If you’re like some of the unhappy professionals I know, Sunday nights can quickly turn into an evening of dread–the weekend is over, the work week looms ahead. You have the Sunday Scaries.
In fact, the only thing keeping you from reaching your breaking point is the fact that you’re applying to jobs and lining up interviewing. However, if you’re anxious to the point that you’re exploring roles that don’t make any sense for you, then it’s time to take stock of what’s really going on here.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the role for six months or two years—there’s still such a thing as quitting too soon if your move involves taking the first job offer you get.
I understand: The urge to jump ship probably seems like an easy way to ditch the inner turmoil you’re dealing with. Any job other than this one must be better, right? The urge to get out of a bad situation is great, perhaps primitive. After all, we’re wired with a fight or flight survival instinct, and as someone who managed a human resources function for several years, I’ve seen this in action.
But quitting too soon could prove to be a terrible career move—here are the four biggest reasons why:
1. You’re Wrong About the Grass Being Greener
The new gig may be worse than the job you just left. It’s easy to justify your reasons for leaving when your situation’s difficult to endure. And all it takes when you’re feeling desperate is a convincing hiring manager.
But have you really thought about what you’re doing? If you just accept anything on the grounds that it gets you out of what you’re in, chances are, you’re bound to experience regret and maybe even long for your former situation.
To that point, have you made a list of pros and cons in your current job? You might surprise yourself with the pros.(And you might that a lot of the cons are pretty fixable.)
2. You’re Possibly Missing a Growth Opportunity
Your present state of discord could actually be good for you in the long run, but if you leave too fast, you’ll never know. It’s said that growth occurs when we’re out of our comfort zone. Is it possible you’re overlooking challenges that might be developmental? If your boss is supportive, then try to dig deep and understand the cause of your misery.
Usually good and honest communication can help uncover the source. Perhaps you need additional training or exposure to come up to speed on a required skill. Or you just need to know that you have your boss’ approval to stretch yourself and give you time to grow in the way they’re asking you to.
3. You’re Not Ready
OK, so technically you may be ready to leave your job, but are you really ready for the next one? Are you eager to leave because you believe you deserve more (money, recognition, and responsibility)?
Running after titles or status without, dare I say earning them, will only bring you a stretch of uncomfortable unease. This can start a course of panic or self-doubt, which’ll get you nowhere fast and only lead you to the feeling that you need to get out again—fast.
And if you haven’t strengthened your skills or maintained a high level of self-confidence in the meantime, you’re going to struggle when you begin yet another job search.
Instead of assuming the problem is your boss, your company, your team, take a look within yourself. Let’s say you’re frustrated with a lack of promotion—is there anything you can do to earn that?
4. You’re Risking Your Reputation
If you give up without working through a challenge or for reasons you didn’t process and you jump into a situation that provides a similar challenge, you’ll soon be facing the same sense of dread. A new organization can surface other issues and you may find that your difficulty processing constructive criticism, for example, brings you down wherever you land.
The time to change jobs should be a well thought-out decision, not one you make because things are starting to feel desperate. It’s worth riding out a challenging situation for a few weeks or months so that you can better understand what’s contributing to your discontent.
I’d say this is especially true if your organization does a decent job growing careers. If you’re experiencing on-the-job anxiety, can you speak to someone in HR or communicate to your boss what’s going on?
It’s OK to interview for other jobs to get a feel for what’s out there and what you could be doing, but it’s not OK if it’s your escape method.
Before you make any fast moves, spend time sorting through what you like about your job and paying attention to factors that have you dreading it, such as negative feedback or a taxing project.
If you have unused vacation days, maybe now’s the time to take a mental health day and practice some self-care. It may be true that after a period of reflection you really do need to quit. Just make sure you know what you’re doing and why.