Over the last 6 years, I've quit two great jobs. Both times, it was a tough decision. I felt guilty about leaving these amazing firms that many dream to join. Plus, letting go of the financial security of a corporate career was pretty scary.
But I felt that something was missing and that I needed to move on. I had lost the sense of purpose in my work and my lifestyle was not aligned with my values.
As a former financial analyst, I learned to always assess the potential upside and downside of any investment opportunity. So I applied the same principle to my life. In the words of Sir Richard Branson in The Entrepreneur:
The calculated risks you and your team take should be strategic judgments, not just blind gambles: Protect the downside by figuring out the odds of success, working out what the worst possible consequences would be, then deciding".
Part of making a smart assessment includes reading the (sometimes not so subtle) signs that it's time for a drastic change...
Here are seven common clues that you may be better off quitting your job to pursue a different opportunity, start your own business, or simply take a well-deserved sabbatical to think about who you are and what you really want to do.
1. Meaning crisis
You feel stuck in a job in which you find little purpose. You've lost your motivation and wonder why you keep doing what you're doing.
2. Vocational mismatch
Not only do you not see a strong meaning in your work, you'd rather be doing something radically different.
The first thing to do if you're in this situation is to explore whether you can apply for a transfer to another department within your firm that may be a better fit. As a temporary fix, you can at least request to participate in ad-hoc projects more in-line with your natural talents and interests. That not being possible, it's time to consider a complete career transition.
3. Conflict of values
You need to be clear about what matters most to you and make sure that you're leading your life and career accordingly.
If Romance and Family are among your top values and you're working 60-80 hours a week, with little time left for your partner and kids (or poor chances of having them!), then you may need to weight the pros and cons of staying in your industry.
4. Health failure
When you're running yourself ragged, trying to be the perfect mum, wife and career woman, your body gives you signs that it's time to slow down.
You feel exhausted and resort to caffeine to keep going. Stress weakens your immune system and you can go through a string of colds and infections. You may suddenly gain or lose a substantial amount of weight. You feel fatigued, anxious and unwell.
5. Breakeven rut
With your healthcare bills on the rise and tons of money spent on holistic solutions, nannies, maids and personal trainers, you may well realize that you're at a breakeven point. Your salary is merely covering all the expenses you incur in order to stay sane.
6. Financial cushion
While your current account may seem to be going nowhere, you may have a nice cushion of past bonuses set aside.
Would now be the right time to use a portion of that to take some time off, get that MBA or start a new venture? (Personally, I've chosen to do all of the above)
Calculate how much you'd be willing to invest and for how long you could live on your savings.
7. Family support
When even your husband and parents are telling you that it's time to quit and find happiness elsewhere, you should probably listen to them.
They care about you deeply, and most will be there to support through any future challenges and fears. Make sure that your loved ones are on-board with your decision.