5 Signs You Should Quit Your Job

Updated on May 16, 2020
Layne Holmes profile image

Layne followed her calling and quit an exhausting career to find the perfect work-life balance.

It's your life.
It's your life. | Source

Should You Quit Your Job With No Plan?

I quit my job and it was the best decision I ever made. I'm not saying this to pump you up. Trust me, I was where you were . . . scouring the internet looking for signs, taking quizzes, watching videos, can I? Should I? I was so afraid thinking about what others thought that I wasn't thinking about myself.

I had worked hard for years to land what I thought was a dream job. I was working in anesthesia, which I still am totally enthused by to this day—and I had spent all my schooling carefully crafting my way to land my sought-after job title. All that hard work down the drain. What would people think? You know, quitting is a lot like going through the 5 stages of grief:

  • Denial
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Acceptance

5 Signs It's Time to Quit Your Job

How do you know when it's time to quit? Well, the emotional spectrum that you will go through is similar or even identical to the stages grief. I know from experience. Here's how to know when your gut is telling you it's time to go. Do what's best for you. Listen to what others say, but listen to yourself above all.

1. Denial

Denial is that period where you are going through the motions. You've seen some red flags like you hate the commute, your boss is a micromanager, your coworkers don't pull their weight, and you start to feel the Sunday blues when Monday is around the corner. Pretty standard for sure. Denial is the period during which you still convince yourself that things are okay, and you like what you are doing.

I remember interviewing for the job I quit. You need to take off those rose-colored glasses when you interview. No place is perfect. Everyone is putting on a good show when you are there to interview. They are interviewing because they need someone for the position—that means they are trying to impress you as much as you are trying to impress them.

If you're thinking about it you may already have your answer.
If you're thinking about it you may already have your answer. | Source

2. Bargaining

The bargaining phase is an interesting one. This is where you start to talk yourself into sticking it out. Remember? This will look good on my resume, I need to work here for at least X amount of years so that my work history is consistent. If I quit now, what will my classmates think of me? I can't exit now, everyone will hear about it.

Bargaining kind of verges on paranoia really. It's like we are telling ourselves not to listen to ourselves because we don't know better than . . . our fearful selves. Don't feed into the fear! Fear is what held me back for ages. I remember my partner telling me, you know Layne, "Your job and your career and that place isn't your life. It's not your identity."

I honestly was so trapped in the misery of working a job that literally sucked my soul I forgot what the outside world felt like. I forgot that I had a choice.

If money is an issue, start interviewing now.
If money is an issue, start interviewing now. | Source

3. Depression

Depression sinks in gradually and it never leaves. Depression is when you've accepted that dreaded feeling of walking into the office or even the anxiety you feel when you wake up in the morning before work. Depression is looking for little ways to escape work—gosh you wish you were just actually sick for a day or maybe your colleague won't show up.

Depression for me was realizing that the stress of my job was causing physical changes in me. I had never experienced heartburn before, and I'm someone who can handle stress like skydiving multiple times (I enjoy thrills)—suddenly I was having heartburn daily while working my dreaded job. Insomnia was pretty bad too. I had no energy and wanted to stay at home and sleep.

Depression too, is letting go of the identity you had in your mind. Letting go of your ego and realizing this isn't your place, your calling, your people. Nothing is wrong with you. Do you! This is your life! It's about you. All the money in the world can't by back your years wasted or your happiness.

I was tired of my relationships and my mood suffering because of unhappiness with my job. You likely spend 40+ hours a week working! That's a huge chunk of time to be feeling miserable!

Don't let fear and self-judgement stop you.
Don't let fear and self-judgement stop you. | Source

4. Anger

Anger is the best phase in my opinion if used constructively. Anger is the moment when you realize you've simply had enough and you're done. For me, I was still seeking outside confirmation from others. Can I really do this? Is it going to be okay? What are people going to think?

Finally, I was pushed to my limit. One day I realized just how toxic and dysfunctional my work environment was. I knew I was way better than the toxicity, deserved way better than the toxicity, and didn't believe in the B.S anymore.

  • Note: You do not have to put up with mistreatment and being taken advantage of at work. Just because people are stressed does not mean you have to tolerate disrespect. I don't care who you are.

Do Not Tolerate Mistreatment

You do not have to put up with mistreatment and being taken advantage of at work. Just because people are stressed does not mean you have to tolerate disrespect.

5. Acceptance

Acceptance is like crossing the finish line. Acceptance is knowing that you are done and turning a new page in your life. I cannot tell you how satisfying it was to walk away from a toxic work environment. I felt like I lost 30 pounds of soul-heaviness. Even when I drive by my old work location to this day I still think to myself "Wow, I'm so glad I'm not working there." When I pass by the street exit I think about how my former coworkers might still be there doing the same thing and I'm on my way to go do something enjoyable for me. And the best part is? I found a job that I absolutely love.

Get Over the Fear

The best advice I can offer is to be responsible (make reasonable power moves) and GET OVER THE FEAR. Stop worrying about what others will think. Start caring about you and your own health. Is your hair falling out? Did you gain 15 pounds from stress eating? You need to get away from that toxic environment. Save yourself. Trust me, it will get better. You deserve it.

Planning Ahead If Money Is Tight

Not everyone is able to simply pick up their things and quit. We have bills, debt, medical complications, kids, pandemics, etc. You can, however, anticipate your future needs. Start applying to jobs while you are fantasizing about quitting. You are more employable while employed than unemployed. If you are in a tight place financially start tapering back a little to anticipate the change and allow for a cushion. Start putting your feelers out and reconnecting with old employers.

There is no shame in working for a former employer with which you have a good relationship with when you're in between jobs. Just be straightforward with them. I was able to go back to my former employer and help her with transcription while I was searching for my current job.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Layne Holmes

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    • Layne Holmes profile imageAUTHOR

      Layne Holmes 

      20 months ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks Chris. It took me over a year to decide to move on but it was quite apparent it was time when I finally did (AND IT FELT GREAT). Wishing you the best.

    • profile image


      20 months ago

      thank you for this article, it was just what i needed to read, and your descriptions of the stages rang all too true.

    • Layne Holmes profile imageAUTHOR

      Layne Holmes 

      20 months ago from Bend, Oregon

      thanks for the input. I have definitely dealt with the loss of a loved one and felt an eerie parallel in terms of my identity and attachment to my profession. Happy reading!

    • wpcooper profile image


      20 months ago from Barstow

      interesting to parallel this with the Kubler Ross model


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