A way in which I try to help people that are trying to discover their best fit work is by answering career questions on Reddit. And one of the most common questions that I see across career-related subreddits (r/jobs, r/findapath, and r/careerguidance) is people feeling scared to quit their jobs and asking what they should do.
To help address that question, I’ve provided a list of the most common reasons that I see for people being afraid to leave their jobs. Now, this isn’t based upon an exact quantitative study. It’s anecdotal based upon what I’ve seen people asking. But I think it’s fairly representative of the most common reasons for being scared to quit a job.
And along with those reasons, I provide a recommendation for what to do for each.
Let’s dive in.
Common Reasons People Are Scared to Quit Their Jobs
Implications For Team and Boss
The most common reason that I see people give for being afraid to leave their jobs is actually a noble one. It’s folks saying that they’re afraid of the implications for the team and their boss. They feel guilty because they know how understaffed their team is. And they know the stress that it will add on their boss, and the additional responsibility for their teammates.
What To Do
In this case, the negative implications of you quitting your job are largely beyond your control. It’s a result of budget, staffing, and planning decisions on behalf of your employer and that’s not your fault. Ultimately, you shouldn’t let that hold you back from pursuing your best fit work.
Now, what you can do is make the transition process as easy as possible for your employer. I provide some tips for how to do that in the how to resign professionally article. I’ve summarized the key ones down below:
- Provide plenty of notice about your departure (at least two weeks)
- Provide training to your replacement
- Document your processes and existing projects
Afraid of Conflict
Another common reason that people are afraid to quit their jobs is that they’re afraid of conflict. Generally, folks are afraid that their boss is going to get really upset with them that they’re leaving the company. They think that the boss might yell at them, guilt trip them, or try to talk them into staying.
What To Do
The first thing that you can do in this is to approach the conversation with your boss with professionalism and courtesy. If you go into the conversation prepared, and with the right attitude, you’re not as likely to run into potential conflict.
The other thing that you can do is practice mindfulness exercises in the lead up to the conversation. Practices like meditation will help to distance you from the conversation emotionally, so you wont be as wound up as you go into it.
My final recommendation is to picture the life that you want to build for yourself in the leadup to the conversation. It may be painful to tell your boss that you’re quitting in the short term, but it would likely be even worse not to pursue what you want over the long term.
Afraid They Won’t Like New Job
Change is scary. And when you’re switching from one job to another, there is a very real risk that you’re not going to like your new job. As much as you may try to understand what you’re getting yourself into during the interview process, you may come to find that you don’t like the new culture, boss, or team.
What To Do
My top recommendation for addressing the fear that you won’t like your new job is to try and gather as much information as you can about the new job during the interview process. If you go into the role knowing what’s important to you about a job, you can ask questions of everyone that you speak to as a means of assessing if it fits your criteria. Now, you’re never going to fully know what a job is like until you’re in it, but asking the right questions can help you to reduce risk.
The other big recommendation that I would offer here is to evaluate which is the better option: staying in a position that you’re familiar with but you know you don’t like, or taking a risk and moving to a position that is uncertain but that you may like? In many cases, taking the risk and jumping into a new role is better than sticking with the certainty of something that you know you don’t like.
Quitting a job can be scary. It will likely negatively impact your team. You may have some tough conversations. And there’s uncertainty moving into a new role. However, there’s a good chance that it’s worth it at the end of the day. And if you approach the process with thoughtfulness and intentionality, you could find yourself in a wonderful new role.