2021 seems to have been the year of the career change for many people. According to this article, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August of 2021. It seems as though pandemic-fueled burnout is rearing its ugly head, and workers are ready for change. It may even have you wondering: should you quit your job right now?
The short answer: yes, or maybe no.
The truth is, there are plenty of good reasons you should quit your job right now, but there are plenty of bad reasons, too. Before you make such a big decision, you should take some time to make sure you are making it for the right reasons.
Should you quit your job right now?
So what should you think about when trying to decide if you should join many creative professionals in “The Great Resignation”? Looking at the issue from a creativity and happiness perspective (since that’s what we’re all about here), let’s go over the biggest reasons why you should quit your job—and the biggest reasons why you shouldn’t.
Why you should quit your job
With so much talk about the job market and high demand for workers right now, most people have probably at least considered making some kind of career move. But beyond obvious reasons (like a move, life change, or major opportunity), there are other good reasons to quit your job as well.
Your creativity is dying.
Creativity is an asset that should serve you in your career—no matter what that career is. You should always feel like you have the opportunity to get creative with your work, whether you are a teacher, medical professional, musician, or server at a restaurant. There are always ways to bring creativity into your field.
However, it’s easy to find yourself in an environment where your specific brand of creativity can’t be expressed or isn’t appreciated. In that case, you need to either (a) find a creative outlet that fulfills this need outside of work, or (b) get a new job.
Here’s the thing: creativity shouldn’t be treated as something that is “optional” or “nice to have.” We should all treat creativity as something that is absolutely essential—because it is. Creativity can make you a happier, healthier, more complete version of yourself, and it deserves to be prioritized. If your career is standing in the way of that, and you feel like your creativity is dying because of it, then it is time to seriously consider a change.
(Not sure if your creativity is dying? Read this: 3 Signs You Need More Creativity in Your Life.)
You are burned out.
I write a lot about burnout on this blog, because burnout is one of creativity’s most powerful (and prevalent) enemies.
While burnout can be caused by virtually any area of your life, the original idea of burnout, and the version of it most commonly seen today, is tied to the workplace. This is because burnout is a state that is brought about by prolonged and excessive stress—something many people experience at work.
Burnout isn’t “just” stress, though; it’s exhaustion. It is getting to the end of your rope physically, mentally, and emotionally. People who are burned out lose motivation, hope, and interest. They are less productive, more prone to illness, and have low self-confidence.
So yeah, it’s a problem.
If you are feeling any of these things, or the other symptoms of burnout, then something has to give. And since burnout is often tied to work, you should definitely think about if your job is worth holding on to.
The important thing to remember here is this: you deserve to have a job that doesn’t leave you feeling stuck and miserable. You deserve to find something that lifts you up, rather than bringing you down. Your job should light a fire under you—not burn you out!
You feel called to something else.
Leaving your job isn’t always about escaping a bad situation. Sometimes, you should quit your job because you feel pulled toward something else.
With the job market the way it is right now, plenty of positions are open, in industries across the board. This might be your opportunity to start a career in something you’ve always wanted to do—something that really calls to you and makes you feel excited about working again.
Of course, this comes with a caveat. You can’t enter an entirely new industry and expect to land a high-level (read: high-paying) position, without any education or training. That doesn’t make this reason for quitting any less valid, but it does mean that you should probably have a plan in place to make sure you can maintain or adjust your lifestyle.
Maybe you are okay with an entry-level position. Maybe you need to go back to school. Or maybe you are excited about something in a similar industry to the one you are already in, and you just need a little more training to be ready for it.
Whatever path you take, if you are called to something, and you can make it work, there might not ever be a better time to go for it.
Why you shouldn’t quit your job
Those are all great reasons why you should quit your job right now, but for every one of those reasons, there’s a reason you should step back and reconsider.
You haven’t tried the “simple stuff.”
Let’s say you are in an industry you love and are excited about, but you still feel a little burned out and just kind of “done” with your job and where you’re at in your life. That’s a frustrating place to be, and it might make you feel like you’re ready to jump ship.
Before you do, though, take an honest accounting of the state of some of the “simple” things in your life.
For example, are you eating right? Getting enough sleep and exercise? Do you have solid relationships and a good support system? Is your mental health in a good place? Is your environment conducive to your personal happiness?
These things may seem basic, but you’d be surprised at how much of a difference they can make. Think of how you feel on a single day when you are tired, or hungry, or in a fight with your significant other. Not at your best, right? Now multiply that over an extended period of time. How can you expect to feel your best and perform at your best when even your most basic needs are not being met?
I know I referred to this as “simple stuff,” but in reality, it isn’t always simple to take good care of yourself. That said, it’s imperative that you do. Because if you can’t figure out how to meet these basic needs, no career is ever going to feel right to you. You are always going to feel like something is off.
So before you take the leap, just consider how you’re doing with these basic steps. Try making some of these changes before pursuing a totally different career.
You are feeling impulsive.
Have you ever had one of those days where the tiniest thing can set you off? The empty coffee pot, the printer that doesn’t work, the car that’s low on gas when you’re late for a meeting? Some little thing that just makes you want to scream, “I QUIT!”
(I mean, I’ve never been there, but…oh, who am I kidding? I’ve totally been there.)
Creatives especially have a tendency to get a little impulsive and make not-so-small changes on the fly. This isn’t always a bad thing—sometimes the risk needs to be taken and the proverbial back-breaking straw is actually a blessing in disguise.
However, when it comes to quitting your job, my experience (and experiences others have shared with me) is that it’s best not to do it impulsively. If something does set you off, it’s okay to use that as a jumping off point to inspire you to explore other options, but don’t drop everything you’ve worked for because one thing went wrong.
You feel like an imposter.
Sometimes, we want to quit because we feel like we can’t do the thing we signed up for. You might feel like an imposter, pretending to be good at what you do while living in the shadow of “actually” talented people. Maybe you’ve experienced multiple failures in your career, and you feel like you can’t handle another one. Or maybe you’ve seen what it takes to get where you want to go, and you’re not sure you’re capable of getting there?
I consider all of these very, very bad reasons to quit your job.
If you are doing something you love, and actively working toward what you want, and feeling fulfilled in some way by your career, then you can’t let a little discouragement, a few setbacks, or some insecurity get you down. That is not a good reason to leave.
If it isn’t what you really want, that’s fine. If you’ve decided you need to make a pivot, great. But don’t walk away from a dream because you think you can’t do it. You can do it. You can figure it out. It might take some time, some more failures, and some more pep talks in the mirror, but if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.
Being honest with yourself
Knowing whether your reasons for quitting your job are good or bad takes a lot of honesty. You have to take a good look inside, at your real motivations, and figure out where they are coming from.
Are you really burned out, or are your basic needs not being met? Have you really tried to make this work, or are you scared to give it your all? Are you really pulled toward something else, or are you trying to do what people expect of you?
Your life and your happiness are at stake. Be honest. Do some deep thought work and internal exploration. Figure out what is driving you. And then make the best decision you can.
So—should you quit your job right now? Maybe. But the better questions to ask yourself are:
- Am I happy?
- Are my needs being met?
- Do I feel fulfilled?
- Am I setting myself up for success?
- What do I really want?
If your current job is helping you become the person you want to be, stay. There’s no reason to leave. If not, take a breath, take the plunge, and go after the career you want to have, and the life you want to live.
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