I resigned from my job at a fashion company several years ago. Looking back, my journey with the company could be likened to a romantic relationship.
My love for my profession was passionate in the first few months, but it gradually faded when my boss and I no longer spoke the same language. I neither saw a clear path for my future nor felt happy in the workplace where I used to experience endless fun.
However, it took me several months to make the final move because I was too scared to quit.
You might want to step away from your current role for various reasons. Whatever it is, you will inevitably struggle with all kinds of fears — fear of unemployment, fear of change, and fear of losing everything you have worked so hard to build.
But you should let go of an unfulfilling job, just like any relationship that isn’t working, overcome your fears, and find your way to enter new ones.
When is the right time to quit a job?
People spend about 40 hours a week at work, dedicating themselves to the organization and cultivating professional relationships. Thus, knowing when to leave your current job for greener pastures is crucial.
Generally, there are four signs to know when you should consider quitting.
- There is no room for professional and personal development. You feel like you have hit a glass ceiling at your current position, learning nothing more and having no opportunities for promotion.
- You are constantly feeling exhausted and unhappy. You often struggle with motivation and only try to get the job done. You are easily distracted even when you are dealing with a heavy workload.
- Your career goals no longer align with your company vision. You see no suitable career prospects or notice the risk of getting laid off.
- You are in constant conflict with colleagues and managers. You are wrestling with professional relationships as your boss only tries to exploit you while your colleagues are not on the same page, leaving you lonely and depressed. Or worse, you are bullied at work.
If one of these happens to you, it’s time to step away from your current job.
Overcome quitting-related fears
Most of us can’t make an immediate bold move to quit despite our desperate yearning to do so. What is getting in their way is nothing but quitting-related fears.
“I have no relevant experience for the job I want.”
This feeling of inadequacy is common among employees who want to transition to a new, desired field. They constantly struggle with whether to apply for a new position because it seems completely different from what they are doing. They see themselves as unqualified for the desired job in terms of relevant skills and years of working experience.
You should consult at least three people working in your target field to get more job insights and understand the skills needed. Then, assess your strengths and weaknesses for the desired position. Finally, prepare yourself by mapping out a plan to improve your shortcomings, such as taking courses or internships.
“I cannot afford the financial burdens during the job hunt.”
This realistic fear bothers many job changers as it is never easy to live without a stable source of income.
Therefore, you should be prepared financially in advance by saving up an emergency fund which, ideally, is enough to cover one year’s living expenses (including rent, food, and travel expenses). This will help you sustain your life during the job hunt without a regular income. It can also signal when you are ready to leave for a new role.
Besides, you had better not live on one single stream of income. Instead, consider turning your hobby into a second career that can generate money and serve as a lifeline after you quit your main job.
“I am too old for a job change.”
Some acquaintances in my network find themselves too old to make a career move after turning thirty (or even twenty-five). They are overwhelmed with worries about starting over a new career and their inability to compete with younger employees.
But here’s a good example: my mom switched to a new job at 50. According to the AIER Older Worker Survey, 82% of employees attempting to change their career after age 45 successfully made it, and 87% of career changers felt satisfied with the switch. Essentially, what matters to you in your twenties might not serve you well in your thirties or sixties.
We will meet new people and have new experiences in our life journey. Life changes, and we, therefore, can make the change whenever needed to adapt to it. Be bold and confident about getting out of your comfort zone and looking for greener pastures.
“I am scared of losing everything I have built.”
Job quitting carries the risk of losing an income, wasting soft skills, reducing reputations, ruining professional relationships, and missing out on other benefits. And things might go even sour when you switch to an entirely new field.
The truth is, you can regain all of those good things the same way you have done in your current position. Besides, job switching does not mean cutting off all your old professional relationships or abandoning all the soft skills you have cultivated. You should look for a better-suited opportunity instead of remaining stuck at the current job only for fear of losing what you have worked hard to get.
“I am afraid of change.”
The fear of change, or metathesiophobia, is an irrational, prevailing anxiety that causes humans to avoid changing their status quo for fear of the unknown. You put off job switching because you are panicked at the possibility of landing an even less fulfilling position. You are afraid that your new bosses or colleagues might treat you unkindly.
In this case, you should embrace your negative feelings and stay attuned to what you can control, including your abilities, emotions, and what you want to do after your resignation. You do not have total control over landing a preferred job, but you can actively raise or lower your chance. Your chance drops to zero if you do not strive to upskill yourself and express your enthusiasm for a new job.
Don’t let fears get in your way.
“Do not hold on to relationships that are not working. Respect our true feelings and our time. Do not do what we do not want because we will not wholeheartedly do it. There will be those who truly want to do the job and do it better,” wrote author Ha Chi on her personal Facebook account.
According to a study by Duke University, employees who feel fulfilled in their jobs are more likely to live longer. The same study also found that job satisfaction is more indicative of longevity than diet or exercise. Do not let fears prevent you from landing a job you love and help you live a better — and longer — life.