Why the Words ‘I Quit’ Aren’t Always a Cop Out


Sometimes you've just got to give yourself permission to let go.


Whether it’s a relationship, job or even just a workout, uttering the immortal words ‘I quit’ can sometimes feel like a cop out. Let’s be honest: in some cases, it actually is. However, there are other times where our dogged refusal to quit actually means we fail by default; we fail to fulfill our dreams by staying in a dead-end situation. Indeed, studies show that in the UK alone, half of the country’s entire workforce would rather be in a different career. Similarly, in Australia, a Seek Learning study revealed 49% of us don’t think our current careers reflect our true calling. If you’re one of the millions of employees bound to a job out of an unwavering sense of duty, it might be time to give yourself permission to pack it in. Here are some perfectly valid reasons:

Because you want to    

In an ideal world, you would already have a new job lined up before you quit your current one, or have that side project really up and running when you hand in your notice. Sadly, life isn’t that perfect – but that’s OK.

“We believe that quitting without a backup plan would be impossible and selfish and unwise, dooming our careers, our finances, our families, and quite possibly bringing about the apocalypse,” says Tess Vigeland, author of Leap: Leaving a Job With No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want.

“I now believe that if more of us quit our jobs when we felt like the time had come, we’d be in a much better place.”

Consider both the financial and emotional risks of leaving and starting your own thing or spending a little extra time in unemployment, but don’t use them as obstacles for finally doing that job that you’ve always wanted to do.

Because staying is making you sick

A healthy work-life balance is a priority for most Millennials, yet 45% of every sick day taken in the UK last year was down to stress, while mental stress costs businesses here at home more than $10 billion annually. If your employer doesn’t value your wellbeing, it’s time to give yourself the go-ahead to find one that does. “We should realise there’s a difference between quitting because we just can’t be bothered and aren’t prepared to put in the fight, and choosing to make an empowered choice for the long term direction of our businesses, careers – and lives,” advises Mumpreneur author Annabel Karmel.  

Because fear is holding you back

Fear of financial instability is a completely valid reason not to want to quit your job. But what if it’s the unknown you’re secretly scared about? 15% of Brits who want to change careers admit that fear of failure is stopping them seeking out something new. Failure is certainly a valid emotion but it’s not reason enough to not do something you really want to try.

Having been there and taken the plunge, former news anchor Tess urges anyone on the cusp of quitting to be brave and embrace the unknown. “I can say with certainty that three years ago, before taking my own leap, I never would have sold my house and a good chunk of my possessions and moved to Southeast Asia for an indeterminate period of time with two backpacks and no plan,” she writes. “Yet here I am today.”

Because you’ve exhausted every other option

You’ve tried to make it work. You’ve spoken to your line manager about taking on other tasks more aligned to your values. You’ve been practicing mindfulness to combat your stress levels and have even been studying in your spare time in order to better prepare you for something new – yet you’re still miserable. If you’ve truly considered every other option, it’s much easier to utter the “Q” word.
“Deep down, I think most of us know when it is time to admit defeat and move on,” says Lisa Phillips, the author of The Confidence Coach. “Listen to your emotions and also remind yourself that if something is consistently making you unhappy, then you owe it to yourself to do something about it.”

Because you can afford to (only if you can, of course)

Tess quit her job as a radio news anchor four years ago and her only regret is that she didn’t do it sooner. “I want to urge everyone who’s ever dreamed of setting fire to expense reports or tossing a uniform in the dumpster to take a flying leap in the year ahead,” she writes. But before you make like Tess and go flouncing off into the sunset, she has some sage advice; get a financial buffer in place first. “Unfortunately, it’s true that if you don’t have enough money saved up, you cannot quit your job.” Make certain to crunch some numbers before you toss in a resignation: not only should you factor in your outgoings like rent or mortgage repayments, food, transportation but you should also consider saving for a ‘what if’ buffer. This is when you consider what life might look like if your venture or freelance life doesn’t quite take off in the way you imagine. A good rule of thumb, according to Susan Hirshman, financial planner and author of Does This Make My Assets Look Fat?, is to have 12 months worth of savings behind you before throwing in the towel.


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