I quit my job. After agonising about this decision, after over 3 months of unhappiness, after making myself ill with worry, after sleepless nights and moaning about the sorry state things had progressed to, I quit. Quitting a job isn’t an extraordinary achievement — thousands of people quit their jobs every day. I’ve quit jobs before and since I’m not even 30, I’m likely to do it again. But what was so extraordinary is what happened after I quit:
The Universe Rushed In
Whilst agonising over my decision, I began to think about the grand scheme of things – I began to put things into perspective. If not this job, I said to myself, there’ll be another job. And Who wants to waste their precious days unhappy in a monotonous loop?
From the time I was 13 years old until now, I’ve been a quote hoarder, squirrelling away moving quotes and expressions, plastering them on my walls, scribbling them in notebooks. As I sat down at my computer to type my resignation letter, dozens of quotes flooded my mind, but they all had one thing in common: they all spoke about how fleeting life is, how small we are; how insignificant our problems are in light of the vastness of the beautiful universe.
Before I began typing, I closed my eyes and said four words to my empty office: You are not alone. And I wasn’t; I’m not. None of us are, not really. Not with all the stars in the sky and all the limitless possibilities of places to see and things to do.
The funny thing is, now, so many days after emancipating myself from my unhappy work environment, I’ve lost track of the number of people, both within that company and without, who’ve said they’re trying to decide to quit or that they know they need to, but can’t pluck up the courage. Again, I realised, I was not alone – dozens of my friends are in the same predicament I was in.
It was also extraordinary how invigorating and empowering resigning was. The instant after I signed my resignation, even before I scanned it back in and emailed it across, I felt rejuvenated. Refreshed. A weight was lifted and for the first time in a long time, I could take a deep breath, truly deep, down to the bottom of my lungs, a cleansing inhalation and a steadied, relaxing exhalation.
And it wasn’t as scary as I’d psyched myself up to believe it’d be. Jobs come and go, I know that logically, but when you’re standing on the precipice of such a big decision, it can seem falsely one-sided. You can be looking out a metaphorical window and only see a vast sea of endless choppy waters, no land, no hope in sight. Or you can choose to see a vast sea of limitless, obstacle-free potential. But coming around to that point is the most difficult, and is the very element I struggled with the most.
Should You Stay or Should You Go?
Truthfully, that is for you to decide, but I will share 4 techniques that helped me make my decision:
1. Wear Your Backbone Properly
In Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert visits India and lives in an ashram, desperate and hungry for spiritual guidance. During her stay she befriends Richard, from Texas, who is full of sage advice, including one token phrase that, from the very first time I read the book, has stuck with me. Richard said, “You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.”
Leaving a job, especially when you don’t have any prospects lined up, isn’t easy. But staying in a job that upsets you, makes you unhappy or is unhealthy for you, is just as tough. To make this decision, you’ve got to be able to discern wishful thinking from reality; then you’ve got to have a backbone in the proper place.
2. Make a Pro/Con List
I live by pro/con lists. I pro/con everything from holiday destinations to the perfect birthday gift for my husband to whether or not to buy that new Michael Kors bag. For me, pro/con lists give clarity, I can see clearly in black and white where something’s merits lie and I can make an informed, practical, logical decision. You see, I’ve got a terrible habit of letting my heart lead me when it should be my head making the decisions. Pro/con lists prevent that mistake from happening. The only rule about them is the most important: the only things you are allowed to write down are proven facts, not feelings, not wishes; just facts. And facts don’t lie.
3. Know When to Say When
Look at the signs. Read the questions below, if you answer yes to a great majority of them, it might be time for you to resign:
- Have you lost all passion for your job?
- Are you miserable and dread going to work?
- Is the company you work for sinking or in difficult financial times?
- Do you dislike your colleagues or your boss?
- Are you consistently stressed, negative and/or unhappy at work?
- Is your work-related stress influencing your physical health?
- Have you lost belief in the company?
- Is your work performance suffering?
- Is your work-home balance threatened?
- Do you have skills you’re no longer utilising in your current role?
- Have your duties increased but your pay remained the same?
- Are your ideas not being heard?
- Are you bored at work?
- Are you experiencing verbal abuse or sexual harassment?
- Are you aware of any illegal behaviour occurring?
- Have you requested more responsibility but have been denied?
- Has your work been delegated to others?
- Have you been taken for granted?
- Do you feel as if you are no longer valued?
- Do you question your future at the company?
- Are you ready for a change?
- Are you eager for a new challenge?
4. Have a Plan
Okay, so you’re 95% sure you’re going to leave, don’t go without having a plan. Maybe you will only leave when you have another job lined up? Or perhaps you’ll leave when it feels as if you have been pushed far enough? What would be your last straw?
The most important thing is to set goals — dates to achieve things by. Having an idea of what type of activity would encourage you to fast forward your resignation letter, or even put the breaks on it, will reinforce the important fact that you are in control of your destiny. You’ll feel less like a puppet on a string and more like the conductor of a beautiful symphony. You’ll leave on your terms; no one else’s.
Or perhaps your plan is to have no plan and to just let go, rid your life of the petty bullshit of your current role and take flight. Maybe you want the free-fall adrenaline rush of not having a clue what’s around the corner. Maybe you want a few weeks or months to recharge, to take up a new hobby and to recover from a traumatic experience. You could ease yourself back into employment; start with a part-time role, start by volunteering or take a break altogether and retrain and reeducate yourself.
Whether you leave to pursue a similar role, a new career entirely or leave to become self-employed, be gentle with yourself. Sometimes jobs can take time, but the right one, your next best move, your next big adventure, will be more than worth waiting for and you’ll be glad you allowed yourself to prepare for it.
Have you recently resigned or are you considering leaving your current role? Share your experience in the comments; you’ll never know who may help!