There is a special kind of misery that comes from working a bad job.
There’s the dread that builds on Sunday night when you know you have to go back the next day; the relief you feel upon exiting the building every evening; and the constant mental back-and-forth of, “Should I suck it up and stay? Should I quit? What’s the right thing to do?”
It can be an exhausting dance, and one with which I am intimately familiar.
I’ve quit two important jobs in my life. The first was Uber. I was there for just under a year, and quitting was not a decision I took lightly. I wasn’t treated poorly, it simply wasn’t the right fit–both position and culture-wise. I weighed the pros and cons for months, and ultimately decided the cost to my mental health was too high to stay.
Interestingly, I knew within the first 30 days that the job was not a good fit … but I stayed for a good 10 months. Why? Because I wanted to stick with it and see if I could make it work (I think a lot of us do this). Because I didn’t want to be seen as a quitter to others or myself.
Because I was ashamed at the idea of just giving up.
However, leaving taught me a valuable lesson. I saw my life improve dramatically. It became apparent that it was the right decision because on a day-to-day basis, I felt better. I had more energy. I was happier.
I also knew more about what I wanted and didn’t want in a company culture, and what kind of role suited me.
I took this with me in my career.
When it came to the next job where I could tell I was unhappy, I didn’t wait. I did try to make it work again (I had a heart-to-heart with my manager, seeing if we could make adjustments, etc.). Then, when things still didn’t change, I left. Why? Because I already knew how it had felt to stay in an environment that was toxic for me, and didn’t want any part of that anymore.
Instead of 10 months, I left after 29 days.
A new survey by Jobvite shows I’m not alone. For a lot of people, making what might be labeled a “rash” decision may in fact simply be a sound one. Nearly one in three people reported quitting a job within the first three months. When asked why, here’s what they said:
Their day-to-day role wasn’t what they expected (43 percent)
An incident or bad experience drove them away (34 percent)
The company culture (32 percent)
This isn’t something we talk about a lot. Quitting too soon is seen in the marketplace (and in our own evaluations of ourselves) as meaning you can’t persevere, or that there’s something wrong with you, or that you don’t have staying power. Recruiters don’t like to see 60-day stints on your resume, and the same goes for new bosses.
Yet the research suggests that quite a lot of people know when a job is a fit and when it isn’t–and they know fast. Some are willing to take action to end a situation that isn’t good for them.
Yes, of course it’s important to be able to persevere in life. No one wants to be impulsive or seen as flighty when it comes to their career. But the fact is, your intuition is a powerful tool. If it’s telling you to get out of there, chances are high there’s a good reason for that.
If staying feels like prison, and leaving feels like freedom, it may be time to take a hike.
Sometimes there really is something to quitting while you’re ahead.