When you break down a career to its most fundamental level, Eileen Sharaga, a career counselor based out of NYC, says it’s comprised of a role and an industry, or a skillset and a subject matter. Some people have a passion for the subject matter (like health or education) while others have the skill set (like organizing data or writing) and need to figure out which subject matter they’ll fit into. When you’re lucky enough to have a job that you love, where your role is well-integrated into an industry you like, it can be hard to imagine ever wanting to leave. But sometimes even the most unexpected of circumstances arise that make it hard, or even downright impossible, to stay.
There are many qualities to a company or position that are likely to make you love your job: the people, the work, the technology or the pay. But sometimes negative factors, even the small ones, overshadow the great. Sometimes there’s nothing bad you could say about your job, but outside factors came together to play their part in making you consider leaving. Sometimes life just brings you to a crossroads you didn’t expect to reach. Here are nine reasons you might quit your job, even when you love it.
1. You want to jet set the world while you’re still young
There’s nothing wrong with it. Maybe you thought you’d save traveling for later when you were more settled and had a savings account, but you want to hike the Appalachian Trail while your knees are still good. Maybe you want to see the polar ice caps before they all melt away. Maybe you just want to hop on a plane and see where it takes you. Maybe your best friend wants you to accompany her on a backpacking trip across Eurasia.
Bethany Blundell, a graduate of New Mexico State University, left her campus job and turned down various job offers to travel. “While it’s always been my dream to take time after graduation to travel, I never thought that I would actually go through with it,” she says. “Lucky for me, trips just kept popping up, and I kept saying yes.”
When the opportunity to travel pops up, it may be too good to refuse. Who knows when the next chance will come along?
2. You miss your family and want to move closer to home
One of the most exciting things about college for many people is moving away from home and starting to get your first taste of life on your own. For some, that life away remains exhilarating even after college, when you take your first steps into the workforce. For others, not being within dinner date distance might prove to be too much to bear.
This was one of multiple deciding factors for Laurie*, an alum of the University of Hartford. “I was about 12 hours away from my family, so I only got to go to some of our holiday things. And that was really hard, which I didn’t expect,” she says. “Plus, I was eight hours from school, and five from my closest college friends.”
Even if your job seems perfect, you may find that it’s more worthwhile to find something closer to home.
3. You need to deal with your, or a family member’s, ill health
Similar to the previous point, if you, or a family member, falls ill to the point of needing help, whether you live near or far, leaving your job can be an important step to take in addressing a health crisis. Even if you love your job, and rarely feel stressed because of it, having to take on responsibilities such as doctor’s appointments, tests and medical schedules in addition to your work duties can quickly cause that to change. If you work it out with your boss, you may be able to arrange to have your job waiting for you. If not, it’s not the only one of its kind out there.
4. You work too much and need to find a balance
You may love what you do, but that doesn’t mean you’re not spending too much time on it. If you’re at the office past close every day and you don’t have time to meet up with your best friend for a breakfast date or to sit down for TGIT, you probably need to start making some changes.
Alani Vargas, a junior at Northwestern, worked at a bakery during her freshman year, where she loved her co-workers and the environment but hated the hours she had to keep. “As a freshman, I was working at least three week days, plus full shifts on Saturdays and Sundays,” she says. “I was able to work out a schedule that was more conducive to my school schedule, but it would still take me away from my friends and homework time, plus I was always tired. I started searching, and finally got a job with way better hours.”
Even if you have no complaints about what you’re doing, working too much is unhealthy. You probably need to consider cutting back or, if that seems impossible, finding something less time-consuming.
5. Your values don’t align with the company’s (or your manager’s)
As much as you may love the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of your job, sometimes as you become more familiar with your workplace, you realize that everything isn’t necessarily as you expected it to be. Perhaps the company supports a political affiliation that you’re not sure you can work under. Perhaps some of your superiors seem to be a little bit sexist. Perhaps you and your officemates’ personalities clash too much to be productive. These are things you may not realize until you’ve immersed yourself in the culture of the company.
“I didn’t feel like I was ‘up to snuff,’ which goes hand-in-hand with a management shakeup,” Laurie, a journalist, says. “I had an editor with whom I butted heads almost constantly. When he switched from nights to days, I decided once and for all that it was time to go.”
Steph Jackman, a senior at York College of Pennsylvania, had an internship with an advertising company doing work that she loved. “They took me on trips with them and paid for everything. They always catered lunch for us, too, because the CEO was so ‘caring’ and ‘giving.’ I realized soon after that this was all a cover-up for her treating a lot of the employees like crap,” she says. “It was incredibly difficult to leave because it was my first real ‘big-girl’ type of job, and I was extremely proud of myself for getting to that position so early in my life. The workload became too much, and some people were treating me like I was less than them.”
Jean*, an arts administrator at a theatre, is in a similar position of loving her job but hating the leadership and company politics. “It’s frustrating because I know I am good at what I do and I have ways I want to advance the company but I am stifled by a selfish, power-hungry dictator in ways,” she says. “I’ve kind of been sucking it up, but it’s really starting to eat away at me as a person. If I’ve learned anything over the past few months, it’s that you have to be happy with what you’re doing—not just happy sometimes.”
Sharaga suggests, “If you love what you do, but you don’t like where you’re doing it, that’s very clear. Move to another company; you’re only stuck when you’re much older and you have a mortgage and your skillset doesn’t translate to another company. When you’re young, that’s when you can leave.”
Even if you love what you’re doing on your own, if any of the aforementioned make you less productive, it may be better to move on.
6. Your SO got a new job that requires him or her to move
If your significant other is offered an amazing new opportunity in their career, but it requires them to move far away, you’re probably going to be faced with the difficult decision of “Should I stay or should I go?” and while long distance may be achievable, you may find yourself having to decide if your job or your relationship is more important.
Sharaga says, “A woman once came to me who had moved to New York with her boyfriend, who thought she might be in need of a career shift and ended up hating the job she found. Sometimes when you love a specific thing about one job, and you find another, that thing doesn’t always replicate itself in the new job, so you have to be clear about what you’re working for. If you’re on a great career path and you love your job, leaving the position or the industry can be a great risk, but if there’s greater opportunity where you’re going and you think it could offer something more, then do it.”
There’s nothing wrong with choosing your job, but there’s nothing wrong with leaving it behind, either.
7. You’ve become complacent and need to find something more challenging
Have you been doing your job for a while? Have you run out of new things to learn, bordering on boredom with the same tasks day in and day out? If you can’t take on new roles or challenges with what you’re doing now, it’s probably time to find something that will allow you to grow outside of your comfort zone, increase your skill set and come across something new to do every now and again.
Andreia McLean, a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University, used to work as a PR/Marketing Coordinator for an event design company. “I was a part of this incredibly talented team, and running social media, blogging, and networking for a company that worked on events like World MasterCard Fashion Week and the Much Music Video Awards was the experience of a lifetime, but the company was really small and despite making all sorts of grand plans, it became clear at some point that my position wasn’t going to grow from what it was,” she says. “It was a difficult decision but the right move for me in the long run.”
Another thing that Andreia pointed out was that she left her company despite not having something else lined up yet because she wanted to leave on good terms. It’s always good to ensure that you leave an open door when you go, but even if you have no plans to return to the company, you never know when you may work for or with your old superiors or coworkers again; you don’t want to leave any bad blood in your wake.
“You need to figure out what is blocking you from moving forward; is it yourself? The company?” Sharaga says. “One of the biggest things I hear from the older population is that the work they do is not meaningful, but meaning comes from finding the right setting. For example, if you’re an elementary teacher and you want to make an impact on the lives of kids but you’re stifled by a poor school system due to rules and administrative quagmires.” Do you stay and do your best, despite the rules, to help those kids, or do you find a new school district? The answers aren’t always so clear-cut.
8. You’re not making the money you need
Much as we hate to admit it, money makes the world go ‘round. Even if you love what you do, if you’re not making a livable wage, something’s gotta give. If you can’t get your superiors to agree to a raise for the position you’re already in, it’s time to move on to something that is going to allow you to live without having to do so paycheck to paycheck.
9. You want to go back to school
This last one goes hand in hand with the previous two. There are tons of reasons why someone may choose to further their education, but two common reasons are the need for a further degree in order to raise your salary or become qualified for another position. You don’t necessarily have to quit your job in order to return to school, but you may want to dedicate more of your time to earn that degree.
Sharaga warns to take the time to think a decision like this through first, though. “Going back to school if you know what you’re doing it for is great, but you need to be clear about why you’re getting an advanced degree – it’s very expensive, and if you’re doing it just because, you should really think it through.”
Laurie’s final advice? “Be conscious of how your job makes you feel, and don’t be afraid to make a change if you have to. I love journalism more than anything, but when I started dreading work in the morning, I knew it was time for a change,” she says. “I was terrified to meet with my managing editor, but when I handed in my notice it was an overwhelming feeling of relief.”
Jean says, “I’m in the process of learning to accept my feelings of uncertainty and trust my gut… it’s not easy to do when you’re our age and you actually have a job. You don’t want to come off as an entitled millennial—but you always have to do what is best for you. Quite often, I push away thoughts of leaving this job because I feel bad for the position I’ll put my supervisor in, but I need to stop thinking like that because you can’t start worrying about everyone else or how your company will suffer. That’s how you get trapped!”
Don’t be afraid to do what feels right for you. If you love your day-to-day but hate where you’re doing it, or if something else in your life feels more important at this time, it’s okay to step away. In the end, all you can do is what feels right to you, but you shouldn’t hold on to a job just because you love it. There will always be others.
*Name has been changed