Don’t wait to get fired. Choose to quit
Thinking of quitting your job? You’re not alone. Countless millions think about quitting their jobs each and every day, regardless of whether they have the funds or means to do it. Some people (and a few studies) cite managers as the primary reason people quit or consider quitting their jobs. Others say a lack of organizational infrastructure or a destitute benefits program is what drove them to start looking elsewhere.
No matter your reason for quitting, the decision to quit is a difficult one. Leaving a job — even a job you hate — requires ample thought. If you’re struggling to decide whether or not it’s time to quit your career in pursuit of another, consider the following factors.
1. Do you have the funds to quit?
Before you quit, you first need to consider if you have the funds built up to leave your job. In the business of quitting, this fund is (politely and eloquently) called “f--- you money.” While the term might be crude, the nomenclature makes sense. If you have the money to leave, you can tell anyone who might keep you in a job you hate to politely go and… remove themselves from your life. Make sense?
Jokes aside, a quitting fund is very important, and you should take ample time to decide what that magic number is for you. Most people say six months of living expenses — rent, food, gas, bills and spending money — is a good amount to squirrel away before pulling the trigger. However, rather than deciding on an arbitrary number or timeframe that some blog writer told you to abide by, you should consider why you’re quitting, and what you’re looking for after you quit.
For instance, someone who’s quitting their job to look for another career in their current field likely won’t need as much money saved away — these people may even search for a new job while working their current job, if they can stomach it. That situation is a lot different than someone who is transitioning into a new career entirely, or someone who plans to quit and travel. Whatever you plan on doing after you’ve decided to quit, make sure you calculate the funds you need to live without guaranteed income.
There’s one last thing to think about when it comes to quitting money that most people won’t tell you: you should save according to your own personal risk-comfort level. Many sites will tell you that you should have $30 grand tucked away as if that kind of money just falls out of the sky. But the truth is, you can quit with a lot less if you are comfortable living frugally and have the discipline to do it. No matter what you decide, make sure your financial decision is in line with your spending habits. If you’re risk averse, save a lot, and if you’re comfortable with risk, consider quitting sooner.
2. Will staying harm your health?
There’s another type of wealth to consider when quitting your job: can your health afford it? The truth is that most people treat their physical and mental health as shotgun passengers in a car driven by their bank account. If that’s you, pay special attention to what comes next.
Your health is a kind of money you have to work extra hard to get back. Many people get so burnt out and rundown by their jobs that they start to feel the physical toll of work crushing them: headaches, stomach pains, cold sweats, insomnia, vertigo and constant colds and flus are all common symptoms of an immune system overrun by stress. Moreover, the mental health concerns of a demanding job, such as anxiety, depression and burnout can have an equally devastating impact on your wellness.
The problem is, once your health is spent, it’s spent. It may take countless hours of exercise, therapy, meditation, dieting, sleep and more to help you feel healthy again. If you’re in a position where your job is so insufferable that you fear for your own mental and physical health as a result, then it’s definitely time to quit and move onto greener pastures.
3. Do you have a plan for the future?
People are notoriously bad at long term planning. We get an idea, and it can feel like the only important thing in the world. That’s true of many wishful-quitters out there: once they get the idea in their head that they want to quit, it’s all they can think about.
While it may absolutely be the right decision to quit, consider what your next move is before you do. They say the best time to find a new job is while you still have one — is that true for you? Can you hold out and search for new opportunities while still working the job you hate?
Maybe the answer is no. Or maybe you have zero plans to continue on in the field you are currently in after you quit. You might have dreams of returning to school or of becoming a stay-at-home parent. All of these are absolutely fine and wonderful plans! But the important thing is that they are plans.
If your plan is simply to quit and… revel in quitting? Well, we’ll applaud you for your bravery. But once the money stops coming in and you don’t have a backup plan, things can get pretty scary pretty fast. Have a plan — it’ll save you endless stress and fear in the long run!
The best way to consider quitting? Journaling
If you’re on the fence about quitting, we have some advice for you: pick up a journal. All of the questions posed above are excellent journaling prompts — just flip open your laptop, pull up a document and start writing. You’ll find your thoughts are much clearer when you write them down, and that added clarity will help you decide if the time is right to quit or not.
Whatever you decide, we believe in you. Make the choice that will make you and you alone happy. Once you’ve made it, take a deep breath, smile, and revel in the joy that is taking charge of your own life.