If the job is emotionally or physically abusive, in many cases we might need to quit right away.
If the job is not meeting our needs any longer, one option is to quit.
The other option is to shift the energy, making the job work for us.
This can be done by acquiring a game plan that allows us to take back our power, giving us the time to take thoughtful steps and eventually take action.
The outline below I created and implemented for myself.
Over a period of about 10 years, my job needs shifted greatly. It took me multiple attempts to get into the right jobs, and into the right balance for my authentic needs.
I followed this exit plan while still in the job I had outgrown, using it four times to ensure I was creating a healthy transition for myself.
Well, let’s dig in!
1. Create a Values and Priorities List
Go big picture, ask yourself, what do you want from your job?
Identify the type of work that is fulfilling to you.
Get creative and go deep.
How do these answers integrate into your quality of life objectives?
List your values and priorities in order of most to least important.
2. Evaluate Your Options
How does your current job match with your values and priorities list?
If you rework some things at your current job, can it still work for you?
If you leave your current job, will you be avoiding a challenge that could help your growth?
Can you afford to leave your current role? How does money play a factor in this decision?
Get real and honest.
Take another look at your values and priorities to see if they need adjustment.
Positive change happens when we consciously develop the intention of our growth.
These lists help identify where we are starting.
3. Check Your Emotions
Sort out and identify triggers.
Why is this job detrimental to your well being?
Are challenges originating from difficulties with the boss, or coworkers?
For navigation tips, check out my article, Mindfulness Tools for Challenges in Relationships.
Is it the work you are finding discouraging?
Or maybe the trouble is a little bit of everything?
Identify possible resolutions.
Maybe a shorter commute will give you time for extracurricular pursuits.
Maybe travel for work will help you fulfill a personal goal of getting to see the world.
Maybe being part of a team of good coworkers is valued over salary.
Take another look at your values and priorities and make any needed adjustments.
4. Make a Decision
By this point, you should have a pretty good idea of the true challenges you are experiencing.
Is the job overwhelming detrimental to your well being? Is it time to take action and quit now? Or, can you pull back your energy from work, giving yourself time to create an exit plan?
Choosing your path will engage a healthy shift, making you feel in control of your trajectory again.
5. Adjust Your Effort
If you don’t quit your job, then it is time for the exit plan.
The first step is adjusting your effort in your job.
You continue to do good work, but you don’t place all of your effort into the current role.
This is a tricky step for a lot of people. We want to be good employees and valued for our work, but when we are inherently in a situation where this is not the case, we need to adjust our effort and put in only as much as we are receiving in return. Don’t worry. It took me a lot of trial and error to figure out how to do this for myself.
Adjusting your effort, this means that everyday you simply work to meet the job’s expectations.
When the boss is asking for people to stay late, you do not volunteer.
When the boss is asking for people to take on special projects, you do not volunteer.
When work drama comes up, you do not engage.
When you feel disempowered by a coworker, the boss, or the company, you first recognize and validate your emotion response. Then, you separate from the feeling, recognizing that you have decided this is not a healthy space and that you are actively working to change your circumstance. This perspective allows us to become more of an observer instead of engaged in an unproductive, exhausting, and familiar emotional tug of war.
Adjusting your effort frees you from unhealthy and draining aspects of the job.
All of that energy once used in emotional turmoil has now been identified. You have separated your self worth from it, and are actively engaged in changing your circumstance.
You have gained your power back and you are still meeting current job expectations.
Now, this job is working for you.
You have remained employed, given yourself time to further any additional skill or knowledge you want acquire from being in this job, and have a paycheck to keep life away from work stable and consistent.
They are paying you while you are devising your game plan to take your next best step.
6. Go to Work for Yourself
Finding that next best step takes effort. Use all that energy you no longer have invested in a job that is not working for you into finding the components of your growth trajectory.
Investigate any companies of interest. What is the company’s culture and mission statement? How is employee turnover? How do they manage salaries and raises?
Investigate any fields or areas of interest that you are drawn to naturally. What are possible job options that you might not have considered? Ask friends of a job or field in which they see you working.
Use your intuition. Is there an area of interest that’s been tugging at you to pursue for a while?
Do a job search and identify and positions of interest.
Does that next step require you to rework your resume, take a class, network, or acquire a certificate? Make it happen.
Weigh all of these against your values and priorities list.
Where do your interests and your values and priorities coincide?
This practice will edit possibilities, focusing the components of your desired growth trajectory.
7. Stay on Target
Change does not always happen overnight.
Give space for this change to be fun.
Imagine yourself going to that perfect new job!
Imagine the commute, what it feels like to arrive at your job, your coworkers and how you interact with them, your boss and how they support you in your growth, the values of the company and how it matches your interest, getting that glorious paycheck! Allow yourself to daydream and feel good about this new endeavor. Ultimately this day dream is what you are trying to create in your actual life. Have fun with it and allow yourself to get carried away. These are the components of making a dream a reality.
Also, do what you need to keep your energy healthy.
That current job is still a bit of a beast at times and your energy fluctuations will be reflected.
Eat well, exercise, and spend time with friends and family.
Stick to your plan and continue to research, redevelop, and recharge.
Eventually your effort will lead you in the direction you intend to go.
8. Compare Opportunities
As opportunities arise, compare them with your values and priorities list.
How do they match up?
What are you willing to give/get from this possibility vs what you have worked out on your list?
Go back to your daydream, how does it compare? Do you like how it is being altered?
You’ve put in the work to know where you stand.
Now, weigh it all out.
Make your best informed decision.
The process of this exit plan is intended to support our growth in a manner that is consistent with our desire for personal fulfillment. To feel like we have taken a successful next step, we need to stay patient and consistent with our big picture plan. In this way, our job becomes an expression of the greatest good we have to offer others and ourselves.
And know, it will all change again when we are ready to change again.