You don’t need me to tell you what you already know: it’s time to quit. You’re reading all sorts of blog posts about it, fantasizing about that grand exit speech, and constantly picturing yourself in other jobs. It’s OK. You’re not alone: 70 percent of Americans are not engaged at work. The trouble is that you’re not sure you can quit right now, right? Not so fast.
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You can — and folks like Tess Vigeland make a pretty compelling case that you don’t need to have a backup plan, in the form of another job, to do it. But since flying totally without a net isn’t a good idea, let’s look at what you can do to minimize the risk before you hand in your notice. Here’s a quick checklist of what you need to do so that the door doesn’t hit you on the way out.
1. Organize Your Finances
If you’ve got credit card debt racking up, little to no savings, and bills that need paying, quitting your job right now with no plan is going to put you in a serious pickle — or leave you with a part-time gig that puts you in the same place you are with job you have now.
Settling finances can feel daunting, but there are ways to creep out of that money pit you’ve fallen into. Start with Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps. Once you’ve got secure financial footing, then you can start to let go of something that you’re just doing to keep the Netflix running.
2. Set Your Salary Range
How much should you be paid? Don’t just go by the salary you earn today, or shoot for the moon with the dollar amount of your dreams. Research the market with tools like PayScale’s Salary Survey, which guides you to a competitive (but totally realistic) salary range based on your experience, skills, education, and geographic location. Then, bone up on your negotiation skills and make a plan to get what you deserve.
3. Draft Your Post Employment-Pitch
To be clear: this isn’t “what am I going to do next?” This is, “why am I doing this?” There isn’t one right answer to this question, but it’s important, as Vigeland points out, at least to have an answer.
Think of yourself like a company. A company needs a mission statement of some sort. You need to have a mission statement for any season of your life. In fact, one study reported by the Huffington Post showed that having a sense of purpose actually adds years to your life. It could be as simple as “I’m taking time to sort out what I’m really passionate about,” or “I want to spend more time with the people I love.”
4. Remember Why You Quit
You are making a huge change in your life by quitting your job. More likely than not, according to a study from LinkedIn, you probably didn’t feel like you had room to grow. Don’t fall into the trap of fear that puts you right back in a growth-free job. If you have taken some care with your finances, and stay focused on your reason for leaving, you can avoid winding up in a new job that’s just like your old one in all the worst ways.
5. Start Dreaming
Once you’ve taken the leap, you’re left with a world full of possibilities — and that may even mean eventually returning to the job you just left (as long as you were careful to leave well, and keep the right doors open). Take a class, read the book you haven’t had time to read, or pursue doing the thing you spend so much time thinking about when you should have been at your desk getting that boring, unfulfilling job done.
While it may not be easy to get the job you really want, the chance to fail rests squarely on your shoulders. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
Tell Us What You Think
Did you recently quit your job? What are some things you wish you did differently, or are still not sure you’re ready to do? Tell us your stories in the comments below, or by joining the conversation on Twitter!