We’ve all thought about it. After a stressful week at work, you’re feeling underappreciated, burnt out and frustrated. You start to wonder if there’s a better job waiting for you around the corner, where stress, stagnation and underappreciation will be nothing but a fading memory.
Your parents may roll their eyes at you, claiming back in their generation people stayed in their jobs for decades. However, it's becoming increasingly difficult to see loyalty being rewarded in the modern workplace. Post pandemic, we’ve seen workers quitting their jobs in record numbers. So, why not just leave?
Before you make the decision to hand in your notice, take these steps to consider all the possible factors and consequences of this life change. You may find quitting isn’t the quick-fix solution you thought it was.
Ask yourself why you want to leave
Feelings of boredom or frustration in a role you’ve had for a long period are totally natural, but once those feelings start to take over it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about your job you find unsatisfying.
After months or years in the same position, boredom can start to dull your perception, making your work feel like one indistinguishable lump of banality. But what does boredom actually mean? More often than not, there is one problem area causing boredom to spill out into all the other areas of your work. If it’s variety you’re after, you can explore additional responsibilities or projects to take on and change up your routine.
If you feel you’re stuck in a ‘dead end job’ with no room to grow, it’s no wonder you’re thinking of looking elsewhere. But even if there doesn’t appear to be any immediate opportunities for you, talk to your manager about career progression and any schemes they have in place. It may feel a little strange acknowledging that you’re not entirely satisfied in your position, but your career progression benefits your employer too.
If it’s your boss or co-workers that are draining your lifeforce, perhaps consider a lateral move to another department. You’d be surprised how much more tolerable your colleagues could become with a bit of distance between you.
If you’re dissatisfied with your work, it’s unlikely the feeling of dissatisfaction switches off as soon as the clock strikes five. Just as a bad work life can follow you home, a tough time outside of work can follow you into the office. Take an objective look at your work-life balance and see if there’s anything that can be changed. If you’re overworked in one area and under stimulated in another, talk to your manager about delegating tasks amongst your team.
Research the job market
When it comes to finding other work, the grass may look a lot greener on the other side, but you’ll need to suss out the current job landscape before treading those new pastures.
Researching the job market in your industry means more than just checking job ads; it involves collecting feedback from employees and researching your industry as a whole. If you’re a forward thinker, you may want to look into growing industries to propel you forward. If you’re more cautious, you could look into more in-demand positions where you’ll be presented with a wide breadth of opportunities.
It can be fun to window shop, but scouring the job market with a fine tooth comb will make you think more realistically. You could find the roles you’re looking for don’t match your salary expectations, or demand a work-life balance you’re not comfortable with. On the other hand, roles you may not have considered by their title alone may end up ticking more of your boxes.
Imagine your ideal job
By the time you’ve entered your industry, dropping everything to become an astronaut may be out of the question - but that doesn’t mean you’re totally committed to your position forever.
Take some time to consider what your ideal working situation would look like for the next few years on a typical work day. Are you in a new department? Further up the company hierarchy? Maybe you have the exact same role but in a more comfortable office. Envisioning a ‘future you’ can help you realise what it is about your current position you’re dissatisfied with. You may even notice the problems you think you’re avoiding by handing in your notice will follow you to the next job and quitting wouldn’t solve anything.
Have a backup plan
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that life can be unpredictable. Making a huge life decision like quitting your job always requires a leap of faith, but it’s always wise to have a backup plan.
Firstly, take a moment to assess your financial safety net. If you’re young, single and at the beginning of your career journey you may be happy with a couple months’ rent sitting in the bank, but there may be more complications if you’re higher up the career ladder with a mortgage and a family. To get a full picture of your financial situation, there are plenty of resources available to calculate your net worth. Another great way to build yourself a safety net is looking into passive income streams which could help cushion the blow if you’re stuck for work.
Take your time
You wouldn’t end a long term relationship after one bad argument. A sensible partner would give themselves time and space to assess whether they’re genuinely happy. Deciding to leave your job may not be as dramatic as an explosive argument with a partner, but the same logic applies.
Let’s say you’ve had an awful week at work. As you put your feet up on Friday night, ask yourself: was that week a blip or part of a regular pattern?
If your work is project-based, you may feel stressed and dissatisfied as deadlines approach. There may be company-wide strains your colleagues are also facing. Perhaps your boss is under an unusual amount of stress and is taking it out on the rest of the team. As frustrating as these bad weeks can feel, the causes are often temporary. With any luck, the project deadline will be met, the company will recover and your boss will stop eventually breathing down your neck. There’s no way of knowing exactly how these key factors affecting your job satisfaction will pan out, so you may need to take a deep breath and be patient for a little longer.
As tempting as it may seem to shout obscenities at your boss and storm out of the office in a blaze of glory, the unpredictability of the modern workplace means the decision to hand in your notice should not be taken lightly. The best way to help your career journey is by taking the time to do job market research, formulate a backup plan and try to pinpoint exactly why you’re dissatisfied. It’s very likely the source of your dissatisfaction can be discussed with your manager.
It may have been the norm for the generation before us to suffer in silence for twenty years in a job they hated, but the conscientious worker of today knows their career progression is important. A good employee knows their worth and isn’t afraid to discuss problem areas. Remember, your employers don’t want to lose you so with a few adjustments, you may find you can shape your career journey without having to leave your job at all.
And whether you choose to stay in your current role or move to a new job, your career progression remains a priority. Check out Progression’s 30-day free trial to see how you can design a career you love.