Ask Yourself These 6 Questions Before You Quit Your Job

Sophie Miura

You've been toying with the idea for months now: Should you stay or go? Deciding to resign from your job is a pivotal career decision and could have a serious long-term impact. Whether you're longing to plunge into your own startup or just have a gut feeling your current role isn't right, walking away from a job isn't as simple as handing in a resignation letter. Ask yourself these six important questions to take the guesswork out of deciding whether to stay or go.

The number one quality millennials look for in a job isn't the paycheck or benefits—it's a position aligned with their values. It's so important that 50% said they would even take a pay cut to find a job that is more in-line with their purpose. If you're stuck in a stalemate and can't articulate what it is about your job that doesn't feel right, ask yourself, Does this give me a sense of satisfaction? Former Microsoft executive Robbie Bach says in an article for LinkedIn Pulse that he knew it was time to transition from his high-profile career when his purpose shifted and his career no longer matched. "We all need to take time periodically to evaluate our own life purpose and ensure that everything we are doing is aligned with that North Star," he says. "Changing jobs or leaving a company is not a decision to be made lightly, but if your work is not aligned with your purpose, change is necessary."  

You answered yes: Take a moment to define what motivates you and gives you purpose. Consider the aspects of your current role that you find most fulfilling and are aligned with your values. Are there aspects of your job that give you satisfaction? Search for ways to incorporate more of those tasks in your daily work routine before committing to leave.

You answered no: Go to the next question.

It's great to daydream about living out your days sipping mai tais by a pool, but the reality is that leaving your 9-to-5 requires serious financial backing. Before making a quick, emotion-fueled decision, step back and consider the logistics. In an interview with Glamour, Tyra Banks shared her number one financial advice for young women starting their careers. "My mom always said, Plan for the end at the beginning. Have a plan before it stops," says the Harvard graduate. "So I encourage women to have what I call F.U. money. A lot of my passion for this business comes from that." If you're considering stepping away from your job without a backup plan, think about how long you might be between jobs, or how long your startup idea could take to turn a profit. Securing financial independence might be necessary before you leave your job.

You answered yes: Read on.

You answered no: Now's the time to start your own "F.U. fund." Resigning from your job has broader implications than your career—it could impact your family, ability to pay rent, and sense of self-value. Start building your nest egg now.

Feeling the urge to walk away from your job can make you blind-sighted; all you can see is what's wrong with the position and not how it fits into a greater plan. Workshop your top-level goals. Ask yourself, What does success look like in two years' time? Think about what role your job plays in reaching that goal. Could walking away cause a serious setback?

You have a goal: You've seriously thought about how this could change your career path and still think it could be a beneficial move. Keep going!

You're not sure: Hold up. Open up a fresh document and type out three headings: this year, next year, and one day. Under each, write down your immediate, short-term, and long-term aspirations. Make them as ambitious as you like—they're going to be a tool for mapping your next step. Once you're done, add a timeline. Think about what is possible to achieve this year, next year, and in the long term, and whether your current job could help you get there. 

"We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work instead of the quality of time we put in," says Ariana Huffington in her best-seller Thrive. If you're feeling burned out or underappreciated at work, flip the focus. Rather than scrutinizing the shortcomings of your job, think about what you're putting in. Is it in your power to change your situation without resigning? As Bach found, an attitude shift could make the difference. "Instead, ask yourself if you have the character, the will power, and the sheer grit to take on difficult challenges, climb over or around obstacles, and to strive to be better," he says.

You answered yes: Hang in there. Give yourself a time limit, and focus on changing the factors within your reach.

You answered no: "Have the grace to know when it is time to hold your head up and say I’ve achieved as much as I can and the time has come for change," says Bach. Let's plan your exit strategy.

If you've come this far, you're serious about resigning. First, unpack your fears. Consider what's holding you back and what the best- and worst-case scenarios could be. Articulating your fears is a great way to consider your next stage and how to tackle it.

You're scared of failure: Don't worry—you're in the majority. Self-doubt is totally normal, but there is a way to push past it. Eliminate the driver behind your fear by removing emotion. Workshop the small steps you could take today that could help you reach your one and two-year goals. Once you've built momentum, entering your next career phase will seem less daunting.

You're fearless: You've thought about the pros and cons and are ready to take the plunge. Keep reading.

You've answered all these questions and have decided it's time to part ways with your 9-to-5. Now, consider what your next day, week, and month will look like. "When you do quit, give yourself the gift of time," says Tess Vigeland. "You’re probably going to have to get through some really tough, agonizing personal growth before you can settle into a new career." Allow yourself time to process the change, and then be proactive about your next move. "Do be sure to network. Make lists of the things you loved about your last job and what you didn’t love," says Vigeland. "Figure out what your priorities are." 

Most pay rises come through switching jobs, and a massive 70% of Americans say they're ready for a career change. If you've seriously weighed up the options and have a gut feeling it's time to move on, silence self-doubt and take the next step. Transitions can be terrifying and challenge your very foundation, but they can also be a gateway to something new and exhilarating. The way you choose to look at it could make all the difference. 

Inspired to start a new job? Shop the books below for career advice.

Have you recently resigned from your job? Share your tips for making a smooth transition in the comments below.

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