I’m pretty sure that at least once in your life you’ve thought to yourself: “that’s it, I quit!”
If you haven’t then you are one of those very fortunate people who gets to do a job they love, or else perhaps you’re delusional… Just kidding!
More seriously, I don’t think there are many people who have not gone through a difficult time at work, or considered their career options, without thinking about quitting. It’s natural and perhaps even healthy to question your choices every now again. But it begs the questions of all questions (sort of like knowing who is “the one”): how do I know when to quit? To answer that, I’d like to share my experience.
I’m not going to lie, more than once in my career I wanted to, or thought of quitting my job. But as many times as I had that thought, only one of those was the right one. Usually each time I considered it my coach would wisely say “you want to quit on your own terms” and I would think “that’s easy to say”. But when the time came for me to hand in my resignation, I knew exactly what he had been talking about.
In the past I had wanted to quit for all the wrong reasons: having too much work, a difficult colleague, lack of recognition (or my perception thereof) etc. I had been jealous of those who quit before me, sometimes without another job thinking “I wish I was able to do that”, and kept giving myself all sorts of reasons why I couldn’t.
In the end, not only did I quit for the right reasons but I finally forced myself out of the comfort zone. I believe that knowing when to quit is about as personal as knowing when you’ve found the one. Of course there are always those experiences: harassment, bullying, etc. that are worth running away from as quickly as possible. But for every other situation: only you will know when it’s right. I urge you to think about what the right reasons for quitting are, before making such a decision.
In my case it was a question of values and passion. After several years of work with my coach, I started to identify what my values were and what I wanted to have in my life. I also started to be more aware of what I was passionate about, what drove me and what I really wanted to do.
The process of deciding to leave my job was therefore one of moving closer to where I want to be. It was a difficult decision to make and sometimes I am still a bit scared of what I’ve done. But I also knew deep inside it was what I needed to do to get one step closer to being one of those people who is super excited to go to work every day!
Why I quit my job?
I knew it was time for me to close this chapter in my life and move on to something new. While I learnt a lot in agency, far more than I could ever have expected (blog post coming soon), I also knew that it was time for me to leave the industry. And after 6 years working for the same company, I felt like it was time to experience something new.
I was also in search of more dynamism, and wanted to surround myself by people who were eager to learn, provoke change, and question the status quo and I didn’t feel that Switzerland was the place for that. Quitting was a way of forcing myself to consider other options as viable and think about where I wanted to go next.
How I quit my job?
No I don’t mean how to write your letter of resignation. It takes courage to quit with no job, after years of being convinced by society, the media, etc. that having a job is the be all end all, and that it means security.
But for a few years I had spoken to friends who had taken a similar leap of faith and felt much happier since, or I would see my friends who are artists succeeding in life and would start telling myself it was possible. Then little by little life started sending me signs. One day I listened to a financial podcast and came across Mike Lewis of “When to Jump”‘s story.
I remembered Joe Pulizzi talking about when he quit his job to start the Content Marketing Institute and people thinking he was crazy. Again and again, I would hear about people taking what seemed to be mad risks yet succeeding and be happier for it.
Another recurring theme amongst all of those people was passion. They started from a place of passion or deep enthusiasm for a topic. And they were doing it just because they loved it, not for success or money, until eventually it turned into to something bigger than expected.
Finally, the more conversations I had with the friends and the more people I met, kept on telling me that it was ok to quit my job. That I would survive, that I wouldn’t end up homeless, that I should take a leap of faith and most importantly, that I should get out of the comfort zone.
So what next?
Everything and nothing is what’s next! Here a few things:
- Move abroad – in order to do that I need to find a new job
- Continue to work in communications but in a job closer to my values & passion of helping people
- In the long term, move closer to my values & passion around helping people and professional development. I’m not yet sure whether that’s working as a coach, working in HR, being a learning & development manager… Only time will tell
The idea is to try and bring more of that passion into my life, and find the opportunity to work on stuff that gets me really excited. By doing that, I hope to deliver even better work, and to convey my passion to those I work with and those I work for. So I can jump out of bed every morning going: “YAY, time for work”.
At the end of the day, I don’t think there is a one sized fits all answer for when to quit.
Some people have very different considerations such as families or mortgages that make it harder to quit with no job. You will definitely want to have your spouse’s support and buy-in. If you’re thinking of a career change you might need to think about the cost of studying again and how long it will take.
The only thing I can say is, don’t quit in a mic drop moment because you’ve had enough. Think about what it would mean to quit on your own terms.