It may be already know to some that as of late February, I left my job at a certain German startup with a branch office in Korea. Although it wasn’t as messy as it could’ve been, it did hurt as much as (if not more) as a breakup with a beloved significant other. That being said, as soon as I officially made the decision to leave, it was like breaking free of chains that were holding me down. I realized what a toxic environment I was in and what amazing opportunities lay ahead of me. Sure, the big unknown and current lack of financial security is making me very very anxious. But on the other hand, I finally feel I have a purpose and I feel what I am doing is having a positive impact on the people and the world around me.
But I’m not here to bitch about what was wrong with my previous job nor to gloat how awesome my unemployment (sic!) life is. Let’s talk about WHY we quit our jobs.
1. The atmosphere sucks
Let’s face it, you will spend a lot of time (in person and/or remotely) with a certain group of people collaborating together on a certain purpose or purposes. Despite the job being fun, if the mere thought of confronting those people makes you gag, you are in trouble. A workplace, a team is supposed to be a safe space where people should be able to share not only their ideas, opinions, feedback, projects about work but also personal issues (I’m thinking along those lines: ‘Can we postpone the call today? My cat passed away yesterday and I’m not my 100%’). If a team leader* or a coworker lack empathy and understanding (i.e. is an asshole) it affects not only the mood of some or everyone, but has direct implications on work motivation and work results. I’d say that no matter how fun and good fit your job is, if the atmosphere in your workplace/team makes your stomach knotted every morning, it’s time to wave this gig goodbye.
*I’m currently studying the works of Enspiral, which make me think that it’s time to put the ‘boss’ to sleep and have EVERYONE be part of decision-making and leadership. But it’s a topic for another dispute.
2. This job is not for me
Your team is a group of amazing mates. You could hang out with them all day and night and be the bros-keis of your company. But when you sit at your computer you feel your heart sinking. Either because hours of boredom and frustration await you, or because you don’t really see how what you do has an impact on the project, company, society, the world. We need purposes in life, and sure, getting paid a living for a dumb job could be one of them. But I’d say most people carry in them a certain sensitivity, a longing that pushes us to strive for something bigger. For each and everyone it’s something a little bit different, but more often than not it’s about having an impact. On the other hand what we do has to align with our abilities, talents and ambitions. BUT! Don’t get discouraged if you find your job difficult, way out of your range. We usually grow into our work (and challenges are GOOD). And it’s always good to share your concerns with your awesome team. Maybe you can split the workload? Share and teach each other? OR maybe there is another even better solution. What I mean is: challenges are good if faced with the right people around you, so don’t shy away from them.
However, if you feel you are stuck in a place, like your job is not pushing you in the direction you would like your life to go, like you need to start making the world a better place, it’s time to take the plunge and leave for greener (and probably scarier) pastures.
3. It’s not lean
Although some think that ‘lean’ can only be used in startup, agile, scrum etc. contact, it also applies to who we work, on a personal level. Industrial revolution ended sometime ago (although some like the Korean government go around saying we are having an ambiguous and rather lukewarm 4th Industrial Revolution?), and it’s time to put into history books the rigid work times, fixed workplaces, and desks. Now that we have super high-speed Internet, and a lot of our work is in digital format, why are we still slaving 8-to-night in cubicles in stuffy offices, often with a ‘business casual’ dress code. Studies do show that company jobs are and will be moving towards flexible working hours, remote offices/working from home, hiring digital nomads. And not because it’s fun, sexy, hipster and instagramable. Sure, having happy and motivated employees is a factor. But really for businesses (and, in the bigger picture, policy makers), it’s about increasing the work efficiency and productivity aka. getting a better ROI off the work processes. Not to mention flexibility gives access to often overlooked workforces (disabled, mothers, elderly, remotely located etc.). In short it makes the employees happy campers and businesses rich and fat.
So if your work seems to be like a box (both literally and metaphorically), pack your stuff and join the growing number of ventures that do offer lean working conditions, as a principle.
4. There’s a better opportunity out there
And then there’s that moment, when despite having a dream job, a dream team and dream everything… you feel the itch. Either because there’s another job that aligns better with your values and internal voyage (not necessarily better paid! History knows of thousands who went ahead with a pay cut just to get a better ‘kick’). Or maybe you want to brave it and start a venture of your own. If you are prepared, and even if you are not, you will know when it’s the right moment to take the plunge. The world belongs to warriors and if you think that whatever is out there that can bring you closer to your goals and visions, don’t worry (too much) about the risks and go for it.
Quitting is never an easy endeavor (unlike giving up). It takes more courage than we give it credit. But if done wisely, with a good support system and the right dose of enthusiasm, it can take you onto another amazing adventure.