Are You Stressed out at Work but Too Afraid to Quit Your Job?
If you're thinking about quitting your job because you're too stressed, but you're worried about the consequences, the following tips and insights might help you decide if now is the right time to walk away from a job that makes you so unhappy.
Workplace stress pushes many people to quit their jobs.
Are you scared to quit your job, even though the stress levels at work have become intolerable?
Do any of these statements describe why you’re afraid to quit your job?
- You don’t have a new job to go to.
- You aren’t sure how valuable your skills are. You’ve been doing the same job for so long that you don’t know what your credentials are worth anymore.
- You need the money and can’t afford to miss even one paycheck, let alone two.
- You really, really like what you do for a living, but office politics, a nasty boss, long work hours or unrealistic quotas are making your one-the-job life too stressful.
- You are afraid to leave your job because you don’t want to let your boss down or abandon a cherished work friend.
- You’re experiencing a personal crisis at home that makes it difficult to even consider such a drastic change.
- You don’t know if you want to find another job in the same field you’ve been working in. You’re thinking of a career change, starting your own business or going back to school. You just aren’t sure yet.
Making the decision to walk away from a secure job in tough economic times can be difficult for even the most confident and skilled worker. Why? Because quitting a job inevitably leads to change, and that can be scary. After all, there are no guarantees that the changes you make will lead to better outcomes: more happiness, less stress, more money, more security.
If you need a change but feel stuck and unsure of what to do, you're not alone. The fear of letting go of a steady paycheck, a predictable routine and the people and surroundings you have grown accustomed to -- warts and all -- can feel paralyzing.
The truth is that there will never be an ideal time to say goodbye to your old job and start over. It is almost impossible to create the perfect conditions you think you need in order to start reaching for your career and personal goals. Here's an analogy: If you believe that every light at every intersection along your journey must be green before you can set out, you’ll be stuck at home forever. The lights are never all green at the same time. That’s just the way life is. But if you venture out to the first intersection and then to the next and then the next, you’ll eventually get to your destination.
Here are a few questions and suggestions to help you decide if you should quit your job now, wait a while or stick it out until things get better. This is not an exhaustive list and at the end of the day, only you can decide what is best for you and your family.
Get your finances in order. If you’re worried about quitting because you don’t have a new job to go to and your household relies on you to pay the bills, work on your finances before you take any drastic steps. As a matter of fact, work on your finances even if you don’t plan on quitting. Sometimes things beyond your control happen (illness, injury, lay-offs) and you may find yourself without a job through no fault of your own. Having a good financial plan that includes a budget, a timeline for paying down debt, clear savings goals and an emergency fund will guide your decision to quit your job now or stay where you are until you find a new job.
Figure out what your priorities are. Are you planning on having a baby in the future? If you quit would you be losing out on maternity leave benefits? Are you trying to pay down debt or save for your child’s education? Do you just want to earn more money or do you want more free time to enjoy with your family? Think about what it is that you really want and then let that guide your decision about whether or not to quit your job.
You may find that telecommuting will help reduce the stress you’re feeling. If you want more money, asking for a raise from your boss might be the answer. The point is that you may already have what you need in front of you: all you have to do is ask. But if you just want to be done with your overbearing boss or nasty co-workers, then you may come to the conclusion that the stress of not having a job is not nearly as draining as the work situation you’re currently in.
Dream about finding your dream job. Let go of all your logical arguments for staying in your current job and, for just a little while each day, imagine what your dream job would look like. Keep a journal, write lots of notes to yourself, do some visualization exercises – anything that inspires you to imagine a better place for yourself.
Let your inner wisdom guide you. Sometimes letting go of the endless 'pros and cons' lists and just listening to your intuition is the only way to face your fear of quitting your job.
Is it time to quit your job?
What's holding you back?
I am scared to quit my job because
- 34% I am afraid I will run out of money.
- 7% I will lose valuable benefits.
- 20% Someone I care about will be disappointed in me.
- 29% I have no idea what I want to do next.
- 11% I have too much debt right now.
Quick tips before you decide to quit! (A bonus cheat sheet!)
Before you make a decision to quit your job, make sure that you have actually identified the real problem at work.
Ask yourself what goals quitting your job will help you achieve. Will the decision to quit bring you closer to your goals?
Don’t overestimate or underestimate your capabilities.
Give yourself time to think through your decision to quit your job.
Make lists. Think of 10 things you can do instead of quitting your job. Then ask yourself if any of those alternatives would be better suited to your current financial or emotional situation.
Use mind maps, pens, papers, post-it notes and file cards to explore your options. Lay the alternatives out on a big table. Move them around. Organize them according to importance. The more time you spend exploring the alternatives to quitting, the more confident you’ll be that the decision you arrive at, whatever that may be, is the right one.
Give yourself credit for making the best decision you can with the information that is available to you.
Considering a career shift? If you are quitting your job because you are stressed out, you might want to check out this list of the least stressful jobs out there.
- Information security analyst
- Diagnostic medical sonographer
- Tenured university professor
- Medical records technician
- Medical laboratory technician
© 2012 Sally Hayes