“It’s time you realized that you have something in you more powerful and miraculous than the things that affect you and make you dance like a puppet.”
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Comfort is a wily beast. Before you know it, you can slip into an easy situation and languish. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, if comfort is all you seek. But if you’re looking for something a bit more meaningful, more challenging, and more fulfilling, comfort can be the enemy.
About six years ago I began my job as an IT consultant. I had always been quite good with computers and I knew somebody on the inside. It was a great move for me, as I quickly learned a ton. Every day was fun. I got to experiment with new gadgets and implement what I learned into client systems. It was one of the best and most challenging jobs I’ve ever had.
Flash-forward a few years and things started to taper. I wasn’t learning as much and the usual problems we dealt with became rote. I felt a longing to move on, to try something different, to strike out on my own. But despite the boredom I was beginning to feel at work, I couldn’t get up the nerve to make any moves. The job paid very well, I had a lot of freedom, and great benefits. I had grown comfortable and accustomed to a cushy life.
Last year things came to a head. I was having a particularly stressful month, overloaded with work that was neither challenging nor interesting. I had enough. I reached out to my bosses and let them know that I was done. We had a meeting about my decision. They didn’t want to lose me. They addressed my concerns and we agreed that I could change my job and begin working on some new internal organizational systems. I decided to stay and give this new role a chance.
Now, a year after my role change, not much is different. Senior staff did not adopt the new systems I built. The work is still uninspiring and unchallenging. I’m comfortable, but comfort to me has become draining. Change can be very difficult for some and after spending time trying to implement new solutions I’ve realized that you simply can’t change other people if they don’t want it.
I’ve again quit my job. For real this time. It’s both liberating and frightening. It’s not you, job, it’s me. I need a greater challenge.
I’ve learned a lot from my quitting experience. Here are some signs that it might be time to quit your job.
1. You Are No Longer Learning Anything.
Jobs can be a lot of fun in the beginning when you’re learning new skills. However, mastery of those skills without the opportunity to learn anything greater can lead to dissatisfaction. After 6 years at my job, I wasn’t learning anything new and the usual tasks I had to deal with became frustrating. My skillset had grown beyond what was being asked of me. There was no opportunity to work on higher-level tasks, as those tasks just didn’t exist.
2. There Is No Chance For Promotion Or Growth.
At my job, everybody pretty much did similar work. Even the owners did the same work as the employees. There was no opportunity to build a career. While my job became quite easy, I couldn’t see a future in it. I was getting stuck with a mediocre skillset and no chance to move up the ladder because no ladder existed. After a while, I figured out I didn’t want to move up that particular ladder anyway.
3. You Keep Telling Yourself You’re Going To Quit.
For the past three years, I’ve told myself that I was going to quit my job at the beginning of December, work until the holidays, and start the New Year off with new opportunities. But I never did it. Then, when I finally did strike up the courage to quit, I ended up staying at the job for another full year. Telling yourself that you must quit this job is a sign that you do not belong there and you should start making moves to figure out your next adventure.
4. You Want More, But You’re Seduced By The Comfort.
If you’re unchallenged at your job and you desire to do something more yet you can’t seem to leave because you’re too comfortable, it may be an indication that you’ve reached the end of what this particular job can offer you. Not everybody strives for more, of course, and comfort could certainly be the end goal for many people. But I’m looking to build a challenging career that I’m proud of and settling at an unfulfilling job just because it’s comfortable is a path to stagnant unhappiness.
5. You Have a Bad Attitude And It’s Obvious.
I’m so guilty of this. Over the last few years my attitude at work could be described as manic. Some days I would be happy and easygoing, other days I would be negative and unhelpful. If you don’t enjoy your work or you’re unchallenged, it can certainly affect your attitude. Nobody wants to work with someone who has a bad attitude, and if you find more and more that you’re guilty of this it may be time to consider what’s next.
While quitting my job was a very difficult and stressful decision to make, I know it was the correct one. My detour down this path has been too long and I have grown uncomfortable with the comfort. I will definitely miss my coworkers, as we have all grown very close. But I need to venture out on my own and figure out the next stage of my life. I’m scared and excited. It’s a great feeling.
What’s your quitting experience? If you want to quit but haven’t yet built up the courage, what’s holding you back?
Photo by Andrew Vargas