career planning, coaching, learning and development

How to quit a job you love/hate

Do you hate your job some days and love it others? That’s pretty common. And you don’t always need to be thinking about how to quit a job when you feel that way.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

But when you’re in the depths of frustration, anxiety or burnout, recalling the moments you love can just leave you feeling more confused. You can be left doubting yourself, and that can lead to career paralysis. You don’t leave, but you’re also not sure you want to stay. What do you do?

Here’s four simple questions to think about. And when you’ve thought about them, a few practical considerations if you do decide to quit that job!

They’re the sort of questions any good coach would ask. So, if you’re thinking them through and looking for an objective sounding board, you can also book a free exploratory session with us now!

1. What is your primary connection to your colleagues?

Good colleagues can take a good job from a great job. But they can also obscure when a job/workplace is objectively bad. Take a hard look at your colleagues, in a good way.

Often we’re reluctant to leave a job because we enjoy the company of our workmates and, if only subconsciously, don’t want to “leave them in it”. But if your primary bonding experience with your colleagues is around how bad the work or workplace culture is, you might want to reassess. 

2. Are you good at this job?

We all like to feel competent, capable, and in control. So ask yourself, am I good at this job, right here, right now?

If you’re firing on all cylinders, it may be that you’re loving the mastery you have over the role, but not the work itself. Or, alternatively, a job with no or slow growth potential might be good for you at the moment because of what else is going on in your life.

But if your frustration often comes because you’re too capable, or you’re wondering why the colleagues around you aren’t, you might want to consider finding a new challenge.

3. What is the purpose of this job?

We can get blinkered when we think a job is objectively “good”, as in providing social valuable. Think teachers, nurses, doctors, etc. But employers often take that commitment to the purpose of a job for granted, allowing the work and workplace to be less than ideal because there are other factors keeping staff there.

You might also be struggling to define the purpose, when everyone else in your workplace seems to be declaring how “important” the work is. Try to think clearly about what you value and whether this matches up with what your employer values. And don’t look to policies or public statements. Look to how their values show in everyday work life.

4. What else is changing in your life at the moment?

Sometimes, when changes out of our control are happening, we’re tempted to make more changes over which we have control. Think of a friend who’s just broken up with their partner and invents a whole new look for themselves the day after.

In a recent Work-Life podcast episode with JJ Abrams (yes, that JJ Abrams), organisational psychologist Adam Grant notes that a sensation of being out of control can result in a change in perspective about what we can change, and how we can make a difference. But this is a double-edged sword. We can replace uncomfortable, out-of-our-control change with something we can be in charge of, like quitting our job, when actually working through our discomfort is the right course.

If you’re struggling to see the wood for the trees, write down all the things that are changing, from your health and body through to your long-term career goals.

What next?

Hopefully thinking through these questions has helped clarify for you whether, on balance, you love or hate your job (or both!) and what to do about it. If you need some objective support, you can book a free exploratory coaching session with us now. We can support you to think through your situation and offer a pay-what-you-can programme of career coaching if you’ve decided to make a change, or to try to make your current work life better.