I know you don’t want to hear it, but take a deep breath and read on.
As someone who has been very sick as a direct result of her work, it irks me when I read one of these well-meaning pieces with the poignant statement;
‘just leave if you’re unhappy — best decision I ever made’ — many many authors of many many articles
I wonder if anyone does read it and hand in their notice the very next day. I often think about the consequences that could arise because of these bold statements. These writers give false hope to desperate people they have never met; they have no idea of their situation. They make it sound oh so easy, and normally it comes complete with the standard spiel about how great it will be, a decision that you won’t regret.
Sorry, but isn’t this a tiny little bit irresponsible?
Now I don’t want to rain too hard on their parade; I realize this is meant in a super positive — go forth and do whatever you want way.
Yes, we are all adults capable of making sensible decisions. Still, there is a harsh reality associated with what could happen when someone who is probably not in a great headspace decides to follow this advice. People with responsibilities, and they just needed something or someone to give them their last push, stumble across this article telling them how perfect it’s all going to be, and that’s it — they have the motivation they need; off they go with the blind faith that everything will be great.
Granted, some people can just quit their job on a whim and bounce back with no repercussions whatsoever, but that is rare; these people are confident and driven; they are the ones writing these very articles. If you are taking advice from an article written by someone you don’t even know, I will hazard a guess you are probably not of the same mindset, or at least at the time you are reading it.
I did eventually resign from my job. It took me almost a year to build up the courage. I wrote a three-page resignation explaining all of the reasons why and made some suggestions of alternative solutions. My company responded in a way I was not prepared for at all. That was to support me, to reduce my hours, and to allow me to work from home. I knew the issues were connected to COVID, and they didn’t really know what to do with me, my department, etc. But instead of someone sitting down to talk it through, I was shoved around from pillar to post, given reports to write, presentations to tidy up, I felt worthless and miserable, so I told them that. I was brave and honest. I took the decision out of their hands, and I gave them potential solutions.
I realize I am lucky; it could have gone one of two ways, but I always appreciate honesty and bravery, so if it had gone the other way, I didn’t want to waste any more time there anyway.
I realize this will not be the same for everyone but don’t make your resignation out of desperation and all the articles you have read telling you it will be ok. Make it because it’s the right decision for you, and you have a plan of what to do next.
You might not want to know about the harsher reality; let’s be honest, it’s not as exciting.
‘Actually — it might not be ok, in fact, it might be shit, it might be harder than being stuck at that job that you hate,’ — that’s me talking (your sensible inside voice)
And no, it’s not outrageous or spontaneous, but it’s the truth. I want to believe that leaving a job without any strategy or plan will all end up magnificently, but the reality is it probably won’t. So before you make any rash decisions on the back of whatever article you have read, maybe take a look at the pragmatic version, so you are armed with all of the information you need, even the boring stuff. I have left jobs in all of the different ways, and the hardest way out of all is when you don’t have a plan of what to do next.
1. The writer doesn’t know you
I have read them too; I have felt empowered and motivated; everyone likes a happy ending, right? However, people are all different. Just because it worked out for that individual in those particular circumstances doesn’t mean it will for the rest of us. A lot of the time, we don’t get to find out what those circumstances are. We don’t know if they have a mortgage or kids, are still paying off an enormous student loan; everything is taken out of context.
Think about your personal situation, how it will impact you, the knock-on effect and how long it’s likely to last. Then ask yourself if you can really afford to make that decision.
2. You don’t know them either
You can google a gazillion articles on how leaving your job is the best idea ever for other people — but is it for you? We can only get a vague understanding of the writer’s personality from their piece, so we can’t really compare them to ourselves.
The tipping point should be because you can’t go on anymore, it should be your personal decision, and it should be thought out carefully, ideally not in the heat of the moment or spurred on by the solidarity of strangers.
3. You might be able to resolve what’s making you want to leave
Sometimes it’s so intimidating to try to resolve an issue in the workplace that people choose to leave instead. If you like your job/workplace, then it’s worth the effort, I have successfully resolved a few disagreements at work, and some of them even left me with a close friend due to having the courage to sit down and talk them through.
We are struggling right now. There has also been an enormous increase in mental health issues as a result of Covid19. Depression, anxiety, things that I didn’t even know existed. I thought I had the flu, but after finally dragging myself to the doctors, I was diagnosed with something called Chronic Adjustment Disorder, later again with Chronic Fatigue. Just knowing that there was something actually wrong with me made it much easier to start my path to recovery and decide what to do next.
If you have symptoms, if you are not feeling yourself, go to the doctor! Get a check-up; you never know how that could be impacting how you feel about your work.
4. What is your game plan?
Is there an alternative to leaving? Have you got any sway? Can you barter with reduced hours or work from home? Think about this stuff and lay it out. Things have changed a lot; companies want to hold on to reliable staff and be more flexible. If they say no, that’s ok, you thought of that, and it’s in your plan.
Update your resume, LinkedIn, start looking and applying for jobs, see if you get any positive responses, gauge how difficult it will be.
Going, independent? Great; work on your website, portfolio, update your contact list, reach out to potential clients.
Please don’t wait until you leave; get yourself prepared so it’s a seamless transition. I know it’s hard to juggle all this stuff while you are still working, but trust me, it’s worth it.
The biggest issue for me was being dragged into the politics that were going on in the office. There was no longer a demand for my remit’s creative work, and my team had been disbanded; it was miserable. My goal was to work part-time from home, so I could pursue creative projects on the side because that’s what keeps me sane. It was a no-brainer for my bosses, and although not everyone in the business understands or appreciates the value of my role, they certainly do.
If you are exhausted like me, don’t deprive yourself of rest; pick the right time! Keep slogging until you are organized, and you have your plan. Take a break between your old and your new job, but get your shit together first!
5. There aren’t that many jobs
There was this virus; you might have heard of it? As a direct result, a huge amount of the world’s population is out of work. Is it really the right time? Can you hang on a little bit longer? Did you test the water to see what’s available in your area? If you are going independent, then will you have any clients? Will they be able to pay you?
My friend had to wait a whole year before she could quit and go independent as she lost all her clients due to COVID-19. I applied for several jobs and didn’t get one interview, so this told me I had to be creative about how I approached my resignation.
No matter how awful your job is, I implore you to work through the boring stuff before you decide to quit. I have left jobs via all of the different routes; layoff, redundancy, resignation, fired, whim resignation — the lot. Even when I have had 5 months notice to plan and redo my portfolio, it took me another 3 to get a new job. That’s a long time, and that was long before the new world we live in.
I am also not saying it’s impossible to quit and be fine; some people thrive from the pressure — you need to decide if you are that type of person and have the determination to succeed.
If you are — more power to you!
Find more of my work in Illumination and Illumination curated below…