It's an unfortunate statistic that more than 50% of American workers consider themselves unhappy at work. If you've reached the point where you're so displeased that you're thinking of up and quitting your job, here are a few items to ponder first.

1. How long have I been frustrated?

It's often the case that work-related angst comes in waves. You might, for example, have a month-long period where you're downright miserable, only to see things improve when a new quarter kicks off. Before you rush to leave your job, ask yourself whether your unhappiness is a recent thing or ongoing. If you're dealing with the former, then think about the specific factors or stressors that could be contributing, and see if some of them are more temporary in nature. It could be that riding out a tough project or transition is all it'll take to put you back in a place where you're more content.

I QUIT note on a computer keyboard


2. What's my primary sticking point?

When we find ourselves unhappy at work, it's often due to a convergence of factors such as stress, deadlines, lackluster compensation, or annoying colleagues. But before you quit your job, aim to identify what's truly pushing you over the edge and see if you can alleviate that one pressing issue. If so, your job might be salvageable. For example, if you're frustrated by a terrible commute, it pays to see if your company might be willing to agree to a flexible work arrangement that allows you to stay home twice a week before pulling the plug.

3. Is my boss the problem?

Even if you like some aspects of your job, all it takes is a horrible boss to make an otherwise tolerable situation downright miserable. If your manager is the driving force behind your inclination to leave, try looking for a workaround before calling it quits. For example, you could try improving your existing relationship, and if that's not possible, look into switching to a different team. You might also try sitting down with an HR representative and airing some of your grievances. If it turns out your boss has been acting out of line, someone is bound to step in and put a stop to it, at which point things might quickly improve.

4. Can I actually afford to quit my job?

When you reach the point where you wake up every morning dreading going to work, it's natural to map out an immediate exit strategy. But before you pull the trigger, you'll need to figure out whether quitting is something you can manage financially. Most Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, while 39% have no savings at all. If you fall into either category, then you're better off sticking out your lousy job until you're able to find a new one. Otherwise, your desire to escape a bad situation might damage your finances and cause you to rack up debt, thus compounding your misery.

5. Will I really be happier elsewhere?

Perhaps you're the type of person who doesn't do well in a corporate environment. Or maybe you've chosen the wrong field, and are apt to be bored in it no matter where you work. Before you rush to quit your job, imagine what it would be like to take a similar position at a competing company. Do you think a fresh environment will help you bust out of your funk? Or are you more likely than not to wind up unhappy a few months down the line?

If it's the latter, then rather than leave your job, stick it out a few more months while you plan your next move. That could mean taking a class or learning new skills so you're qualified to do something else, or ramping up your savings so you get the option to start at the bottom in a new industry. Either way, don't rush into another job that reads a lot like your current one without first evaluating whether the problem is really your company or you.

Nobody deserves to be unhappy at work, so if you're experiencing nothing but misery, you should absolutely consider leaving at some point. Just don't be too quick to resign without first understanding what it is that's bugging you or seeing if things can somehow be fixed. You never know what reasonable changes might turn a seemingly hopeless job situation into a manageable one.

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