Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I hate my job?” Or simply wanted something different from your work life?

If so, you’re not alone: 81 percent of respondents reported leaving their job or industry because of dissatisfaction, according to a report from Indeed.

Most people spend well over 40 hours per week at their jobs, with full-time workers averaging about 8.5 hours a day, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Given these stats, you should at least try to find a job that pays decently and doesn’t crush your soul daily.

Though I was happy in my career as an accountant, I always wondered what it would be like to work for myself and run my own company.

You can daydream for years, but if you never take action, then nothing will change.

My wife and I talked about what we would need to do to take the leap from traditional employment to working for myself full-time. We decided that we wanted our finances to be in excellent shape and that I needed to have a business that was making money prior to leaving my job.

Hate Your Job? Take Financial Action

We decided to save up 12 months’ worth of living expenses before I left my job. Our goal was to be able to live for a whole year if the absolute worst-case scenario occurred, in which neither of us made a penny.

We took one specific action that would help us achieve this goal quickly. After paying off my wife’s student loan debt, we had a large surplus in our monthly budget that we originally used to build up a six-month emergency fund.

Rather than spending that money, we decided to reallocate that money toward our new “12 months of living expenses” goal.

I’m not the only one who got my financial house in order before making the leap. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, the founder of Making Sense of Cents, decided to achieve her financial goals before she left her job to focus on her blog.

She took steps to ensure that she would make a job transition in a financially responsible manner.

“My first step was to make sure that I was fully prepared,” Schroeder-Gardner says. “I paid off my student loans completely; I made sure I had enough of an income; and I built up my emergency fund to make the switch go smoothly for me.”

If You Hate Your Job, Stop Wasting Time

Sometimes highly successful people don’t see their career as fulfilling anymore, even after working their way to the top.

“I reached the pinnacle and gained the CEO position of the business I worked for. My salary was exceptional and the benefits were very good for my entire family,” says Celia J-Hale, a startup business coach.

“However, the great title came with great responsibility and extreme stress. I found myself losing what I ultimately valued the most — my freedom.”

J-Hale forfeited a six-figure salary to pursue her own business. “Ultimately it was my passion and tenacity to succeed that got me up and running,” she says “I earn less now, but I am happy and free. And that is the most valuable wage anyone can receive.”

When You Can’t Afford to Quit

Not everyone has the financial means or resources to wake up one day and decide to quit their job, and make it happen two weeks later. That is perfectly normal. Still, no one should dread waking up to the sound of their alarm because it means suffering through another day at work. Moreover, getting unstuck — regardless of which area of your life — builds confidence.

Other reasons for the need to change jobs include wanting greater flexibility, not making enough money, and not feeling challenged. These are all issues that have the potential to be addressed and changed.

How to Know When to Quit 

Say you’ve tried what you can to stay at your job, but there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. How do you know when it’s time to quit your job? Here’s a list of red flags to look out for. If noticed, they should not be taken lightly:

  • You don’t trust your boss or peers.
  • You don’t see your skills improving.
  • You are no longer gaining any type of valuable skills or experience.
  • You feel unsafe or uncomfortable at work.
  • You notice detrimental issues with the company that seem to be worsening.
  • You don’t feel motivated to do your work well, or at all.
  • Work is negatively impacting your health.
  • Despite asking, there is no room for advancement.
  • Your opinion is not valued.
  • You are underpaid or underutilized.
  • The company doesn’t feel like the right “fit” or you compromise on essential personal values.

It can be difficult and awkward to pull the plug and call it quits. If a handful of these red flags resonated with you, it may be time to consider your options.

Rather than packing up and saying farewell to your current workplace, try negotiating or speaking with your boss about possible changes that will help you and your peers feel more inspired and motivated to work.

“Oftentimes when you’re dissatisfied with your job it’s a result of the work no longer aligning with your core values or priorities,” says HR consultant and coach Sarah Wagoner.

“If you decide to stay, analyze your values and have a conversation with your manager or a trusted colleague about how to create more engagement and satisfaction in the work you’re doing. It could look something like taking on a new project, mentoring a colleague, or learning a new skill,” Wagoner adds.

It’s possible that having a meaningful conversation about improving the work environment will have a positive outcome for everyone involved.

The Bottom Line

Quitting a job can be uncomfortable and awkward. It’s easy to stay in a semi-comfortable situation and tell yourself it isn’t the right time to make a change. There are loads of uncertainties and wondering whether it’s the right thing to do can cause analysis paralysis.

Some individuals may have more latitude than others when planning for the future if they have money socked away. Others may have no idea what quitting their job will mean for their future.

After assessing your situation, there will come a time when it’s clear what you need to do.

It may require research, the support of friends, family and colleagues, and the willingness to both soul search and take some risk.

If you are sacrificing a salary or career for another pressing goal or passion, it can be frightening.

Still, making a career change with the right amount of thought, knowledge, and execution, has the potential to open doors to more freedom and fulfillment.

Additional reporting by Ellie Schmitt