Tough Questions: How I Decided to Quit My Job

Last summer, I took a social media strategy job, with some personal assistant tasks on the side, for a small consulting firm that I thought would be amazing. On paper, it looked perfect: I worked from home, part-time, with good pay, doing things I loved to do and thought I was good at.

However, things quickly turned sour. My boss and I had poor communication. I felt like the job started to take over my life. I was tied to my phone, always waiting for an email, text, or call from my boss with something to do or something I did wrong. I did less and less social media work and more and more personal assistant tasks. I started to dread waking up to work, and I constantly wished I had a different job.

RELATED: How I Overcame My Fear of Making the ‘Wrong’ Decision

I agonized over the decision quit. I didn’t know if my reasons to quit were good enough. As a person who hates any and all confrontation, I questioned how I was going to tell my boss. I was scared of being labeled a “quitter,” which was synonymous with failure in my mind. After going back and forth for weeks, I finally decided I needed to leave.

If you’re thinking about quitting your job, here are the questions I asked myself to help me make my decision:  

Can I change the situation?

When I first started thinking about quitting, I wondered if I had done everything in my power to make the situation better. Have I talked to my boss about my concerns? Could I change any of my work habits to make myself more successful? If there were steps that I could take to avoid quitting, I was going to take them. I started making to-do lists at the beginning of each week, instead of each morning, to give myself more direction and let my boss know what I was working on each day. I wanted to find ways to improve communication between the two of us. Unfortunately, even the added structure didn’t improve much. When I felt like I exhausted all my possibilities, I moved on to thinking more concretely about what it would look like if I quit.

What do I have to gain?

This felt like an easy question to answer. If I quit, I could work more hours at another job that I loved. I’d be able to spend more time with my family and friends. I wouldn’t be stressed every time I got an email. Asking yourself what concrete positives quitting will bring to your life will help you feel more comfortable with the idea. Quitting, at least for me, was terrifying, but having real ideas of what quitting would look like made me feel more grounded when making the decision.

What causes you the most stress at work?

What do I have to lose?

I had to ask myself if I was willing to give up putting this job on my resume. Could I forgo a potential recommendation? What about the paycheck? I had to be honest with myself about these answers and weigh them against what I had to gain. It isn’t fun to think about the negative impact, but with a move as drastic as quitting, the potential downsides have to be considered. I was lucky to have another part-time job, and I was living with my parents, so the financial hit of quitting wasn’t as hard as it could have been. Sometimes, losing the steady paycheck that comes with a job trumps what you have to gain from quitting. Thinking about what you have to lose will help you determine whether quitting is feasible for you.

Do I have support from my community?

For me, it was important to feel supported in my decision by those around me. I talked with my parents and friends for hours about quitting, and it was with their support that I finally made the decision. Whether it was my dad sitting with me while I cried over my keyboard or my best friend telling me I had to do what was best for me, having their non-judgmental support made it possible for me to stick to my decision to quit, even when I felt myself wavering. It also helped me fight back against the negative voices, which were mostly those of my own inner critic, telling me I was a failure for quitting.

I can honestly say that I have no regrets about quitting my job. I was able to sleep without the looming anxiety of waking up for work the next day. My relationships improved because every conversation wasn’t centered around my job, and I could actually spend time with the people I love. The act of quitting has given me the ability to be more confident in my decisions. As a person who didn’t have the word “no” in my vocabulary, quitting was the biggest step I ever made in putting myself first and saying no to something. I know now that I have the ability to stand up for myself. Whether or not you decide to quit, asking yourself these questions before you do will help you make a decision that brings you peace.

Originally published on June. 19, 2018.

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Grace Henning is originally from the Midwest and recently graduated from Fordham University in New York with a degree in Philosophy and Italian. She loves books, coffee, and doing yoga. In the fall, she begins a year of service at Covenant House in New York City.