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Most of the time, my distaste for being in the office is due to boredom and remnants of a hangover from Sunday brunch. For many, though, they could have been stone sober all weekend and still have a high level of anxiety going to bed on Sunday evening. Because a good amount of people dread going into work for a simple reason: they hate their job.
If that’s you, someone who is persistently in the level four or higher at your job, someone who persistently feels like they are under-compensated for their work, someone who knows definitively that they aren’t suited for or passionate about their current career path, or someone who thinks that they work for shady people, here is my advice: quit. Like seriously, in this mobile economy you don’t owe your loyalty to any company or person professionally. If you think that there is a job out there that you would enjoy more or be better at than what you’re currently doing, leave your job. That’s the idea of a capitalist society, the people working at jobs that provide value are the best and most qualified.
I get it, quitting a job can be daunting. It’s hard to leave both financial security and comfort that your current job offers. There’s a lot of reasons not to turn down a good paycheck, and obviously, I wouldn’t advocate quitting your current job before you have something else lined up unless the situation is dire. But, from someone who has quit jobs in the past to find a new, better opportunity, there are several key steps you will typically go through in the process of voluntarily leaving a job.
Stage 1: The Decision
Typically, there’s a catalyst. Some event, some conversation, some discussion where it dawns on you that you hate your goddamn job. And from that moment on, whatever that aspect of your job becomes a mental block that you cannot avoid. Try to shake it off if you want, try to ignore it or push it out of your mind, but it will do you no good. The moment that catalyst moment happens, and you realize how the amount they’re paying you doesn’t properly compensate you for all the bullshit you deal with every day, the process of quitting has already begun.
Once that tipping point moment is reached it is, in my opinion, inevitable that you will quit if you don’t get promoted. That moment is the beginning of the end. Even a massive raise might not be enough to keep you satisfied and happy. If you are sacrificing happiness and sanity, throwing more money at it is nothing more than a temporary stopgap. Remember, you can always get the money somewhere else. Somewhere they may not be as big of assholes.
Stage 2: The Job Search
The job search comes almost immediately after the decision is made. Once you hit your tipping point for bullshit at this job, you’re going to start the process of trying to find another. It might start with some innocuous feelers, maybe the occasional search through LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Careerbuilder, or Indeed. You’ll get your resume updated. You’ll start reviewing your old cover letters. Eventually, you’ll start floating the idea to your friends and colleagues, trying to figure out what connections might be available.
At some point, though, the thoughts and wishes will turn to a straight, hardened desire. You’ll spend your evenings and weekends scouring the web or at job fairs. You’ll slip out at lunch to have phone interviews. You’ll pray that your current employers aren’t checking your web history that is full of job searches.
Stage 3: The Mental Checkout
After you’ve been searching for jobs for a while, probably after you’ve gone on at least an interview or two, you begin the process of mentally packing your things. At this point, you have lost all interest in your job, only going through the motions and doing the bare minimum necessary to just not get fired before you find another job. In your mind, you’re already gone, it’s just a matter of protecting your ass.
You’re less likely to stay late on big projects, contribute in meetings, or be more than generic in your performance reviews. When your boss asks, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” you respond some bullshit about growing in this company, knowing that you’re crossing your fingers when you say the word “this.”
To be clear, you’re not entirely mailing it in or intentionally sabotaging your company (yet) because you probably don’t have something else lined up yet. You still need to do work that is just passable enough that the company won’t fire you or trash you if a prospective employer comes calling. But you work with a very narrow, myopic view. You’re not planning projects week to week, but day to day. You’re not making big commitments down the road unless it’s unavoidable. You’re definitely not doing any executive/leadership bullshit that’s not necessary, knowing that the very thought of rising up the corporate ladder in this bullshit environment makes you physically gag.
Stage 4: The Soft Quit
This stage is optional, it may or may not happen, however, there is a pretty decent chance that at some point a co-worker or higher up will suss out your intentions.
If it’s a co-worker, they’ll either sympathize and keep it quiet or rat you out to management quicker than Jax on Vanderpump. If it’s someone higher up with you, they may take that news decently and ease you off major projects or point you towards other opportunities in their organization if they want to retain your talent. On the other hand, they can fire you in a fit of fury (which is a shit spot but at least it entitles you to some severance if you’re lucky). Or they can make your life a living hell until they can get rid of you via you resigning or them finding some cause.
The key for this stage is that at no point have you said the words “I am quitting.” You have not crossed the no-return line at this point, it’s just that your employer likely suspects that you are one foot out the door. At that point, it’s a bit of a race against the clock before you’re let go.
Stage 5: The Hostage Negotiation
By now, you are in serious talks with another company to take another position. If you have handled this situation with the delicacy and secrecy it needs, no one will have put two and two together that all those half days and long lunches were actually used to take interviews. However, if you have slipped up and the soft quit has happened, you will suddenly hit a roadblock.
Your boss will begin to stymie your requests for time off, hold you late or make you come in early to get work done. It could be because they want to squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of you before you leave them and they have to train someone brand new. Or, more likely, they’re trying to keep you so busy that you don’t have time to devote to a full job search. They’re also trying to subtly incept the idea into your mind that this is the place you get your bread buttered, so you shouldn’t leave. They’re hoping you’ll have a change of heart and stay, kind of like Stockholm Syndrome. But instead, it’s more likely to drive you further into the arms of another job.
Stage 6: The Actual Quit
You’ve done it. You’ve actually said those magical words “I’m giving my two weeks notice.” By the grace of God, someone else has seen your worth and hired you away from this miserable hell hole. Hopefully, you’ll be moving to a job with a better title, better benefits, and a pay raise, rather than just leaving to get out of a level seven or eight hated job.
If everything went according to plan, you’ll leave on good terms, with a supervisor or co-worker who will be happy to give you a glowing reference. If not, well at least you won’t have to deal with all the bullshit anymore. Either way, enjoy the last bit of downtime you have before you wake up one morning, realizing you have to go into work at an unfamiliar building that doesn’t have your direct deposit set up yet. .