You’re just about at the end of your rope with your deadbeat job. Perhaps you’re not getting along with your boss, or you are completely underutilized. Maybe your work environment is toxic, or you haven’t been able to get that promotion you’ve been asking for. Whatever your career woes are, they are valid, and you can definitely feel justified in wanting to quit that soul-sucking job of yours.
I’ve been in your shoes, and I get it.
A job that isn’t a good fit (for whatever reason) can be totally debilitating on the body and the mind. It can strain your relationships with friends and family, and can cause prolonged frustration and stress. Some of the worst employment situations can even cause serious illnesses and mental health problems, which can lead to chronic conditions like hypertension and depression.
Just a few months into my last job, which I thought would be my dream career, I realized the role was NOT a good fit for me. For many reasons, I didn’t feel that my career trajectory had any longevity. So, after one year, I saved up my money and quit my job to travel the world.
Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it was, but there were many challenges that people won’t tell you about quitting a job cold turkey. In this post, I’ve compiled a list of 5 critical questions to consider before you cut the cord at your current workplace without anything else lined up.
Five Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Quitting Your Job
1. Have you exhausted all avenues to improve your current job situation?
There’s a pretty good chance that new opportunities in your corporate environment actually lie within. Before you put in your notice, be sure to find out if there’s a way to improve your situation within your current employer. Have you talked to your boss (candidly) about new roles, step-up opportunities, or higher pay? Did you propose solutions to your problems?
Before I left my job, I did the following over the course of over 6 months:
- Asked/applied for a bigger role
- Re-wrote my job description and pitched it to my boss
- Looked for new projects to tackle in my free time
- Had a totally candid conversation with my boss to let him know I was feeling underutilized
- Took on additional responsibilities within the organization
Unfortunately, because of organizational challenges, I wasn’t able to work out my role in a favorable way. However, I think my boss really appreciated and respected my honesty and initiative, and he gladly offered to serve as a reference for me when I decided to depart.
2. Do you have a financial backup plan?
It’s really, REALLY important to have your finances all sorted out before you make any big career moves. Whether that means refinancing student loans/mortgage payments, paying down debt, or funneling more money into savings, you should calculate exactly how much you’ll need to live off of (plus an additional emergency fund) before you take the plunge and quit your job. Determine exactly who and what your financial dependencies are – including family, pets, financial obligations, etc – and how much those expenses will cost each month. Even if you plan to immediately start applying to new jobs after you’ve left, it’s good to make sure you are financially secure for AT LEAST 3 (ideally 6) months.
Personally, I saved over $30,000 before I quit my job to take care of basic expenses, some travel, and an emergency/backup fund in case I struggled to find a new job. I also moved out of my expensive AF apartment and DIY renovated a storage room in my mom’s basement to live in and save money. Currently, I’m still on my career break but I feel secure knowing that I had a pretty good financial base (and very low expenses) before I left.
3. Are there people who can advocate for you in the future?
In order to get a new job, you’ll need to have solid references, and one of the most important ones will be from your most recent employer. Do you have at least one advocate who can give good, substantial comments about your work performance in future reference checks? If you don’t yet know who that person is, it’s important to identify them before you take the leap and quit your job. It’s best if this person is a) more senior than you in hierarchy and b) is in good standing within the organization.
Here are a few ways to tell if someone will give you a good reference (without giving away your intentions to quit):
- Ask for feedback on a project you worked on together
- Suggest a “mentor lunch” or coffee appointment to discuss performance and career options
- Inquire about support for an internal move
- Or, if you trust this person, be totally candid with them*
*Do this VERY sparingly, as it’s important not to let too many people know you’re planning on leaving before you’ve actually decided. You don’t want this information in the wrong hands.
If you’ve identified the person who will serve as your reference, be sure to touch base with them before your last day to make sure you’ve tied up loose ends and will leave on good terms. And, as a bonus, stay in touch with them after you’ve left!
4. Did you identify several potential next career moves?
It’s totally okay* to leave a job cold turkey if you’re totally prepared for it (*in most cases). However, I don’t recommend leaving a job without having a single clue of what you’d like to do next. Before you put in your notice, think through what your skills are and what career you’ll be able to use them in. Write them down and search through job postings online to learn what kind of titles and positions are available for your experience level and skill set.
You should also be sure to list the things you disliked about your current job so you can avoid running into them again in the future. Once you’re interviewing for new positions, you can ask about some of the things that went wrong in your previous job (e.g., work life balance, opportunities for feedback and promotions, etc.). If you know what the warning signs look like, you can more easily identify them in future interviews and work environments.
Once you’re totally confident in your next steps (even if that’s not another full-time job), you’ll be ready to put together a plan to move forward.
5. Are you ready to hustle?
No matter what your next steps are, even if it’s a career break or a round-the-world trip, you’re going to have to hustle. Maybe “hustling” means changing your spending habits and relationship with money. Or maybe it means committing to sending a certain number of new job applications each day. Perhaps it even means you’ll put yourself out there more, networking to find the right freelance or full-time position with people you respect and admire. Hustling is sometimes messy, sometimes uncomfortable, but almost always necessary.
The best way to decide how you’re going to hustle is by evaluating your priorities. For me, my priority immediately after leaving my job was to take some time to travel. Now, my main hustle is finding a way to build my career and income without having to enter into full-time corporate employment in an office environment.
Whatever YOUR hustle is, commit to it and dedicate the necessary time and resources to it. Don’t drag your feet or put it off! After all, it’s your career and finances on the line.
Did you find this post helpful? Pin it for later!