Some jobs just don’t pan out the way you thought they would.
For every worker stuck in a terrible career situation, there typically comes a breaking point. It’s a moment where you decide enough is enough and decide to cut your losses.
In early August, Business Insider asked readers to tell us about a time when they realised they needed to quit a job. The topic seems to have struck a chord — we received far more responses than we had for questions like the weirdest request your boss ever made and the worst career advice you ever received.
Here are 24 of those stories, featuring pill-peddling bosses, cars narrowly missed by bullets, and epiphanies brought on by near-death experiences.
And if you’re wondering whether it’s time to quit your own job, here are 19 signs it might be.
Some answers have been edited for clarity.
'This was a few years ago. I was teaching high school in Eastern Kentucky. One day, I went out for a drive. The next day, a student asked if I had been driving a brown car out near his hollow. I said that I had. He told me that a friend of his had taken a shot at my car, just for fun. I guess he missed. That's when I decided it was time to move on.' -- Jeff West, Union, OH
'I caught a norovirus a few days before I was to leave for vacation. My boss asked me, 'Are you sure you're not faking it so that you can have some days to get ready for your vacation?' This after a night of me sleeping on my bathroom floor because waste was coming out from both ends. I had to quit once I realised I was working in such a toxic environment.' -- Anonymous
'I had a flourishing career. Bad bosses, low pay, etc. were not that big of a concern for me, though I admit I have faced such hurdles.
However, I knew I had to quit after I asked myself a couple of questions last year:
'Is this my purpose?'
'Is this what I'm born to do?'
'Is this what makes me happy?'
The answer to all of those questions was no. So I quit. I took a leap of faith for myself, the Almighty, and my ambition. On a personal level, it was a big risk. But, we take a number of risks every day, so why not take one on ourselves?
True, because I'm 40, with two little kids to take care of, the world -- my close friends and family included -- see my move as a negative step. But to me, it has been a risk worth taking. What's important is that you should do what makes you happy!' -- Anonymous
'I walked into the back room and saw that my boss was selling pills to a retail customer. I remember looking at what was in his hand, then at the buyer, and then back at him.
Then I turned around and walked away. I'd had suspicions that there was something illegal going on, because the owner had odd mood swings, crazy-looking eyes, and other things that I don't feel comfortable disclosing.
I turned in my two-week's notice shortly after that incident. That was the last day I ever stepped foot inside the establishment. He told me not to come back, which was fine since it was a second job that I was working for some extra spending money.
I'd also like to mention that this was supposed to be a child friendly establishment. Just goes to show you, you never know what's really going on behind the scenes.' -- Anonymous
'I had to leave when I realised the job was turning me into a much worse version of myself -- greedy, dishonest, and selfish. In my industry, like many others, you get ahead by developing those traits. I decided I needed to try another industry in order to respect myself again. I really hated the person they were turning me into.' -- Anonymous
'I had to quit when I realised I was no longer the same person that took the job after a near death experience. If it isn't something you see yourself doing in five years, don't invest your time in it. Seize the time you have now.' -- Anonymous, Boston, MA
'I worked for a startup marketing agency. Everyday, I'd catch myself grinding my teeth because of the stress. On Tuesday mornings, I'd start to worry about not having enough time left in the week to get all my work done.
On Saturdays, I'd start to get that awful pit-in-your-stomach feeling because of how I'm going to feel on Sunday, knowing I'll be waking up for work on Monday. I sort of told myself I'd be able to put up with it all long enough to figure it out.
Then one night a few weeks ago, I woke up sweating. I was freaking out because I'd forgotten to do something important for a client. The thing is, it wasn't real. I'd dreamed up the problem.
That was the moment I truly realised I need to quit my job.' -- Nelson, Chicago, IL
'I worked on a stressful project with another team member who had no authority over me. This team member -- let's call her Melissa -- ordered me to take her assignment. I replied with an email reminding her that it was her assignment, not mine. Melissa responded by crying and making a scene at her desk.
Shortly after this 'incident,' I was brought into my manager's office to discuss my insensitivity. My boss -- let's call her Susan -- noted that Melissa's husband was ill, and I should cut her some slack. Meanwhile, I was going through a divorce and told not to 'bring my personal life to work.' I told Susan that I felt this was a double standard.
I soon found out that Susan and Melissa had actually become personal friends. Susan made it her job to retaliate against me for this imagined offence against Melissa. She even told me to make sure I wore tasteful jeans to work on 'Jeans Friday' -- an idea I had come up with myself to fundraise for charity.
Susan also gave me the worst review I have ever gotten and docked one per cent off my three per cent yearly cost of living raise, all the while knowing I would soon be a single mother. So, when my job became about my boss taking revenge against me, instead of our team doing the best job for our clients, it was time to go.' -- Angela, Columbus, OH
'I'm in sales. I knew I had to quit my job the day I realised that the company could not fulfil the orders I was getting. How can you be motivated to sell when you know the company won't fill the order and your credibility with the customer will be ruined?' -- Anonymous
'I was working in Panama for a multi-billion dollar footwear company. The stress resulted in internal bleeding in my stomach. My wife also became pregnant and we realised the level of health care was not up to our standard. We are now happily back in the US.' -- Mike, MA
'I knew I had to quit after the company's CIO told me and a room of managers that I was critical to the success of the company -- right before his staff cut my budget to zero.' -- Anonymous, Armonk, NY
'I realised I needed to quit when I no longer felt like I was learning and or growing. When I lost interest in waking up early each morning. When I no longer felt appreciated, respected, or needed. This is when I knew I had to quit my job.' -- Richard Granziel, New York, NY
'I knew I needed to quit when the guy I sat across from retired. He was at the same level as me at the time. I learned he'd been at the same level for nearly 30 years. A month later, I got a new job and moved out of the state I'd lived in my whole life.' -- Erica, Washington, DC
'I realised I had to leave when my boss admitted he would have preferred to deny my request for leave when my son was born. I started sending out resumes that afternoon.' -- Anonymous
'I realised it was time for me to quit my job after the wage increase, promotion, and title change I'd been promised never appeared.
I was with this particular company for about eight years. When I started out, the offer was low but I was told to trust them and after about two years I would be compensated and given a proper title. I was given more responsibilities, pulled into more meetings, relied on more, but each year, nothing changed.
Side Note: I was good at my job. I even had company clients offer me employment. They literally came to town to secretly take me to dinner to pitch me offers to join their personal teams.
Meanwhile, my bosses would downplay my accomplishments and not give me public recognition. That's when I realised my cheese had been moved and it was time for me to go get my due. I encourage everyone that is currently in a similar situation to leave sooner than later. Don't be suckered to stay in a low position when you know in your gut you are capable of much more.' -- Anonymous
'Two things made me realise that I needed to quit. I was the oldest person in every meeting. I also realised that nothing I did seemed to make a difference anymore.' -- Frank Carlton, Bellingham, WA
'My manager and I were friendly. While I recovered from surgery, a coworker covered my accounts. He was swamped. One of our clients complained about their coverage (mostly to show to their manager that they were being proactive, which I get -- we all have to climb the ladder).
Instead of just chatting about the situation, my manager sent me a formal email ordering me to cover his back. That afternoon, instead of dealing with what happened, he flew out for a golf trip with the boys. The day after that I was in my managing director's office saying, 'I'm out!' -- Anonymous
'I stayed on too long. I should have quit three weeks into this job.
I was being trained by the new owner's friend, who did not work for the company and was not aware of any of its procedures. When I made my first sale, the 30-year office manager made a public, snarky joke in an attempt to belittle me and diminish my first accomplishment.
It worked! Life is too short to work in a toxic environment and that company certainly has one.' -- Anonymous, Fayetteville, AK
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