It’s a hard decision to make, especially in this economy: choosing to walk away from your job. The fear of the unknown and the need for economic security can make people stay in a bad job far longer than is healthy.

So when do you know that you’ve gotten to the point where you have to walk away from your job? I asked two of TechRepublic’s contributors to share their personal experiences on the topic.

First up is Scott Robinson:

It wasn’t unfulfilled promises to me; it was unfulfilled promises to the enterprise.

They had sat me down, as I was coming in, and told me stories of their too-rapid growth, of silo’d systems, and of the growing need for shared resources and global access to content. “We need to build a true enterprise architecture,” and they wanted me to be a part of it. Music to my ears!

But that was the worthy (and much-needed) vision of only a select few. It was only a vague pipe dream to the CIO, and it hadn’t even been discussed by governance, and the culture change required to bring the lines-of-business and department heads on board was still far off. I wasn’t there to build it better; I was there to prop up what was sitting there and to give things a progressive appearance.

So I stayed for a while, hoping the winds would change. But the department heads were more interested in their silo’d legacies than sharing their resources, and there was no real money set aside for growth and rebuilding in any case.

I finally moved on, to an enterprise that was more invested in really being an enterprise.

Second, we hear from Scott Lowe:

In many ways, I was in an extremely fortunate situation. For a long time, things were very, very good. However, things change. I eventually found myself in a full-time position that had become seriously imbalanced, and organizational culture and company financial challenges led me to the conclusion that success was not going to be forthcoming in the foreseeable future despite all my attempts to the contrary.

Expectations and reality were significantly out of alignment, and stress levels across the organization were off the charts with no relief in sight. I can handle stress — and a lot of it — but stress with no foreseeable goal attainment is something else altogether, and it was affecting everything I did both at work and at home. You may wonder how that makes me “fortunate”!

Well, over the past eleven years, I’ve built up a substantial side business and a positive reputation that was not linked to my full-time employer. You’ve seen much of that work here at TechRepublic, but I’ve also established myself as a computer-based training instructor for TrainSignal and as an independent technology consultant.

For TrainSignal, I’ve created a number of courses, and in my consulting business, I’ve performed top-to-bottom technology operational assessments and infrastructure assessments and done more traditional consulting work, such as implementing Exchange, for example.

So, I made a decision to leave my full-time job and work independently while I figure out what’s next. I’ll be the first to admit that having this opportunity is a rare luxury, but so far, business is booming and I couldn’t be happier. I will also admit that I’m keeping my eyes open for that next full-time CIO gig, but for now, life is good and I’m learning how to relax once in a while!

So for those of you reading this, can you share your experiences with finally coming to the point of no return with a job and what happened when you left?