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What to Do When You Just Want to Quit

What to Do When You Just Want to Quit

by Richard Lloyd

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Many of us have been there. The dread on Sunday night that tomorrow is the start of the working week. Feeling stressed, undervalued or unrecognised. Lacking respect for those that appear to have discretion over our career or feeling just plain stuck. We think to ourselves ‘is this a new feeling?’…no! I felt this way last year, last month, last week. The short film we conjure up of walking into our boss’s office and purposefully handing over our crafted resignation gives a rush of satisfaction. But should you actually do it?

Well, it depends. I have advised clients that if any situation is having a detrimental effect on their mental or physical health then they should seriously consider an exit plan. But, many a decision made in haste can have consequences, which if not prepared for, may be going from the frying pan straight into the fire.

Two examples of this relate to finances and having a sense of purpose. Some people are comfortable living without a steady salary and can ride through a period of uncertainty, but for others, the regular salary deposit fulfils the basic human need for food, shelter and security. Being suddenly without an income can cause some individuals to panic and can then lead them to taking the first job that comes along and/or potentially not addressing the core reasons for leaving their last employer.

The second example can have a similar negative effect. One of the core elements of the global wellbeing index is about having a sense of purpose. For some of us, that can be as simple as waking up in the morning and having things to do and somewhere to be. At first, being out of employment suddenly can be liberating, but later turn into feelings of fear and uncertainty.

So, what can you do?

1. Step Back from the Situation

Take a few deep breaths and step outside your emotions and the situation. What is causing the situation? Is it as bad as it seems? Is the situation something that should be referred to the HR department? Are you inadvertently playing into some bad behaviour? Get clear on what is not okay with you and what steps you can take to improve the situation.

2. Talk to Someone

Are you constantly getting sick or just can’t shake that last cold? Is your sleep broken and when you do sleep are you waking feeling exhausted? Are friends or colleagues commenting on your behaviour? Do you feel you’re constantly in conflict situations? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it may be time to talk to someone. Start with a trusted friend who will reflect if they have noticed any change. Then depending on what you need most, go and see your doctor, complementary therapist, counsellor or coach. When you’ve been in a ‘boiling frog’ situation it can be hard to see the impacts on yourself, but a professional can help you see things objectively and provide the support and advice you may need.

3. Plan Something for Yourself

Sometimes, our frustration towards work can be because we’re so busy fulfilling all the obligations on our plate that we forget to take some time out and do something just for ourselves. Taking part in activities you enjoy can reconnect you to people that are important to you. Or maybe you just need a great time with friends to release the pressure valve.

4. Take a Break

Employment contracts are designed with holiday leave for a very good reason. Intense work without a break can lead to fatigue, illness and sometimes mental health issues. If you are feeling like you’re nearly at breaking point, consider when your last holiday was? Are you due for a recharge? For those working on contracts, casual or otherwise, or feeling they simply can’t ‘afford’ a holiday, it doesn’t need to be expensive or exotic, it just needs to be away from work.

5. Decide If You Can Afford it

As mentioned earlier, a lack of money or not knowing when the next salary will be can feel too risky for some. So before quitting, can you afford a few months off? If it’s November and depending on your industry, can you afford four or five months off due to the Christmas slow down? If the answer is no, why not focus on what you could change within your role or situation to improve it, or think about what your next role looks like and what steps you need to action to get there. Additionally, create a budget to understand your current financial position and a savings plan in order to give you the freedom to resign one day in the future. Sometimes our frustration is just from feeling stuck.

6. Change the Situation or Change Your Situation

Did you always feel this way about your job? What changed and when did it change? Brad Pugh in The Fit Factors talks about the four elements that create the right job fit; company; goals; interests and strengths. These are unique to each individual and to achieve the right fit, you need to first be aware of what elements are right for you. Ask your current employer about potential opportunities that meet your ‘fit factors’ or start looking for it elsewhere.

7. Reconnect With Your Network

Everyone is busy and it’s often easy to lose contact with personal and professional contacts. The good news is that everyone is in the same boat, so if you haven’t been in touch with an old colleague that you had great respect for in a year or two, it doesn’t matter, get in contact. By keeping in touch with your network, you may uncover new job opportunities in the hidden job market. You may also gain insight into other organisations and industries, identifying where the grass may truly be greener.

Closing Thoughts

Change is constant and many industries are facing uncertainty which can result in unhealthy workplaces. This can be due to increasing workloads, poor communication and transparency, fear of change, irrelevance and anxiety caused by extended periods of uncertainty. If you feel like you have just about had enough, know you are not alone and if you are unsure of what to do next, take a step back and get clear on what you need to do before taking a giant leap forward.


Andrea Warr is Director of Olos Careers www.olos.com.au – a career practice working with individuals looking to make a career change or optimise their current career. Olos practitioners take a practical approach underpinned by current market knowledge. For a free initial consult, please contact Olos Careers at hello@olos.com.au