The other day I was looking back at my writing of a year ago and realized it has been exactly a year since I quit my job.

Yes, I quit. In a terrible economy, with high unemployment, I willingly chose to leave.

I have never regretted quitting, but even now it’s interesting to look back on why it was the right decision for me at the time.

As a new year approaches, there are probably many people out there working in jobs they don’t love and wondering if there isn’t something better somewhere else.  Before quitting, however, it’s important to properly evaluate whether it’s really time.

  • Is your job making you sick? Some jobs, for various reasons, are so stressful that they cause you to have medical problems like headaches, back pain, reduced immunity, and sleeplessness.  If the health issues are inhibiting your creativity or stopping you from enjoying your life outside of work, it might be time to look elsewhere.
  • Has your employer downsized your job too much?  Many employers have reduced hours, and pay, in recent years, especially in creative fields.  They are not investing in as many new projects and don’t feel that they need as many staff hours.  Downsizing can be good for your work/life balance or it could mean you have to add another part-time job to your schedule.  Remember–you’re investing your “time capital” in your employer.  If it becomes a money-losing proposition, put your capital into a better investment.
  • How is your relationship with your Manager?  If this relationship has somehow been damaged beyond repair, there is very little likelihood that your situation will improve or they will recommend you for a promotion or transfer to another department.  If your ambitions rise above your current role, you need to find somewhere you can grow.
  • Dread.  If you start every workday with a shudder and a sense of impending doom, leave.
  • Have you learned everything you’re going to learn?  This is the one I realized was true after I had already decided to quit.  I would have spent my remaining time in my role doing the same projects over and over.  Easy, yes.  Also boring and a waste of time and talent.  That “time capital” is not endless—don’t waste it!

With the holiday season already upon us, it is a great time to evaluate your situation at work.  If you find yourself thankful for the relationships you have built, for the rewards your job offers, for the opportunities for growth and learning that it brings, stay where you are.  But if you are suffering, you can take your talents to freelancing, to entrepreneurship, or to another role that offers you what you need to flourish.

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative