How To Quit Your Job And Move Forward

Learn why to quit, when to quit, and how to quit your job and move forward.

Two months ago, I felt it was time to quit my job. I was working for an organization that I liked, and my colleagues had grown to become my friends, but there was no path forward in front of me — no milestones set by upper management to reach, no budget for financial promotion, and no senior level position for me to grow into. Although I had invested only 9 months into that job, because of the reasons noted above, I already knew my investment wasn’t going to yield many long-term gains in my professional career.

At the same time, a girlfriend was feeling incredibly stressed about her new job at an advertising agency. She had left a large media company to move to a smaller, more risky organization — risky because she would have an independent role, without a team to share the responsibilities, and a difficult product to sell…and high expectations from the owner who sat only one desk away. Her earning potential was high, however, and my friend has always been a loyal employee who pours every ounce of energy into her job. When the business began to flail, the owner often took her frustrations out by applying more pressure on my friend, and showing her emotions by yelling in the office.

My friend and I both left our jobs that month, but we quit very differently. I felt confident in, and empowered by my decision. My friend was full of stress and overcome with uncertainty. I had a plan, but my friend made her exit strategy personal.

Believe it or not, there is a better way to quit. Knowing the strategy will benefit you, the organization you’re leaving, and your career in the long run.

Cropped shot of a businesswoman looking stressed out at her desk

When to quit:

There is no such thing about how long you “should” stay at a job — it’s a false premise. It is time to quit your job when it is not benefitting you, the person, and you, the professional.

It’s time to be honest with yourself:

  • Do you often say, “there’s got to be more to life than this.”?
  • Do you spend more time fuelling your hunger for with outside stimulation than solving problems at work?
  • Do you harbour resentment with people at work because you think they’re holding you back?
  • Do you count down the time until you can go get another coffee?
  • Do you only survive the week by daydreaming about the weekend?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you have tons of room to improve and it’s time to strategically plan your next career move.

How to quit:

How to quit your job strategically for a beneficial outcome is broken down into a 3-step process:

First, determine why you want to leave: 

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions under the ‘when to quit’ section, that would be sufficient enough reason to leave. The most practical and powerful reason to leave your job is if you are not responsible for tasks that, if done successfully, would set you up for gaining your future dream job.

Are you currently responsible for, and learning from doing, tasks that will qualify you for your future dream job? If you’re not, it’s time to strategically plan to gain a job that will act as a stepping stone towards your future dream job.

You want to leave your job if it’s not acting as a tool for gaining your #dreamjob in the future.

Second, envision exactly what you want:

After you’ve listed out all the reasons you want to leave your job, a positive step forward is to list out all the places you want to be. Envision your #dreamjob and write out all the positive qualities of that role, and how those positive qualities will make you feel.

It will never be the action of presenting to client that will reward you, it will be how presenting to clients makes you feel that will reward you. Focus on the feeling, it’s what will fulfill you.

Thirdly, follow-through on taking the first step:

Avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed by breaking down the journey to your #dreamjob into steps, and immediately follow through on the first one. What can you do today that will move you in the right direction? Progress is all about incremental progress and the added benefit to taking baby steps is that they’ll add positivity and value to your life, every day.

The first step is often research and connecting with people, or networking. Who can you contact and ask for coffee, and will help you learn more about your dream job? Today is the day you should call them.

How to create an exit plan:

If you follow the steps above, you will be focused on how quitting your jobs will benefit yourself and your career. When you focus on the benefits, you’re not focused on fear and the stress that can come with leaving relationships at work. This is so important because your professional life isn’t about the people you work with or the organization you work for, it’s about how you choose to invest your energy and time to earn an income, and gain the lifestyle you want.

You may dream of telling your boss your true feelings as you walk out the door but, just don’t. The best way to exit is to communicate why you’re leaving, focusing on the benefits to you personally, and thank your employer for the opportunity.

When you focus on the benefit to yourself, and explain why exiting is a positive decision for you personally, the employer and HR will only have a positive opinion of your decision. Alternatively, if you blame them for not providing you with enough opportunity, or the people you work with for being insufficient, they will criticize you and believe that you, in fact were the problem.

That’s just how it is.

Finally, take your time to quit.

You may feel like storming out of your job right now, and freelancing until you have another full-time job, but leaving work hastily is an impractical and emotional reaction to circumstances you can get under control.

Unless you absolutely don’t need an income for the time being, realize that the benefit to your current employment (even when your workmates are driving you nuts and you aren’t learning anything anymore) is income that afford you rent, food, transportation and saves against the stress of having insufficient funds.

Taking time to quit will afford you the time and space to save a little extra money, take enough time to find the right job for you (the one you want, not the one you need) and also give you enough time to perform well in your existing job, so your current employer has nothing but great things to say about you on your way out.

Smart strategy, right?

The bottom line:

If you think that by pursuing your #dreamjob you are screwing someone over, you’re making your job too personal.

Your career is not about somebody else, it is about you and your time. Jobs are financial contracts: you give your time in exchange for money but it doesn’t benefit you or the organization if you’re not performing well, as a result of discontent.

Never settle for a job out of fear. If you follow this strategy of how to quit your job and move forward, you’ll be on your way to gaining your #dreamjob.

Read: The New Dream Job For Millennials Has Full-Time Stability With Full-Time Flexibility

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