There are few things more nerve-wracking than deciding to leave a job. Change is scary, especially when it involves your livelihood!

If you’re anything like most people, this is the kind of decision you’ll agonize over for months before finally taking the plunge. Quitting your job is a big deal, so it’s easy to get caught up in your own thoughts, going around in circles while weighing the pros and cons. 

Slow down and take a deep breath—it’s time for a fresh perspective. Let’s walk through everything you should consider when you’re deciding whether to quit your job.

Why Do You Want To Leave?

Let’s start with the most important. Why, exactly, do you want to leave your current role? 

No matter what, your feelings are valid. But don’t just take off in a huff! Do a little soul-searching into what’s not working about your situation. Understanding what’s great, awful, and so-so about your current job might give you some ideas on how to fix things, but it can also help you avoid ending up right back where you started—in a whole new job you don’t love either. 

Maybe you’ll realize jumping ship is the right option, but you might also uncover a way to feel more excited about the job you already have. Plus, if you do end up giving notice, you’ll get clarity on what to look for in your next opportunity. 

Let’s explore some of the big factors that impact job satisfaction. Next, we’ll discuss how you can factor them into your decision to quit or stay. 

Compensation Woes

When we talk about job changes, this is the elephant in the room. However much you love what you do, you’re at work to earn a living, so if your salary isn’t up to par, you’re probably thinking about what else is out there. In fact, whatever your reasons for leaving, you’re likely looking for a pay raise at your next role. 

There are two potential issues here. Either your pay is below industry standard, or you’re getting a reasonable wage, but it’s not sufficient for your goals. Both scenarios are equally important, but require a different approach.

If you aren’t being compensated fairly, you deserve a raise whether you’re planning to leave or not. But if the industry standard simply isn’t cutting it, you may want to weigh your options a little more carefully. Either way, you may be able to make better money without leaving your job.

Work Environment Challenges

As the classic saying goes, people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers. Poor experiences with management (and colleagues) are the #1 reason people quit their jobs. 

Work is about relationships, and together, those relationships create the culture and environment of your workplace. Your working experience is shaped both by your direct interactions with others, and the broader policies (for example, around remote work or time off) that organize them. 

If your work environment is draining you of happiness, you aren’t being a baby! This is an issue that must be taken seriously, whether caused by an individual person or an unreasonable policy. Toxic workplaces take a measurable toll on workers’ mental and physical health, causing stress, depression, burnout, and anxiety.

Obviously, your safety (psychological and otherwise) comes first. If you’re being disrespected or mistreated, get the heck out of there! But otherwise, don’t assume quitting is your only option. Whatever the source of the problem, you may be able to resolve it without jumping ship entirely. 

Purpose And Values Misalignment

Purpose, values, vision—these might sound like corporate CEO-speak, but they’re actually incredibly important to everyone up and down the organizational chart. 

If you don’t care about what you’re working towards, you’ll have trouble staying engaged. That doesn’t make you lazy or ungrateful, it makes you human! Research shows that people perform better when they feel connected to their purpose at work. 

Maybe it’s not that you don’t care about your purpose—you just have no idea what it is! If your company isn’t open and communicative about their vision and goals for the future, it’s easy to feel like just another cog in the machine. Forward-thinking companies include everyone in their mission and dreams, because they know it will help people do their best work!

Everyone deserves a sense of meaning. When work doesn’t line up with your values, you might find yourself batting feelings of restlessness, boredom, and futility. In extreme situations, your job might even actively compromise your values, such as through unethical financial practices or customer policies. In situations like that, it’s natural for leaving to be at the top of your mind. 

Lack Of Growth And Opportunity 

Work isn’t just about the daily grind, it’s about where you’re going. If you feel stuck, unchallenged, or like you’re not honing your skills, you’re probably considering quitting your job. 

You’re right to feel like you need to move forward—in today’s labor market, in-demand jobs (and the skills we need to do them) change more quickly than ever before. That makes learning, development, and professional advancement more important than ever. 

If you’re unsatisfied even though you’re growing and performing well, it’s worth asking yourself if the job is taking you in the direction you want to go. For example, maybe you’re a great organizer, who shines at administration and scheduling. But if you feel more fulfilled by graphic design or content strategy, it’s okay to have doubts—no matter how much everyone loves you in your current role. 

Is It Worth Leaving Over? 

Once you get some clarity on why you’re having these feelings, it’s time to decide the best course of action. 

Before you write a resignation letter to your supervisor, assess whether the issue is something you could address or resolve. Whatever the problem, it’s almost certainly worth an honest conversation about your needs, and whether your role can meet them. 

On the other hand, if there are multiple compounding issues behind your desire to find a new job, it might be wise to start looking. While good managers will often try to work things out, there’s only so much they can do—if you need better pay, a sense of purpose, and to escape toxic culture, you may actually just want a new job.

What Are Your Options?

If you’ve decided to try changing things up within your current role, there are plenty of things to propose. Most of these ideas hinge on honest communication with your manager, and making your needs clear in a tactful way. 

If your concerns are financial, it’s worth explaining that you need to prioritize earning more, or that your pay isn’t representative of your skillset in your industry. You likely have more leverage than you think—depending on your specialization, it can cost anywhere from 30% to 400% of your salary to replace you.

If it’s the work environment that’s the issue, that can be raised as well. Obviously, don’t tell your manager you despise their management style—even after you give your notice, that’s needlessly burning a bridge, and insulting someone’s abilities could even trigger a defensive reaction

Instead, keep an eye out for internal opportunities, or try asking to work on a different project or team. If it’s a harsh policy (like no flexibility on working remotely) that’s the issue, you can always explain your reasoning and ask for an exception. The worst your boss can do is say no. 

If you’re looking to find growth and meaning, or get connected with your organization’s values, exciting internal opportunities might be another good thing to try. Just make sure people know you’re looking for them, and what your goals are! Your job might even have extra budget allocated for education, to help you evolve in a direction that matters to you. 

Be Honest With Yourself

Life’s too short to stay in a role that makes you unhappy. If you’re constantly promising yourself you’ll quit, wondering what your next step is, or feeling hopeless about the future, it’s only natural to want to move on. 

It may seem daunting, but you can make a change. Thanks to remote work and digital transformation, exciting opportunities are more accessible than ever! 

Whether you choose to mix things up at your current job, or embark on a new adventure entirely, this is your sign to chase a career that makes you happy and fulfilled. 

Experiencing job dissatisfaction: how to decide if it’s time to quit