if you’re going to end up in the hospital.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 out from 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’ve probably underestimated the job description before signing that contract, or an organisational change burdened you to do more work.

If you think that you deserve a job that is more manageable and suited to your lifestyle, then you should seriously consider moving on. Remember that you live a life through a job, you don’t end it with one.

2. Your career is stagnating

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

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 responsibility. When going to work isn’t a joy anymore, it’s time to consider something else.

When I worked in a telecommunications company as a marketing executive, I learnt how to influence people who don’t report to me, but who I need to get my project done.

When I worked in a pharmaceutical company, I needed to drive four-to-six hours to visit far-flung pharmacies and hospitals. Like any salesman, I learnt 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 I needed, I knew I was ready to leave. I left because I was thirsty for more 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 because you didn’t get promoted). Consider quitting 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 “value-adding” to the process, not acting as a filler. During these times, it is only you who can make that final decision, not your boss or the company.

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

Many people will stay in a company despite the unattractive pay and the two-hour commute because they enjoy the company of their colleagues.

“Welcome Jonathan to the (insert company name here) family!” says the neon-glossed 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 be in our corporate careers where we “just don’t fit in”. I usually give myself six months to determine if I’m with the right bunch of folks.

During my first 90 days, I join every opportunity to get to know people by joining their company parties, sports fests, and “HR needs volunteers” moments.

But there will be times when no matter how hard your heart is willing to beat, the people around you don’t seem to resonate. 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.

You will naturally feel rejected, but don’t ever feel that it’s all about you. There will be organisations 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 during these moments of realising what you don’t like that you finally appreciate the things that you truly like.

Do you ever wonder why some employees quit their jobs only to go back to their former companies? The answer is because they’ve realised the same thing.

4. You can’t seem to respect your boss

Most people quit their bosses, not their jobs. A research published by Gallup in 2011 showed that a leading reason why people leave their companies is because they can’t manage the relationship with their boss, rather than being unable to meet 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 aspirations) to get things done.

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 them when “the force” isn’t strong enough 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 who will make us whisper to ourselves as we look to them, “I want to become like you.”

Ask yourself: do you want to become like your boss (or a 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 your answer is “no”, you might want to get transferred to another team or organisation because sooner or later, he will likely be the reason that you will leave the company. You will likely leave because you know you deserve someone better.

A word of caution though: you should quit your boss if you don’t believe in his 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 Cruella de Vil, but I learnt a lot from them and stayed longer because I knew that nothing can replace the skills they transferred to me. Don’t quit a tough boss who polishes you painfully like a rough diamond. You will be thankful for those experiences when you look back in the future.

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 on, the less opportunity cost you incur for joining a new company that fits you well, and one that can truly set you up for success.

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!

To engage Jonathan for organisational work in your organisation, email us at training@leaderonomics.com. For more Career Advice articles, click here. 

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Jonathan is the winner of The Apprentice Asia and is currently based in Kuala Lumpur as the managing director of The JY Ventures & Consultancy. He is also an author of the book From Grit to Great, and a Leaderonomics faculty partner.

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