1. You can't find meaning in your work. When you don't get out of bed in the morning and are doing the bare minimum at work, you're not doing anyone any favors. If the company's mission and the responsibilities you're tasked with don't resonate with your values and gut, you will never be happy. Lethargy and false starts, along with high highs and low lows, are all signs you're struggling with trying to fit a square job into a round vision of your career. Take a deep inventory of your goals and values before leaving your current position to avoid making the same mistake at the next job.
2. Stress shows up in your body. While we can't see stress specifically, it shows itself in a variety of ways. If you're constantly sick for instance, your immune system may be reacting to your constant elevated blood pressure and not do its job. Or perhaps you constantly feel anxiety and panic; your heart races and you can't calm down. Stress also often shows up as body inflammations; if your neck muscles are constantly in pain, for instance, that's a good indicator. If you can't manage high levels of stress through exercise, coaching and other tactics, it may be time to opt-out of whatever makes you feel that way in the first place.
3. You don't want to be your boss. If you can't imagine taking over your boss's job, or feel less than motivated to move up in your organization, chances are you need to take a look at what you want out of your career. Many people find that while they are good at what they do, and maybe even like their co-workers, they can't envision a future at their current company. Perhaps your job no longer challenges you, or perhaps there aren't appropriate opportunities for growth in areas that interest you. Either way, if you can't look up and respect your boss's position, it's time to look a different way.
4. You have an emergency fund. Think you're stressed now? Just wait until you can't find a job and don't have any money. Financial security and independence are important tenets to most people's well-being. If you need motivation to set aside savings, try calling your account a "screw you" fund, as ecommerce expert Melinda Byerley writes in a blog post. In this economy, you need to have at least six months to a year's worth of living expenses saved. If you don't have the extra cash, take on a side job, and if you don't have the extra time, do everything in your power to give yourself an appropriate cushion before you shove off from your desk permanently.
5. Management bullies you. There's a difference between a difficult boss and a dangerous boss. A difficult boss doesn't provide clear direction, for instance, but allows you to manage up and take specific actions to improve your situation. A dangerous boss uses bully tactics, and will make it difficult for you to improve your situation on your own. Make sure to take responsibility for your actions and behaviors before blaming others, and also give your manager a chance to rectify any problems. They may not know they're offending you or making it difficult to complete your job. But once you've done what you can, take your lessons learned and apply them to a new boss at a new company.
6. You have a plan. It may seem satisfying to throw your hands up in the air and stalk out of a job you hate, but what's next? Don't leave your future up to chance; instead create a detailed plan of how you will build your career after you say the words, "I quit." Decide whether you will have a job lined up before you leave, or how you will secure your finances and sanity if you decide to figure things out later. And remember, you're in control of this plan and the options are endless: travel the world, take a break or dive right into a new challenge. This is your career and you create the path to follow.
Quitting a job can be an agonizing and personal decision. If you recognize yourself in these six signs, start something new with the confidence that you're doing the right thing; it's OK to move on.
Rebecca Thorman's weekly blog Kontrary offers tips to create the career, bank account, and life you love, and is a popular destination for young professionals. Her goal is to help you find meaningful work, enjoy the heck out of it, and earn more money. She writes from Washington, D.C.