If you are unsure whether you should stay or you should go you might want to read the following lines. And no worries – this is not a blog post which should force you into quitting – it should rather provide you with some ideas and tools to do before taking the decision. I spent one year thinking about it by myself, finally did it and talked to a lot of different people. Some of them did quit and some of them stayed due to different reasons. For me it was a gamechanger.
If you go on reading this, you might be just curious but you might also find yourself in caught in a situation where you are not very happy with your work and things could be better. You might also be thinking that you should leave your job. The following questions and ideas could help you on the process towards more clarity.
Do you enjoy doing your work and being at your workplace?
This is a basic one and maybe a good one to start. Are you happy with the work you do or the work place in general? If the intuitive answer now is a NO, you could ask yourself – what made you choose this job? It might have been because you are working towards something and needed to make some money, or you thought different about a job some time ago. For example in my case, when I was in my last years at school before studying I was sure that I would like to work for the Foreign Office in a diplomatic position. This also meant that I would need to move to another country every 3-4 years – and the countries would not always be the dream vacation destinations. I ended up going to the assessment but I was not among the chosen ones. At that time I was a bit frustrated but from a perspective of today – 10 years later – I am happy that it did not work out. Or I started a consulting job which was not a good fit for me. But back to your point of view, if you say you are not super happy but the job helps you to work towards a more long-term goal, feed your children and you can compensate it with a fulfilled leisure time than you might not want to quit (yet).
Do you think that your health is jeopardized by (the conditions or problems in your) work?
This is an important one. If you have the sensation that your health or your general feeling of wellbeing has decreased since you are doing a certain job then you should take action. The first step should be reflecting about your situation. Is it really the work or conditions or problems at work that is causing you trouble? If there is a conflict with work fellows you might want to try to sort it with them or talk to your supervisor or a trusted person at work about it. Or do you think that it is the general framework of the job – maybe the office situation, noise, distractions etc. If you are not sure what it is you might want to try a coaching tool called the wheel of life. This is about thinking specifically about different areas of your life (e.g. work, relationships, family, health, leisure/adventure, purpose, charity actions, character). This time during the Corona pandemic is a good time to reflect about things in general. Regarding working conditions another point is the structure of the office. Do you work in an open space office, in a smaller office with a few colleagues or in a single office? There are people who do not care at all about this point and believe that open space offices are the future. But in several conversations I found out that I am definitely not the only one who hates very big open space offices. I even have the theory that both introverted and highly sensitive people (I read that 30% of HSPs are extroverted) are better off or more comfortable in a smaller office as this means less distractions and impressions of surrounding people. My perfect office would be home office (so I choose where to work) or in a well-lit calm small office with nature views and some plants in the office. But I know that we often cannot choose and the lines I wrote before might seem a bit utopian.
Do you feel valued and appreciated at work?
Are you fine with the treatment you receive from your work mates and with your salary? Do you feel that you are treated with respect and dignity? Do your supervisors talk to you in an appropriate manner? At this point I have experienced a little bit of everything – some really nice and appreciative supervisors but also some who really treated and talked to me in a quite inappropriate and inacceptable manner. But I know that in the future I would not accept for example being shouted at the work place. This is a clear no go for me and I think that a skilled and mature leader does not need to shout at his or her team members. I think this is also about the process of setting boundaries and sticking to them. I guess with the topic of boundaries I could fill a whole blog post…
Is your work fitting to your ideas, visions about life?
Are you rather an idealistic personality or a rationalist? Do you dream about contributing to make this world a better place? Or do you want to protect animals or fight for human rights or gender equality? Do you wish to work remotely? Or do you want a job to serve or help someone? Someone told me that if you are looking for your purpose in life you should remember that your purpose does not necessarily hold a job title. But you can check in how far you can combine your visions with your current job or in a new job.
Are you sad, angry or in bad mood on Mondays and you live for the weekends?
If you start your week with bad mood then there might be a work out there which fits you better than the current one. I remember that I started feeling angry and at unease already on Sunday afternoons. If you have a fulltime job probability is high that you work at least 5 days a week and the weekend only takes 2 days a week. If you live for the weekend, only enjoy Saturday and Sunday in 52 weeks of a year this means that you enjoy 104 days of the year out of 365. So there are basically 261 maybe-dreadful days. This balance is not so motivating, I know.
Do you have to feed a family or is someone else depending on your income? Do you have significant financial liabilities which would be a heavy burden if you quit your job?
Especially if you are a parent and/or someone you take care of you should not take a quick move. If this is the case it is best to align with your partner or family to check and think about in how far you could make a change. The same is true if you have important financial liabilities. It is always good to have at least a rough plan for quitting but in these cases it is crucial.
Do you have sufficient savings to cover several months with no income or ideas about freelance work? Do you have a plan for quitting?
If you come closer to the point of quitting, you might want to ask yourself which costs to expect during months you plan to be out of employment. Maybe you have savings to cover these months but you might also engage in some kind of freelance work. Nowadays especially bigger companies often provide the opportunity to go on a sabbatical. There are different arrangements as for example going off for 3 months and receiving half of the salary during these 3 months and the 3 months before. In my case this was not possible so I quit directly. In any case you should think about how you spend your next months. And you should be prepared for the unexpected. I went to Asia in January and wanted to stay until May or June. But then the Corona pandemic started and it was reasonable to go back. And I was lucky, because this was at the airport and my flight was to Bangkok:
Do you connect a specific feeling with quitting?
What do I mean by writing this? For example if you say that you will be only happy if you quit the job or that you will only be able to relax and let go if you quit the job. In some ways this might be true but often we postpone to do or feel something at the current moment due to something in the future. The desire to quit should be about more than just feeling happier if you do it.
Is your salary fair and acceptable for you or are you selling yourself short?
If you think that your salary is too low you might want to try to renegotiate it before you search for a similar position in another company.
In the case that you want to leave but do not know how to continue – have you considered getting advice from a coach?
Sometimes we are stuck in a situation and not really able to get out of it. Or we do not want to face the unknown so we just keep being in the situation as it has become our comfort zone. Even if that comfort zone is not really making us feel comfortable or happy. In Spanish there is a saying “Mejor lo malo conocido que lo Bueno por conocer” which means that it is better to be in a bad situation which is familiar to us than exploring a good new situation – because we do not know if the new situation is really good or not.
Finally I guess this list is not complete but these are my ideas which I have for the topic and I wanted to share them with you. I guess the next post will be about switching into the sabbatical so stay tuned…