October 23, 2021 l by Tara E.
Are you afraid to quit your job? Creating the perfect roadmap that lays a path for how to quit your job can be incredibly difficult. After spending so many years in school and finally gaining entry into the early stages of your career or working in your profession and riding the waves of change, the decision to go can invoke some intense emotions. This statement is particularly true if you are riding a roller coaster of highs and lows within your career.
Feelings of anxiety, sadness, and frustration may prompt you to consider exiting your job. A sense of career stagnation and boredom can also serve as triggers for researching where other opportunities exist beyond the walls of your organization. Throw in work-life balance issues, underappreciation, self-discovery, or job mismatch, and you have the perfect recipe for the reasons people hate their job and weigh the pros and cons of leaving.
If you are asking yourself the question, “Should I quit my job?,” it is likely that the aforementioned emotions have weighed heavily on your mind, body, and spirit. You likely spend the start of your day hurdling a bevy of thoughts and emotional reactions. Your day begins with you waking in your bed, staring at the ceiling, pondering your place in this world. You question your decision to continue working in your current job. You might like your co-workers and boss, but the work itself has no allure. Additionally, you begin to notice and accept the fact that no amount of vacation time can rid you of this deep sense of despair of having to endure another waking minute on the job.
Reasons We Are Afraid to Quit Our Jobs
Despite the challenges of carrying around these intense emotions, people are afraid to quit their job. Fear is a manipulative emotion that has the power to halt you in your tracks. It can entrap you and entice you to stay in toxic environments that ultimately eat away your potential to do bigger and better things.
So, why do so many of us allow it to rule us and trick us into staying somewhere we no longer want to be?
A Fear of the Unknown
How many times have you allowed the sense of familiarity to keep you from moving on elsewhere? You know the feeling. It’s so much easier to stay where you are because you know the players. You know your job, and like the sun rises and sets, you know what’s expected of you every day. If you currently work in a hostile climate, you likely rationalize about preferring to deal with the enemy you know than the one you don’t. Throw in the warnings from your peers about “the grass not being greener on the other side,” and it becomes second nature for you to talk yourself out of leaving. Thus, the fear of the unknown leaves you feeling afraid to quit.
Fear of Failure
The fear of failure is another common symptom that prevents us from taking the plunge into an ocean of possibilities. Quitting your job is not the exception. The thought that you might not succeed after leaving the safety net of your current job can paralyze you. What if you fail? How long might it take for you to achieve some level of success? These are questions that will echo in your head over and over again as self-doubt also places its reigns around you.
Also, the sense of future regret can be an element in the land of fear of failure. It can leave you isolated in the space of hesitancy. The thought of what could have been if you stayed related to career opportunities or loss of income if you go can lead to plausible swells of reluctance to ditch your day job.
Finally, the thought of embarrassing yourself or experiencing shame if things do not pan out quite the way you hope can also trigger feelings of fear about quitting your job. What if you embarrass yourself or have to go back and beg your former employer for your job back?
Afraid to Quit Due to the Potential for the Loss of Income
Income is a vital aspect of someone’s ability to walk away from a bad situation in the workplace. The reality remains that most of us keep our jobs because we grow accustomed to a particular lifestyle. We love our fancy cars, fabulous home(s), and ability to pick up Vanilla Lattes and Iced White Chocolate Mochas from Starbucks every day. The thought of having to give up life’s little luxuries can also function as a deterrent.
Also, millions of people live paycheck to paycheck and are barely able to make ends meet. The ability to exit the stage left is not possible for many people. Thus we find ourselves stuck with what we have at the moment to help us meet our basic needs and afraid to reach out and grab hold of our futures.
Coping with Change
Change can be a difficult pill to swallow. It only makes sense so many are afraid to quit. Planned or unplanned, change forces us to confront a proverbial “metamorphosis” of sorts. There is comfort in not taking risks. What you may not know is that change is not always an abrupt or risky experience. We generally move through a series of stages before making any change in our lives. Whether it’s changing the way we do our hair, cook dinner, or clean our bathrooms, the decision to make a long-lasting change does not happen overnight.
According to Prochaska, before real change occurs, most of us move through a series of stages of the change process, including pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no timeline for each stage. People may vacillate between each one for quite a while before committing to a change that sticks.
Let’s take a closer look at what these stages might look like for someone who eventually quits their job.
The Stages of Change
During the pre-contemplation stage, you become aware of the fact that you want to make a change. For example, this stage may occur as you realize that you are not happy with your job. You have thoughts about leaving your job, but you likely have no intentions of leaving just yet. Often, you probably moan and groan to whoever will listen. You have a need to talk about how awful your job is and how it makes you feel. You are likely hopeful that some miraculous change will occur to stir you away from certain doom.
Progression from this stage only occurs when you feel a sense of motivation to consider ways to address your emotions. You start to move past the emotion of dread that you might have about going to work each day.
In the contemplation stage of change, you are likely to begin weighing options for actions you might take to stop feeling the way you do about your job. For example, you might start pursuing job opportunities within your current workplace or outside of the organization. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself bouncing back and forth between contemplation and pre-contemplation. This back and forth can happen for quite some time. In fact, you may reside in the contemplation stage of change for a few months or years.
The contemplation stage is where you will spend time weighing the risks, costs, pros, and cons of any potential decision to take action. Don’t be too hard on yourself about closely examining the advantages and disadvantages of taking action. Instead, think of this period as a protective mechanism of sorts.
During the preparation stage of change, you are marching down the path towards change. For example, you may know with certainty that you will leave your current place of employment. You know that you will look outside for a new job. Perhaps you have been contemplating starting your own business for quite some time. As a result, you have a side-hustle in place that has been generating income. It’s doing well and you are now in a position to focus on it full-time. You will likely have an exit strategy mapped out. You and your family have discussed your intentions, and everyone is on board with the next steps for your departure.
In the action stage, you have pulled the trigger and sent in your resignation notice. You are in the mode “doing.” You are committed to your exit strategy. Also, you have everything you have most of what you need to push forward. Now, we mentioned that there typically is not a timeframe for your movement through these stages. Most people in the action stage will have made some big moves over the last six months. Examples may include saving money, business registration (if starting a business), trademark and patent registration (if starting a business), a job offer (if changing jobs), and significant lifestyle changes, such as spending adjustments and debt reduction.
Finally, during the maintenance stage, you live in your realized desire for freedom from a bad job. You find that the impossible became possible. The likelihood that you will ever subject yourself to the negative space you were in is no longer a threat. It is important during this time to reflect on what is going well. Take note of what are areas require adjustments or improvements. If possible, stay away from regrets but note what you might do to improve your situation further. Jot down a few lessons learned and keep it moving.
Quitting your job may not be the first thing that pops into your mind as a resolution to your feelings about your current career path or position. In fact, it should not be your first action, if this myriad of emotions you are experiencing only began within the last 90 days. You should explore the trigger for what you feel about your job and your place at your company. There is no need to join the Great Resignation just yet if you merely had a bad day, week, or month at work. Instead, the exploration of quitting a job you hate should come into play only after you have done a bit of self-reflection.