Are you fed up with your job? Dreaming of quitting? I’ve been there.
I quit my first full-time job two short months after my start date. I’m pretty sure my parents felt this the way one would feel an impending apocalypse.
I quit because I didn’t like the job. I was bored. There weren’t any windows. I wasn’t used to staying inside in one spot all day. Also, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing with my life, but I was pretty sure that data entry was not my true calling.
So I quit.
It felt great to be able to make that decision and execute it.
Yet there were definite consequences to my choice, since I didn’t have a backup plan. I wound up moving home with my parents (who are lovely people—thank you!) and landing another job in the field I’d initially left.
Even though I wasn’t enamored with this new job, I stuck around for a bit longer. While working there, I explored other fields and began pursuing my own business part-time.
I had learned a lesson that my 21-year-old self would have outright rejected. You may, too.
Don’t quit a job just because you want to
Quit with a plan. Quit with the purpose of moving toward something better. If possible, quit with your next job offer in hand. And in the meantime, learn to endure a less than ideal situation.
I realize this is not the most fun piece of advice to offer.
And I’m aware that there are plenty of toxic work environments where my tip to stick it out is rendered completely moot because of the ill effects your job is having on your sanity or well-being.
But for the majority of you who are dissatisfied with your work because you’re living in a place of existential misery, elevated stress levels or a cubicle that’s visible from the main walkway, I want to offer to you that the ability to put up with crap is part of growing up.
In fact, the more you improve your skill at coping with a temporarily unpleasant situation for a long-term gain, the better off you will be—not just in the workforce, but in other adult-like things like saving for retirement, doing home remodels or raising kids.
Here are four tips to help you hang in there with your current job while you’re making your moves toward a new and improved work situation:
1. Acknowledge your choice to stay
(And it is a choice. You could also choose to quit. I’m clearly not one to judge or begrudge you this decision.)
It’s a funny thing, but there is a big difference between “I have to go to my job today” and “I’m choosing to go to my job today.”
2. Make a list of the benefits of your current job
Focus on what you’re getting from sticking around. This could include salary, health insurance or being able to add one more project’s completion to your resume.
3. Keep a long-term perspective
In the scheme of things, staying at your current job for another three months, or even another year, really isn’t that long. Remind yourself that your current situation is temporary and that you are doing what you can to change your employment for the better.
4. See if there’s anything you can do to make your day-to-day at your job better
Listen to your iPod. Meet a friend for lunch. Take a break during the day to walk outside. Or consider adding a delightful pursuit to your life outside of work. Having something to look forward to at the end of the day may help to pull you through.
It takes a certain type of maturity to stick around at a job you dislike, and it takes a certain amount of bravery to leave a job without knowing where you’re going next. While experience has taught me the value of enduring a less than ideal job, I don’t believe you should take my word for it.
Lessons are most powerful when learned firsthand. Take stock of your own situation, do what you think is best, learn from what happens and go from there.
What’s been your experience? Has it paid off to stick with a job until you’ve found a new one, or did it work out just fine to leave when you wanted to? Leave a comment sharing your experience below.
Alison Elissa Horner specializes in helping adults in their 20s and 30s figure out what the hell they’re doing with their lives. You can sign up to receive free tips on navigating your career at www.alisonelissa.com.