I know a lot of folks who complain about their jobs. They don’t like the work. They don’t like their coworkers. They don’t like their organization’s culture. They feel trapped and stymied by how to make things change. When trapped, they rationalize why they’re staying.
Some folks think they’re indispensable to the organization. They’re the big boss. The head cheese. The big kahuna. In their minds the organization would crumble without them present. Given how important they are, there’s no way they could ever leave their role.
Other people make excuses as to why they can’t leave. “I have unvested stock options worth trillions.” “My long term incentive vests soon. Only 7 more years to go.” “I’m 42 and I’m approaching retirement and social security.”
Regardless of the reasons we give, it’s a bunch of crap.
Look, if the pope can quit, so can you.
He’s the head of a major religion. 1.6 BILLION people ON THE PLANET are in his organization which is several CENTURIES old. It’s been almost SIX HUNDRED YEARS since a pope resigned. His long term incentive includes eternal life and possible sainthood.
Yet, he quit. Poof. Later.
If he can quit his job, so can you. Here’s how to think about it:
If you’re unhappy, everyone else around you is too
If you hate your job and are frustrated by it, you’re dragging down the morale of those around you. Your work product isn’t as inspired as it used to be. Your family is sick of hearing you complain about your day. You’re no longer fun to be around. The members of your team feel neglected and they’re beginning to hate their job too. Do you really want to subject those around you to that misery? Is it fair to them? Is it fair to the organization that’s paying you a bunch of money to perform? Those are rhetorical questions.
You’re not that important
Ever notice when someone resigns everyone acts like its the apocalypse but about two weeks later no one can remember their name? Even if you’re considered the lifeblood of the organization, when you disappear, the organization keeps on truckin’ along without missing a beat. Disagree? Two words: Steve Jobs. Last I checked, Apple is still a viable company. If you’re afraid to leave your job because you believe the organization can’t carry on without you, you’re wrong. Trust me – they’ll be just fine. While it’s hard to swallow that we don’t matter as much as we’d like to think we do, when you buy into that fiction, you’re creating barriers to exit that simply don’t exist.
You’re wearing golden handcuffs
I can’t tell you how many times I hear the following: “I can’t quit! I have tons of unvested stock options, restricted stock, long term incentives, 401k’s, and other such perks that I’ll lose if I leave the organization. I’m wearing golden handcuffs and I can’t quit.” I’m calling BS on that. It’s not that you can’t quit – it’s that you’re choosing not to quit. Last I checked, most companies are employment at will situations. While I understand it’s hard to walk away from financial incentives, here are a few things to consider:
- You might get canned or laid off before all your goodies vest in which case you’ll have nothing more than a severance package (if they even give you one)
- Companies sometimes don’t perform well. While you think your options are worth billions today, if your company collapses anytime between now and when you exercise your options or sell your stock, your incentives are worth much less than you believe they are.
Bottom line – you hold the key to the handcuffs and they’re not as tight as you might believe. While we all have the power of positive thoughts driving our perception of the value of our incentives, take a more pragmatic and pessimistic view of their value and see if you would still stay with the organization. If not, it might be easier to leave than you originally thought.
If you don’t like your job, make like a pope and make your exodus (see what I did there?)
If you don’t enjoy your work, stop making excuses and do something about it. All the reasons you keep telling yourself to justify staying somewhere you don’t like aren’t serving you well. There’s always someone else to fill your seat (heck, maybe one of your team members would be really excited to get promoted into the role you vacate). You’re not as indispensable as you might believe, and golden handcuffs aren’t as tight as you think. There are too many other great opportunities out there where you’ll be happier and more successful (which incidentally will likely result in higher long-term earnings because you’ll be more productive and effective in your job which should impact your performance reviews and bonuses). If the pope can walk away from a role as big as he did, I’m betting you can do the same.
Have you ever quit your job? How did you make your decision? Are you happier in your new job? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.
- If you want to get a clearer sense of where you’re headed in life and in your career, grab One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership or download the audiobook version at Audible.com. Focus on the first section on Leading Yourself. it will help you define your personal and professional goals and understand what kind of job will get you excited when you go to work every day.