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Don’t Quit Your Job Just Because You Want To

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throwing away job

Are you fed up with your job? Dreaming of quitting? I’ve been there.

I quit my first full-time job two short months after my start date. I’m pretty sure my parents felt this the way one would feel an impending apocalypse.

I quit because I didn’t like the job. I was bored. There weren’t any windows. I wasn’t used to staying inside in one spot all day. Also, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing with my life, but I was pretty sure that data entry was not my true calling.

So I quit.

It felt great to be able to make that decision and execute it.

Yet there were definite consequences to my choice, since I didn’t have a backup plan. I wound up moving home with my parents (who are lovely people—thank you!) and landing another job in the field I’d initially left.

Even though I wasn’t enamored with this new job, I stuck around for a bit longer. While working there, I explored other fields and began pursuing my own business part-time.

I had learned a lesson that my 21-year-old self would have outright rejected. You may, too.

Don’t quit a job just because you want to

Quit with a plan. Quit with the purpose of moving toward something better. If possible, quit with your next job offer in hand. And in the meantime, learn to endure a less than ideal situation.

I realize this is not the most fun piece of advice to offer.

And I’m aware that there are plenty of toxic work environments where my tip to stick it out is rendered completely moot because of the ill effects your job is having on your sanity or well-being.

But for the majority of you who are dissatisfied with your work because you’re living in a place of existential misery, elevated stress levels or a cubicle that’s visible from the main walkway, I want to offer to you that the ability to put up with crap is part of growing up.

In fact, the more you improve your skill at coping with a temporarily unpleasant situation for a long-term gain, the better off you will be—not just in the workforce, but in other adult-like things like saving for retirement, doing home remodels or raising kids.

Here are four tips to help you hang in there with your current job while you’re making your moves toward a new and improved work situation:

1. Acknowledge your choice to stay

(And it is a choice. You could also choose to quit. I’m clearly not one to judge or begrudge you this decision.)

It’s a funny thing, but there is a big difference between “I have to go to my job today” and “I’m choosing to go to my job today.”

2. Make a list of the benefits of your current job

Focus on what you’re getting from sticking around. This could include salary, health insurance or being able to add one more project’s completion to your resume.

3. Keep a long-term perspective

In the scheme of things, staying at your current job for another three months, or even another year, really isn’t that long. Remind yourself that your current situation is temporary and that you are doing what you can to change your employment for the better.

4. See if there’s anything you can do to make your day-to-day at your job better

Listen to your iPod. Meet a friend for lunch. Take a break during the day to walk outside. Or consider adding a delightful pursuit to your life outside of work. Having something to look forward to at the end of the day may help to pull you through.

It takes a certain type of maturity to stick around at a job you dislike, and it takes a certain amount of bravery to leave a job without knowing where you’re going next. While experience has taught me the value of enduring a less than ideal job, I don’t believe you should take my word for it.

Lessons are most powerful when learned firsthand. Take stock of your own situation, do what you think is best, learn from what happens and go from there.

What’s been your experience? Has it paid off to stick with a job until you’ve found a new one, or did it work out just fine to leave when you wanted to? Leave a comment sharing your experience below.

Alison Elissa Horner specializes in helping adults in their 20s and 30s figure out what the hell they’re doing with their lives. You can sign up to receive free tips on navigating your career at www.alisonelissa.com.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://www.chrisrouse.us/ Chris Rouse

    Dropping in to comment on this one anonymously Don’t need my comment to be found and get me fired!

    I completely agree with this. Six months ago I was ready to quit my job. Yesterday I was still ready to quit my job. But I’m not stupid. I know that I can’t afford to not have a job. I also have great benefits. But the daily grind of what I do has gotten to me. Responsibilities are added on without old ones being removed. Expectations are being raised without the resources to meet the goals being available. I moved and now work remotely, so there’s an added pressure to perform higher than everyone else so that I’m not seen as taking advantage of this.

    I’ve started applying for other jobs that align with my personal goals, but that is only a glimmer of a possibility until I actually get a job offer in my hands. I’m choosing to stay employed because I know I could just as easily not even have this job. I’ve started doing outside work and picking up freelance gigs to grow my savings so that if it does come down to it, I can quit and survive long enough to pick up something new.

    • http://www.alisonelissa.com/ Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

      Hang in there! It sounds like you’re taking a lot of good steps to set yourself up for a better future. I hope that you find a new position soon!

  • Le Cid

    I agree with you that it is important to have a plan before bravely deciding to quit your job, but I wouldn’t like to tell you a little bit about my story so you can understand why I decided to quit my job without a plan set in the stone.

    After working in sales and finance for a while, I decided to move from my home state to live with my at-the-time girlfriend and start a new life with here in South Texas. That decision prove to be the worst I have made so; not only did the relationship not work out well, but professionally it has been a disaster as I could not land a job with the insurance company I was targeting, or any company for that matter.

    I ended up having to accept a warehouse manual job with one of the largest beverage companies in the world to manually build order. No need to say that working in a warehouse environment is physically challenging, especially for a guy who has never done this kind of work in his entire life, but I decided to take the challenge because I never back down on anything. This page of my life reminds me of one of my best movies, The Company Man, with Ben Affleck. I love the movie because I can relate to the anguish Bobby Walker went through after losing his highly-paid job.

    Anyways, after three months, an accident at work that put me one week out, several muscle strains, open cuts, bruises, long 12 hours night shifts lifting 30 to 40 pounds regularly, and time spent at the hospital, I decided that It was time to leave because of the physical toll it was taking on me.

    The only thing that weighed in the balance was the amazing benefits that the company offers – health, dental, life insurances, 401K… all at not cost to the employee. Despite all of that, I decided however to leave not only because of the physical toll but also because I felt like I was “dumbing” myself. Now I am dealing with the job search again, but I believe it was the right thing to do.

    • http://www.alisonelissa.com/ Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story! It totally makes sense to me why you’d leave your job. I’m sorry things didn’t work out with your move, but hopefully there’s a better opportunity waiting around the corner for you. Good luck with it, and drop me a line if there’s any way I can help out.

  • http://inside.americanfidelity.com/ AFA Julie

    Going along with your suggestion on making your current job more enjoyable, you can always ask to take on projects you are interested in. You might not always get to, but you never know. You can also just volunteer for a wide variety of tasks or to work with new people. It might give you more items to put on your resume and more contacts for your job search.

    • http://www.alisonelissa.com/ Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

      Great points Julie! Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  • Guest

    I’m where you are when you first started. I just graduated and am slightly over a month into my first full-time job and I’m torn between whether to quit or not.

    I don’t entirely hate my job (although sometimes I really do), but I know for certain I do not want to stay in this industry. I’m in media and it just doesn’t align with my personal goals and personality. I feel barely motivated to perform and I just merely make do with my tasks.

    I have a clear idea where I want to move on to next. But I don’t have a job set in stone for me. So I don’t know whether I should leave or not.

    Now it becomes a little more complicated with my binding contract. I have to serve a notice if I choose to quit. And if I quit during my 1st 3 months probation period, I only need to serve a 1 month notice period. However, if I am confirmed, I will need to serve 2 months notice if I decide to leave.

    So now I’m torn between tendering during my probation period even though I haven’t found a new job. Or stick on and get stuck having to serve 2 months to ensure my future plans have been set in place.

    What would you advice me to do? For now I will take your advice to stick to my job since I still have 2 more months during my probation to go and to consider my depart.

    • http://www.alisonelissa.com/ Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

      Hi there! Sorry I didn’t see your comment sooner. Since it’s been a little while since you posted I’d thought I’d check in to see where you are now before replying. Did you wind up staying or leaving?

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  • Rebecca

    Hi, I quit my job a few days ago after only 2 months. I was working in a completely new field of work but it was not impossible. The thing is, I thought it was… I was so scared of doing it that I quit and am now home wih the parents and broke! I did have a great salary and it was a great company. I just didn’t believe I could do it. How sad and stupid I am. Don’t quit! Carry on! If I learn anything from this then I guess this is it! I hope I am lucky enough to find something as good again.

    • http://www.alisonelissa.com/ Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

      Aww, sweetie! It can be really intimidating to start a new job when you don’t know what you’re doing, so I can understand what happened.

      I agree with the lesson you learned- carry on! Hope you’re not beating yourself up over this. Live and learn, and try to hang in there longer next time!

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  • Ann

    I’ve been with my compay for almost 9 years. I started at the very bottom and now I am a Senior Manager. My pay is really good but I think I can do better outside. I am worried that because I stayed here for the longest time I am not learning anything new anymore. I have a great team I am supporting and we have a few challenges every now and then like any other team has. I have a great health benefit for my family but I am looking for work outside because I feel stagnant. I don’t think I am improving anymore. I don’t think my Bosses are still impressed with me just like they were when I was just starting (I was a star!). I’m past my glory days.
    I want to find another job because I want to feel needed again. I want to be a star once more. I know I will do well in another company and yet I have that irrational fear that is consuming me that I will totally suck and I will regret ever leaving my current company.
    I’m a mess. I liked this article though. Helped me set some things in perspective :).

  • quitter

    May I revive this discussion? So i work as a shop assistant. It’s my first job, straight out of college. I’ve been working there for almost 2 months. At first it was awesome. Then they opened a new shop which is really far away from where I live. I work 12 hours a day four days a week and 8 hours a day one day a week. What with the ride there and all, I get to work almost 16 hours, and the next day I have to wake up and be fresh and ready for work once again. I’m really poorly payed, but this wouldn’t be a problem if they would allow me to go back to the first shop I worked in (i know for a fact they need shop assistants in that one as well). I got kind of ill and they barely gave me two days off to take care of myself. I want to quit but I’m afraid I won’t be able to find anything else because of this – I will either look unreliable to potential employers, or, if I leave it out of my resume – unexperienced. What should I do? Really, staying is not an option, it’s no longer about “not being able to fit in”, it’s about being worried for my health and my mental state. I tried to see the benefits, but I feel there are none.

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  • suck@paperworks

    i also want to quit my current job as financial analyst because im a fresher and i do not know how this job goes everyday i work like the company’s robot do the things they want me to do. but i should not quit because i want to gain knowledge and experience for the next job i really want : to become an accounting professor.

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