Is it time to leave your job?
I vividly remember the exciting energy of NYE 2019. I was in Queensland with some friends at a music and arts festival – it was hot, colourful, and loud. We danced joyously under the moonlight as we spoke about the dreams and aspirations we had for the next year, the next decade. I vowed to myself I would start doing hip-hop classes twice a week, I planned on finishing my post-grad studies, and I had my heart set on diving deeper into my work at UTS Careers. Jump forward 11 months, and I have not attended a single dance class, I am on a leave of absence from my course, and I am creeping closer to my final day of employment. 2020 has changed a lot for me.
With bucket loads more time to sit … sit … sit and reflect, I know I am not alone when it comes to making significant changes this year and reassessing what is important – both personally and professionally.
Being in my final innings at UTS Careers, and having spent nearly three years helping students build the tools to find a job – it feels both counterintuitive and timely to write about the decision process behind leaving a job. After spending hundreds of hours talking to students about their careers, and reflecting upon my own – I have put together four questions you might ask yourself to help decide if it is the right time to wave goodbye to your job.
1. How is my health?
Often we push through work and life – grinding and hustling – sometimes at the expense of our physical or mental health. I know from my own past experience that I have not always prioritised my wellbeing ahead of work. Although I am far more vigilant now, I have been known to forfeit a good night’s sleep, skip an afternoon jog, and stretch my stress levels past what is ideal for my body – all in the name of career success. If you are feeling drained after waking up from a long sleep, or you find yourself more angry, withdrawn or irritable – it might be worth chatting to a health professional and/or your manager to put together a plan to get you back on track – even if that means stepping back from work until you feel better.
2. How is my personal life?
Nurturing a new baby? Caring for an unwell friend? Supporting a partner in their passion project? These are all valid reasons to choose to take a break from paid employment. Spending quality time with friends, family, and community is a great way to reconnect with our sense of belonging and emotional security. When we link up with those who we deeply care about, and who deeply care about us, we may notice a reduction in the feelings of stress and isolation which could have arisen from working in a high-pressure role, or in a job where the work has been highly autonomous.
3. How do I want to express myself?
We express ourselves in almost every decision we make – how we wear our hair, the kind of music we jam out to, and how we choose to spend our time. Work may be an important avenue of expression for some; however, I have seen cases where work creates a block or barrier – stopping the person from being their authentic self. You may notice this manifesting through feeling bored in your job or craving growth that cannot be facilitated in your current workplace. If you fall into this camp, you might try to re/find your feet by volunteering for an organisation or cause you’re curious about, or exploring further study options which spark your interest.
4. How else can I spend my time?
There is a strong social expectation that we will shape our lives around the following goalposts:
- Finish high school
- Dive straight into further study
- Build a career
- Work, work, work
This is absolutely perfect for some and may suit you wonderfully. However, for others – myself included – we might need to schedule in time to do, well, nothing. Taking an extended period of time off to rest and restore may be precisely what you need. A siesta. A holiday. A sabbatical. A break. Having time to radically focus on you, and you alone, might see you open up the door to new interests, pack your travel bags, or finally start diving into the project you have been putting off for years.
Choosing to leave a job can be a really tough decision – especially if you like the work you’re doing and the people you’re doing it with. Ultimately nobody will be able to tell you exactly what to do in this type of situation, but hopefully after some deep thought and reflection, you have the tools to make a call which feels authentic to you.
Whatever your decision is – I wish you all the very best!
Featured image courtesy of Pexels
By Sarah Marlor
Sarah is a driven HR practitioner with employment experience spanning across talent acquisition, on-boarding, customer service and career advisor roles, so it is fair to say that people are her thing! With a bursting enthusiasm for helping individuals work towards being their best selves, Sarah brings a passionate vibrancy to her current role as a Recruitment Advisor at the University of Technology Sydney.