There are times in life when you have to take a dead-end job in order to pay the bills, or you find yourself stuck in a job because of personal ties or other loyalties there. There are uncountable reasons why people take jobs that they don’t enjoy, but staying there for long periods of time can be soul-crushing.
Here are a few signs that it’s time for you to start thinking of another job. You don’t have to quit in a spectacular fashion, either. Take your time, scour some job boards, and ask around — you’ll find a better job in no time!
You’re more excited to see the vending machine than you are to see the people you work with
Sad but true. If the most exciting part of your day is taking your wallet and heading off to the vending machine, you should probably rethink your current employment situation.
At the very least, you should switch up your snack choices — a vending machine treat is OK once in a while, but it’s incredibly rare to find something healthy that came out of a coin-operated machine.
There’s no possibility for advancement
The worst part about a taking a job you hate is finding out that you’ll never actually be able to advance there.
Every job should teach you something new, and if you enjoy it, you should be able to see yourself striving to join the upper ranks one day. If you can’t see a way to go beyond the job you have now, you should either quit, or re-evaluate your skills in order to stay competitive for promotions.
You check the clock every five minutes — especially on Fridays
Work is called work for a reason: most of the time, it shouldn’t be that easy. However, if you find yourself checking the clock every five minutes and impatiently waiting for Happy Hour to start, you probably aren’t being stimulated enough.
If you can’t quit your job at this point, ask your boss for some extra projects that make use of your talents.
You’ve started keeping a bottle of booze in your desk
Certain workplaces keep beer or wine in a communal fridge, or even have a keg in the break room. It’s one of the perks being offered more frequently by companies trying to make the workplace more fun.
A drink or two after work with colleagues is totally fine, but if you start relying on booze to make your day go by faster, you should take a good, hard look at your habits. Alcohol can be an enjoyable way to relax after work, but using it as a crutch is a dangerous path to walk down – and a sign you should think about leaving your job.
You can’t shake the feeling that you’ve done it all before
If every day starts and ends the exact same way, and it bores you to tears, you should probably start looking for another job. However, it might be salvageable if you don’t have any of the other factors in this article going on.
Routine is one thing, but if you spend the entire day bored out of your mind because you’ve done it all before, start trying to figure out a way to switch it up. Even a minor refresh of your routine can do wonders for your energy levels.
You can never speak freely
It’s fine to feel reticent around colleagues sometimes. Maybe you’ve been asked to work on a project that the boss doesn’t want anyone else knowing about, or maybe you’re up for a promotion and need to keep it a secret before the contracts are signed. This is all totally normal.
What’s not normal is when you find yourself continually having to watch your mouth around your colleagues. If this is the case, you may not actually fit in at that workplace. It might not seem like a big deal, but not fitting into the company culture is the sort of thing that eats away at you over time.
You don’t trust anyone you work with
This goes along with having to watch your mouth at work. If you find that you’re continually hiding who you really are, or feel like your co-workers are judgmental when you exhibit a little bit of your personality, maybe that workplace isn’t the right fit for you.
Of course, this is true of your hobbies and interests, but it’s especially damaging if the parts of yourself you feel you have to hide at work are central to who you are, such as your sexual orientation. If you feel uncomfortable joining in when your colleagues start talking about their spouses, it’s time to find a more accepting place to work.
You worry about money all the time
The one benefit of having a steady job is that you always know when the next paycheck is coming in, and generally how much it will be. The downside is that at some jobs, the answer to one or both of those questions is a big disappointment.
If you find yourself struggling with money even though you know how much you can expect to make in the next year, you should either take a good hard look at your spending habits, consider getting more training, or find another job with a higher salary.
All your dreams involve destroying your workplace
Does every dream you have involve quitting your job in grand fashion or razing your workplace to the ground? If so, it’s probably time for you to leave.
Many people believe that dreams are our mind’s way of working out the problems of each day. If you find your dreams are continually about delivering crushing emotional blows to everyone you work with and burning the whole place to the ground, it might be that your brain is telling you subconsciously to leave that job.
You’re tired all the time
Work-life balance is important. We have jobs because we need money to survive, but your job should never completely take over your life, no matter what anyone tells you.
If your health is being adversely affected by your job, you should either talk with your boss about cutting down your responsibilities, or find a way to leave the stress at work. Many people find that making a to-do list for the next day before you leave each evening will allow you to see just how much you need to get done, so you don’t need to stress about it at home.
If neither of these solutions seems feasible, a change of employment is the best course of action. No job is worth your sanity or your health.
It doesn’t fit in with how you see yourself
Here’s an example: You see yourself as basically a good person, but you work for the Donald Trump campaign. In this scenario, you might find yourself requiring an increasing amount of cognitive dissonance to reconcile who you are with what you do for a living.
It’s natural to be a more sedate and professional version of yourself at work, but if you find yourself the black sheep of every single conversation, it may be time to find a job more aligned with your values.
The company is tanking, and you don’t want to go down with the ship
Have you noticed that business has gotten slower? Or that management has been having a lot more closed-door meeting with their accountant? If you’ve answered yes to both questions, chances are your company probably isn’t doing that well.
There’s no reason to stay until the bitter end. Don’t feel guilty, either – hardworking, dedicated employees get laid off for the sake of keeping a company afloat all the time; there’s no reason it shouldn’t work the other way as well. Start looking for your exit now, so when the end it comes it won’t be as much of a shock.
You’ve been doing more work, but haven’t gotten any more money
This happens all the time. Companies are going through financial hard times, so they rely on fewer and fewer staff to accomplish the same amount of work. Perhaps you’re finding that you’re now doing the work that was once handled by two or three employees, but your salary hasn’t budged.
If you’re in this position, the best thing to do is ask for a meeting with your boss, and lay out just how much extra work you’ve been doing. Then, if your boss can’t offer you a salary commensurate with the amount of work you do, start looking for another job.
If you don’t see this meeting ending fruitfully, you may want to start your search before you sit down with the boss. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
There are people at your workplace doing things you disagree with, or that are straight up illegal
Having political differences is one thing, but you should never feel that there are huge moral differences between yourself and your colleagues. Unfortunately, if this is the case at your workplace, you may be forced to leave your job.
If you see someone doing something that isn’t right, say something. If it keeps happening, you have a duty to either blow the whistle, or leave the company. Not only can being associated with illegal or immoral doings hurt you professionally, it can weigh on your psyche and cause lasting emotional damage.
Your dream job just became available
Staying at a mediocre job because you’re too afraid to put yourself out there for a job you really want is a totally understandable feeling. However, you should never be afraid to go for something you really want.
One option is to explain to your boss how you’ve been feeling and ask for their support in seeking a job you feel better suited to. Alternatively, you can simply apply for the job and give your notice if you get an offer.
It just feels like time to go
You should always trust your instinct. If you’ve just got a gut feeling that this job isn’t right for you, or that you would be happier elsewhere, start packing your bags.
Remember: you are under no obligation to stay at a job that you no longer enjoy. Even if you don’t know what to do next, leaving a situation where you’re no longer happy can open up all sorts of new opportunities that you never expected.