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Ask Lawrence: What you need to consider before quitting your job.

24 Jan 13:00 By Lawrence Akers

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We all inevitably have work days that feel like a challenge. Even the best job in the world is going to have those moments where there is a struggle which may cause you to take on stress, question your ability or feel like your values are being compromised.  Exposed to this over a period of time, this may have the impact of reducing your motivation, leaving you to feel overwhelmed, under-valued and desperate to explore new opportunities.

This week, I explore what you might want to consider before handing in that resignation and doing your best ‘I’m outta here’ dance.

Why do you feel the need to quit?

When I speak with people who are considering leaving their job, I tend to give them a few tasks to consider over the coming weeks to help determine if this is the right decision for you.

Here is one task.  At the end of the day, rate your level of unhappiness for your day out of 10.  If you find that you are consistently getting 7 or higher, and that this is continuing over a period of weeks, then you have determined that it may be time to consider moving on. 

You may also want to consider what is making you unhappy, and that leads to the next question to consider.

Have I done everything to make this work for me?

Change in business is inevitable.  When you consider stress and anxiety, it often stems from your own fight, flight or freeze response to the environment that you are finding yourself in.

Let’s have a look at these individually.

If you want to ‘fight’, and I use that term loosely because I don’t necessarily mean fisticuffs at dawn, you might want to look at the option of attempting to change the things that are causing you to feel unhappy.  Provided this is not about your ego or pride, then this could be a good thing because it might mean that you’re making a ‘fight’ against the toxic culture, or that you’re wanting to ‘fight’ your own negative perception about the role you’re in by talking to your manager to see if you could be doing something that provides you with a challenge again.  The ‘fight’ in this instance is more metaphoric but it is about being part of the action that could provoke change and give you what you want.

In other instances, if you’re sure that no amount of change is going to get the results that you want, then ‘flight’ might be the option and that really is about looking for new opportunities that are more aligned with where you see your career.

There is ‘freeze’ too, and in this scenario, it really is more about acceptance.  It might be more about learning how to not take on board other people’s negative energy, recognising that they’re toxicity is more about their vulnerabilities irregardless of how unacceptable it is.  It might be about exploring other things in life that give you meaning and purpose to compensate for what you’re missing in the workplace environment. It may not be the best option for others however if you find that you’re not prepared to fight the challenges you experience, or flee to new opportunities, this is really all you have left.

What are the pros and cons of leaving?

You should absolutely sit down and consider the pros and cons of leaving your job before actually doing it.  The most pressing concern may be to ensure that you have enough money to live on between jobs so that your rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries and lifestyle needs are being met.  There are other factors as well though, especially around mental health and wellness. Those people exposed long term to toxic environments will often have their ability and confidence shaken from the experience and this has a value as well.   Perhaps ensuring that you have the ability to talk it out with someone, consider what the current job market is like, and exploring what next step is going to interest you will help. Some people even experience a feeling of relief from updating their CV and beginning the process of applying for jobs, providing them with a mental relief of knowing that change is a possibility.

What else do you consider before leaving a role?  If you’ve experienced roles in the past that had challenges that forced you to leave, what would’ve needed to change in order for you to have stayed?  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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