The professional world is hard. There are lots of hours, lots of expectations for what you need to deliver, and lots of difficult people that you need to work with.
However, at the end of the day, about 71% of people work a traditional 40 hour week in a professional setting. Meaning that a professional job is the most common way for people to make money.
And, if you’re someone that struggles with compulsive job quitting, that may mean that you’re struggling to earn money consistently or build a long term career.
To that end, this article is going to unpack some common reasons why you may struggle with compulsive job quitting and what to do about that.
Let’s dive in.
Why Do I Constantly Quit Jobs?
One of the most helpful ways that I find to assess why you may not like working in a particular job is to use the flower exercise from the book What Color is Your Parachute.
Basically, the book argues that there are seven core aspects of every job (which it calls pedals of a flower) and you can assess your fit for a particular job or career based upon what you want in each of those seven flowers.
Here is what the seven flowers are:
- Compatibility with people
- Workplace conditions
Now, to make a quick distinction. I think that there is a difference between a compulsive job quitter and a job hopper.
To me, a job hopper is someone that quickly jumps from job to job to job to increase their income or title as quickly as possible. A compulsive job quitter, on the other hand, often leaves a job for short notice and/or with nothing else lined up.
I bring that up to eliminate money as a common reason for people to compulsively quit their jobs.
Of the list above, I find the following reasons to be the most common ones for people to constantly quit jobs:
Compatibility With People
Probably the most common reason for people to compulsively quit is due to compatibility with people.
You spend about half of your waking hours with your boss and co-workers and, if you simply don’t get along with your colleagues, or you have a toxic boss, it can make each day miserable.
Similarly, you might struggle with compatibility with people in terms of the customers that interact with as well. For example, if you work in customer service, you might be dealing with rude or difficult customers each day. If you’re someone who is a bit more sensitive, that can wear on you over time.
In either of those scenarios, regularly dealing with difficult people can induce anxiety that can make you want to suddenly quit.
The second most common reason for compulsive job quitting from my experience is that the job simply doesn’t match your preferred working context. And that could mean a couple of things.
First, you might be someone that likes lots of variance in your day or being outdoors. With that being the case, you might feel like a 9-5 job is a waste of a life, regardless of what the job itself is.
Secondly, the requirements of the job might not fit into the context of your life. If you’re someone that has young kids, then working a really demanding job or one that doesn’t have much flexibility simply may not work for you. As a result, you may be forced to leave jobs regularly when issues come up with your family that you need to attend to.
And lastly, the conditions of a particular job may not fit your personality. For example, if you work in a fast paced, high pressure environment, but you struggle with anxiety, you may ultimately find that type of a work context isn’t a fit for you so you need to leave quickly.
Finally, the skills that you’re using or not using is another common reason that people leave jobs.
If you’re in a job that you’re simply not good at and, thus, feel incompetent at your job, it makes sense that you wouldn’t enjoy that job and want to leave.
Alternatively, if you’re not using skills that you enjoy, then you might get bored easily and want to go look for something else that better fits your interests and brings you to life.
What Are Good Reasons to Quit a Job?
Ultimately, a mismatch in any of the seven areas of the flower exercise below can be a good reason to quit a job:
- Compatibility with people
- Workplace conditions
To me, any reason that a job doesn’t fit in with the life that you’re trying to build for yourself is reason enough to quit a job.
However, the biggest issue with how I see people quitting their jobs is a lack of long term perspective and intentionality in quitting.
The most common issues are the following:
- Quitting a job with nothing else lined up
- Quitting with no plan of what to do next
- Quitting a job due to short term discomfort
- Quitting multiple jobs too quickly to make you look unreliable
In all of those cases, you’re quitting a job with no long term plan about the life that you want to build for yourself and what you want to do next. And, as that builds over time, it becomes harder and harder to find your best fit work because you start to look more and more flaky.
So, quitting to find a job that better fits the life that you want to build is fine, but make sure you know the life that you want to build and that quitting is a step towards that life.
How Do I Stop The Urge To Quit My Job?
From my perspective, the key thing that you need to do to stop the urge to quit your job is to find work that brings you to life and that fits into your life.
Now, I know that’s probably easier said then done but I’ll offer some tips for how to do that.
First, as far as finding work that brings you to life, that’s work that you simply actively enjoy doing. It’s work where you’re using your favorite skills and in a context that you enjoy.
Fortunately, there’s more flexibility than ever to be able to do that. In our current world, you can build a business entirely online based upon what you’re interested in. Additionally, the world of remote work gives you access to all sorts of jobs that are no longer tied to just your local community, giving you many more options and flexibility.
The key is doing some career experimentation to discover the work that you truly enjoy and brings you to life. Then, you go out and pursue that.
In addition to finding the work that brings you to life, it’s key to also find works that fits into your life.
For this aspect, it’s predicated upon building a vision for the life that you want to build for yourself and then finding work that fits into that context.
It’s almost a flip of our tradition process. Traditionally, we pick a career that we think can make us the most money and then just build our life around that. I would argue we have that backwards. We need to decide on the life that we want and then pick work that enables us to live out that life.
Compulsive job quitting is often a sign that the path that you’re on isn’t bringing you to life and/or doesn’t fit into the life that you want to build for yourself.
From my point of view, either of those reasons is perfectly fine to quit a job.
However, the key is to quit your job in the right way and do it with intentionality and a long term perspective on where you’re trying to do go.
If you’re thoughtful about pursuing that right work and take a long term view of the life that you want to build yourself, you’ll ultimately find yourself in the right work situation for you.