Considering the bad economy, it may seem frivolous to write about quitting a job, but the fact is, even in miserable economies, staying in a job can be more destructive than leaving it. A bad job can undermine your physical and psychological health to such a degree that it isn’t worth continuing in it, even given the financial risks. Of course, each case is different, but it certainly seems that life should come before livelihood except in the most dire of circumstances. Here are some warning signs to watch for:
- You’re getting sick a lot. Misery and stress damage your immune system, as numerous studies have shown. Your mind may tell you that you can sweat it out through job burnout, that you can keep going for the paycheck that you need, but your body tells a different story. If you’re falling victim to whatever infectious diseases are in the air--getting colds and viruses more than usual--that’s an early warning sign. If you don’t take the hint, you may become victim to life-threatening illnesses. It really can become a matter of “your money or your life.”
- You hate waking up in the morning. If staying in bed seems far more appealing than getting your day in gear, and if this happens day after day, week after week, something has gone seriously wrong. Of course, several things in your life may be less than wonderful, but if your job stands out as the thing you dread most, it’s time to quit. After all, you have a limited number of mornings on this planet—why let your job rob you of any of them?
- You can’t get to sleep at night. Again, many things may be keeping you up at night, but if you find yourself thinking about the job as you lay in bed, or, if you know you’re carrying so much stress from that job that you simply can’t slow down at night, that’s a clear signal that the job has become destructive, that you are a victim of job burnout.
- You’re getting into lots of fights with people. If you aren’t getting enough sleep or your body isn’t doing well, if you’re stressed and distracted by work and miserable from it, you won’t have as much patience with people. And so, fights may result. If it feels like every question or request from other people weighs a ton and is too much to handle, you’re in over your head.
- You hate your life. What’s the point of working to support a life you hate? Is such a life even worth supporting? Are you just hanging in there expecting things to get better eventually? What if they get worse? Why not create a life with space for breathing, so that you can figure out what else you can do? At a certain point, hanging onto your lifestyle becomes irrelevant, and making room for life becomes paramount.
- You’ve lost interest in everything, except vacations. Well, it’s obvious if all you care about is vacationing, getting away from your life, that something in your life needs to change. If the job is the thing, it may be time to act.
- You’ve developed high-blood pressure or another stress-related condition. Again, the body tells the story. If you’re already at the point of damage to your health, the sirens are screaming, the alarms are clanging, it’s time to start healing job burnout and quit.
If you feel stuck, if you feel you have no alternative, if you can’t get yourself to quit even though you know staying puts you at physical or mental risk, perhaps it’s time to get some outside help. Sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective to overcome the fear, inertia, guilt, and the stories we tell ourselves that keep us married to things that have the power to destroy us.
Dr. Cohen offers life and career coaching by Skype or phone and in-person Hawaii counseling. Click HERE to go to her website.
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