Anyone who once quit a stressful job without a clear path ahead can tell you: the days that follow can be an emotional rollercoaster. From the euphoria that comes with the time and space suddenly found to catch up with friends, get daily life in order and enjoy the little things (that is usually in the first week or so) to the disappointment of finding that friends have got jobs to do, life is just boring without a job and the little things may be too little to fill eight hours or more five days a week. And a few more weeks later, another reality often hits: there is no paycheck.
All of the above may provide enough ground to ditch the thought of quitting altogether. However, these realities, if considered ahead of quitting, can be less dramatic and even help you weather the transition much more easily. The secret, however, is to understand before your resign that it won’t be all rosy. The risk is high that you may take some significant time to find another job and the time in between may be far from being a fun relaxing vacation. That is why the more planning you put ahead of breaking up, the better you will be poised to deal with the difficulties.
That is why it is important to consider and plan for a few areas:
The first step in planning to quit your job is to define what you don’t like about your job and whether this can be changed in a different job or not. This requires a realistic look at your current job requirements and circumstances, and finding out whether what you need is a job change or a career change. There is a big difference between the two: If your problems are specific to your current employer like unfair pay or inconvenient schedule, finding a new workplace can be the answer. However, if your profession no longer excites you or your situation has changed in a way that makes the job requirements a burden, then you may need to consider a career change that will take more efforts and planning.
If your major reasons for resigning are to get rid of a stressful situation such as constant conflicts with your boss or long work hours, you may be on what you want to lose rather than what you want to win. In other words, you might be just looking for an immediate exit. This is a situation when your disappointment may be greatest. A better route is to look for alternatives or solutions that can make your work situation tolerable until you find another job. If this doesn’t seem possible, get a pen and a notebook and plan your path through the period of unemployment. You will need to have the worst-case scenario in mind, so plan for at least six months — even if you think you’d be able to find a job much sooner. While the financial aspect is important, you will also need to plan for other professional activities that you start on simply as of day one. Have a clear idea of how you’ll manage your job search, whom you have in mind in terms of contacts and whether you will be seeking professional help or not. By doing so, you can avoid any time down and unnecessarily prolonging your search while you’re trying to figure out the next step.
Regardless of the reasons for quitting, don’t just resign on an impulse. Set a time frame for yourself to get organised and to give yourself a chance to make sure that problems are real and can’t be overcome. Taking a break from work also can be a good move to cool off and to get a closer look at the reality — yet from a distance. The break can also help you check out industry resources and get a clear idea on the availability of jobs in your industry. This can be particularly helpful for those who have been in one job for an extended period and may have lost touch with the job market. After all, a tough job may seem a better choice than long-term unemployment, particularly if you don’t have the financial resources to support yourself and your family in the worst-case scenario.
— Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently a journalist based in Seattle.