Not loving your job — or, more specifically, outright hating it — can cause you more than simply unhappiness in your career. It can take a major, lasting toll on the state of your mental health, as well. And sometimes, the only solution is to up and quit.
When facing a staggering amount of economic uncertainty and a pandemic that isn’t poised to end anytime soon, quitting a toxic job without another one lined up can feel like an incredibly risky move. And to be fair, it is risky — but so is staying in a job that’s detracting from your ability to enjoy life and generally feel OK.
If any of the following things feel true of your situation, it might be time to hit the eject button at work sooner rather than later.
1. You’re experiencing cognitive dysfunction.
“Being in a bad job can adversely affect a person's cognitive abilities, in that he or she can have decreased concentration, be more distracted, make more mistakes or errors, and will miss things,” explains Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist.
2. You’re so exhausted by your job that it leaves you unable to enjoy time with family and friends.
You’ve become edgy and irritable as a result of work overwhelm, which leaves you with two options: either see family and friends while feeling drained, and thus risk snapping at them, or skip out on your personal life needs altogether.
3. You’ve lost interest in hobbies and activities that you used to enjoy.
A key sign of depression is no longer finding joy or fulfillment in activities that were once enjoyable and engaging. If your job is making you feel depressed, those feelings of emptiness may spill over outside of working hours.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
4. You aren’t sleeping well at night.
Extreme stress and unhappiness can make it hard to quiet your mind at night, leading to sleeplessness and further compounding your exhaustion from work. Lack of sleep can also compound other stress-related symptoms like headaches and mental fatigue, too.
5. You’ve stopped caring about your performance.
You don’t try your best anymore, having more or less given up on the idea of feeling satisfied by your job. Your performance is slipping and, uncharacteristically, you’re letting it.
6. Conversely, you can’t seem to figure out how to care less.
When the care we extend to our jobs are directly linked to feelings of insecurity and fear, that can be a disastrous combo. In these scenarios, it’s easy for your sense of identity to be totally consumed by work, leaving you unable to unplug and prioritize other areas of your life.
7. You feel a deep sense of dread at the mere thought of work.
What for some people is a joking expression — the “Sunday Scaries” — is anything but a joke to you. The simple thought of your job is enough to provoke extreme anxiety and even panic attacks.
8. Your self esteem has dropped as a result of your job.
Maybe you work with toxic people or in a generally hostile environment. Maybe the industry you’re in itself is a cutthroat one. Regardless, if you’ve suffered a loss of self esteem and can tie it to feelings of worthlessness you’re experiencing at work, that’s a major red flag.
9. You’re fantasizing about being fired.
If only someone would make the decision for you, you might be thinking, so that you wouldn’t have to labor over the question of whether you can afford to walk away from a paycheck right now. But if your job has made you unhappy enough to the point that you’re daydreaming about something objectively unpleasant, like being fired, happening, it’s time to cut your losses and get out of there. Do everything you can to squirrel together emergency funds ahead of giving notice, and have some alternative ideas for income in your pocket to tide you over until the next job comes along. And there will be other jobs!