How to Quit Your Job
3 ways to leave well and move on strong.
Friday was my official last day of work. I had been part of this company for a little over a year and up until this job I had never had to quit or resign from any “real” professional career building or breaking kind of job. Mind you that the opportunity to change jobs arose after I began to read Quitter by Jon Acuff (Serendipity at its finest? Perhaps.) If Jon was the master of quitting then my best bet was to quickly become his Padawan in training. Unfortunately that school has yet to open so I was stuck with a risky decision in a short amount of time. And so on one particular Monday I closed my teary eyes, typed my first letter of resignation, took a deep breath and took the leap.
I was genuinely torn about the decision and uneasy at the reaction I would receive to my resignation but after you leap off anything you realize that being air-bound does not guarantee a safe landing. An object in motion will stay in motion. You have to inevitably hit the ground or keep moving aimlessly. I wasn’t prepared for the rough landing that would be ahead of me in the weeks to come.
With my first resignation behind me, I have come to the following conclusions regarding necessary prerequisites before quitting your job:
1) Be Prepared
I have lived through what Jon Acuff calls the “Donnie Dilemma,” and the importance of “not quitting your day job” is paramount. The “Donnie Dilemma” as a pseudonym for worst kind of bosses. He writes that: “The second you quit your bad boss you get dozens of new bosses … the electric bill, the water bill, Chase Mortgage, Pampers 120-packs, Verizon Wireless … all the responsibilities that were quietly and almost magically covered when you had a steady job suddenly become your new and more demanding Dons.”
Not only is it important to keep your day job before finding your dream job but also it’s true before changing any job. In today’s economy, it’s better to have a reliable sustainable paycheck before leaving said job in search for the perfect illusive paycheck. Quitting a job before finding a new one is like treading water in the middle of the ocean in hopes of getting to dry land. You end up moving in circles but you get nowhere. It’s hard to stay afloat and you can only do it for so long. It’s better to be prepared and have a sustainable savings account or rainy day fund—a fund so you can quit your day job to finally start that band and still have enough cash to pay bills for three months.
“Be Prepared” is not only the Boy Scouts’ motto—it’s wisdom for every life situation, including your career. Be prepared to pay bills after quit your job. Be prepared to want things you can’t afford after you quit your job … be prepared to adjust as you seek to achieve.
2) Be Your Best
There is something to be said about doing your best at any particular job. Completing a job with excellence—whatever the job that might be—is important before quitting any job. Regardless if your tasks seem menial and unimportant, we are called to complete our work with faithfulness rooted in excellence. If we can’t do a good job with the small things in our lives how can we be expected to be entrusted with the bigger and better things (Matthew 25:21)? This is by far the hardest lesson to learn because when your job leaves you feeling overwhelmed, under-appreciated and beyond stressed, giving your best with excellence is a formidable challenge.
While I felt that I had given the best of my time, energy, and efforts to the job I was entrusted with—it still wasn’t enough. It didn’t leave me unscathed from the corporate “business as usual” protocol and that’s OK. I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel blessed to be part of changing people’s lives through a company that opened it’s doors and gave me an opportunity to have a job, help others, meet amazing people, pay bills and buy records as an added vinyl perk every month. In the end, leaving a place of employment knowing you did your best builds closure and confidence into your decision to quit your job.
3) Be at Peace
Before my resignation, a friend asked me, “Are you going to be at peace with this decision?” And I realized peace of mind is a critical ingredient in the decision to move on.
Peace isn’t always up there on the podium with love, hope or faith but there’s a reason why peace, like a river, teaches us to say, “It is well with my soul.” Peace is a state of harmony, although there will be a struggle. The most important decisions are often marked by struggles: Abraham’s decision to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:3), Daniel’s decision set himself apart (Daniel 1:8), Jesus decision rest on God’s will (Luke 22:42) and many others. Yet in the middle of the struggle, in the middle of the pain, and in the middle of those dreaded decisions, having peace about the choice you make or the path you take makes a big difference. In all honesty, my last week of work was one of joy, tears, ups, downs and disappointment, topped off by unrelenting peace. This pile of emotions and events left me bewildered at the pain we are capable to inflict on one another and the tremendous amount of love that trumps even that.
Perhaps another reason for my peace of mind, and yours, is consultation about big decisions with God, family and close friends. We can learn much from listening to those who love us best, and through we can draw closer to God’s peace and His will in your life.
So, there you have it. How do you quit your job? You prepare for the leap, you leave knowing that you did your best with job that was entrusted to you and you claim peace about the decision that you’ve made.
Keep in mind that this decision will be one of many small moments that catapult you into bigger moments. It’s the small things in life that make up the big picture—whether or not you know what that picture is or will become yet, it doesn’t matter. The truth is that there will be hundreds if not thousands of pictures in your lifetime and big or small they are continuous. We are in a process of constant change with each decision that we make. Each decision keeps us in constant movement and we are hardly ever at a stand still.
It is these small but pivotal moments that make us who we are, having the ability to shape who we want or don’t want to become, where we want to go and what we want to do. In the meantime, do the work in front of you at your best, and if today is the day you quit your job, welcome to the club. I’ll save you a seat.