Atira West, Studio LBP
Five years ago I was barely recognizable to my friends and family; as a matter of fact, I didn’t even recognize myself. I had gained a massive amount of weight, my eyes were carrying luggage heavy enough to be rejected from a flight, and my anxiety was through the roof.
While there were several contributing factors to the sad and unhealthy lifestyle I was living, one of the main issues was the fact that my job was stressing me all the way out. I was managing the cosmetics department of a well-known department store, leading a team of over 50 employees and, on some days, acting as store manager. Although I was a salaried employee, I averaged 50-60 hours per week. During the holiday season, I worked six days a week and would easily exceed 70 hours.
I’ll spare you the rest of the nightmarish details, but long story short, I finally quit. A year and some change later I returned to the store for the first time, but this time as a shopper, not an employee. My subconscious didn’t know the difference. As I pulled up to the building, I had a full-on panic attack. That’s when I realized that job had been making me sick all those years, which brings me to the first warning sign that it’s time to leave your job:
You’re sick and tired of it. Literally.
Getting out of bed is a traumatic experience. Just the thought of going to work makes your jaw clench and your palms sweaty. You don’t get any rest because you’re always thinking about work, even in your sleep. These are all clear signs that work-related stress is making you sick and you should probably make a move before it gets worse.
Your appetite has changed.
For some people, stress manifests in the form of an increase or decrease in appetite. Whether you’re running all day on coffee and a never-ending task list or binge-eating to cope with the relentless pressures of your job, it’s clear that continuing on this path for an extended period of time will have a negative impact on your health. Time to choose a different path.
You’re hitting the bottle a little too hard, too often.
Or so they tell you.
Sure, a fully-earned glass of wine after a hard day’s work never hurt anyone. However, if you’re regularly abusing alcohol and/or drugs to deal with job-related stress, that’s a pretty clear sign that it’s time to pack it up.
Complaining about your job has become your favorite past time.
Do you find yourself telling everyone how much you hate your job? Does your significant other immediately regret asking you how your day was? If you can’t find anything good to say about the place where you spend a third of your time, it sounds like that role and/or company may be the wrong fit.
You’re uninspired, unproductive, or just plain bored.
Sometimes a job is just that – a job. If you’re a student or a new graduate working a random gig just to pay the bills, it’s understandable that you might not exactly jump out of bed, spatula in hand, ready to slay your burger-flipping day. However, if you’re well past entry-level and you often find yourself staring into space, or if your on the Gram every five minutes, you’re obviously not doing work that inspires you. Get out of there before you get fired for lack of productivity, or even worse, before you waste the rest of your working life sitting at a desk wishing you were somewhere else.
You’re exceeding expectations, but your paycheck isn’t.
Many of us were raised with the ideology that hard work pays off. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. If you are a high-performing employee and/or your employer has added a significant amount of responsibility to your role, you should be compensated accordingly. However, if your boss refuses to renegotiate your salary, or gives you a measly 1.5% increase at review time, you may want to consider seeking out an employer that will fairly compensate you for the value you bring to their organization.
There’s nowhere to go from here but down.
We all know the term: dead-end job. If there’s no potential for growth and you’re only mid-way through your career, you should probably think about that. Full stop.
Your boss and/or coworkers are constantly trolling you (or you’ve become the work troll).
Tension between you and your boss or a coworker is, of course, likely to occur at some point along your career path, but us grown ups can typically get past that by simply communicating with each other. In some cases, it’s necessary to get HR involved to resolve a deeper or on-going conflict. However, some work environments are just toxic at their core. If there is persistent bickering, trolling, or general negativity in the workplace that is not being addressed head-on by leadership, the culture is unlikely to change any time soon. More than likely, you’ll be the one to change, falling into the same negative behavior patterns as your co-workers. Run for the hills before you turn into another bitter little work troll that everyone hates.
If one or more of the above situations hit close to home, you have a very important decision to make. Stay right where you are and suffer, or get moving on your exit strategy stat. It’s your choice.
Polish up that resume. Write that resignation letter. Submit those applications.
Make your next move your best move.