7 Steps To Decide Whether You Should Stay or Quit Your Job
September 17, 2019
If I could go back in time, I would have left my corporate communications job much sooner than 10 years down the line.
After all, it didn’t honor my values of autonomy or freedom (the way entrepreneurship does.)
I felt sick going to work each morning. I grasped for work/life balance because…. well, I didn’t enjoy the job I was doing.
I waded through a sea of toxic corporate cultures.
I didn’t feel like I was truly making a difference in people’s lives (which as a career coach is very important to me!)
I’m an introvert who loves working 1:1 with people, but lived in a role where I was told to be successful, I needed to be an outspoken extrovert.
This all begs the question…..
How bad do things need to get before you decide to leave your job?
Leaving your job is a very personal choice and the breaking point is different for everyone.
My wish for you is that you proactively and strategically “choose your choice” (one way or the other.)
Reactively being pushed to your breaking point…
Feeling complacent and stuck for 10 more years….
If you find yourself wondering whether you should leave your job or stay …try these 7 steps to come to a conclusion that is right for YOU.
STEP 1: ASK YOURSELF THE TOUGH QUESTIONS.
Step 1 is part brainstorm and part facing reality. Go through the following questions one by one and answer honestly.
Stress & Anxiety:
Is your job the biggest source of your stress & anxiety? Is your job making you physically ill or causing serious emotional distress?
On a scale from 1-10, how bad are your “Sunday blues?” Does the thought of going to the office fill you with dread?
At least one day a week, do you come home angry or crying?
Can you afford to quit your job?
Do you have a new job lined up? If not, do you have a “buffer fund” saved up to pay bills for the next several months?
What are your prospects for finding a new job?
Are you underpaid according to industry standards?
Does your job interfere with your personal life or family responsibilities?
Are you missing time with your kids because you get home so late or are distracted over the weekend with “work stuff?”
Is your relationship with your spouse suffering because you are so stressed out from work or constantly complaining about work? (The trickle-down effect)
Does your job & company align with your life values? Does your job & company align with your career values?
Does your work support the vision you have for what you want your life to look like 5 or 10 years from now?
Have your life needs or goals changed since you originally took the role?
Does this job make use of your best skills? Or are you frustrated that your abilities aren’t being put to good use?
Your Boss & Your Co-workers:
Has your boss hinted that he or she wants you to quit or is about to fire you?
How would you describe your relationship with your boss?
Have you spoken with your supervisor about why you want to leave? (They can’t help unless they know what the issue is. And if they ignore the issue or point the finger back to blame you, this will also provide you valuable information about what to do next.)
Does leadership operate through fear-mongering, bullying, belittling or micromanagement?
Do you get along with your co-workers?
Is your daily commute reasonable or draining you?
Are you being asked to do more and more with less and less?
Growth & Development:
Is there room to advance in your job?
Does your company value and invest in growth, learning, and new opportunities for employees?
Do you feel curiosity, experimentation, and asking questions is encouraged or frowned upon?
Does your job challenge you in a good way?
Are you disengaged at work?
Do you feel like a hamster on a wheel – doing the same monotonous thing each day? Is your brain operating on autopilot most of the time?
Are you counting down the hours until it’s time to leave? Do you live for weekends and vacations?
Do you have options within your current company? Are there other roles, opportunities, or projects you could work on at your current job that interest you?
Do you feel like you make an impact to the bottom line?
Do you feel like what you do makes a difference (in a way that is meaningful to YOU?)
Do you feel your work aligns with what you were put on this earth to do?
Does your personal mission statement align with the company mission statement?
Do you feel trusted to make decisions on your work?
Do you trust others or are you constantly looking over your shoulder?
Does your boss clearly communicate expectations to you?
Do leaders in your company operate with ambiguity or with authenticity, clarity & transparency?
Do you feel “heard?”
Do you & others in the company feel comfortable speaking your mind?
Would you define the work culture as “toxic?” Are decisions purely business-driven, at the expense of people?
Do you feel proud of where you work and what you do?
Are you able to wholeheartedly recommend your organization to others?
Do you feel your talents and potential are being recognized?
Would you marry this job?
Do you want to do this for the next 3-5 years? Or does the thought of that make you panic?
When you look at the opportunities ahead of you at your current job, do you feel excited, stressed, anxious, or bored?
Fear of Change:
Are you still excited about your work or are you holding onto this job because it’s what you are used to or because you’re afraid to make a change?
STEP 2: WHAT IS IT COSTING YOU TO STAY?
On to step 2. Use your answers to the questions above, to break it down even further.
What is it costing you to stay?
When I say “costs,” I’m talking about both external costs and internal costs.
Externalcosts are the tangible stuff. For example:
I haven’t been promoted after 3 years.
I know I’m being paid below industry rates.
Internalcosts are what’s going on inside of you. For example:
This job is soul-crushing.
I feel like I’m missing out on my greater purpose.
I feel anxiety every Monday morning.
I don’t feel heard.
As a coach, I know when a client gives me their external costs (the obvious stuff)…. There is usually much deeper internal costs at play.
Dig deep for yourself…. What’s it REALLY costing you? What’s underneath the external stuff?
Action: Make a list of what it is COSTING you to stay. (Reference step 1 for ideas.)
STEP 3: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LEAVING?
What would you GAIN by leaving?
Think through both the external and internal benefits of leaving.
Also on an internal level, I want you to ask yourself, “What kind of different person would I BECOME if I left this job?”
Action: Make a list of the benefits of leaving. (Reference step 1 for ideas.)
STEP 4: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF STAYING?
Let’s be honest. There are reasons why you haven’t left yet.
What are they?
What do you stand to gain by continuing at your job as is and maintaining the status quo?
In all situations there are benefits and costs.
Many times people do not have what they desire because it means giving up something they currently have, of which they may or may not be aware.
Action: Make a list of the benefits of staying. (Reference step 1 for ideas.)
STEP 5: WHAT WOULD IT COST YOU TO LEAVE YOUR JOB?
The costs of making a change are yet another reason people stay put in their current roles.
What costs have to be paid in order to make the change?
What would you have to face in order to change?
For example: fears, doubts, history, failure, discomfort?
Action: Make a list of the costs that need to be paid to make the change. (Reference step 1 for ideas.)
STEP 6: COMPARE YOUR LISTS
Review your answers from steps 2-5. What do you notice about each of your lists? How do they stack up against each other? Tally up the amount of items under each list. Which wins out? Which comes in second place?
STEP 7: BALANCE LOGIC W/ A GUT CHECK.
For the most part so far, we are weighing pros and cons from a logical standpoint. (From the head.)
But I also want you to do a gut check. What does your intuition tell you? (From the heart.)
Both are equally important.
If your boss fired you right now, what would your immediate reaction be? Would you be relieved? Devastated? Your first reaction should help balance out your gut-check.
NOW WHAT? CHOOSE YOUR CHOICE & BUILD A STRATEGY
If you’ve gotten this far and have decided to stay at your current job, my final question to you is: If you could get the gains from Step 4 (benefits of staying) another way and reduce the pains from Step 5 (costs of leaving)…. What would you do then?
(Hint: This question is meant to cross-check that the decision you are making is not fear-based.)
If you’ve decided to leave your job, build out a strategy. How soon do you want to leave? What timeline makes the most sense? How many months savings do you need? Have you decided on what your dream role really looks like? (Don’t flail from one bad job to the next – get clarity!) Have you examined the job prospects out there? Have you built a job search strategy? Do you need to brush up on your interviewing?
Get to researching & strategy building. Consider working with a Career Coach to help you gain clarity & guide you during your transition.
HAVE I LIT A FIRE UNDERNEATH YOU YET?
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Let’s do this.
Betty Kempa, CPC, ELI-MP, is an executive career coach helping mid to senior-level corporate women transition out of unfulfilling jobs and into their dream careers.