When all is said and done, the decision to walk away from an awful job is yours and yours alone. Below are a few important things to consider before you cut the umbilical cord.
Have You Reached Your Potential Here? If you’ve genuinely done your best at your current job, frequently going above and beyond the responsibilities of the role, and the only thing growing is your resentment and not your paycheck, then it’s time to assess your professional trajectory and decide whether your career has any room to grow at your current company. Is it worth sticking around a few more years for a promotion? Is there any guarantee the promotion will even happen? If it does, will a few more bucks per paycheck really boost your level of happiness? While more and more employees are job hopping to fatten their wallets (and responsibility, and stress levels) you may be part of a dying breed if you’re extremely loyal to your employer. But is that loyalty holding you back from developing your skills and professional ambitions? It may be time to take your talents somewhere else.
What If The Next Gig Is Just As Bad… or Worse? Using the concept of a bell curve, most of our jobs will be mediocre, a few might be downright dreadful and, if we’re lucky, we’ll have one or two gems in our resume. Of course, some of us are better than others at managing our own careers and choosing only top-notch opportunities, but most of us are really operating at the whim of chance. Moreover, a “perfect” job can easily go downhill if new management comes along and changes everything you hold dear about your work. There are certain factors outside of our control. If you’re thinking about pulling the plug on your current job, be honest with yourself: what guarantee do you have that your next one won’t be just as painful or more so? If instead of quitting you stick around long enough, is it possible for your present workplace situation to improve? Or are you so mentally done with your job that you’re willing to risk the uncertainty and potentially jump into another fire? Keep in mind that the first few weeks of onboarding and training at any new job can be enjoyable and fun – at least until the real drudgery begins.
Do You Have Something Else Lined Up? If you’re seriously thinking about putting in your two weeks’ notice, the first thing to do is breathe. Then take a moment to carefully ponder the obvious questions, starting with: do you have another job lined up? If not, are there any solid prospects in the works, even part-time? In fact, a part-time job can help you transition while giving you some time to enjoy yourself outside of work. How quickly would you be able to start interviewing? The job market is demanding and competitive — are you prepared for the long haul, given that the average job search can take several months? Having the security of the next job can mitigate stress, help you keep your cool, and make your exit as graceful as possible, with minimal bridge burning. Then again, sometimes a job (or boss) can be so toxic that a three-month stint of unemployment sounds like a vacation. If you’re truly desperate and willing to join the ranks of the jobless, read on.
Do You Have A Cash Cushion? If you quit without having another job secured, you wouldn’t be the first in the history of civilization to do so. There’s something to be said for taking risks, going out with a bang, pursuing your passions, and walking away from the abuse rampant in certain jobs or industries. Additionally, a mental vacation or unofficial sabbatical afforded by a months-long gap between jobs can be a wonderful reset button for your life and career – if your finances allow for it. So, do they? Do you have enough money saved up to fund 6-9 months of unemployed bliss? Career and financial experts alike recommend that we should always have an emergency reserve at hand, even if we’re happily employed with no plans to leave because you never really know when the next layoff might happen. If you think you’re stressed now, how do you think you’ll feel when your next rent or mortgage payment is due and you can’t pull the dough together? So if you’re thinking of quitting in the near future, consider hunkering down for a few months and save as much money as you can. That proverbial overpriced latte can wait for now.
Is Your Health Suffering? Too often we put the health of our bank account ahead of our own well-being. Is your workplace toxic to the point that it’s causing you physical symptoms? Does the sight of your boss make your heart rate jump through the roof? Job-related stress can cause headaches, hives, anxiety, depression, a weakened immune system, and a litany of other ailments. Are you willing to work yourself to the bone while your physical or mental health deteriorates? It may end up costing you in the long run (i.e. in old age), and all that money you’ve worked so hard to hoard could be spent on medical care that could have been largely prevented had you maintained a healthier work-life balance earlier in life. Don’t be penny-wise but dollar-foolish. Invest both money and time in your health and safety today and reap the benefits for decades to come. Ask your HR department about any perks or benefits that may help lower or cover the cost of some interventions. Benefits often change from year to year, so don’t assume you know it all. Just ask and save yourself the headache, literally. If instead you’re at the end of your rope and nothing can stop you from quitting, then ask yourself: what health measures will I take in between jobs, and at my next job, if the work-related stressors return? Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
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