How to Quit Your Job

The following guest post is from Steven of HundredGoals.com. After reading the post, be sure to visit Steven’s site to follow the journey towards accomplishing his list of one hundred goals!

Many of us work at jobs where there is no opportunity for advancement.  If there is opportunity for upward mobility, the positions available may require advanced education, experience which we do not have or maybe we don’t have enough seniority.  It may also be that advancement into another position may bring even less satisfaction to an already miserable work experience. Whatever the reason, working at a dead end job stinks.

When you first began working for your company maybe you, like I, had stars in your eyes with dreams of advancement to the top ranks. In no time you would be the one calling the shots, making the decisions, running the show.  Your work ethic was unmatched and you made every effort to go above and beyond at every opportunity in order to stand out above the crowd.  You took on special assignments, working late & on weekends.  You did your best to rub elbows with the big dogs without coming off as an ass-kisser.

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Photo by Sea Moon

As time kept marching on you began to realize that despite everything you have ever been told about career advancement, you are making absolutely no progress.  Maybe you got a small promotion & an insignificant pay raise, but it hasn’t been the ride to the top you thought it was going to be.  You find yourself not caring so much about your performance.  It seems pointless to work so hard when everyone else is performing at a level much less than you yet receiving the same treatment.  No longer are you willing to sacrifice your free time for this company.  No more overtime, no more special projects.  Soon you slip into the shadows & become just another employee; a number on the payroll roster.

As the morning sun slips through your curtains & the chirping of the songbirds wakes you from your peaceful slumber you are in no mood for birds or sunbeams. Instead you want coffee & cigarettes, anything to take your mind away from the fact that it won’t be much longer before you are on your way to punch the clock at the daily Hell called work.  On your way you drive alongside hundreds, even thousands, of people just like you; eating a McMuffin, sipping coffee and smoking a cigarette.  Everyone is on their way to work.

Walking across the parking lot you are greeted with the same pleasantries as the day before.  The same conversations with the same people, day in and day out, over and over again.  Your mind is numb. The people you once found interesting, whose stories you once hung on every word, are now dull and boring.  You turn your mouth on autopilot.  “Morning Jim.  Beautiful day.  How about the Dodgers, can you believe that?”  Deep inside of yourself you don’t really care what these people are talking about but you banter back and forth just to make it through another day.

As you lay down for the night, your head sinking into the cool comfort of your pillow, you ask yourself “Is this what work is supposed to be?  What happened?  I am not happy.  Isn’t there another way? Shouldn’t I be doing something that gives me satisfaction and purpose?”

Some may think that it is naive to think everyone in the world can work in a job or career they love.  Maybe they are right.  There are those people out there who will settle for less than they deserve for a variety of reasons; security, money, insurance, education, even respect.  Yes, even people who work in highly respected positions are miserable too.  Staying in a position in order to maintain respect, or any reason, is ridiculous.  We should be seeking satisfaction in every way possible, including our careers.

Your happiness is no one’s responsibility but your own.  If you are unhappy in your job or career, it isn’t up to someone else to bring you satisfaction.  It is up to you. Quitting a job isn’t something to take lightly and in today’s job market leaving a job, even one you hate, is a risky decision.  In order to quit your job & move smoothly towards other opportunities, keep these points in mind during the transition.

Job Security- If you are staying at a job you hate simply because you feel secure, you are being foolish.  As far too many people have discovered the hard way, there is no such thing as job security.  Take off the rose colored glasses.  At any moment your company could become bankrupt, your job could be outsourced or eliminated entirely.  Life is too short to be unhappy, even for a seemingly valid reason such as “security”.

Debt Elimination- One of the most important aspects of personal finance, not just quitting a job, is to get out of debt.  Having debt chains us to our job.  We must work in order to pay others.  Our money does not belong to us.  You may think you earn $15 an hour, but really, isn’t most of it going to Visa?  They’re the ones making all of the money & you’re doing all of the work for them.

Paying down debt can be a long process.  Depending on your debt load, it could take years before you are debt-free.  Figure out a plan to pay down your debt, and stick with it.  Once you have a plan written down on paper it is easier to meet your goals, especially if it is broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces.  Don’t look at your debt as one big mountain to move.  Instead, try to see it is a bunch of spoonfuls of dirt which are easier to move, bit by bit.

Job Search- Maintaining a job while actively seeking other opportunities provides you with the benefit of time.  You can search for the perfect position without feeling pressured into taking a job that isn’t right for you.  If you are seeking other avenues of opportunity, maybe self-employment, having gainful employment while making the transition into running your own business takes some of the financial stress away.  You will continue earning a wage while your business is young and maturing.  Once you have established yourself & the money coming in is enough to support you without needing your “real” job, you can quit safely.

Education- One way to find more meaningful work or work that is more suitable for your ambitions is to further your education.  Whether you have a degree or haven’t graduated high school, you can always benefit from learning something new.  Take classes in things that interest you.  If there is an area that needs brushing up, say your language or writing mechanics, take some courses on these topics.  Many universities offer evening courses which will mesh well with your work schedule.

Returning to school on a full-time basis may also be something to consider.  Returning to school can be costly & requires devotion to your studies, so be prepared.  Have your finances in order and do your homework to figure out what the cost will be and whether you can afford to make the transition from work back into school.  A part-time job can help ease your financial situation and may even lead to other opportunities.  Try finding something through the University which is in your area of study in order to gain valuable experience.  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find a job in your field with no practical experience.

Networking- Networking these days is over-rated.  It isn’t all that it is cracked up to be but a few great connections can prove to be a valuable asset further down the road.  Don’t just collect phone numbers, really connect with people and form relationships that have substance and meaning.  There should be give and take within these relationships, don’t just look at these people as a way to get something you want.  If you stick to the standard of collecting cards, you will see why social networking doesn’t work.

The road to your future is paved with the decisions you make today.  Tomorrow is a choice you make. Only you have the ability to determine the path your life follows.  Taking the risk of quitting a job is a risk many are unwilling to take, no matter how unhappy they are with their jobs.  There could be nothing else in this world that we hate more than to have to walk through the Gates of Hell on our way to our desk, our drill press, our counter, our register, our dump truck, yet we still repeat the process each day.

Breaking the cycle is hard.  It is scary.  It is a process that requires thought and preparation, but at the end of the day, isn’t our happiness far more important than a paycheck?

Comments

  1. Excellent advise, though I’m not sure I completely agree with your social networking advice. Every job I’ve had since I separated from the Air Force was obtained through a contact, not by sending some faceless company my resume. However, I do agree that networking is about building relationships, not about collecting business cards in hopes that one of these guys might do you a favor one day.

  2. I would also disagree about networking. The best jobs that I have had I learned about through a friend or acquaintance who worked in the same field I did or at the company where I got the job. I don’t believe that I got the job because of my social contact but I did hear about it because of them. Meeting and getting to know people who are in the same line of work can be one of the best parts of any career and one of the most helpful in a job search, at least in my experience.

  3. I don’t intend to imply that social networking is worthless, rather, the way we go about networking is wrong. I mean this as a generalization of the networking process of people shaking hands, collecting cards but not following through to form real bonds and relationships with these people.

    Maintaining contact with co-workers from previous jobs or people with whom you have a real relationship is exactly the type of networking that I believe is the best. I didn’t summarize this thought well enough in this post, though I flesh out this idea better in the article which is on my website. You can read this article by clicking on the link “why social networking doesn’t work”.

    Thanks for the comments & thanks to Jason for hosting my article!

  4. Steven–Having been in exactly the position you describe, I endorse all that you wrote.

    Two things I’ve found…First, the cheapest form of compensation for an employer is a promise. It motivates people, and it costs them nothing. Young workers are especially prone to believe it, and will work extra hard to fulfill the requirements thinking they’ll be compensated with raises, bonuses and promotions, that often end up being either cosmetic (ie, promotion in title & responsibility but no raise) or entirely non-existent–’Yes we know we ‘talked about’ a bonus, but we had a bad quarter and there’s no money in the budget, but next quarter…’

    It’s happened to me and to others enough to establish that it’s become a pattern, a management style.

    The second thing is that on any job that’s similar to the one you describe, the situation never gets better with time, so if you’re thinking to hang out a while longer in the hopes things will improve, you’ll probably be dissappointed. Some companies just have a negative culture that doens’t change even when the staff changes. Hint: it’s upper management, and it’s the way they do business, and more importantly, you can’t change it.

    Some people can endure that, but a lot of us can’t. It’s usually better to take the chance to find a situation where you’ll flourish. Even if you won’t make as much money, at least you’ll be happy with what you’re doing, so maybe you won’t need as much money anyway.

  5. How ironic I was just thinking about this subject this morning. My life, job, etc… is literally chained down due to my debt. I can’t help but feel I a missing out on so much due to it.

    Get out of debt…. I need to practice it a bit harder. :)

  6. Over the years I’ve been an employee in many different companies and I’ve noticed a pyramid effect.

    When one person is corrupt or dishonest, in a year or two so are all his or her subordinates. The effect rolls downhill, so a short-sighted, self-interested VP will corrupt upper managers, who in turn corrupt middle and lower managers, who in turn corrupt staff. When it’s a small business, a corrupt owner or partner poisons the entire organization. You will still get isolated pockets where a good, honest manager defends his or her subordinates from the outside toxicity, and these departments will expand because all the honest people will take refuge there, yet in the long term the pockets will become fewer and smaller as people are forcibly re-organized out.

    Keeping a corrupt subordinate around, and not rooting out and firing dishonest or toxic people, is what allows the rot to spread. The good people leave, and those who remain either go bad or become silent and gradually learn to tolerate the toxicity. Eventually the only people who do well are those who fit in, and since the change is gradual, many don’t notice they’re swimming in sewage, where the biggest chunks rise to the top.

    The great news is that a debt-free person with ample cash reserves need not fear a corrupt boss. He or she can change jobs freely, without ever having to compromise personal integrity to earn a buck. This means he or she can quit a bad employer at will. It creates a sense of confidence that makes even a bad employer think twice about jerking that particular employee around.

    Were there fewer people enslaved to debt, employers would not have their workers over a barrel to the extent they do now. The dishonest ones would either lose their production base or be forced into accountability.

  7. Quitting is a lot of work in terms of preparation, but it sounds like after following these guidelines, you save yourself all the anguish of being unemployed and stressed out over that every day.

    Trading stress from a job for stress from unemployment wouldn’t be any fun. Thanks for the tips.

  8. Squeeky (7)–That was a brilliant commentary, right down to the metaphors! “many don’t notice they’re swimming in sewage, where the biggest chunks rise to the top.”–very well put/written.

  9. Squeaky, so very well put!

    The other aspect of toxic managers and a work environment is that people who really try to “do the right thing” for customers, etc. are either isolated or “branded” by these toxic people and rendered ineffective and worse.

    Many people may not embrace the tactics of the toxic managers but many will stay silent, to upper management, etc. and in fact, be as more poisonous to the environment than the actual violators. When anyone tries to effect change, alert management, those one or two brave souls, nobody else speaks up and the conclusion is usually: Oh, THESE are the misfits, the naysayers, etc. There’s nothing wrong here. Nothing wrong with X manager. This person is just a loser/complainer.

    The sign of a good manager is someone who protects his group, not puts it in danger or leaves the members to fend for themselves. But there aren’t many good managers. Perhaps there never were. And as you noted, they can’t hold their own against a tide of sewage.

    Your post was great and I’m sending it to a few “head in the sand” friends, who, I’m sure will pretend it could never apply to them.

    Being debt free is a start to being able to leave toxic jobs/work, but the reality is you need another job. Today, so many people are so disillusioned that they believe that most places are bad. So, six of one, half dozen of another and they stay, believing that there are few, if any, better options.

    We need a workplace that truly supports humane and professional employers and workplaces. Until that happens, few, if any leave, fearing it’s all the same thing. Usually, they’re probably right.

    The rest of us leave because we simply can’t get up each day and deal with toxic types.

  10. Squeaky, so very well put!

    The other aspect of toxic managers and a work environment is that people who really try to “do the right thing” for customers, etc. are either isolated or “branded” by these toxic people and rendered ineffective and worse.

    Many people may not embrace the tactics of the toxic managers but many will stay silent, to upper management, etc. and in fact, be as more poisonous to the environment than the actual violators. When anyone tries to effect change, alert management, those one or two brave souls, nobody else speaks up and the conclusion is usually: Oh, THESE are the misfits, the naysayers, etc. There’s nothing wrong here. Nothing wrong with X manager. This person is just a loser/complainer.

    The sign of a good manager is someone who protects his group, not puts it in danger or leaves the members to fend for themselves. But there aren’t many good managers. Perhaps there never were. And as you noted, they can’t hold their own against a tide of sewage.

    Your post was great and I’m sending it to a few “head in the sand” friends, who, I’m sure will pretend it could never apply to them.

    Being debt free is a start to being able to leave toxic jobs/work, but the reality is you need another job. Today, so many people are so disillusioned that they believe that most places are bad. So, six of one, half dozen of another and they stay, believing that there are few, if any, better options.

    We need a workplace that truly supports humane and professional employers and workplaces. Until that happens, few, if any leave, fearing it’s all the same thing. Usually, they’re probably right.

    The rest of us leave because we simply can’t get up each day and deal with toxic types.
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  11. Yes, my happiness is more important than a paycheck – but sometimes the two can walk hand in hand… I am happy working fewer hours, therefore, the job I have fits my needs and therefore I am happy with it, even tho the paycheck is less – by choice.

    And I think I lot of jobs are just a matter of attitude – if your attitude is great, then usually the job itself will not matter much. Always look for the positive side of the job, and not the negative side of it, and your attitude towards the job will improve. At least it has in my experience.

    Again – being debt free gives one a LOT of options and a lot of freedom of choice.
    Try it – you’ll like it :)

  12. This post and the comments that follow really hit home for me. I was one of those ethical managers who actually cared about customers and the young people I managed, but I was swimming in the sewer and the sewer rats just wanted more sewage because it supported their livelihood and bonus structure. If we cleaned out the sewer, they’d have no place to go. I chose to leave my job and it hasn’t been easy for sure since the economy took a crap, but I don’t regret choosing my happiness over the sewer.

  13. @IRG:

    I agree that even the debt-free have expenses and need an income, but that doesn’t mean they must line up a “job” working for a single employer. Other options exist: side hustles, a working spouse, etc. and they do have to be put in place before quitting.

    An honest person ought not go down with a dishonest ship. But the responsibility of building and maintaining the lifeboat rests with the individual who expects to occupy it later.

  14. I suspect that if employers were reading this thread they’d be a tad nervous about the fact that so many people have actually figured out what they’re up to.

    We need to compare notes more often! Might convince a bunch of people that it really is time for a change. Sometimes all we need is the reassurances of others, letting us know that we aren’t alone.

  15. Kevin – You made an excellent point about fake promises. That has happened to me so many times, and often there was an excuse not to pay. People can take false truths only for so long, I would say 3 MAX to be exact, before employees start distrusting management.

    I hope managers can be honest with their employees and not misguide them. The older an employee gets, the wiser…… that’s why so many managers like younger, and easily moldable employees so often.

    I gotta check out your blog!

    Cheers,

    RB

  16. Hi
    My father worked at a job for the best part of forty years which he hated he was in a marriage that was over long before he left. He would have loved to have been an artist or a dairy famer both he has packed away. In recent years he met and became engaged to a woman who regrettable died so we moved to a house which we owned out right. We are no facing compulsory purchase by our local government that says it is not fit to live in. we are surprised as we have no damp or structural problems. However we were built when regulations we no as high spec as they are now, so ironically they all come down on the northern part of the estate because it is now considered the worst part of the district. Dad now will (we hope) have some money of his own but is too deflated to enjoy it. All I can say is this .Go out and follow your dream as there comes a point when it is too late to do so. Good luck in all your life choices may they give you what you need.

  17. Great post, I’ve been wanting to quit my job for a long time, and hopefully wont be there for too long. My ultimate goal is to retire at 40 and have decent passive income.

    Thanks again for the post.

    Bryan

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