How to (Finally) Quit Your Job
This post originally ran on Harvard Business Review. As you wait for the elevator to arrive after another mediocre day at the office, you give yourself an all-too-familiar pep talk. "I'm better than this, and I've completely had it with this job," you tell yourself. "I'm outta here for good." As you ride the elevator to the lobby, you visualize your last day at the company. You fantasize about walking into your manager's office, tabling your resignation letter, and cleaning your forsaken cubicle for the final time. You flash your trapped colleagues a half-sympathetic smile, but you're barely able to contain your excitement at the new direction you're about to take. By the time you exit the elevator to the ground floor, the fantasy ends, and your once-slumped shoulders suddenly stiffen with resolve. You're actually going to resign tomorrow! Does this sound familiar to you? If so, did you end up quitting like you knew you should have? Chances are, the answer is no. Since writing "Why You Won't Quit Your Job" earlier this year, I've been inundated with all kinds of public feedback, personal stories, and follow-up questions from people looking to overcome the psychological biases that trap them in unsatisfying roles and prevent them from doing work that matters. While these senior executives, 20-something bankers, and mid-career marketers, analysts, and lawyers all knew that they wanted to leave their current roles, executing their plan proved to be a perennially insurmountable challenge. In fact, the most common question I got was, "How can I overcome the hurdles to quitting and actually quit?" Here's the cold truth: Deciding you want to quit is usually just the first move in a sometimes long and arduous cerebral chess match you'll play with yourself. The reasons that over 70% of Americans stay in jobs they hate might surprise you. I've found that people's inability to quit their current roles had little to do with the perceived riskiness of their new professions, their financial situation, or general economic conditions. The real barrier for most of us is not external. It's our own psychology: We overthink decisions, fear eventual failure, and prioritize near-term, visible rewards over long-range success. So how are the smart and savvy ones able to break free? After conducting a series of follow-up interviews with my original research subjects — the late 20- and early 30-something professionals I studied while writing both Passion & Purpose and my previous post on this topic — three takeaways stood out that explained how those individuals were able to overcome the psychological barriers and finally quit with conviction.
The Brazen Blog
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