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The 5 Five Stages of Wanting to Quit Your Job

Making the decision to quit your job generally happens gradually, and then all at once. If you're in the midst of making up your mind, the important thing is not to let your emotions get the better of you. It starts with being aware of what's happening during the process. Here's what to expect when you're pondering a jump to bigger and better things – or even just an escape from a dream job that's turned into a nightmare.

Making the decision to quit your job generally happens gradually, and then all at once. If you’re in the midst of making up your mind, the important thing is not to let your emotions get the better of you. It starts with being aware of what’s happening during the process. Here’s what to expect when you’re pondering a jump to bigger and better things – or even just an escape from a dream job that’s turned into a nightmare.

cracked egg 

(Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar/Flickr)

1. Shock 

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There’s no doubt that discovering you’re in a dead-end job is one of the worst feelings in a professional’s career. The shock hits you like a freight train and knocks you off your career path, and you’re left wondering how the heck this is happening to you. You brush yourself off and go back to your everyday routine at work, and hope it’s Mercury in retrograde or something else that is completely out of your control.

2. Denial

You fight the urge to accept the reality of your situation, so you go deeper and deeper into denial and try to convince yourself that your career is flourishing and that you love your job. In your head, these types of things happen to people who take any ol’ job that comes their way, and that’s why they end up wanting to quit – that wasn’t you. Nope. You were diligent in your job search and landed your dream job, and you even negotiated an amazing salary. Yeah, this can’t be happening to you – must just be an off week. Or, maybe it’s time to accept that your dream job is, now, your worst nightmare.

3. Anger

Not only has that feeling not dissipated, it’s gotten worse and is starting to eat away at you. You’re feeling increasingly negative about work and, to make matters worse, your new boss still doesn’t remember your name. You can feel the anger building up and you grow agitated as each day passes. Getting ready for work in the morning is dreadful now, to say the least, and you can’t wait to clock out from work at 5 o’clock on the dot every day. You get angry because your job used to be exciting and promising, but now, it’s the bane of your existence and you feel completely incompetent.

4. Deviation

You’ve endured this long enough and you’re now starting to look elsewhere to grow your career. You are updating your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cleaning up your social media profiles so that you can be a stand-out candidate during your job search. You feel guilty for “cheating” on your current employer, but you also know you’re cheating yourself out of a prosperous career by not seeking greener pastures. Therefore, you carefully continue your clandestine online job search – because you could get you fired if you’re discovered – all while you still endure the day-in and day-out of your current, miserable job.

5. Acceptance

You’ve now accepted that you need to move on from this once-promising-but-now-dead-end job ASAP. Staying at your current job is sucking the life out of you, so it’s now time to move on and find a more promising job elsewhere. Not all was a loss, however, because you’ve learned some valuable lessons at your job – especially lessons on what to look for in a manager/employer before signing on the dotted line. Your anger has dissipated and you’re more eager to seek out new opportunities and truly put your skills to good use, finally. It’s just a matter of time now, but at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Whatever your final decision is – to stay or to go – be sure that it isn’t a rash decision that you’ll regret later on, because enduring a few months at your dead-end job while you job search is probably far better than a few months of no paycheck and no job. Be wise and strategic in your decision and do your best not to burn bridges at your current employer, because business is a very, very small world that is more connected than you may think. Good luck!

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Leah Arnold-Smeets
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