Creative Leadership

Is It Time to Quit Your Job?

In my high school football locker room, our coach had a big sign on the wall: “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” He preached the gospel of not quitting, and it took years before I realized he was full of it. The truth is, there’s plenty of times to quit, and sometimes, quitting is the best thing you can do. We often get caught in bad situations, or organizations that won’t change, or losing teams. In those cases, quitting can often be the smartest choice. But the question becomes, when to quit? How do I know it’s time?  Here’s a list of filters to help you make that decision.  It may be time to quit:

1) When you’re taken for granted.   I love the old adage: “Go where you are celebrated, not where you are tolerated.” If you’ve changed your attitude, developed your personal confidence, and started growing professionally – but the boss still doesn’t change, then I would start polishing up my resume. Don’t feel stuck in your job. Who knows? This might be your chance to finally get from where you are to where you want to be.

2) When you can’t say NO. I’ve discovered that your “yes” has no meaning unless you’re occasionally willing to say “no.” For chronic people pleasers, that’s a tough request, but until you start to push back, they’ll never stop leaning on you. You are gifted, unique, and talented or you wouldn’t be there. Now it’s time you started believing in yourself. But if you’re in a situation where “no” is impossible, then it might be time to get out.

3) If they suck the life out of you.   Remember this: Culture is more important than vision. Some leaders have great vision, but have created a toxic culture where that vision will never happen. If that’s the case, get out. Find a place where you can work in a thriving, original, creative culture.

4) If waking up is a chore.   You should love what you do. That doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge or you don’t have to work and train. But if you hate rolling out of bed in the morning and facing your co-workers, then why be miserable?

5) If there’s a lid.   If you’d hit a wall and there’s no room for growth, then move on. That doesn’t mean your current job is a bad situation, but if you can’t move up the ladder and get to the next level, then you need to find a place where you can.

Obviously, we’re all in different situations, and for many reasons – family, education, experience, and more – you can’t easily change jobs. But keep your eye on the horizon. Don’t EVER think you can’t reach a better place. There’s no shame in leaving your situation and moving to a place where you can fulfill your destiny and calling.

How about it? Are you at that place yet?

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  1. Been there and done 1-5. I’ve quit jobs based on seeing the companies going downhill and with no solutions or changes in sight to save it. Each time I quit, I felt empowered to go where and do what I was passionate about, with a company that was making it happen.
    Here are a few other red flags for consideration in quitting a job: 1) If you’re the only one who’s not a “yes” person in meetings… you may be labeled as a rebel. 2) If you are a women and there are no women at the top of the tier…. self-explanatory here. 3) If they pay you hourly but expect you to work as a salaried employee with no consideration of overtime pay. 4) If your job promotion includes a great deal more responsibility, but they keep putting off increasing your pay. 5) When family members are paid double your pay, but you’re doing their work while they’re playing online video games all day. True story. Yep, it’s time to quit.

    1. Your #2 is sad but true. You should know I always make an effort to make the whole team listen when a female staff speaks in a meeting. – Not that their opinion is more or less that anyone else’s; but because I’m aware that ‘men’ have a habit of cutting them off and speaking over what they are saying before they can finish. – just rude!

  2. A very dear family friend, and former Chief of Naval Operations (Joint Chiefs status) once told me that his father offered this career advice: Go where you can make the greatest difference. If any of the issues Phil lists are present – along with myriad others – you’re probably not having the greatest impact. God calls you to better.

  3. I can’t emphasize how accurate Phil’s comments are. I believe that their are seasons for everything. And you can be called into a something for a time, and be called to leave. I think you are just as capable of firing your employer too is they start expecting you to surrender your personal or family life to endless text messages about work during off hours, expectation of long work days without compensation etc. More over you may be just there to learn something to grow your talents. So great article and so very true. Never get complacent in having seniority.

  4. I used to work at a great Production Company you’ve heard of, but I was in a management role overseeing the work I wished I were doing.

    I left there, and soon after going out on my own I started working freelance with one of the clients, whom I met through my previous job, in an unrelated creative arena.

    Then, I worked so much with that Client, that they offered me a job. They hired me for a position encompassing that work, as well as the creative work carried out by my previous employer. It was great how things came full circle. Now my previous boss was our vender. And I knew the quality of work we’d get, as well as having a kind of shorthand in communication, due to previously working together.

    Everything was amicable when I left my previous employer and we remain friends today. There is a season for everything, and the time I was at the Production Company firmly seeded a trust in my boss who soon did work for MY department, at my next job.

    God knows what He’s doing…

  5. I quit several downsizing firms and finally decided my skills were worth more than a typical hourly wage. . .I now only take consulting jobs and it feels good to determine my own direction and know that I have the ability to say no. Oh and by the way NO office politics! I find myself more motivated, more creative and much more content with my day to day workload.

  6. #5 is a big one isn’t it? Sometimes you can love your job, even feel energized by it, but still feel that’s it’s time to move on; to at least make some changes to your current role.

  7. I have just changed jobs based on a lot of those points, Phil, thanks. I could add one. If the boss is insecure and wants everybody to be his friend and has “in camera” meetings with individual employees instead of full staff.

  8. I think one of the things we don’t know sometimes is how much we “know”. Most of us have found that when we left our “normal” job and went out on our own that we were way more valuable than we thought we were. If you have been in your job for a long time you have probably forgotten more things than most people will ever learn. Take that knowledge forward and you’ll be amazed at how much help you can be to the next client. I thought I had mixed out at 45 and now at 52 I’m having for more fun and doing more good than I could have ever imagined and the pay is way better not to mention the improved lifestyle. Let your knowledge work for you!

  9. Thanks for this! I’ve actually just applied those points to a decision about whether I should leave my church or not. All points apply to that too…so thank you.

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