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Ready to Quit Your Job? Read This First

Okay, so you gotta get out. I hear you. You’re practically screaming it from the rooftops. It’s time.

But let’s not be hasty here. Believe me; I’ve done this a few times. It’s much more effective to focus on doing it right. Here are a few of the ideas I like to review with my career coaching clients when they’re ready to give up and go home.

Run Towards, Not Away From

Don’t just focus on leaving your current gig. Quitting isn’t about running away, it’s about moving forward. It’s a path that opens opportunities so focus your attention on the future. Don’t waste time and energy pushing the job you don’t want away from you. Instead, pull the job you do want towards you.

Slow Down and Check Your Ego

Don’t get in a rush. Focus on making the right long-term career decisions. Ideally, give yourself as long as six months to make the move. Obviously, this can be difficult. Many of us get to a breaking point before we truly make the decision to quit. By that time, we’re maxed out with anxiety and frustration. Try to be proactive and make the decision before you get to that point.

Once the decision is made, check your ego. When you know you’re ready to leave, it can be hard to put up with those everyday irritations. You want to just mentally and physically check out. Instead, swallow your pride and continue to do your best even with one foot out the door. Don’t disengage before it’s time. The right position may not come along for a while so keep yourself grounded. There’s no need to rush the process just because the decision to quit has been made.

You Have Nothing to Prove

Quitting is an emotional experience. Often, when we’re ready to move on, we start noticing all the ways in which others have been holding us back or treating us unfairly. Our patience goes right out the window. All too often, I see people trying to teach others “a lesson.” They think that by quitting abruptly or making a dramatic exit, they’ll prove something to those who let them down. Save yourself the energy. You’ll never teach anyone anything by quitting in a huff or storming out. Don’t pour your frustrations into a manifesto Jerry McGuire style. No one cares. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s the truth.

Be Honest With Yourself

When you’re searching for a new job, you’ll need to weigh your options. No position is perfect, no matter what they tell you during the interview. In every career transition, something is gained and something else is lost. Don’t fool yourself into believing that any career move will come without a shred of sacrifice. Just be honest about it. If you’re willing to give up the big bucks in exchange for a job you truly love, understand that this decision will come with a few hardships. If you want the paycheck and are willing to do a job that doesn’t ignite your passion, recognize that there will be a different price to pay. Make your decisions with eyes wide open and remember that one is not better than the other; they simply have different consequences.

Be Respectful

No matter what, I always recommend that you give a full two week notice. There is simply no excuse for failing to do so. It’s unprofessional and it puts an unfair burden on the employer. You won’t make any friends in business if you don’t respect the basic rules of etiquette, and this is certainly one of the most important. Offer to help train others and organize your work as best you can for an easy transition. No matter how you feel about the job or the company you’re leaving, it still provided you with a paycheck and the experience you needed to get to this next step. A two week notice is a small price to pay.

Manage Your Stress

Change of any kind is stressful. The process of transitioning out of one job and into another is one of the most stressful changes to go through, even once the job search is over. You end up in a new environment, learning new skills and meeting new people. It’s a brand new routine and, for many, it can take months to feel comfortable in a new job. Create a game plan for managing that stress and recognize that even the most positive career changes can feel downright overwhelming at times.

Visualize your perfect career transition. Make a plan and then execute it to the best of your ability. If you need a little more guidance and personal assistance, consider working with a career coach throughout the process. You may find it’s one of the most intelligent investments you’ve ever made in your long-term career success strategy.

Photo Credit: Dev Null (Flickr)

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16 Responses to “Ready to Quit Your Job? Read This First”

  1. Dia says:

    Thanks Chrissy for sharing these tips :)

  2. Elizabeth says:

    What an excellent post! I was in the “I hate my job” phase not long ago and did the exact opposite of all of these tips. I totally regret it now. Wish I had read this before I quit!

  3. Chrissy says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth and Dia.

    Elizabeth — Too funny! Seriously, I’ve done the exact opposite of these tips as well. That’s how I know what works and what doesn’t. I’m working on writing a long article that outlines my entire career so you’ll soon see what I’m talking about. But trust me, I’ve learned what not to do by actually doing it :)

  4. Scot Herrick says:

    Underlying all of this is this principle: know when your job will end. Right when you start your job (or before it), determine, to the best of your ability, how long the job will last. If it is an 18-month project, start with 18-months. If you’ll go crazy from your coworkers in 6-months, then six months it is.

    Then, re-evaluate how long your job will last monthly. Bosses change, projects get extended, coworkers go away.

    Regardless, when the time for a job to last matches up with how long you think it will take you to find a job, you start looking. Following this practice will help you avoid those nasty behaviors noted here!

    Good article, Chrissy.

  5. Chrissy says:

    Not that I’m advocating this type of behavior but…here’s a unique and hilarious way one assistant quit her job. Obviously, she got to the breaking point.

    http://thechive.com/2010/08/10/girl-quits-her-job-on-dry-erase-board-emails-entire-office-33-photos/

  6. Michelle says:

    Great article but what about those of us who found themselves in a position of having to leave their job before being able to find another one?

    I took a job that promised growth and advanced me in my profession. Nine months later I was running from a bully (my boss) who made it perfectly clear that someone must go and it wasn’t going to be her. I left with 30 days severance and my professional dignity.

    What do you recommend in circumstances such as this? I can’t be the only one who has experienced a retaliative, hostile, bullying work environment.

  7. Since I’m right in the middle of a big career transition myself, I can say that you are spot on with your advice in this article. Right now I’m kind of struggling not to be too much of a short-timer during my notice, but hey, it’s the professional thing to do. And my manager already told me that if anything goes wrong with my new position that he would bring me back on if he has the headcount available. It’s definitely worth the effort to leave a positive impression behind you.

  8. Chrissy says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone! Mike, can’t wait to hear how things go for you. That is definitely the ideal situation you’ve created. Congratulations on the perfect exit!!

    Michelle, Thank you so much for sharing your situation. And you’re right–you’re not alone here. Workplace bullying is a huge problem and so many people get trapped in bad situations. I’m glad to hear you’re out of that environment now, though I know it’s difficult because you didn’t feel like the one in control. Sadly, we don’t always have control over our professional experiences. Now that you’ve found yourself in a job search, I would highly recommend that you keep this last experience in mind as you evaluate potential career paths. Use what you’ve learned. How had this changed you? What will you watch out for in future workplace environments? What will you do differently should you ever face a similar situation in the future? There is a lot to be gained here, though I know it doesn’t feel that way right now. Best of luck in the job search. I’d love to help in any way I can. If you’d like me to review your resume and cover letter or go over some job interview techniques, I’d be happy to offer some advice. Send me an email and we’ll chat.

  9. Kristen says:

    This is a great article, and a bit of a reality check. Coming to the realization that every day makes me miserable is quite an emotional experience. But knowing that I plan to relocate and quit my job in 10 months gives me a light at the end of the tunnel. I am however, in the strange situation of recently receiving a promotion. While I’m happy with the pay hike and resume booster, I do feel a bit guilty. I no longer feel invested in my daily job and the 60 hour work week it entails. I guess I will just do the best I can for the next 10 months. Thanks again for the tips!

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  11. Sgcray says:

    I wish I had read this article earlier. I did exactly the opposite of what you did. Ran from one job to another, and got myself in a big mess. 3 jobs in 3 years, and 3 different careers. I know my strength and weakness now, and I now know which job would be best for me. But I am not hireable any more for those kinda jobs with the resume I have. I have had a hard time convincing people regarding my intentions and they cant understand that I have gone through self realization in the last 6 months. Not that they should. But I am just praying to get one last chance, and I am at a breaking point, cos I could have done well from either of those 2 earlier jobs, I just messed up bad.

  12. Frugal Dad says:

    I think this is a very good set of tips for anybody who is considering quitting their job. So many people try to “prove something” by quitting and it just doesn’t make sense. Plus it closes the door for future opportunity.

    Believe me, you’ll know if a company is going to “miss you” if you are offered more money not to quit. You aren’t going to “show them” anything.

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