Quitting a job can feel like another major life change many of us go through sooner or later: a break-up. It’s like that a-ha moment when you realise that it’s going nowhere and it’s time to move on – exactly like a break-up. The similarities are striking at every stage.

It’s hard to take the plunge

Making the decision to quit what started out as a good job isn’t an easy one. You kind of skirt along, knowing things aren’t working, but deep down, you want to give it another shot. You tell yourself, Things will change! They’ll improve. I’ll never find anything better.

Instead, you need to start thinking along the lines of: there are so many other things, far better out there. I can’t be wasting my time on something (someone) that doesn’t make me happy. You used to love it (him), but now the feeling is just gone. You’ve lost your spark, your passion.

You remember all the good times

Ah, the honeymoon period. So sweet, so blissful, wasn’t it – way back before things turned sour? You long for those days again and are naively optimistic you can bring them back. Your mind inadvertently replaces the negative with the positive. You’ve invested so much time, blood, sweat, and tears already! You can’t quit now! Right? Wrong.

You dread the conversation

Nothing’s worse than sitting down and having ‘the talk’. It’s not you, it’s me. It’s just not working out right now. I need to have some time alone to work on myself and figure out what I really want in life. This relationship has taught me so much. I hope we can keep in touch. Whether it’s a boyfriend or a career, the break-up conversation is essentially the same.

You almost change your mind

The hard part is over. The weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You find yourself focusing on the positives again, instead of the reasons you came to the decision in the first place. You consider going back, in the hope of making things work. But you’re better than that, so you don’t, because all the reasons that lead you to leave in the first place are still there, and things won’t change.

Deep down, you know it’s for the best

There’s a tiny voice inside your head throughout this whole ordeal saying things like, “You can do it!” or “Stay strong!” It’s what gives you the confidence to stick to your guns. Granted, finding a great job – where work doesn’t feel like work – is like finding a needle in a haystack. But when a person is so miserable that they no longer take pride in what they do, constantly feel demotivated and look at every day of the week as a ‘Monday morning’, these are telltale signs that it’s time to go.

Deciding to leave isn’t easy because you’ve invested a lot of time, effort and emotion. Still, just like a dead-end relationship, a job which doesn’t help you develop both personally and professionally isn’t a job worth keeping. And just like being in a bad relationship, you should know when it’s time to call it quits and simply say to yourself: I won’t settle for mediocre.