Do You Have the Courage to Quit Your Job?

Accountability Change Purpose

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Key Point: Everyone wins when you quit your job. No one wins when you “quit” on the job.

“Here’s the cold truth: Deciding you want to quit is usually just the first move in a sometimes long and arduous cerebral chess match you’ll play with yourself. The reasons that over 70 percent of Americans stay in jobs they hate might surprise you. I’ve found that people’s inability to quit their current roles had little to do with the perceived riskiness of their new professions, their financial situation, or general economic conditions. The real barrier for most of us is not external. It’s our own psychology: We over think decisions, fear eventual failure, and prioritize near-term, visible rewards over long-range success.”

The above quote is from Daniel Gulati, author of How to (Finally) Quit Your Job. It was one of the most read Harvard Business Review blogs in 2012. Why? Because almost all of us have been at this intersection before. If not, we’ll likely be there one day. Navigating through the decision of staying or going is relatable. My belief is when people stay with jobs, organizations or bosses they deeply dislike, they are seriously wasting the organization’s and their personal resources.

It is ok if a job, profession, trade or organization does not fit for us. In fact, it makes sense. Our personal circumstances and perspectives evolve. And so do organizations. Business models, and turbulent environmental factors dictate continuous change. “It’s not like it was before,” is an accurate reflection of most organizations we work in. However, do you think you are doing your organization or colleagues a favor by sticking around if you detest your work? And please don’t think that your “honest day’s work” is enough for people to notice your absence. If any of us think we are indispensable, we will be surprised how quickly our spot is taken up. But forget about your organization for a moment… What about you? Your happiness and well-being is the most important result. And in the world of work there definitely is an intersection between what you’re good at, what you like to do and what is valued by others. Find it. I know it’s easier to say than do. But staying miserable is worse.

Character Moves (Gulati’s and my suggestions):

  1. Quit for a better long-term trajectory, not a quick win. Develop a game plan. Map out what the rest of a long-term journey would ideally look like. Outline an attractive “next step” and make sure you’ll value its rewards. Don’t quit into an empty space and hope it will turn out. YOU will be the constant variable, so determine how the next step will be better for you, not just a change. But don’t look for “perfect” conditions either. There will always be a reason not to act.
  2. Quit after hitting calendar milestones, not performance-based ones. Once you accept that you want to go, set a date based on having a good plan. Do not wait for the year-end bonus, or some other “carrot” if it just keeps the cycle of hate going. Execute on the game plan. Don’t hope to win the lottery.
  3. Quit discreetly and avoid the Facebook fireworks. Settle into your new role privately, and gradually update your friends in person, not over Facebook. If you don’t share it, they can’t spread it. More importantly recognize that you will likely cross the bridge with past colleagues and your organization again. And recognize that your relationship with your employer was a two-way exchange. Sometimes it happens in unpredictable ways. Be welcomed as an alumni.
  4. Quit or recommit. Please stop hoping, whining, blaming, complaining and regretting. Have the courage to change the situation by leaving. If not, working through the above can sometimes give you an opportunity to recommit with a refreshed approach. In either case you have “quit” and have taken a step forward. That will be good for you and all those around you.

Quit to win in The Triangle,

Lorne