So you’re thinking about quitting your job. You’re wondering if you should quit your job. But you’re not a quitter. I get that.
But sometimes you need to move on, walk away, reinvent yourself—evolve à la Serena Williams. Know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.
Regardless of the reason, it makes sense that people get anxious about quitting their jobs. You never quite know how it’ll go down. I’ve quit a job before and had my coworkers celebrate me with a going away party and shower me with words of thanks and encouragement (I still love you guys!). I gave my two weeks’ notice to a different job a few years later—one in which I’d worked hard and been promoted—and my boss made some vaguely insulting remarks and launched into a passive-aggressive rant about “the position I was putting him in.” I’ve never straight-up ghosted, but I’ve certainly thought about it. I see the appeal.
Anyway, I say all this because if right now you’re wondering if you should quit your job, you’re not alone. I’d wager most of America is in that boat of deciding between looking for other opportunities or just “quiet quitting” and coasting to have a little more work-life balance. The post-COVID Great Resignation stats are pretty well documented at this point. People are getting #nopay and #norespect at their dead-end 8-6 (because seriously who only works 9-5?), and they have big dreams of joining a socially conscious company with travel perks, career advancement, and health insurance that costs less than half your paycheck.
A lot of parents quit or pause jobs because they need to figure out childcare, and let me just say that watching a two-year-old all day is a different kind of #nopay #norespect, but at least it’s not a dead end. Children are our future. Those kids will grow up to become influencers in whatever Metaverse app someday takes over from TikTok.
That said, there are really two kinds of people wondering if they should quit their jobs. Either you’re a Stanley Hudson who’s been quiet quitting years before it was a thing but you have no plans of ever actually leaving, or you’re side-hustling on the weekends and doom-scrolling Indeed at your day job while wondering why no Fortune 500 CEOs have messaged you about your #OpenToWork status on LinkedIn.
Let’s take these situations one at a time.
This list is for when you want to complain about your job, but you don’t want to do anything to change it. You like to whine with no design in mind. If that’s you, do this:
Or, because spending too long in a shapeless void is bad for your posture, you may decide to actually find a new job. If that’s the case, keep reading.
Sometimes work is just work. It doesn’t have to define you or be anywhere close to the most important thing in your life. Earning a paycheck to provide for yourself and your family is noble in itself, and you don’t have to love your job to do that.
But if you notice any of these things, you may wonder if another career could suit you better.
You don’t feel challenged. I’m of the opinion that people need healthy challenges in their lives. If you’re not stretched physically, mentally, or both, or if you’re not learning anything new, your job will eventually suck your soul dry. I’m not saying overwork yourself, but the occasional stress or demand is good for your psyche.
You have a toxic work environment. If you feel physically sick at the mere thought of your job, that’s a sign.
Your job gives you no boundaries. You’re a human. If your job does not allow you to take time off or give you little mental health breaks during the day (have you ever had a boss snap at you to “get back to work” while you were chatting with a coworker?), that’s not a good fit long-term.
Your company does sketchy, unethical stuff. You know it when you see it. You should not feel like you need to compromise your morals on a daily basis.
You see the writing on the wall. If your company’s talking about layoffs and cutbacks, if your industry as a whole is in a massive downturn, or if you know that you won’t be promoted or get a raise anytime soon, you have a legitimate reason to look elsewhere for work.
You’re just not happy. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Don’t neglect that last one.
It doesn’t mean you should quit tomorrow with no plan, but all of these are legitimate, understandable reasons to explore other career options.
Let’s face it. Quitting is not always practical, especially when you’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed. Don’t stay paralyzed forever, but do make sure you do these things before you peace out.
Test the waters. If you’re wondering if you should quit your job, raise the idea with a few trusted friends or advisors (not your boss, obvi.) Just bring it up casually: “Hey, I’m thinking about making a career change. Do you think I’m nuts?” Talk it through. Explain your reasoning and what you might want to do instead. Get some honest input from people who you know won’t judge you.
Do a bit of networking and research into your potential new career field. If you can, ask others who work in that field about their experiences getting started. “Try it on” for a while to see how you’d feel in a new situation.
Have a plan. Quiet quitting is about pulling back from your current job—not leaving before you’re ready. It’s natural to mentally check out a bit when you’re daydreaming about working somewhere else, but make sure you’re still fulfilling your responsibilities and earning your paycheck until you’re ready to formally exit.
Having a plan doesn’t mean that you have to know every detail for the next 12 months, but do think about the steps required. For example, if you want a new job by the end of the year, maybe you need to start seriously applying to places in August. Map out a timeline and share it with a friend you trust can hold you accountable. If you’re the “quiet quitter” type already, it’s likely that you’ll be your own worst enemy and self-sabotage your big dreams of making a change.
Have money. Ideally, you’ll have a few months of savings built up before you quit, especially if you’re taking a slight decrease in salary. (Yeah, sorry to burst your bubble, but not every new job is a higher-paying job.) In fact, many job switchers take less pay for a better work-life balance. But don’t let a pay cut scare you away from the job you really want! Just make sure you can cover your expenses while you adjust to your new life rhythms.
Don’t burn every bridge. You never know who you might bump into in the future, so keep it friendly and professional on your way out the door. Send a nice email thanking the people you worked most closely with and offer to connect on LinkedIn.
Put it in perspective. Here’s the deal. Millions of Americans quit their jobs every year. If you’re still wondering if you should quit, remember that switching jobs is a normal, expected thing to do—even more so for Millenials and Gen Z than previous generations.
You are not solely responsible for your company’s success. If you work in an essential service job, you are not solely responsible for saving the world. Your job had to fill a vacancy when they hired you, and they can do it again when you’re gone. And if no one wants to work in a particular field, eventually market forces or government intervention will tip the scales to bring more applicants, as has happened with nursing in the past few years. The point is that you aren’t responsible for figuring that out.
You’ve done meaningful work in your current role, and you’ll do meaningful work in your next role, too. It all matters.
So you can quiet quit your current gig and ride it out for the next 30 years, or you can feel unafraid (and unashamed!) to look for a better fit. Any company that seriously has your best interests in mind will understand if you leave to pursue something that suits you. And even if they don’t understand, who cares? This is your life we’re talking about.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but I’m putting it here anyway. Your boss probably won’t say this to you when you quit, but they should.
Thank you for your service and your contributions to our company. I’m sorry to see you go, but I understand. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
See, bosses? That’s all you have to say.