Thinking of joining the Great Resignation?

Americans are quitting their jobs in droves, and it is tempting to jump on the bandwagon. In fact, reporting by the New York Times has shown that  quiting your job is actually contagious! 

But, like your Mom always said, if everyone else jumps off a bridge does that mean you should, too?

There are lots of good reaons to quit a job — from low pay and poor working conditions to the opportunity to pursue better opportunities. But before you make a hasty decision, here are some questions that can help you decide if quitting your job is right for you. 

1. What do you really care about with respect to your work?

For some people, a job is just a way to pay the bills so they can enjoy the rest of their life.

For others, a career is the path to personal fulfillment and meaning. 

Here is a short list of the values that might matter to you in deciding whether a job is a good fit.

  • Financial rewards and benefits
  • Power and prestige
  • Respect and authority
  • Collegiality and relationships
  • Mission and purpose
  • Personal fulfillment 
  • Flexibility and portability
  • Autonomy and freedom
  • Service and contribution

Knowing which of these factors means the most to you will make it easier to analyze whether your current employment serves your highest values. 

2. What is non-negotiable to you in the workplace?

The Great Resignation has been motivated in part by intolerable working conditions that have persisted despite decades of equal opportunity laws. 

  • Stagnant wages for low-wage workers
  • Glass ceilings for women and people of color
  • The gender pay gap
  • Lack of paid leave and affordable child care
  • Double standards re home and family
  • Sexual and racial harassment
  • Unrealistic expectations re productivity and billable hours
  • Unsafe and unsanitary working conditions

Each of us has our own bottom line with respect to what we are willing to tolerate. Where do you draw that line?

3. What are you willing to trade off to get or keep a job?

This is where the rubber meets the road. We have been sold a bill of goods in this country. 

It was refreshing when young women were told they could do anything or be anything they wanted  — but that led to a generation of over-achieving,  overwhelmed SuperMoms. 

The reality is that in today’s work environment, it is almost impossible to balance the demands of work with the demands of caregiving without ending up stressed out, burned out, and overwhelmed.

It is no accident that the Great Resignation is led primarily by working women worn out by the demands of work and parenting during Covid-19.

Working parents have been forced to choose between home schooling their children and creating a professional environment for working at home. 

As nursing homes exploded with Covid, more and more families brought their elderly parents back to live in a safer environment. 

Many have decided that the flexibility to take care of their families is more important than a paycheck. 

Even if you are not in that situation, it is important to figure out what you are willing to trade off to get the rewards that you value on the job. 

4. What responsibility do you bear for your own unhappiness at work?

 Sure, there are some legitimate reasons your job may be driving you crazy. But have you stopped to think about what part you are playing in this dysfunctional relationship?

The fact is, we all carry around some internalized limiting beliefs that may be holding us hostage on the job. For example, is our boss really too demanding, or are we still living by the unspoken rule that we should do our best to please people in authority?

Do we have to carry all the responsibility by ourselves, or are we living by the unconscious belief that it is a weakness to ask for help?

Is it true that nobody values our opinion, or are we afraid to speak up at meetings because we fear that we will take up too much space?

Are you really the only one who can manage home schooling and child care, or are you afraid to ask your partner for what you need?

Before walking away from your job, it is important to sort out what part of the dysfunction you will take with you to your next endeavor. Work is a relationship, maybe one of the most important relationships of your life. Wouldn’t you like to know if it can be saved?

5. Do you have a support network and backup plan?

I get it! It would be a thrilling moment to say “take this job and shove it.”

But what happens next?

It is not so much fun when your paychecks run out and you wonder how you are going to pay next month’s mortgage. Trust me, I know this from personal experience.

So before you jump on the bandwagon and quit your job, here are a few things you might want to put in place.

  • A rainy day account with 4-6 months of living expenses
  • An updated resume with at least 3 professional recommendations
  • An updated LinkedIn profile that showcases your expertise
  • A network of supportive colleagues who can help you set up informational interviews
  • If you are planning to start your own business, a business plan and start-up funding
  • Licensing and credentials for any new career you plan to pursue

When I was in my 20’s, I thought nothing of changing jobs every two or three years. But when I got ready to change careers in my 60’s, I made sure to put a transition plan in place to ensure a soft landing. 

The common wisdom that it is easier to find a job when you already have one applies just as well to starting your own business. Put the pieces in place before you jump ship, and you will have much smoother sailing. 

So what about you?

If you are part of the Great Resignation (or seriously thinking about it, I would love to hear from you. I am doing research for my next book, and your perspective would be invaluable. 

Why are you thinking about quitting your job, and what are you planning to do next? Please drop me a comment and let me know.