Are you a TGIF person who can’t wait for the weekend to arrive? Do any of these describe you:
- On weekdays, you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning.
- More often than not, you arrive late at the office.
- At work, you’re not just unproductive; you notice you’re also constantly distracted.
- Your friends often comment about how unhappy you seem.
- While reading my previous post, Should You Stay or Should You Go? How to Decide If It’s Time to Switch Jobs, you took the Life and Career Self-Test to evaluate your work situation, and your score was 30 points or lower.
So, is it time to move on from your current job?
That depends. I know that’s not the answer you were hoping to hear. I really wish I could give you a simple yes or no reply, but life is much more complicated than that.
First, you must determine whether it’s time to quit. This is more than knowing when it’s time to move on; it also means making sure you’re prepared for the transition.
1. Gain Some Perspective
Make time to step back and ask yourself these important questions:
- Have I really given this job the effort it deserves?
- Do I realize I can’t start at the top and that I have to spend time proving my worth to a new employer?
- What, specifically, is not working for me? Is it my boss, colleagues, environment, work focus?
- What could I change to make the fit better?
Find fresh eyes.
Get insight and input from someone you trust who is outside the situation and can be objective about it.
As you engage in the above steps, pay attention to how you feel.
You may experience regret at not having immersed yourself in the job. Or excitement when considering making some changes. Perhaps the old spark you had when you first took the position returns as you revisit your vision for what you set out to accomplish. Take note of the emotions you’re experiencing; they are the “windows into your soul.”
If, from this new perspective, you arrive at the conclusion that it’s time to go, the next question is: What must happen next?
2. Set Boundaries
Question your assumptions and limits.
Once you make the choice to leave, you’ll likely find your commitment to accomplishing all of the tasks for which you’re responsible starts to fade. (Please note: If you lean towards perfectionism, this will be quite challenging for you.)
You’ll need to do things differently from the way you’ve done them before. With less energy, you need to revisit how you work and prioritize your essential undertakings.
Renegotiate your agreements/responsibilities.
As you sift through your key duties, be prepared to discuss the change with your coworkers and/or boss. Your leaving affects everyone around you — this is often overlooked in the process of ending employment. You can be so focused on yourself you might forget this will also have a great impact on others.
Pay attention to your emotions.
You’ll experience a range of feelings during this transition, from elation to fear to sadness to anticipation. Sit with each emotion long enough to hear its wisdom for you.
If you’re happy, what’s underlying your enthusiasm? If you’re afraid, is this a familiar sensation? In what situations have you felt this way before? Giving your distress a voice, what is it most concerned about? How might it be attempting to protect you?
Take responsibility and own your choices.
In the early stages of this process, it’s very common for people to feel trapped, victimized and plumb out of options. Be aware that, while it may feel as though you’re stuck in a rut that has no way out, you do have choices. You always have choices. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
It’s in your power to make personal decisions about how you express your emotions and treat others. Pause before you go off on a tirade or complain to coworkers. Find healthy avenues outside of work to vent your thorny feelings.
Sketch out a short-term vision that burns no bridges.
- When will you leave? One month, six months, one year from now?
- How do you want to spend your time while you’re still at this current job?
- What do you want to accomplish in the time you have left?
3. Take Small Steps
Develop a short-term plan.
Take a hard and close look at your finances.
- What’s your budget? Outline your essential, must-pay items like rent, food, gas, insurance, etc., as well as your “luxury” items. (Sorry, lattes and eating out are extravagances.) Come up with a bottom-line amount that, at minimum, you need to live on. (Please note: This is not what you want, but what you need to fend off starvation or eviction.)
- Evaluating finances often brings up some not-so-fun emotions. Be prepared to work through these feelings so that you can take a good, hard look at the truth of your situation.
- If you aren’t clear about your longer-term vision, you may need to take a transition job, an interim opportunity that simply covers your basic bills while you figure out what you want to do for the long run. What jobs have you held in the past that would be easy to take up again and not drain your energy?
- Do you have enough savings so you can leave and not have to work? If so, for how long?
Prepare for closure, completion, ending.
- We all have our own particular ways of saying goodbye in our lives. What are yours? Are you the kind who hardly gives a wave and runs out the door as fast as possible, or do you draw out goodbyes for so long that those around you wonder if you’re ever going to leave?
- How do you want to close this particular chapter? In what ways can you acknowledge all that you’ve gained from this experience? Thank those who have been a part of your growth and development during this time. Find rituals to mark your transition out of the organization.
- Even if you’re choosing to leave and you know in your heart this is the right thing for you, it will still be emotional. You’re letting go of something familiar, and you need to recognize the feelings that will inevitably arise.
Take the steps for which you have energy.
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is: If things ever feel overwhelming, scary, anxious or confusing, it means you’re trying to skip a step.
For example, you want to have the next big plan in place before you leave this one, but you have no clue what you want to accomplish, what you’re good at or the type of impact you’d like to have through your work. Since you aren’t able to clarify these, you simply stay where you are, as miserable and exhausted as ever.
In a case like this, you’re trying to jump ahead and know the outcome before you have all of the information you need. Instead, remember the title of this category and take small steps for which you have energy. If you check in with yourself, there’s always available energy for something positive. Go and do that something, even if it’s a tiny baby step.
Yes, you can really quit your job if you do it for the right reasons and with conscious intention. Listen to that wise voice in you that communicates through emotion. By paying attention to your feelings and taking small and appropriate steps, you can make constructive changes that will lead you towards your next exciting chapter.
What steps have you found made it easier for you to transition from one job to the next? Share your tips in the comments!
Carol Vecchio founded the Centerpoint Institute for Life and Career Renewal in 1992. Her pioneering programs have positively impacted thousands of people who are now designing and living lives they love through Discovery Groups like “Your Personal Brand for Effective Networking,” “‘Passion Search” and “LifeWork Renewal.” Carol created the renowned “Natural Cycles of Change,” which is the foundation for her book The Time Between Dreams.