Are You Stressed out at Work but Too Afraid to Quit Your Job?
Many of us have thought about quitting our jobs because we are too stressed, but then we don't follow through because we are 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 is causing you grief.
Before you let your anxiety about leaving your job hold you back from moving forward, it's important to identify why you are anxious. The answer to that question will help determine the best path moving forward.
Why Do You Have Anxiety About Quitting Your Job?
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. There's no guarantee you'll end up with more happiness, less stress, more money, and more security. Do any of the following inhibitions sound familiar?
- 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 any more.
- 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.
Keep a Clear Head
Don't overindulge on caffeine, drugs, or alcohol as a means of dealing with the stress you experience at work. You will run the risk of exacerbating any negative feelings that you have in addition to harming your overall long-term health.
Dealing With the Anxiety of Quitting Your Job
Here are a few 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, injuries, lay-offs, etc.) 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.
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, and do some visualization exercises—do 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.
Tips Before You Decide to Quit
- 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.
Would a Career Shift Make You Less Stressed Out?
If you are quitting your job because you are stressed out, then you might want to check out this list of the least stressful jobs out there.
Medical laboratory technician
Certification or bachelor's degree
Diagnostic medical sonographer
High school diploma and program completion
Medical records technician
Formal training or associate's degree
High school diploma
High school diploma
If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.— Maya Angelou
Making Money Without a Job
There are plenty of different ways to make money without a job that can help with the anxiety involved with quitting.
- Become a rideshare driver: Lyft and Uber are popular alternatives to a 9 to 5 if you have a car and a smartphone. Those without a vehicle can still take advantage of on-demand courier services like DoorDash and Postmates as long as they have bike.
- Sell or rent your stuff: Take advantage of thrift stores, Amazon, eBay, and the raging market for “used” and “unique” items to clean out your home and to score some extra cash while doing it.
- Donate your eggs or sperm: One of the most lucrative options for making extra money without a job is also one that is not for the faint of heart. However, if you are in good health then donating your egg or sperm might be a viable option for making extra money while also helping out a family that needs the assistance.
- Earn cash while shopping: Sites like Ebates are easy to use and offer cash back for purchases that you are already making.
- Take online surveys: Taking surveys online does not require experience or a large investment and is free to get started.
Is It Time to Quit Your Job?
Coping With Stress at Work
Take the appropriate steps to manage your stress if you decide that now is not the right time to walk away from your job. The following tips can help you get started.
- Don’t lose sight of your purpose: Our work does not always have to fully define us as people. Starving our purpose while crowding our days with work and obligations is an easy way to quickly trigger our stress responses. Dream big, stay creative and feed all aspects of your life.
- Ditch the multitasking effort: Don’t split your focus to juggle tasks. Consider chunking as an alternative technique for getting more out of your day. Chunking involves allocating a designated amount of time to a specific task while staying free of distractions.
- Don’t obsess over perfection: Strive to achieve your best results without overexerting yourself. The growing trend of perfectionism in our society is especially harmful to individuals in busy, fast-paced work environments where it is difficult to complete everything that needs to be done flawlessly.
- Blow off steam: Manage stress in the workplace by escaping the office. Try grounding yourself with a refreshing walk or any other form of exercise during your lunch break.
- Start your day off right: Get a full night’s rest, and rise on time in the morning with your intent on having a good day. Minimizing your stress outside of work with proper nutrition and planning will alleviate some of the stress that you may encounter during your workday.
- Telecommute: Sometimes the solution is right in front of you. Telecommuting can help reduce the stress you’re feeling and so can asking for a raise from your boss if you feel that you aren't being fairly compensated.
Should You Take a Sabbatical?
If your company policy permits it, look into arranging a sabbatical to take some time away from your job without splitting from the organization completely. A sabbatical is a period of paid or unpaid time away from your employer, usually for the purpose of study or travel. In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate this time off with your employer if you have been tenured with the company for a certain period of time. Sabbaticals are good opportunities to shake things up, and taking one might be exactly what you need to offset the detrimental effects of your stressful work environment.
Sabbaticals commonly revolve around studies and filling gaps between education. Some people utilize the time for retraining themselves and gaining valuable experience that they otherwise would not have developed at their current position. Seek a compromise that makes sense when negotiating with your employer around the details of your time away. You want to ensure that you have a position in the organization to return to. Sometimes employers intend to re-employ you but are later unable to honor the commitment.
If you need a change but feel stuck and are 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 be a paralyzing feeling.
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.
What's Holding You Back From Quitting Your Job?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Sally Hayes