Five Reasons to Quit Your Job

A colleague, in a move that will surprise the many who know, respect, and admire her for her knowledge and for her kindness, submitted her resignation this week.

While many will question her decision to leave a secure, well-paid position after 20 years, I’m not one of them. Instead, I think she’s being remarkably courageous for recognizing a situation that is no longer tenable.

At the risk of sounding like someone with a sketchy employment history, it made me think about the jobs I’ve quit in the past, why I did it, and how I knew it was time.

Generally it seems I left for one, or a combination of five differing reasons. It was a bad match of values, skills, and/or culture, there was something unethical going on, co-workers created an unhealthy atmosphere, there were unhealthy levels of stress, or, and for me this was a “biggie”, I wasn’t able to make a difference.

No regrets for me because, even in hindsight, all were and remain valid reasons for leaving a job you dread. Life is just too darn short to spend one third of your day doing something you don’t enjoy in an environment that doesn’t contribute to your happiness.
The first time I left a job it was the result of a bad match. Not being all that excited about numbers or dealing with cranky people, I was struggling to fit in as a bank teller when I overheard an elderly woman explain to the teller next to me that her significant withdrawal had to made up of bills of a certain denomination. Specifically, she said, “They told me it all had to be in tens or twenties”. Thinking that was a little strange, I locked my cash drawer, went over to the bank manager and explained that something was a little off. Sure enough, the woman was being conned, the police were called, a sting was set up, and ultimately an arrest was made. The bank manager, hailed as a hero, even received a gift of Crown Royal whiskey from the grateful customer. The fact that my role was never acknowledged in any way, told me a lot about the company and their values. It was then I realized both my skills and my values weren’t a match and it was time to move on.

Sometime after that I had another job with a non-profit organization where the Executive Director and his next in command appeared to be making unauthorized purchases and doctoring financial statements. When I tactfully expressed my concerns to the Board President, he went back to the smooth-talking Executive Director who not only reassured him but also managed to imply that I was a trouble maker. Although my unsuccessful attempt as a whistleblower left me feeling I had no choice but to exit, two years later, the Executive Director was arrested and ultimately spent time in jail for fraud.

Before I got myself focused on the right career path, I also did a stint as a service representative at Bell Canada. It was a great company to work for and the job was challenging. However, I found myself surrounded by a lot of coworkers who brought me down on a daily basis with their complaints and negative attitudes. One day it occurred to me that if I didn’t get out, I was going to end up sounding just like them.

I’ve also had jobs where high levels of stress impacted my physical and mental health and my relationships with family and friends. When efforts to address that burn-out didn’t work, I knew it was time to leave.

Leaving a job is something I’ve never ever taken lightly. In some cases there were significant risks and losses – like that Bell Canada pension.  Ultimately though, the risks have paid off because my sometimes rocky career path ultimately led me to work that I not only love, but is also a perfect match for my skills and experiences, with a team I respect and admire. Most importantly, I’ve followed my passion and my heart and found meaningful work. I’m one of the lucky ones and I know it.

As for my colleague, my guess is that she’s going to get there too.

Posted on 07-18-11


Great blog, Brenda!  I think many of us get trapped in jobs they hate out of fear of the unknown - rather the devil you know… instead, finding a new job should mean a chance to better yourself, connect with like minded people, and push yourself through new challenges.  Like dating, the perfect match for people seems to always come down to a similar value system.

•Posted by Janet Naclia  on  07/18/11  at  01:31 PM

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