Why You Should Quit Your Job Without a Backup Plan

It’s a scenario that’s been playing out in your mind for months now: You walk into your boss’s office, plant a resignation letter firmly on the desk, and hightail it out of there for a fresh start. In your mind, it’s glorious, fierce, and liberating… So why haven’t you done it yet?

It’s usually the same set of excuses. Maybe you’re waiting for a big project to close so the timing is right. Maybe you’re nervous because you don’t have another job lined up. If you’re part of the 52% of Americans who aren’t happy at work, we’ve got news for you: Now is the time to quit!

Believe me, it’s true. After a year in my dream job, I made the tough decision to part ways. It went against everything my mind (and friends) told me, but deep down, I knew it was the right move. Three years on, I’ve navigated the highs and lows of walking away from a seemingly perfect job without another lined up and never looked back. It’s possible! Read on for our tips for navigating a resignation.

You’ve returned home from another frustrating day in the office and your heart is pounding. There’s a voice in your head that says, Just do it now! Take a deep breath and call a close friend to talk through the scenario. If your desire to quit hasn’t budged in a month, take it seriously.

The reality of trading your cubicle for the couch can be daunting. Entrepreneur and author Tess Vigeland says in a recent Quartz article that preparation is key. “Decide what your worst-case scenario is, and how far toward that worst-case scenario you are willing to go,” she says. Turn to friends and family to voice your concerns and work through some of the practical issues that might arise from halting your income.

We often feel compelled to cloud the truth with excuses, but if you’re resigning without a backup plan, be honest. When I told my editor I knew I had to part ways, I laid down the truth behind my decision: I knew in my gut that it wasn’t the right role for me. Being honest with your colleagues and employer shows respect and will ensure you have a good relationship with them even after you depart.

After finishing my job, I found myself sitting on the couch with a seemingly endless expanse of time stretched out before me. As someone who had spent most of my life on tight deadlines, it was terrifying. When planning to quit your job, think about how you could use the opportunity to further your career, rather than put it on hold. What would you do if you had time? Signing up for a course or attending industry meetups is a great way to ensure you’re using your newfound time constructively.

Sure, resigning from your job without a backup plan has a lot of practical and logistical challenges, but no one ever tells you about the emotional impact. As Vigeland explains, “Career identity is very powerful, and you have to prepare yourself for the bad feelings that may arise about spending time without one.” Hone your elevator pitch. If someone at a party asks what you do for a living, prepare a response so you’re not caught out.

The truth is that walking away from a job is hard. It will challenge your identity and make you question your goals. But it will also teach you a lot about who you are as a person and give you a chance to step back and reassess what you want. Go on, the time for change is now!

Feeling inspired? Shop our pick of chic calendars and planners for 2016, then visit Quartz for more of Tess Vigeland's tips for quitting your job

Tell us: Have you quit your job without a backup plan?