Know when to quit your job and when to stick it out.
‘Should I stay or go’ is one of the most common dilemmas I hear from young people in the workplace. Often I’ll get asked, ‘I hate my job, every morning I wake up with a sense of dread, my boss is awful and I just want to quit, but I don’t know if I should quit or continue to suck it up?’
Girl I have been there…. MANY times!
Quitting my first ‘real’ job was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. After all, I had slaved away at university for four years to get a position like this. It was a sought after position and I was good at it (which was good for my ego) but deep down I was unhappy.
For five years I worked in my graduate job. The first year I was on a steep learning curve for most of that time and had no idea whether I really liked the work or not. The second and third year I was in my genius zone, crushing it every day at work and loving it. Things changed drastically in my fourth year. My learning opportunities were tapped out and my days became monotonous and stale. I felt like I was losing my heart and sole to the workplace.
Six months into my fourth year I quit, with no job to go to. I was exhausted, drained, and I needed a break. Leading up to my resignation I did some smart things and some not so smart things. Here they are…..
The smart things I did (or should I say, the one smart thing I did).
1. Being open and transparent
As soon as my job satisfaction began to deteriorate I took notice. I didn’t ignore it, I didn’t try and push it away. I looked it in the eye and asked myself, ‘why am I unhappy here and what can I do about it?’
This lead to discussions with my supervisor and strategies to improve my job satisfaction levels. I attended more professional development workshops, had more time with my supervisor, and I stepped into a new role with more responsibility.
I’m so blessed to have had a supportive boss that cared about my job satisfaction as much as I did. Some of you won’t be so lucky. In which case the journey will be harder for you, but not impossible. At the end of the day, your job satisfaction is your responsibility, no-one else is ever going to care about it as much as you do.
Even though the conversation may be hard, it’s up to you to tell your supervisor how you’re feeling. This is important for three reasons.
The first, it’s important that your boss knows how you’re feeling. You may not be the only one on your team that feels this way and this is an opportunity to feed back to your organisation the sentiment amongst staff. This provides them with the opportunity to do something on a macro rather than micro level.
Secondly, it provides the opportunity for you and your boss to get to work on solving the problem. Two minds are better than one and chances are your boss has some experience on how things can be changed in order to address your dilemma, and hopefully improve your enjoyment levels as work.
Thirdly, knowing you have tried everything by being open and transparent with your boss means that if you do decide to leave, you know that you gave it your best shot. You will have peace of mind (which is more valuable than time or money). Being able to look back on a job you quit and say, ‘I did everything I could to make it work, I sucked it up for as long as possible’, that’s the position you want to be in if you do decide to quit. No regrets.
Some not so smart things…
The major mistake I made when quitting my job was not fully understanding why the job was no longer working for me. I knew I felt frustrated and like I wasn’t growing in the role, but my self-awareness was limited. Stepping outside of myself to see things from a different angle and perspective would have really helped me. That is why I love coaching so much.
In the final twelve months of my role I was seeing a psychologist regularly. I’ve gone to psychologists on and off since my early 20’s and have found them helpful, but if I had had my time again, I would have gone to a Life Coach.
This is because a Life Coach is particularly skilled at asking questions to help you move forward. In counselling I spent a lot of time looking at how my parent’s parenting style influenced my attachment to others and how I relate to others.
Coaching however, would have helped me understand why I was finding this role unsatisfying and what career alternatives were more likely to give me that job satisfaction I was looking for.
Not fully understanding why this job wasn’t a good fit for me led me to quit without having a sustainable long term plan for my career. I left my job with no other job lined up, and no idea what I would do other than go travelling for three months. Of course this resulted in me returning home to the same dilemma of not knowing which job was going to give me the satisfaction and fulfillment I was looking for.
Let’s get practical….
If you’re stuck in the throes of that big question, ‘should I stay or should I go’, here are some practical things you can do to get some clarity.
1. Talk to your supervisor
I spoke about this earlier but I really can’t stress it enough. Opening up the conversation with your boss will help you get clarity on your situation, implement some strategies and give your peace of mind, knowing that you tried everything before handing in your resignation.
2. Get a coach
Speaking from experience, noone has helped me get greater clarity and confidence in my decision making than a life coach. I’ve been to counselors, psychologists and everything in between. A life coach, or more specifically a career coach has the specific skills in this area and can get you faster results than a generalist counselor. Yes they are expensive but they can save you time, and time is more valuable than money.
I spent years travelling and jumping from job to job, spending money on experiences and stop-gap solutions. Instead I could have spent that money up front on a coach and found a fulfilling job. Not only would this have improved my overall life satisfaction, but being in the workforce (the right workforce for you) is better for your bank account, and your career development.
When chopping and changing between jobs I spent large amounts of time on travel, which was great for my budgeting skills but not so great for my super fund. It also set me back in terms of my career progression. My colleagues were moving into supervisor positions but I didn’t have the runs on the board to step into more senior roles.
Finding a career that you love and that you want to commit to for the next five to ten years is worth more than any amount of money. Especially because once you find something you love, the job promotion comes far more easily. When you shudder at the thought of stepping into your supervisor’s role, you’ve got a problem on your hands.
Spend the money now and your future self will thank you for it.
3. Check your work life balance
Sometimes, the best thing we can do for our career is to not overthink it. It’s easy to get overly focused on our career especially if we are single and surrounded by other single, amazing, capable and driven career women.
Taking time out to focus on health and wellness goals can be that gentle reminder that there is life outside of work, we get satisfaction from many things in life - not just our careers.
When I begin to feel stressed and anxious about my job, I intentionally pull back from work until I get back into a better head-space. If I need to I take a day off and go hiking, read a good book or go to my favourite cafe and drink coffee.
Sometimes putting work on the back burner can be great for our mental well-being and our longevity in our careers. Giving ourselves permission to have a slow week to recharge and re-energise is sometimes the best thing we can do for our career, our employer and ourselves.
Remember no one else is going to give you permission to take a break or to slow down when you need it. Only you know what’s best for you and when. So don’t be afraid to be generous to yourself in the same way you are to others.
If you have tried these three things and none of them work, it’s time to ask yourself this question….
Will I regret not having changed jobs in 12 months time?
If you know deep down in your heart of hearts that the main reason you are staying in your job is because of fear, then you need to do something now. It may be fear of change, fear of getting a new job and hating it, fear of regret, fear of missing out, fear of failure…. The list goes on and on.
Decisions made from a place of fear rarely have good outcomes. You don’t want to be that person looking back on your life in five years time saying, ‘I really should have changed career when I was younger, it’s too late now.’ And by the way, if you’re saying to yourself, ‘it’s too late to change jobs’, then you have already passed your expiry date in that role. Get out now before you really get stuck by that limiting belief which keeps so many people trapped in jobs they hate. It’s never too late to pivot, transition, to change careers all together.
If you have tried everything to increase your job satisfaction and nothing has worked, perhaps it’s time to seriously consider a career change. Seek out a professional who can help you view your situation from a new perspective and get clarity on what new direction to head. If you would like to learn how I can help you get clarity and a plan to move forward book a FREE discovery session with me today by clicking here.
Have a great day!