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When and how to quit a job that makes you miserable

Are you unhappy at work? You are not alone. According to a recent study by, more than 60% of people in Hong Kong are generally dissatisfied with their current job.

It can be tricky to determine whether you are unhappy at work or if there are other issues afoot. Perhaps you have a personality clash with a colleague, or are grinding through a difficult project.

Here are some key signs that may indicate that there is something wrong with the whole package:

You dread going to work.

Just the thought of your job fills you with a misery that has no end in sight. At work, you count down the hours until you can go home.

Your physical or mental health is suffering.

You are overworked to the point that you no longer have time to take care of yourself. It isn’t unheard of to occasionally work through meals or put in late nights, but your career should never compromise your long-term well-being.

Your job doesn’t maximize your potential. 

The tasks you carry out on any given day don’t use your existing skills. While it is important to be challenged in a job, it is also important to build on your strengths, using the skills you have developed through prior experience.

There is no room to grow.

Regardless of your success in your current position, you feel there is nowhere to expand, develop and move ahead. Any upward mobility seems completely out of reach.

You don’t feel valued at work.

According to a study by HKU, approximately 1 in 3 people report not being satisfied with their contribution to their workplace. Happiness at a job in part relies on seeing the fruits of your labor, whether it be something physical you have created or receiving positive recognition from a boss or a fellow colleague.

Take Charge and Change

If you relate to any of these signs, then you may need to make a substantial change regarding your job. Here are six tips to help you get started in taking charge and improving your employment situation:

  1. First, work out why you are unhappy. Consider whether your unhappiness at work may be related to a more generalized unhappiness in your life, possibly involving feeling depressed, anxious or angry, and especially if these problems preceded the job difficulties. If this is the case, addressing these issues through psychotherapy may improve not only your job satisfaction but your overall sense of well-being. If your discontent if definitely work-related, determine if your funk is caused by something specific or if you are experiencing chronic job dissatisfaction. Seek solutions or help with specific problems. If you realize the problem is, in fact, that your job makes you miserable, start planning an exit strategy.
  2. Visualize and write down your ideal job and workplace. It is important to identify specific parts of a job that are important to you. Consider forming a personal mission statement that will help you better align with a job. Realizing what you value in a career is the first step in bringing those values to life.
  3. Write down the issues you have with your current job. Although this seems redundant, simply writing down your issues with work makes your dissatisfaction more tangible and can further help you identify what needs to change to be happier at work.
  4. Ask for advice and help. Coworkers with more experience, or even a close friend or relative are invaluable resources to consult with while you decide to make a change. A lot of people struggle with job mismatches. Chances are you have someone close to you who has experienced exactly what you are going through.
  5. Plan ahead. Be sure to give yourself plenty of lead time to find a new position. Finding a new job depends on many factors, such as your level of experience, your preferred sector, and expected income. But experts agree, that you can expect to wait anywhere from three months to two years to secure a new position.
  6. Be patient. A job transition can take a lot of time and energy, including settling into a new position. However, once you get acquainted with your new workplace your life will become much more pleasant, and you will be thanking yourself that you took the time to initiate some positive change in your life.

Are you miserable at work and need help deciding if you should stay or go? Contact the BFDC. We can help.