In what’s been termed the Great Resignation, thousands of employees have quit their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Close to two years of lockdown restrictions and other challenges have caused people to reassess their priorities, with some choosing to hop off the career ladder altogether. A survey from Personio last year found 38% of employees in the UK were looking to change roles in the next six or 12 months.
"There are a number of reasons why people are considering quitting their jobs today," says Indira Chima, BACP therapist and founder of The Counselling Living Room. "Some people are retiring, retiring early, or taking voluntary redundancy. Others are leaving to do something different, or to go self-employed."
Are you thinking 2022 might be the year you wave goodbye to a job that’s been making you miserable? Here, experts list five key questions you need to ask yourself before taking the plunge…
1. How do you feel on Sundays?
Do you often suffer from the ‘Sunday scaries’, a sense of dread that descends when you realise the weekend will soon be over and it’ll be Monday morning again?
"If you do, you might be surprised to know that not everyone feels that way when Sunday rolls around," says Philip Karahassan, BACP therapist and founder of Therapy in London. "That anxiety you feel at the thought of going to work is a simple message telling you that something must change."
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should immediately hand in your notice. First, you need to work out what in particular about Monday morning is so panic-inducing.
Karahassan says: "When trying to decipher what that ping of anxiety is telling you, be really honest with yourself. It could be an environment you need to remove yourself from, or it could be something you need to confront and address."
2. Will I be happier?
"Many people stay in their job because it’s comfortable and it’s all they know," says Chima. "They may have a certain skill set or are paid well, but does your job make you happy today? As your life and circumstances have evolved, does your job still meet your needs today?"
She suggests considering the ‘push and pull’ factors, i.e. the reasons you want to quit and, on the other hand, why you’re reluctant to leave.
"Think about what you need and crave today at this stage of your life," says Chima. "It may be a better work/life balance, less responsibility and stress, or a more challenging and exciting role. It’s really important to take care of ourselves and consider if we are happy in the workplace – and if not, take necessary steps to change this."
3. Where do you look for joy in your week?
If you’ve actively started looking at other roles, remember to consider all aspects of the job before jumping ship.
Karahassan says: "A common misconception is that greener pastures are perfectly green forever, and this isn’t the case. Rather than looking for that perfect, well-rounded job, instead ask yourself what would make your life just that little bit more fulfilling? It could be to leave your current job, or it could be to incorporate a passion or hobby into your free time."
4. Is it financially viable?
It is, of course, crucial to consider the financial implications of a major career move, particularly if you’re thinking of resigning without a new role to go to.
"This is where plan B or plan C comes in," says Chima. "It’s a good idea to have savings set aside or access to savings if it doesn’t work out."
She also recommends talking it through with your partner, if you have one: "Help them understand why you are feeling the way you do. Would they be prepared to help support you, or can they help you arrive at solutions that would allow you to quit your job now or in the future?"
5. What scares you most about quitting?
"If you have come down to that very important decision of leaving your job, what has stopped you so far?" Karahassan asks. "We will all naturally run away from things that scare us, but just because something scares us, it doesn’t mean running is always the answer."
If you’ve figured out the financial and practical aspects of quitting but are still scared, it may be time to follow author Susan Jeffers’ motto: ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway.’
Chima adds: "There is always a degree of apprehension with any big decision, so don’t let that stop you if it is the right thing for you. It is a risk, but it is also a risk to wait until you feel ground down and depleted of your resources."