A little more thought went into it than that.
The interesting thing is that despite all of the planning and how prepared I was for our change of lifestyle, it still screwed with my head for about 6 months – but not for the reasons I expected.
Yes, I quit my job (well, my city career to be more precise, it wasn’t just my job that I quit).
Yes, I went from a 6-figure salary to no salary at all.
but No, quitting my job wasn’t the main part of it.
Not even close.
The main point was the lifestyle design aspect of what we did (which I should probably explain in a different article to stop this one getting bloated), not the job-quitting bit.
(I didn’t even realize it was ‘lifestyle design’ until recently.)
In other words, if we could have moved to the country (or France) and I could have kept my job somehow, I probably would have done that, just with a (-n even) more flexible working arrangement.
In other words, you can do lifestyle design without quitting your job.
Quitting your job is not the thing.
The thing is lifestyle design (more on that later) – designing a life that you want, lived on your own terms with the right balance and focused on the things that are important to you (which may well include your job – your job may even be the main part of it).
Quitting, changing or improving your job may be part of your lifestyle design, but the point is that quitting your job is perhaps not the answer to getting the life you want, though it might seem that way.
Still want to quit your job?
OK, well here are the 3 scenarios where I’ll let you – and 10 where I won’t…
3 Reasons To Quit Your Job
So here are the 3 scenarios where I think it’s OK to quit your job (by the way, my personal situation was number 1, where my something better consisted of 1) an improved lifestyle with more freedom, 2) proving the financial liability of the move and 3) having a clear exit strategy should that not work).
The number one reason to quit your job is that you have found something better.
This would normally be a better job.
– you knew that the best time to find another job is when you’re in work, right?
OK, I knew you knew that, just checking.
In fact, you should be getting your better job through networking rather than a traditional job search & application (because referrals and relationship-based jobs are much more powerful for lots of reasons and will also give you a head start in the role when you get it) and you should also be lining up several different opportunities at once to give yourself some flexibility and bargaining power.
If your something better is not a better job, then you need to qualify your something better in terms of everything you need – freedom, passion, wealth, money, security, family… whatever floats your boat – this is to prevent the risk of becoming a starving artist (honorable, and even admirable to some, but we don’t want that in our case).
So go ahead, get yourself something better and I’ll let you quit your job.
Reason 2: You Have To
Sometimes life just takes over.
Unexpected things happen and you need to change your priorities.
Some things in life are more important that work or money – so if you really have to (and I mean you really have to – it’s not an excuse) then you may need to quit your job in order to tend to these priorities.
Reason 3: It’s Temporary
A good way to (ultimately) quit your job is to do so temporarily at first.
If you work out that you can afford it – take a sabbatical, then you have a built-in exit strategy.
For example if you always dreamed about starting your own business or renting your house out and travelling the world, hopefully funded by the rental income you receive – then taking a sabbatical is a great way of giving either of these things a try whilst still knowing you haven’t burned your bridges and have a job to go back to.
If your venture (or rental funded travel lifestyle (geo-arbitrage, a very interesting concept) or whatever other experiment you want to try) works out well, then you can always apologize and make it a permanent change.
Just make absolutely sure that you have it in writing that your position is guaranteed to be there at the end of the sabbatical – often the terms of your employment contract will be the same upon your return (position/level in the company, salary, working hours etc), as if your contract was just being put on hold for the period of the sabbatical and re-instated upon your agreed date of return – but just make sure you’re really clear about this and what to expect.
Reasons Excuses Not To…
So lets be honest, these are not really reasons, they’re excuses. They can’t be reasons because I’m not accepting any of these and I’m just going to keep on referring you back to the 3 above which are really the only reasons I think you have to quite your job. If you can think of other reasons, then please do let me know.
I’d love you to prove me wrong.
Excuse #1: You have had enough
That’s it, you’ve had enough, you’re tired, you’re sick of your job. You can’t take it any more, time to quit.
The thing to do is to fix whatever it is that’s making you tired and sick of your job, not to bail out.
Bail out and you will have the same problems again.
It’s a bit like the bad workman blaming his tools – the problem here is unlikely to be the job but rather how you deal with it. You need to fix the root cause of whatever problems you are having, or at least explore these fully to establish with some certainty that it actually is the job – in which case, by all means change it – but refer to Reason #1 above and secure your next move first before you quit.
Excuse #2: You are working long hours
More fool you then.
Seriously – work long hours if you have to because you are committed to your job.
HOWEVER – don’t tell me you need to work long hours every day.
You are not doing your company any favors by doing so.
I get that it’s part of ‘the culture’ in your company.
Be prepared to stand against that culture when it doesn’t make sense.
Try being efficient instead.
You and your colleagues working long hours are actually not helping your company by doing so.
You are misrepresenting what resources your department actually needs.
I’m all for commitment to your work – I am not for working long hours just for the sake of it or when it’s not really needed. Working long hours every day is not commitment, it’s stupidity.
Please do go ahead and challenge me on that one – I’d love you to.
The answer to this problem in case you hadn’t guessed already – stop working long hours. Address the problem rather than running away from it by quitting your job.
Excuse #3: Your Boss Hates You
First of all establish if this is the true situation or a limiting belief you have.
If it is the true situation, then you need to find out why.
Address the problem at source.
Don’t let your boss win.
You work for your company, not for your boss.
Your relationship with your boss can be changes.
If it’s too late for that, then your boss can be changed too.
It’s probably much easier to ask for a transfer internally than to seek a whole new job – it may not seem so at first but by staying with the same company you are preserving the work, reputation and relationships you have to date at that company along with other things.
Excuse #4: You Can’t Do It
Once your company has employed you into a given role, then they have a duty of care to you as their employee.
If you find that you are asked to do something you are not capable of doing then don’t suffer in silence, ask for help.
Don’t see this as failure, see it as a level of maturity that you have to stick your hand up and get the help and resources you need in order to do what you’ve been asked to do.
– and you guessed it, this is definitely not a reason to quit your job.
Excuse #5: You Deserve Better
Maybe you do.
But worrying and complaining about it isn’t going to help your situation, anybody around you or your chances of the situation improving any time soon.
Time to take some action then.
If you do deserve better, then define what better looks like.
Once you know what better looks like, then work out what it will take to get there.
This is not something that is going to be solved by quitting.
Excuse #6: Your Work Doesn’t Fulfill You
This is an interesting one.
I’ve had people asking me quite often if they should quit their jobs because they are not challenged or their job doesn’t fulfill them.
What I really want to be is a coach/music teacher/artist/writer (delete as appropriate or add your own).
If you are in a relatively well paid job but feeling unfulfilled, ask yourself if your job is really the place you need to get that fulfillment. If you want to be an artist, would the problem be solved if you set about your artistic venture and kept your job. If your job is the place you need to get your fulfillment, can you take on new responsibilities at work which give you that? Can you afford to take a little more risk?
Often these ideas seem wonderful at first, but when your passion becomes your job, it can very often lose some of its sparkle…
Think carefully before jumping ship with this particular justification…
If, on the other hand, it’s well thought out and calculated, then we’re back to reason numero uno.
Excuse #7: You’re Worried About Being Sacked
OK, unless you’re throwing chairs across the office (I hope you’re not) or smashing windows, you shouldn’t be worried about getting sacked.
What I’m referring to is instances of what your employer would call misconduct.
They may re-structure and make you redundant (via a procedure which includes fair warning, an opportunity to look for other roles because it is the role which is redundant, not you, and a financial package including your notice period if you do have to go).
So you shouldn’t be worried about being sacked.
Excuse #8: You Are Being ‘Managed Out’
In these difficult economic times, many employers are feeling the squeeze.
It’s not unusual for employers to try and ‘manage out’ staff to save on their costs (because as I just pointed out, they can’t just sack you and redundancy costs money).
It may be that your role is being shifted to a lower cost location or you’re just too expensive for the firm to keep – there are any number of reasons and firms often get this really wrong, dropping swathes of employees to reduce costs, then realizing they’ve gone too far and replacing them with more expensive contractors and consultants…
…anyways, it happens. Don’t take it personally, it’s just business.
It seems awful but in these times is more and more of a reality – at least in big corporates and particularly at senior levels – you can be made to feel very uncomfortable in the workplace in the hope that this will encourage you to leave of your own accord.
(OK, maybe that’s two words technically).
Whenever you leave anything, do so on your terms. If you think you are part of a (-n obviously unofficial) process to try and manage you out, then start finding ways to use this to your advantage. Do something about it. It’s a little too complicated a subject to go into detail here, but a good awareness of the situation (and verify that it’s actually what’s happening and you’re not just being paranoid) is a start.
Excuse #9: You Are Stressed / Need A Break
Stress is one of those things that a lot of people don’t realize until it’s too late.
In case you want to have a quick think about this/check, you might want to read this article: How Can I Tell If I Am Stressed?
In any case, if you are stressed, that is not a reason to quit.
If you need a break, take a break.
In fact, if your employment was the thing that caused you stress in the first place, then perhaps your employer actually owes you some compensation for that – even more reason not to quit!
Excuse #10: You’ve Hit A Glass Ceiling
Some people hit what they call a ‘glass ceiling’ and start getting very frustrated with their work.
They are working all of the hours god sends, doing everything that is asked of them, however ridiculous, but still get passed up for promotion for another year – so they try even harder – and so on, and so on…
Companies profit very well from this situation.
Before you get burned out (if this is you) think about taking a step back and re-evaluating your priorities.
People in this particular situation are usually fairly well paid already and actually have a pretty decent situation but it doesn’t seem like that, they’ve been worked so hard and have such a heavy sense of responsibility to the firm that they can no longer see the wood for the trees.
If you are able to take a (BIG) step back, you may just find a way out which keeps a decent income, removes a lot of the pressure and burden of work (e.g. by accepting the fact that you may not get the promotion and killing yourself working so hard probably isn’t the best route there anyway) and gives you a much more balanced life without any drastic action (such as quitting or making yourself ill) needed.
Fair warning: if you can achieve this turnaround then you may catch your boss or your employer a little off guard – but I bet you their reaction isn’t quite what you were expecting it to be…
OK, so I’m afraid the above 10 are all excuses – and the bad news is – you are not excused.
If you thought any of these were your ‘reason’ then think again.
Until you can tell me one of the 3 genuine reasons given above, I’m afraid that quitting your job is not the answer.
The good news is that reasons 1 and 3 are completely do-able and within your grasp, I can even help you with those if you want me to. Let me know your thoughts in the comments or if you want more private advice, drop me a mail if you’re on our list.