Deciding whether or not to quit your job can be a stressful decision. It’s easy to understand why: There are lots of factors to weigh and the decision is consequential. But there is a silver lining. Considering whether or not to quit your job provides an opportunity to refocus your career on the work that you really want to be doing.
The decision to stay or quit impacts more than your resume and career trajectory. It can impact all areas of your life including your identity, finances, family and relationships, self-confidence, lifestyle, health, and beyond. While it’s important to consider the impact on all of those areas of your life, I believe there is a more important question to address first.
At the core of the question of whether or not to quit is the deeper question, “What do I really want to be doing in my life and work?” Deciding whether or not to quit is an opportunity to clarify what you really want and take ownership of your career.
“What do I really want to be doing in my life and work?”
You might not even have to quit your job. Some of my clients are able to redesign their current roles without ever having to quit, or pivot into a new role or team at the same company. Other clients discover that they want to make a bigger career change into a new profession like the IT consultant who became a psychologist.
I’ll break this article down into two sections:
- Part 1: Big picture career goals: What do you really want to do?
- Part 2: Weighing the important practical considerations when quitting
Part 1: Big picture career goals: What do you really want to do?
Before you agonize about the impact of quitting on your resume, finances, family, identity, future career prospects, professional network, etc., I recommend taking a step back to think about what you really want to do.
- What is your dream job/career/life?
- Who is doing work that most inspires you?
- What do you want more of in your career?
- What would you do if you knew you would succeed?
- What is the most exciting vision you can imagine for your career?
In addition to exploring those questions, I recommend reconnecting to your strengths, passions, and values to ensure that your full potential is expressed in your next career.
Start by turning your focus inside yourself to reconnect to what you’re good at (strengths), what you love (passions), and what matters to you (values). Those are the building blocks of a successful and fulfilling career.
At A Path That Fits, we always explain to our clients that before you ask the question, “What should I do?” you should first ask the question, “Who am I?”
When you reconnect to who you are by discovering your strengths, passions, and values, you can take ownership of what you’re good at, what you love, and what matters to you. It’s a huge confidence boost which makes it easier for you to assert what you want at your current job. It also creates the inner clarity necessary to know what jobs and career paths are the best fit for you. Everyone does their best work when they are using their gifts, doing something they enjoy, and getting their needs met.
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After clarifying what you’re good at (strengths), what you love to do (passions), and what matters to you (values), you can use those drivers of career fulfillment to assess whether or not your current career is a good fit for you.
- How well does your current job utilize your strengths (0 – 10)?
- How much of your current job involves your passions (0 – 10)?
- How aligned is your current job with your values (0 – 10)?
Even if your assessment produced low scores signaling that your current job is not a good fit for you, it might be possible to redesign it or pivot into a new role or team that more fully utilizes your strengths, passions, and values.
I coached a young attorney who was at her wits end with the long hours of unfulfilling work. Empowered with the knowledge of her strengths, passions, and values, she negotiated reassignment to a new client whose business was in an industry and culture she was excited about. She moved to Europe and went from being underappreciated, overworked, and ready to quit to feeling excited about her work. She was pinching herself.
Now that you have a current assessment of how well your job aligns with your core drivers of career fulfillment, consider how you might be able to redesign it to better utilize your strengths, passions, and values. Ask yourself this question:
How can I redesign my current role/job/career to more fully utilize my strengths, passions, and values?
If you haven’t yet tried to incorporate more of your strengths, passions, and values inside of your current role or company, you might want to try doing so before you look for a new job. If you have already tried to advocate for what you want or if there is too great a misalignment between who you are and your current job, then it’s probably time to explore other opportunities.
Before you go looking for another job doing exactly what you are currently doing, consider this question:
What other roles/jobs/careers would better utilize my gifts, passions, and values?
I coached a marketing manager that worked for a construction company. She was confused about why she wasn’t more fulfilled by her work because she enjoyed the art and science of marketing, and she was good at it. Her self-assessment highlighted that the construction industry didn’t align with her passions and values. She loved nature and cared about protecting the environment. She realized that what she really wanted to do was use her marketing abilities to advance climate change so she got a new job for an environmental non-profit.
If you want help rediscovering what you’re good at, what you love, what matters to you, and then figuring out how to redesign your current career or find one that’s a better fit, we can guide you to clarity through the Career Pathfinder Group Coaching Program or One-On-One Career Coaching.
Part 2: The nitty gritty details: What are the most important practical considerations to think about when quitting?
While I don’t want you to miss the opportunity to direct your career toward the work that truly inspires you, there are some important practical considerations to include in your decision about whether or not to quit. In this section, I’ll highlight the most important ones.
First, if at all possible, I recommend trying to land a new job before you quit. Prospective employers typically prefer to hire people who are currently employed, and you (the job seeker) have less financial pressure to take a less than ideal job.
Work culture and environment:
How well supported do you feel by the culture and people at your current job? If you’re in a toxic culture or have hostile people on your team, those are strong signs that it’s time to quit. Toxic cultures often involve harsh criticism and blaming, lack of trust, respect and appreciation, unrealistic expectations and disregard for work-life balance, and a general lack of support. Sometimes it’s possible to pivot onto a new team with a more supportive culture but sometimes toxic cultures are pervasive and it’s best to leave.
Do you have enough savings to take care of your financial responsibilities for several months while you look for another job? If not, it’s probably best to do your job search while you are still employed.
How fulfilled are you by the work that you do? Or more simply put, do you like your job? If not, what can you change to increase your fulfillment? Former clients have “pruned” the tasks they dislike and refocused on the aspects of their job they enjoy to increase their overall job satisfaction. If you’ve tried to redesign your job and it was met with deaf ears then it might be time to quit.
What is the current demand for your expertise? Research the job market to understand what other options exist for you and how easy it is to land a better job.
How is your current job impacting your personal life and relationships? How well does your current job support you as a person and your life as a whole? Are you coming home drained without the energy to connect with loved ones and pursue your passions? While we all have busy periods at work, if your personal life is chronically anemic you might want to try setting better boundaries at your current job or look for a new employer that will respect the boundaries you set.
Growth and learning:
How is your current job and employer helping you grow your skills, experience, and career? What possibilities exist for your career advancement? Consider the extent to which your job offers the challenges and learning experiences you need to make the most of your potential.
How is your job impacting your mental and physical health? What else is going on in your life that might influence your decision to stay or quit? For example, if you have a new baby to care for and your job demands long hours then it might be time to find a new job with better work-life balance. I took several months off for the birth of my daughter and then reduced my work to part-time until she was three years old. I made less money and didn’t actively grow my business but the bond that I now have with my daughter means the world to me.
What about the recession?
You might be wondering if different rules apply in a recession. We’ve been getting a lot of questions from clients who are unhappy with their current jobs but worried about making a change in a recession. Should you stay in a job you don’t like when the economy is in recession or still try to find a better one? Read the article: How To Recession Proof Your Career.
In this article we looked at the question, “Should I quit my job?” from all angles. We took it as an opportunity to refocus on what you really want to do by reconnecting to what you’re good at (strengths), what you love (passions), and what matters to you (values). Incorporating those core parts of who you are into your job translates into success, fulfillment, and a deep sense of purpose.
We used those core parts of you to assess:
- How well does your current job fit you?
- How could you redesign your current career to be more fulfilling?
- What else could you do that would better utilize your full potential?
I hope this framework helps you clarify what’s right for you and moves you into a career you love. If you want a career coach to help guide you, I’d be happy to help.