5 Signs Your Job Is Not Worth the Money—and How to Find One That Is

Sometimes, the amount on that paycheck just doesn't make up for hassles at work.

A high-paying career may seem like a dream come true—but at what cost? Say you finally have savings and money to invest, have finished paying off debt, and no longer live paycheck-to-paycheck. But has that paycheck become too costly? Do you dread going to work or come home drained every day?

Of course, making a fair salary has its perks. But sometimes—no matter how many digits are on that paycheck—it isn't worth the tradeoffs in terms of health, mental well-being, and work-life balance. If you're at a crossroads, contemplating whether to stick it out or take a hike, consider these five signs that your job may no longer be worth the money. If those signs hit home, keep reading to learn how to transition to a better work situation that nurtures your health and your wallet.

When to Quit Your Job

Your health and mindset are suffering

Most jobs are served up with a side of stress, but if it's contributing to a major decline in your overall physical or mental health (or both!), that's a problem. If you're having trouble concentrating or feeling anxious or depressed about work, it may be time to find a less stressful job.

Stress is dangerous and can lead to long-term mental and physical effects—from headaches to gastrointestinal issues to trouble sleeping—so keep an eye out for these stress-triggered symptoms. While those dollar signs are great for your wallet, they may also be detrimental to your well-being.

There is no room for advancement

Aspirations for a better position in your company is admirable, but is it possible? Some businesses—particularly very small or family-owned ones—aren't structured for raises and promotions, and offer no path for you to become a lead or manager. Or perhaps you keep getting overlooked for a promotion you're clearly suited for. In either case, assess your salary versus your goals, and consider a job with growth opportunities.

Your workload has increased but the pay hasn't

It's good to be a team player, take initiative, and learn more for the sake of advancing your career, but work creep—when your workload increases, but your pay doesn't—can be a real problem.

If you find yourself buried in countless projects that were not part of your job before, it may be time to have a sit-down with your boss. More work should lead to more money, and if it doesn't, is it worth your time and happiness?

You have a toxic boss

If your boss makes Meryl Streep's character in The Devil wears Prada look congenial, that's a red flag that your job isn't worth it. A toxic boss can be truly detrimental. According to a survey by Society for Human Resource Management, 84 percent of workers attributed unnecessary work and stress to an inept manager.

Take note if your boss sets unrealistic deadlines, gossips, blames others for their mistakes, gaslights, or creates conflict. After all, work is hard enough without dealing with unnecessary drama or a toxic work environment. If you can't transfer to another manager or department in the company, it's probably time to polish up your resume and head out.

You aren't being used to your full potential

Is work too easy? Have you acquired new technical skills that aren't used or appreciated? Have your responsibilities stagnated for years? When a promotion opens up, are you overlooked? If you answered "yes," you're being underutilized, which can decrease motivation, reduce confidence, and lead to work boredom. You deserve to use your unique and valuable skillset to excel in your job.

Tips for Switching Careers

Identify your passions

What do you enjoy doing? What excites you? What are your core values? Use these answers to start a list of qualities you're looking for in a job. An analysis by Clockify determined the average American spends 1757 hours a year at work. Why not spend that time in a way that's worthwhile?

Transfer your passions into career ideas

Once you've articulated your passions and core values, research compatible careers where they'll thrive. For instance, if you're an animal lover, consider a career as a vet tech or pet sitter, or look into vet school. If you love to write, consider copywriting, pursue a communications gig, or try your hand at ghostwriting. Bottom line: Find a career you're passionate about, and you'll make money doing what you love.

Update your resume

Leaping into a new career can be daunting, but once you've found a new path, update your resume with an eye to highlighting transferrable skills and experience useful at your next job.

Lauren Rikleen, president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership, suggests you closely examine the description for the job you're pursuing, identify skills and requirements in it that you have, and then emphasize them on your resume.

If you don't have the exact experience an employer is looking for, consider updating your skills or coursework to make your application stand out. There are plenty of in-person and online options, and many courses are affordable or even free. Grow with Google is one of many fantastic resources.

Tap into your network

The doors that open for you by people you already know might surprise you. Your network—friends, family, and previous coworkers—forms the basis of a huge support system to put you in touch with new opportunities and help you reach your goals.

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  1. Valikhani A, Ahmadnia F, Karimi A, Mills PJ. The relationship between dispositional gratitude and quality of life: The mediating role of perceived stress and mental health. Pers Individ Dif. 2019;141:40-46. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2018.12.014

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