So now you know what to do when you work with or for a real jerk. We talked about that last week and the week before that. You know that the first step is to see what you can do to shift the situation, and you know how to set boundaries, right?
But while doing that stuff will definitely make you feel better and get you much clearer, sometimes you’re just in a bad work situation that’s not going to change.
And the only thing to do is to exit, stage left.
But how do you know if quitting is the right thing? How do you know if you’re just running away? This is the moment when so many of us freeze up and do… nothing.
Back in 2008, I wrote When To Quit, and while the world has changed a bit since then, the advice in that piece is just as valid today. You quit when you’re becoming someone you don’t like. You quit when you find yourself enjoying complaining about your soul sucking hellhole of a job more than leaving it. You change when the pain in staying outweighs the pain of leaving.
In this economy, where unemployment is predicted to be high for the next couple of years, how do you leave a paying job? Do you just willingly enter the ranks of the unemployed?
No, that would be pretty stupid (unless, of course, you have a year’s expenses in savings and you’re willing to use it to fund your job search).
What you do is this – rather than spend your energy bitching about your job or feeling stuck, spend it in productive ways:
- Commit to networking while you’re still in your job. And I’m not talking about the old way of networking, where you stand in a large ballroom tossing your business cards around like confetti. No, today’s networking is Smart Networking. It’s about helping others, solving their problems, creating relationships. Join professional groups and take a leadership role. Volunteer. Get to know more people, so when you’re ready to make a move, you have a tribe of raving fans to support you.
- Consider opening your own business. Now is a great time to start a business, especially when it’s centered in your strengths. I recently coached an executive who had been unemployed for nearly a year. We crafted a strategy where she went after a consulting contract – and she got two of them! One of which now wants to bring her on full-time. I’ve talked with plenty of employers who are actively pursuing this path – bringing on consultants who then become employees, so it’s a valid, current path to full-time employment.
- Build your outside-of-work life. When all your eggs are in your work basket, everything that threatens the basket is potentially cataclysmic. Spread the eggs around. Spend time with your spouse, your kids. Take a class. Read a freakin’ book. Care less about your work and more about having a rich life. And you may just find that the jerks at work bother you much less, because you’re spending time with so many nice people. Even some nice people who will help you find your next job.
It’s been said that quitters never win and winners never quit. But I know that’s not really true. In fact, I like Seth Godin’s take on it – winners know when to quit. Bill Gates? Quit the tablet PC rather than throwing more money at the problem. And no one would call Gates a loser (unless they happen to work for Apple – just sayin’).
Quitting is a hard thing to do. I know this. Remember Failure and What I Did About It? But I’m here to tell you that quitting allows the space to open for something wonderful, empowering, lucrative and fun. If you need to quit for all the right reasons, go ahead – quit. I cannot wait to see what opens up for you.