21 Jan I hate my job. What now?
How to cut your losses without despairing
If the thought of staying in your current job fills you with dread or panic, it is undoubtedly time to reconsider your options. It is, however, difficult to plan and make responsible decisions from a place of fear or anxiety. Toxic workplaces tend to make the situation even worse and it is often when various stressors are bearing down on you that you are faced with one of the most difficult decisions of your life.
Don’t hate me for saying this, but the key to remaining sane is to be calm. I walked out on a job once because the environment was so toxic. After months of cumulative stress and living for the weekend, I had had enough. The thought of being unemployed was more attractive than staying somewhere I felt trapped and exploited. The strange thing was: I didn’t pack up my things and walk out because I was anxiety-ridden, but rather because I felt a deep sense of calm and a prevailing reassurance that I was making the right choice. I’m still not sure how I got to that point because this decision didn’t follow any dramatic fight or event, but rather stemmed from the knowledge that I simply couldn’t keep doing this to myself. As I walked out of the building, I had complete clarity and calm. Perhaps even more amazingly, I’d been in more awful work environments previously – so this wasn’t even the worst experience I had had!
I realise that if you are reading this, you may have considered just leaving your place of work and never returning either. The truth is that it is not an easy or simple decision to make, especially if you have familial and financial obligations to fulfil. Every situation and environment is different too. There are, of course, some circumstances that cannot, and should not, be endured: If you are experiencing any form of harassment, bullying, abusive or threatening behaviour, make plans to leave as soon as you possibly can. If your physical, mental, or psychological wellbeing is being compromised alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear too.
If you feel like quitting tomorrow, I hear you! Yours is a truly unenviable situation, which can only really be understood by people who (sadly) have been through similar experiences. Before you leave consider the follow aspects carefully, and equip yourself as much as you can:
- Write out your main concerns.
- Think of realistic solutions.
- Work out your financial needs.
- Reach out to your networks.
Let’s tackle each of these points individually.
Firstly, you can considerably reduce anxiety by identifying your major areas of concern. Whether you create a detailed list, draw a spider diagram, or write a journal entry, it’s imperative to record what your greatest challenges are likely to be (or are right now) – whether they are emotional, professional, or fiscal.
Once you have a list of your immediate and future challenges, come up with solutions for them – but be realistic. They don’t need to be cast in stone, but you do need to consider a few solutions for each of the challenges. Don’t be vague either. For example, if one of your concerns is that you have a non-compete clause, think about what other positions or markets would need skills like yours. You could also consider setting up your own business in an unrelated field.
One of your concerns may well have been the financial responsibility or strain your decision to leave your job may mean for you or your family / dependents. There is no getting around this: You need to be completely honest with yourself. Ensure you know what all your expenses are and how long you can actually be unemployed for (should it come to that). Ideally, you should plan to sustain yourself comfortably for a minimum of six months, but this time period will vary depending on your finances and your financial safety nets. If your employer is covering your medical and other insurances, and allows for perks such as a travel allowance, you need to remember that these will be your responsibility once you resign.
Remember that you can, and should be, proactive when it comes to creating opportunities for yourself. You are not a helpless victim – you are a resourceful and capable person and you need to show that to potential employers, business partners, or investors. Don’t let your desperation and unhappiness get the better of you: Few things are more off-putting than someone who reeks of hopelessness and despair. Let your mentors, colleagues, and friends know that you are open to new opportunities. However, be mindful about how you do this, because you do not want your current employer to hear that you are planning to leave via the corporate grapevine. You obviously do not want to cause strain or awkwardness, so, even though you may not be in the best environment right now, think about long-term relationships and your professional reputation.
If you need a reminder of the most important points to consider, download our fantastic infographic: I need a new job!
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Good luck with your new beginning – let me know how it goes.
All the best,