retty sure some past post has the same title, but it’s always a fun one to resurrect.
Every time I see the words “I Quit” the scene from That Thing You Do plays in my head – one of my all-time favorites (because it’s so perky). Go ahead and watch – it’s only a few seconds long and it will be a little nugget of joy you can carry around with you as you work through your own job situation(s).
A host of reasons exist for why I quit and they all boil down to this: the kind of employee I am and the kind of place I was working no longer jived. In other words, it wasn’t a good fit. Thankfully, I have a healthy handful of other options that have morphed into a freelancing-type situation.
Helpful to me, as I was wrapping my brain around quitting a job with a darn good paycheck and a beautiful, resume-friendly title, were the “should you quit your job?” assessments found online in all kinds of nooks and crannies. I thought I’d share my own version with the world, on the off chance that some agonizing soul ventures across this blog.
1) Is your job (dis)satisfaction affecting your mental health, your appetite, or your sleep?
It’s hard to recognize when a work environment turns from a ho-hum situation into a full blown, legitimately harmful experience. The reason it’s tough to assess is because you’re in it every day. It seems normal. Everyone you work with is living with the negative environment (seemingly happily).
A quick survey of your mental state, your eating habits, and how you’re sleeping is useful. If it’s been so long since you knew any different, ask yourself if any of these things would improve if your job was no longer in the equation. If you can foresee an immediate and dramatic improvement in mental state, physical health, or sleeping habits as a direct result of quitting, that’s something to consider.
2) Are you increasingly drinking, smoking, or otherwise self-medicating?
We humans are actually pretty dang good at fooling ourselves into thinking we’re doing okay. Part of our ability to do that includes a sometimes elaborate system of self-medication. I include drinking and smoking because they’re relatively universal, but any kind of self-medicating behavior counts. Are you shopping more? Spending more? Are you staying awake all weekend to squeeze in craft projects? Are you going to the gym for 20+ hours a week?
Self-medication is as much about the ability to control our environment as it is about the methods we use to carry it out. For myself, I begin to pay attention when my behavior of choice (whatever it is) begins to displace basics like eating, sleeping, adequate shelter, time with my family. If I’m drinking a beer to get to sleep on weeknights and staying up for 36+ hours on crafting marathons over a weekend, the fact that I’m probably self-medicating is something to consider.
3) How will you pay for your life?
This is not quite the same as “can you afford to live without any income?” which is often how this consideration is presented. Leaving one job doesn’t mean that you are totally without employment and income options and it shouldn’t be considered as such.
What is does mean is that the “mic drop” method of quitting a job generally doesn’t work. Sit down with your income and any significant others who will be affected and figure out how much money you NEED to make. With almost no exceptions, anyone reading this blog can live on less money.
First, Hubs and I got a clear picture of what we were making. It was actually a surprise (and not really a good one) to me to understand just how much my income was contributing to our life. It was tough to realize that we’d not only be sacrificing a lot of expendable income if I quit but also that I’d be essentially giving up my ability to be on equal footing, income-wise.
What we discovered, however, was that we could maintain our exact lifestyle, minus the monthly travel/mini-vacays on a third of what I was making. Further, a few adjustments in our lifestyle would mean I could earn $0 and we’d be good. Consider how much your life costs, and how you’ll continue paying for it after the income from your current job no longer exists.
4) Is your current work situation negatively affecting your family?
This might be different for others, but for me it was a make-or-break consideration. What I didn’t fully realize until we started talking openly about my quitting was that my mental state was affecting Hubs. While I was struggling with work, Hubs was struggling with how it affected him and our home life. Not only was he having to live with someone who was chronically down about their daily work situation, but he could do pretty much nothing about it – frustrating and increasingly demoralizing for both of us.
Much like assessing your mental state, sleep habits, or appetite, this one may be easiest to get an accurate read if you are thinking of whether things will improve significantly if you leave. When you’re in the trenches, it’s hard to figure out cause-and-effect relationships. But if it’s clear that leaving will significantly improve quality of life for your family, that’s something to consider.
5) Are you reluctant to submit your resignation or give two-week’s notice?
If your work situation is one where you’re fearful of giving a face-to-face resignation or giving two-week’s notice because of fear of retaliation, you should probably go. Your work environment isn’t a healthy one if you’re going to get kick-back for daring to move on.
This is a strange little thing that I really didn’t see much of on other considerations but that seemed like a no-brainer to me. Again, it’s hard to recognize the full impact of an environment when you’re in it. If you know that your employer will treat you poorly, perhaps even being openly hostile to you because you are leaving, that’s a red flag that all is not well in your current situation.
Side-note: Open hostility may not be what you expect, but another red-flag type reaction is genuine confusion. If you submit your resignation and your employers are legitimately flabbergasted as to why you would leave, that’s a sign that there’s a real disconnect between your day-to-day experience and what they think is going on. Perhaps it’s not quite on the scale of open-hostility, but it definitely falls into the realm of “things to be concerned about.”
It’s certainly fodder for consideration.
In my own experience there were other things to consider. These five were biggies, and seem to be universally applicable.
What are some things that were “make-or-break” considerations for you or your loved ones?