Sally is a business communications coach who gives workshops on how to keep your professional reputation squeaky-clean and drama-free.
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.
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.
|Career||Median Salary||Required Education|
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 a 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.
- 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.
Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong.
— Ella Fitzgerald
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.
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
SylTvres on September 24, 2018:
I have been working at a Retail job for 11 yrs. My hours have been cut, yet other co-workers have been getting hours. I also have pain in me leg and foot. I am at a decision of finding another job or asking for more hours and take Advil for my leg pain. *The kissie poohs don't have to beg for more hours. They automatically are scheduled.
Fin from Barstow on August 19, 2018:
Some good advice and words of inspiration
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 14, 2018:
I am retired now so this is no longer a concern but for many on the job, this would really be a major thing to think about. I like what you said about letting your inner wisdom guide you.
Laura Smith from Pittsburgh, PA on March 14, 2018:
Really helpful. I like the list of non-stressful jobs that you've posted at the end. My office is closing in the next year, and they want us remaining employees to work from home. I don't want to do that so I am on the hunt. I'm hoping to find something before the lease is up.
Alexis on September 16, 2017:
Excellent and insightful article! I've had jobs where I've sincerely considered quitting because of the impact it was having on my overall health. Thankfully I was able to find a new job once I felt I'd hit my breaking point without having to quit. A job should never control you and your life.
Kevin J Timothy from Tampa, FL on December 12, 2014:
You better believe there's a way out.
Unfortunately this is what's hidden from the masses.
Amanda kestler from Louisiana on December 11, 2014:
I quit a 4 yr job that i worked my way up to manager, they moved me from store to store to show how it was done, to be put in a situation of being told daily that i was less than everyone and look where you are and where im at. It wasn't ideal to quit but talking with the bosses didn't help so that was my next step. I gave them all i could. All i keep thinking is, there has to be better than that for a hard worker like me.. So im out to find it :)
Sharon Lopez from Philippines on November 12, 2014:
An excellent presentation of an idea. I personally would go on a safer side. Which is maintaining my job because I need to. My family, relatives and some friends are proud of me because I was able to get this job. I got the best job...that is what they think. Well, I guess going with the flow would be the best thing for me to do. I am still lucky that I have an outlet, my online job.
BeyondTired on May 09, 2013:
Quitting a job to go do a year long volunteer project sounds awesome. I wonder if the articles writer is single or married. My guess would be single.
Nwafor innocent on March 30, 2013:
Really, most of us do over work ourself thereby becoming worn-out. I think this is an excellent piece for those that will want to balance work and personal living.
Mattie Mae on March 21, 2013:
I recently quit my job because I was treated horribly. I would come home every night, just miserable. I am lucky enough to have save up enough money to live for a year. I, of course, am looking for a new job. But quitting this one was the best thing I ever did. I am so much happier now.
KatNance on March 12, 2013:
God's help, WILL HELP YOU.. hope I could come up with what I really want to do in life one day and have the courage to stand by it. Thanks for sharing
Ben Jacklin from Diss, Norfolk on January 11, 2013:
It is so hard to make the jump, but it is always good to remember that employment isn't necessarily any safer than self employment or chasing your dreams.
tvfor200 on January 10, 2013:
I give people a lot of credit who can take a leap of faith and either follow their dreams or just simply say enough is enough. I am neither of these and tend to lean toward the safe side. The best time to leave my job would be having a new job lined up or winning the lottery! Good for you and keep sharing your endevors with us chickens. JK ;-)
createmyeconomy from USA, Australia on December 31, 2012:
Well said Fslovenec! Change starts with you and it is an inside job.
Frank Slovenec from San Francisco, CA on December 31, 2012:
Well thought out...people who need to make the job change because of office politics need to look at whether they are the office politic problem..if you love what you do but the environment is the problem..look at how you can change the environment...conversations with peers, superiors, etc...speak up sometimes it is your imagination sometimes executives are unaware and sometimes it is not going to change..the decision then needs to be made...
Ben Jacklin from Diss, Norfolk on December 27, 2012:
There is always a way out, somehow! It's so sad that in this day and age people still have to slog it out at jobs they don't enjoy though. Great tips for those people right here!
Darwin S. Carcha from Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan, Philippines on December 27, 2012:
You just made an outstanding article, SMD2012. So far as I explore hubpage, your article is the only work that created deep impact in my interest. As I read you words, it's like we're just having a personal conversation. Yes, somewhat I'm in that kind of situation where I feel finding another job. Though the company pays me more than enough to fund my needs, my work is not offering enough challenge to use my skills. But then, thank you for your insights. You gave me a better look on my current situation now. Thanks!
pinkhawk from Pearl of the Orient on December 27, 2012:
Oh! I can relate to those questions. Great to know that I'm not alone... With God's help, hope I could come up with what I really want to do in life one day and have the courage to stand by it. Thanks for sharing your experience!... also congratulations!^_^
createmyeconomy from USA, Australia on October 22, 2012:
End the struggle and end the frustration. Put a plan B in place ASAP. If anyone needs a plan B, let me know. I will give you one free of charge.
Millicent Perry from Columbus, Ga on October 21, 2012:
Great advice. I know a lot of people who struggle with this everyday.
Kevin J Timothy from Tampa, FL on October 11, 2012:
It was absolutely nerve racking when we decided to abandon the workforce ship and become entrepreneurs. I cannot agree with you more when you stated there will never be a perfect time to leave the job. Our conditioning since we were kids won't allow us to make that jump of faith easily. It boils down to self-belief, combined with a lot of built up frustrations of a 9-5.
Casimiro on September 26, 2012:
Often the first step is the hardest one. I wouldn't recommend that anyone quite their job just because of frustration, or especially in the middle of feeling frustrated when our thinking is not clear. Planning for departure can help reduce the stress, and at least it takes your mind off things for a while. Actually taking that first step though... that's tough.
Perry the Cat from Mouskin, Texas on August 09, 2012:
SMD- Actually, because she works for the Federal Government, under the Americans with Disabilities Act she can claim reasonable accommodations and keep them far away.
Sally Hayes (author) on August 08, 2012:
@aexbush Yes, taking responsibility for our own future can feel so liberating and freeing. "If it's to be, it's up to me!" is one of my favorite mantras. Thanks for stopping by!
Sally Hayes (author) on August 08, 2012:
@Perry the Cat (I think your human Mom and I would really get along!) I think considering a job in another office or branch of the company you are currently working at is another way to reduce stress if you aren't ready to quit yet. You get to keep your job, do what you love and hopefully find a more congenial place to work with new people. Thanks for the tip!
Sally Hayes (author) on August 08, 2012:
@point2make Congratulations on being debt free and being in position to make the changes that you want to make in life. I think that reducing our household debt is one of the smartest things that we can do, even when we have a secure job. Life has a way of throwing us curveballs (I remember when interest rates shot up to the double digits in the early 90's and mid 80's) so it always pays to pay down debt. Thanks for voting up!
Sally Hayes (author) on August 08, 2012:
@greeneryday Thanks for stopping by. I know how hard it can be to contemplate a career change so I'm glad my article was useful to you. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
@krsharpo5 Sometimes just knowing that we are not the only ones confused about what to do next on our career path helps. Thanks for leaving a comment and voting up!
@createmyeconomy Yes, I think that people are often too easily led to believe that if they are not happy at work, it must be because there is something wrong with them, they're aren't good enough, they aren't hard workers etc and they should just be grateful to have a job. But why spend 8 hours a day (or more) doing something that doesn't fulfill you. Congratulations on re-inventing yourself too. It feels really good to find that one thing in life that we are really meant to be doing.
@Perry the Cat I agree, it is hard to contemplate letting go of a job when you don't have one to go to. In fact I know that some recruiters won't even accept applications from people who aren't currently employed, which I think is highly discriminatory and unfair.
createmyeconomy from USA, Australia on August 07, 2012:
I reinvented my self as a pure entrepreneur. I write, I review, I sell, I assist people in creating their lives that "they" want instead of what they most likely have been pushed into. I see it every day
Perry the Cat from Mouskin, Texas on August 07, 2012:
as what did you reinvent yourself?
createmyeconomy from USA, Australia on August 06, 2012:
Perhaps the problem here is not the economy. It may be that a "job" is not what that person needs. Have a look at my HUB "Time To Reinvent Yourself". I struggled though jobs and ultimately I found that a job was not for me.
Perry the Cat from Mouskin, Texas on August 06, 2012:
unfortunately, in this economy, many folks are afraid of being unemployed. If this is the case, remember: It's easier to find a job when you have a job. If you have to find a new job, find it before you leave the one you have.
createmyeconomy from USA, Australia on August 04, 2012:
No amount of money is worth the stress if you do not like what you are doing or where you are working. I've seen to many people crumble because they hung on because of money. Good HUB for moving people forward.
Kristi Sharp from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on August 04, 2012:
Excellent information and suggestions for someone who is in a rough or confused position. You sure make it easier to make a good, sound decision. Well done. -K
point2make on August 04, 2012:
Great hub. very good advice. I have felt for a long time that it might be time to move on. The stress levels were through the roof and it seemed impossible, at times, to get any relief. Of course the fear of the unknown moves in and you worry about finding a new job....the finances and giving up that steady paycheck. As for the stress I know that stress will be apart of any new position I might consider and if I want to have choices I have to get my finances in order.....and that is what I have done.
I am now debt free and I have a small side venture that is helping me develop more skills. I have found that getting rid of debt has given me "freedom'' and many more choices in life. I am still in the same position but my new found freedom has helped ease the daily stress and I find that my job is still enjoyable
. I am now in a better position to make changes in my life but I have come to the realization that I don't want another "job" and all that goes along with that. I want to change my life and explore this world and do the things I love to do in my spare time. I admire what you have done and soon, very soon, I will strike out on my own as well and ........live! Voted this hub up!!
Perry the Cat from Mouskin, Texas on August 04, 2012:
My human mom has a job she loves helping disaster victims and people she can't stand. These people will come over to her desk and start screaming at her out of the blue. The stress involved in this situation makes her want to go home from what ever disaster she is working on. She has found that working outside of her region with professional people is a great deal less stressful. Last year she had a choice of going to South Texas (her region) and Pennsylvania (different region). She chose PA and her manager called her and asked why she didn't come to Texas. They love having her around to take swings at. Mom has been doing this for fourteen years and hangs around because she loves helping people.
Stephen Bush from Ohio on August 04, 2012:
Useful and especially timely advice. In the end each individual should take responsibility for their own future.
greeneryday from Some tropical country on August 03, 2012:
For long I've been dreaming of quitting my job because of some of the reasons you have written in this hub, but I don't have the courage to do so. Now I know the first step I need to do is to get my finances in order first and see if it can support me while finding a new job. Voted up for awesome!