If you're 23+ years old, odds are that you either currently don't like your job very much, or that you just left a job that you didn't like very much. Quitting our jobs is a part of our current society. We are allowed that freedom that say no mas, and to move on. In some countries, that may not be so, so let us not take it for granted.
At 33, I have quit my fair share of jobs, but not without ample time to consider it (usually) and not without leaving on good terms. To me, that has been the biggest secret to enjoying the process of quitting and finding new roads to travel. And that's a tough skill to get good at, because of this pre-disposed guilt that we feel when we even consider quitting our jobs. We think that our lives are at risk and that our friends and families will judge us.
So the following are a few helpful guidelines to follow in order to make quitting your job a fun experience for everyone, including your employer, instead of a shameful scar on society.
Have some savings
The biggest reason why most people fear leaving their job, is because they are afraid that they will be homeless and have to resort to eating off the dollar menu. So having a nest egg will help to keep those fears at bay. Just how much of a nest egg is up to you. And this also depends on what it is that you are planning to do after you quit. If your goal is to find another job as soon as possible, then your savings don't have to be too drastically high. A few months of cash should suffice just fine.
If you want to travel the world for some time, then you could require even less, as you won't have to pay for rent anymore and can instead use that money to book an initial flight and then travel on the cheap once you hit your first destination. Travelling through most countries is not as expensive as living in a metropolitan city with technology and ads at every corner. And more than likely, after spending some time abroad, you may not have the same goals and ideas that you once had before and your life can take a whole different turn that you didn't expect.
If you are staring your own business on the other hand, then you might require a bit more capital. Personally, before I quit any job, I normally had around 6 months of runway that I gave myself to cover most expenses while working on building up my own consulting company and finding my own clients. If you can find clients along the process, then your runway becomes less important as you learn to create cash flow.
Obviously, the more savings the more confident you will be. But you will have to weigh the cost benefit analysis of staying at a job that you are unhappy with, versus an extra month of living expenses later on.
It's perfectly fine if you don't become a millionaire in those 6 month as well. You are employable, remember that. You got one job in the past and you can get more if you want. This is more about reducing your overall fear and anxiety in the process.
Leave on the best terms
This is the toughest part, but the most important. You quit because you probably aren't happy where you are currently. Perfectly normal human behavior. But that doesn't mean that you have to burn all your bridges and watch YouTube at your desk for 2 weeks. I find my last 2-3 weeks at any job to be the busiest weeks for me. There's documentation to take care of, meetings to attend, knowledge transfer to conduct and I do them all and I do them well. Above and beyond what is expected of me.
This is more about yourself, than about your employer. You aren't working harder to make your project manager happy. They may have been the reason that you are quitting. No, you are working harder because when you walk through those doors for the last time, you can walk out with your head high and without having to carry with you any burden of what you left behind. You dotted the last 'i' and crossed the last 't'. There is no more need of your service at this place of employment.
This is something that I learned early on in my career, when shortly after I would quit I would receive phone calls from my ex-project manager asking questions about workflows and lost work. And truthfully, you don't have to answer a single question. But we do, because we are nice people. But ensuring that everything is complete before you leave, will definitely reduce any contact which is vital for you to grow into your new role of whatever it is you are doing with life.
When I quit a job, I want them to see the quality of work that they could have continued to have. I want to leave a visible gap in both work output and energy in the office. This is good for employers too, as having someone who works hard quit, can affect the way that they themselves treat employees in the future.
Have a plan
As I mentioned, it is good to have a roadmap of what it is that you want to do after this chapter closes. "Get another job" is as meaningless as what you were just doing. So quit with a plan. For example, you might want to work in a sector that is more meaningful that anything else you've done before. You might want to consider the home and community care jobs development programs you could take part in, to make a positive difference to those in need. A plan to improve your quality of life. Not to make more money (not that that is bad), but a plan to do more with life than just quit jobs and find new ones.
And be specific with your plans. "Make more money" isn't very clear and when you wake up the next day you'll just stare at those words and then ponder why you just quit your job that paid you money. Things like "Start to freelance", "Travel to 'country of your choice'", "Start a blog" are better action items that have set steps that you can follow.
Quitting your job is a subtle art and one that many will get wrong. There's a right time for it and there's a right way to go about doing it. And it will take a few jobs to get the hang of it. There is nothing like quitting a job, completing all of your tasks, and then getting to sit around a table drinking a 6 pack of beer with your employees and your boss as they wish you luck on your next journey.
Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.
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