Time to go? When and how to quit your job

By Nailantei Norari
Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 00:00 | 4 mins read
Before you tender that resignation letter, here’s what you should know.

Nailantei Norari @artnorari

While many argue that quitting a job stems from luxury, having enough to know you can resign and not starve, at times it is the right thing to do.

Many entrepreneurs resign in order to focus on their new businesses and term this as the singular move that motivates them to work even harder as there is no safety net.

Others resign in order to protect themselves from a toxic workplace, with more millennials taking this route compared to boomers. 

While a single person can just wake up one morning and decide to resign, married people cannot.

My favourite Uber driver and storyteller recently told me of a wife who quit her job without telling her husband only for her husband to volunteer for an early retirement package confident that his family would remain covered within the family’s health and salary benefits. So what is the right quitting etiquette?

Reasons versus excuses

“Before we even talk about the etiquette of quitting, we should consider the reasons for it.

These reasons range from excuses to quit work and solid reasons for the decision.

Since we might lack objectivity, especially if we are too immersed in the situation, it is important to confer with a trusted party before any decision is made to get a more objective view.

This can be from a mentor, a life partner, a coach or a therapist. You might find that you might be hurting in a different sphere of your life, which might be contributing to your job dissatisfaction,” Ken Munyua, a psychologist and relationship therapist in the country explains.

He talks of how important it is to be able to define the reasons for leaving. If it is about a toxic work environment, one should be able to define how toxic the environment is and to what level.

This will inform the decision on whether they can still continue working in the place, but at a different level, whether they can report the toxicity and what will be done about it. 

If the toxic culture is so pervasive that there is no form of redress, one should reevaluate and carefully map out the pros and cons of leaving dependent on how much emotional damage that they are willing to withstand and how strong their reasons for staying are.

No one would fault a parent who has a child who has regular medical check-ups hence is dependent on the workplace health benefits for staying in a toxic work environment.

However, the parent should be cognizant of the emotional price they are paying as a result and seek social and emotional support.

They should also create an exit strategy while curating a personal workspace that is positive and free from any negativity. 

While toxicity at work is a valid reason to quit, is quitting a job just because you do not like it and are not passionate about it equally valid? According to Ken, it is not a valid reason.

At times passion is also formed by attitude. Someone with a positive attitude is more likely to grow in their career and thereby fall in love with their job when compared to someone with a negative attitude.

While passion is overly hyped by most people, the truth of the matter is that when one is younger and settling on what career path to take, more than half the population do not know exactly what they want to do, which makes the issue of passion even more dicey. 

Research has shown that the more you do something, the more you get better at it and the more you love it.

It is not always that passion precedes love of a job. At times one puts in the hours, then love follows and lastly passion.

Most maestros who put in grueling hours to learn instruments were probably not as passionate about playing when they started out as they are now.

But if someone is absolutely convinced they have found their passion, which is totally different from what they are currently doing, Ken advises workers to create an exit strategy and go for it.

A plan is important as it guarantees success, which is not guaranteed when you just quit to blindly follow an undefined path that you are passionate about.

Allan Lawrence, a counselling psychologist and life coach agrees with Ken. “Let me start by throwing a spanner in the works.

Is passion necessarily aligned with someone’s purpose? The answer is not always.

And the thing about being passionate about something that is not your purpose is tantamount to running and finishing the wrong race successfully.

You can develop passion about something by doing it over time. Purpose is something you discover over time and is normally aligned with how you use your gifts, that which you are good at, to make a better world for not just your family, but for everyone. Purpose should trump passion any day,” he says.

Pressing bills

That said, people do not live in a vacuum. “This means that one might stay in a job they are not passionate about or that is not their purpose due to pressing bills.

The thing is, there is no one formula for doing things. Every solution is individual as it is dependent on the prevailing circumstances.

It is, therefore up to the individual to decide the way forward cognizant of how it will affect them and their family.

But one should ensure they at least have a plan to one day pursue their purpose, while getting paid for it.

Using cash from their present job that they might not be passionate about to invest in their better future is a good place to start,” Allan advises.

He, however, cautions against just waking up and leaving one’s place of work without proper resignation, no matter how toxic the environment is as two wrongs do not make a right.

Leaving one’s job without fully informing one’s spouse is another recipe for disaster as they will be directly affected by the decision.

Talk to them and make them understand your reason for wanting to quit and quit only after convincing them it is the right thing to do.