Quitting your job isn’t something you just do on a whim. Especially if you don’t have anything else lined up.
That’s why you’ve been waffling back and forth for weeks (if not longer).
And while I can’t tell you exactly what your next step should be, I can help you sort through whether leaving without a backup plan is a reasonable decision.
If you’re asking yourself if this is the right move, keep the following in mind.
Yes if: You’ve Been Building Your Network for a While
Know a dozen people you can reach out to for help finding a new job? That’ll definitely help you find your next position. (P.S. Here’s the networking email to send when you’d like help looking for a job.)
No if: You’re Planning to Start Networking Once You’re Unemployed
You don’t want to make your initial email a cold ask for a job. Instead, start warming up your network in the meantime. For help there, here are three better ways than “remember me” to start your email.
Yes if: You’ve Saved Up
Once you’ve got a few months’ worth of living expenses squirreled away, you can take the time to find a job that’s right for you, and not settle for the first thing that comes along.
No if: You’re Thinking: “I’ll Just Figure it Out”
You don’t want to jump into a job you hate to make ends meet or have to take out a loan. And remember, even if a great offer comes your way, it could be a while before they want you to start—and even longer before you get your first paycheck.
Yes if: You’re on the Verge of a Breakdown
A job that’s affecting your health—causing serious anxiety, panic attacks, or depression—isn’t worth the paycheck. (It’s also something you should consider discussing with a mental health professional, and this article can help you understand whether a mentor, coach, or therapist is the best person to talk to.)
No if: You’re Simply Ready for a Change
You deserve better. That said, it’s worth staying just a little longer if you’ve been miserable for a while and a few more months won’t drive you to your wit’s end—but will allow you to have a financial cushion. Try to make it through so that when you do give your notice, you have enough saved up to wait for a job you’re excited about.
Yes if: You Can’t Pinpoint an End Goal
If this job has zero bearing on where you want to go and what you want to do, it’s not as big a deal if you burn a bridge.
No if: This Job Is a Stepping Stone on the Way to Something Amazing
Is there some major benefit that comes with staying put, like a transfer to the department of your dreams, a huge raise that’ll let you finally start saving for retirement, or a boss who knows everyone in the industry? Sometimes you have to do something that makes you miserable in order to get to something really great.
Yes if: You’ve Tried to Make it Work
If you’ve done your best to remedy the thing that’s making you unhappy and there’s still no sign of improvement, it’s time to give notice.
No if: There’s More You Could Do
Something—a micro-managing boss, a nosy co-worker, mountains of unnecessary paper work—is making you want to quit, but you haven’t tried to fix it. Try talking to HR, suggesting a new system to cut down on paperwork, or wearing headphones at your desk. You might be able to eliminate the problem without having to find another job.
Truth: Quitting your job without any idea what you’ll do next isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. With that said, it can also set you on the path to do what you’re meant to. So, at its core, this choice is about what’s riskiest—taking a chance or staying still. If you’re not quite sure, think of the questions above, and whether the “yes” or “no” answers resonate most.
Have a different question? I help people make (big and small) decisions. Learn more here.
Photo of person thinking courtesy of Luis Alvarez/Getty Images.