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How to know whether you should stay at your job or if it's time to quit

About 40% of respondents on a recent survey said they're considering leaving their job

ST. LOUIS — Ever wish you could quit your job, walk away and start totally new? It’s exactly what Leslie DeRouin is doing.

“I decided that I needed to seize an opportunity to reset my life, that I was probably never going to have an opportunity like this again,” she said. “So I quit the job, gave notice at the apartment, and I'm going to take everything out of my life and then intentionally decide what I want to add back.”

DeRouin said she’s gotten a lot of support from her former colleagues in her nursing job, a career she navigated with gusto for the last 10 years. As 2020 threw so many of us off course, DeRouin remembers feeling lost, isolated and alone without them — or other friends and family, since she said she’s considered “high risk” for COVID-19.

“I felt like I was no longer able to care for myself, to provide the care for other people that we want to do when we work in health care,” she said.

Microsoft’s Work Trend Index recently found 41% of those surveyed said they’re considering leaving their job, with 45% of workers saying they are overworked and 39% are exhausted.

“I think it's really important mostly that people recognize when they're hitting that burnt out phase, we often don't see it until after the fact,” said Katie Magoon, a hiring and HR expert and the founder of People Solutions Center. “The reality is we can be so much better off sometimes if we just at least look to see, ‘What could this be and how happy could I be at my job?’"

Magoon said people who are goal-oriented, women and caregivers, and those in support roles might be feeling the most intense burnout, but she’s seeing it in all sorts of roles and careers.

“The best thing you can do is sit down and have a really honest conversation with your leader,” she said. “Coming up with your own set of goals and then working with your leader to figure out how that fits into the organization can be a great way to reenergize yourself within a current employer.”

That could also mean re-establishing goals and timelines that may have been set aside in the pandemic, and re-claim work-life boundaries that may have been blurred.

“Honestly, one of the big challenges that happened over the last year is folks didn't take time to re-energize and recharge and eat well; no matter how much you love your job, that eventually wears on you,” she said. “Find a way to take time and then spend that day doing something you really enjoy. If you spend it doing errands and things like that, you may find it's not actually recharging your batteries.”

She advises asking yourself: What do I love doing? Do I get to do that in my job? Is that going to fulfill me in the long-term? And does it align with my current life priorities?

“Maybe your motivations have changed over the course of the last year, and if that motivation has changed, now, it may be time to look for different opportunities,” she said.

She also recommended combing through job postings and taking note of the parts of the job descriptions you find most attractive.

“What you'll find is for most of us, across 10 jobs in 10 completely different categories, we'll still find trends,” she said. “You start to really figure out what is it that's attracting you and then how much of your current role matches that. That gives you an idea of whether you should stay where you're at, or if it's time to leave.”

"I knew in my soul that the time had come for me to make a sweeping change," said DeRouin, following some similar self-reflection. Not yet sure what she’s looking for next, she’s excited.

“My hope is that when I look back on all of this, my only regret is going to be not doing it sooner,” she said.