Recently, I connected with writer Farnoosh Tarobi's team for an article she was writing for O, The Oprah Magazine on "5 Things To Know Before Quitting Your Job." I thought long and hard about my best advice on this, because so many people are struggling with feeling miserable in their jobs and desperately wanting to quit without having another one lined up, but can’t decide what’s best.
My personal take is this - I advise against quitting before having another job for a number of critical reasons:
• Often we want to run away from what we hate (I call this the Pendulum Effect), but if we don’t do the hard internal work of addressing and overcoming the obstacles we’re facing today, they typically repeat in the next role and the next chapter of your life.
• Secondly, many people want to leave their jobs today because of toxicity they experience, but they haven’t figured out well enough if it’s the work they hate, or the people and the specific culture/environment that’s creating so much pain.
• People who’ve faced trauma or challenge in the workplace and quit without other work typically experience a huge hit to their confidence and self-esteem. And this confidence gap is obvious to others (particularly hiring managers), and holds them back from better roles and situations in the future.
• Finally, the stress and strain of a bad job can wreak havoc on our health and well-being, but often it’s your own boundaries that aren’t sufficient and need strengthening for you to be able to deal with future challenges like these, without your body and spirit breaking down.
Another reason to stay in your job while pursuing a new path (if you can) is that when you're not employed or earning money, the financial strain, worry and pressure can stifle your creativity, exploration and the entire search process. Often people just can’t bear the feeling of the unknown, and jump into another job that’s a poor fit because they’re too anxious about being unemployed.
Overall, it’s much more advantageous if you can empower yourself and “brave up” to address your challenges now, rather than run away from them. If you can do that, then find new work, you’re almost guaranteed that these problems won’t need to be repeated again and again in your next job or career.
But if you simply can’t work it out where you are given the demands of your current job, some time off to explore may be beneficial.
Here are the questions I’m asked frequently about leaving a job before you have another:
#1: Why might it be healthy or a smart decision to quit my job if I don't have another one lined up?
Answer: Again, in my view as one who’s worked with thousands of professionals in transition, it’s almost always best NOT to leap out of one job before you have another, better one. But if that’s not possible, some of the solid reasons behind quitting are:
• It’s an unhealthy situation that’s taking a huge toll on your physical and mental well-being, and your efforts to change that haven’t worked or have fallen on deaf ears
• You want to pursue a new direction but simply can’t, given the crushing, 24/7 demands your current job entails
• You have the financial cushion (and access to health insurance and other important benefits) to take a breather and explore new ways to pivot or transform your career to something you’re more passionate about that will be more meaningful and positive in your life
#2: Professionals seem to be considering this (quitting before having something else) more and more. Why do you think that is? What does that say about how mindsets and the job world are shifting?
Answer: I’ve seen among professionals that there’s a growing intolerance of the nonsense that is prevalent in so many organizations – terrible leadership, narcissistic bosses and colleagues, a lack of a clear pathway to growth and expansion, no clear mission or vision for the organization, confused and unclear roles and responsibilities, toxic, unethical or illegal behavior, and more. People (especially younger generations) are simply less willing to compromise and put up with work cultures that are broken, and with leadership and management that is unable to steer the ship in healthy and productive ways.
I’ve observed too that there is an expansion of the entrepreneurial mindset in many professionals today, particularly those under 30, who know that if they’re not happy or fulfilled, this isn’t the only job, role or situation that will come their way. They realize they can create fulfilling new opportunities for themselves that are exciting and rewarding.
Finally, research has shown that by 2021, nearly half of the population (48%) will be independent or have tried independent work in their lifetime , and there’s a growing trend of professionals leaving unhappy corporate situations to build an independent work-life.
#3: If I do decide to leave my job before I have another, how can I make the most of my break or time off to be sure I can land another job of my choosing? What will employers want to hear about my break?
Answer: Employers will want to hear that you engaged in exciting, growth-oriented experiences that expanded your skills set, and your breadth of knowledge, and made you an even stronger candidate for their open position than you were before.
It goes without saying that it’s a big red flag for hiring managers and recruiters to hear anything negative about your past work situation or experience, or that you were too stressed, ill or angry (or hated your boss so much) to tolerate your job one more minute.
Make the most of your time off by:
• Networking and expanding your relationships with mentors, sponsors and ambassadors for your great work
• Learning something new and exciting that you can leverage (take a class, earn a new certification, take concrete steps to explore a new direction that excites you)
• Volunteering to support an important project, offering your skills and talents in a new way, for a cause that you care deeply about
• Teaching something valuable– share your teachable point of view and spread your knowledge and know-how through giving a workshop, online course, or webinar
• Launching something important– for example, launch a new blog or website that showcases your thought leadership and your expertise, or launch your consulting business that allows you to acquire great new clients that need the services that you love to offer
The upshot is that employers want to hear that you engaged in experiences that expanded your skill set and helped you bring more value to any new role.
#4: What are the common ways a bad job can take a toll on our physical/mental well-being? What are some real signs that I need to leave now?
Answer: As a therapist and coach, I've seen toxic or "wrong" work wreak havoc on our physical and mental health. Symptoms such as chronic illness, depression, fatigue, chronic pain, anxiety, a feeling of pervasive hopelessness and indecisiveness, uncontrollable anger and resentment, all indicate that you’re potentially in the wrong job or career, or are working with people who are shattering more than your happiness.
For instance, during the most toxic period of my corporate life, I experienced four years of a serious recurring infection of the trachea. Every three to four months, I'd get violently ill with terrible pain and infection in my throat. I’d lose my voice for days, and be bedridden with high fever, pain and exhaustion. It was excruciating and debilitating and doctors had no idea how to cure or prevent it. I know now it was from stress and from feeling like a victim in my own life. And it was a clear sign (a revealing metaphor, in fact) for my not being able to speak up for myself. From the minute I was laid off after 9/11 and began to reinvent my life and work, my tracheal infections vanished, never to return.
#5: What are some red flags that point to a need to explore leaving my work asap?:
Answer: Here are some critical signs:
• You get sick every Sunday night before the work week
• You're depressed and anxious all the time about work, your colleagues and bosses and your performance
• You feel like an impostor (that you don't know enough and you'll be found out)
• Your body doesn't heal
• You chronically exhausted and run down
• You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were meant for different work but have been afraid to pursue it
• You deeply long to use your talents and gifts in different ways
• You can't shake the feeling that if you don't reinvent your work and become truer to yourself, real crisis will occur
• You’re being abused and mistreated, habitually
Below is an exercise to help professionals understand if the time to seriously consider changing their work is now:
Review the list of statements below, and honestly ask yourself “Does this reflect what I’m going through today?” Check all that apply.
• Successfully balancing my home life and work life feels almost impossible right now.
• I’m having some health problems that won’t go away.
• I’ve experienced a loss of someone or something I deeply loved, and I feel changed because of it.
• Sometimes I feel like things are starting to “fall apart.”
• I feel like I’ve awakened somehow, and I want to start smelling the roses.
• My company has let me down, and I don’t feel the same about it as I used to.
• I long to make a greater contribution somehow.
• I feel there’s something else out there for me to do now, but I’m not sure what it is.
• I have gifts and talents I’m not using, but I deeply long to start using them.
• In some ways, I don’t like who and what I’ve become.
• I dislike what I do, or I’m so bored by it, but I have no idea what other work I would do.
• I feel bruised and beaten up by work and by life.
• I don’t want to keep doing this work, but I don’t have a way out financially.
• I just don’t want to keep up with this competition and pace anymore. I’m tired of it.
• I want to help people somehow, and not hurt people or be hurt anymore.
If any of the above fit your experience, it's time for transition, and it can be very positive, if you are ready to do the inner work required to "brave up" and embrace a new path.
Read the original article on Forbes.