So Burned Out... is it wrong to quit without something else lined up?

Hi Elphas!Long time reader, first time poster 😅I am about 5 years into my career in tech. I’ve been with my current company for about 4 years and have worked my way up to a Director position. I am EXHAUSTED. We are now an established organization, but I still feel like I am wearing too many hats and doing the work of 2-3 people. I am used to putting 100% into my work, but I feel like I am failing or not meeting my normal quality of work and I just constantly feel like I am failing my team. In addition to that, I really dislike working with my current manager. His management style, lack of transparency and experience makes it really hard for me to go to him with anything. He makes me very uncomfortable. He comes off as a vindictive guy. In the past he has threatened to fire people at the drop of a hat and thinks a 0% raise is better than a pay reduction (yes he actually said this to me). I have a panic attack whenever I consider resigning because I don’t want to tell him. The job I have and career I’ve spent the past several years working on is not at all what I expected to do long term, it was really the first decent job I could get. I have a young child and I’m afraid of taking risks because I don’t want to risk my family’s future. The reason I am posting here today is to get some advice and experiences from the Elpha community on how to quit my job. It never feels like a good time. I always have multiple projects assigned to me in addition to my normal job. I also feel like I would be abandoning my team. Financially speaking my family would be okay if I didn’t work for a short period of time, probably 3 months at most. My parents rely on me to help out from time to time, so I have to take that into account also. Is it a bad idea to quit without something else lined up? Has anyone been in a similar position and then successfully transitioned careers or found work after a short work break? Thanks in advance!
HeyIn this case, my suggestion would be to get a job in your hand first, and secure yourself with another job and then quit from your current job.
Congratulations on working your way up to a Director level position. That's an amazing achievement in just 4 years' time! You clearly have the strength, grit, and perseverance to go after what you set your mind on! How could you play those strengths to find your next ideal role/organization? Do you have a clear idea of your ideal next position/ organization? Have you already explored other opportunities? If the answers all return to a Yes then it sounds like you are well on your way to lining up that next opportunity. If you feel you could gain some more clarity of thought around this I would take my time to explore while having the security of my current role. Do you have a stake in agreeing to the projects outside of your daily responsibilities? If it's possible I'd try to delegate some project work and be mindful not to take on too many of those so you can create some more time for yourself as you decide on your next steps. A final thought. You are your most important asset, take the time to prioritize your own wellbeing over anything else. You can't give from an empty cup. In the past, I have left positions without a plan B. Although I very much felt like the hero of my own story in that moment, I have experienced self-doubt, worry, and a scarcity mindset creeping in quite fast. But on both occasions, I was successful in finding my next ideal role. Whatever path you take, it is possible. I'm rooting for you and here for you!
I've thought about this question A LOT in various points of my career, and ultimately have never actually left a job without having something lined up (due to fear of letting go of financial stability — I'm single and don't have to support any children, but I do solely support my mother). I think it's entirely understandable to feel it's not the right time for you to leave because of all the projects, and your loyalty towards your teammates. I think it's also important to recognize that, it's NEVER a good time to leave, which means it's extra crucial for you to be attentive to how your time there is affecting / draining you. What you do sound super impressive and I wonder, if having some initial conversations with other companies would help you get a better understanding of what the job market is like, before deciding if you should stay, leave, or third option: take a hiatus, if that's possible. That may give you an avenue to explore other opportunities, and who knows, maybe even talking to other companies will spark something that motivates you to leave your current role!Good luck, and take care 💚
I resigned from my "corner-office" job when I woke up one night and asked myself if I'd stay for a salary of $1 million. I was in a complete burnout situation. My work did offer me to take a month off but it was at the point of no return. So here are the lessons learned:1. Communicate earlier2. If early communication doesn't work, negotiate options 3. Be ready to walk out if all falls4. Always prepare for a parallel career track, if not multiple when you still have energy left5. Never get to the point of no return due to serious burnout. 6. If need to resign without the next role lining up, take a focus time to recover and then immediately communicate with your networks and friends about your situation and get help to get back in.Connect with me on Linkedin if you want to chat directly.
Hi! First of all good job on admitting you're no longer fullfiled by your current job. Unfortunately many people chose not to listen to their own needs and resentements out of fear, which is understandable! I was in your situation couple of months ago. Decided to leave without anything else lined up and being a single mother. I just got my last pay check and while I can't say I am seeing the positive side of my decision yet, but I am feeling completely free and ready to attack my next adventure. My advice is chose your well being over everything else. The rest will come eventually!
A few years back I got severely burned out at a startup and put in my two weeks notice without anything lined up. I had a new offer in hand from another company before I could even finish wrapping things up at my old job. Sometimes I look back on that moment and think the timing was too perfect, maybe some greater forces were at play, or maybe a friend tipped off the other company without telling me...? All I know is I needed to get out of the situation I was in, and it was the right decision for myself at the time. When was the last time you took a long vacation...? If you feel like it’s bad time to quit because too many projects are underway, you could use an upcoming vacation as a lever to delegate some work around. Then, use the time away to clear your head and plan a graceful exit strategy.
Is it wrong to quit without something lined up, no, specially when it’s your own priorities and what you deeply value vs the job.Is it a bad idea? Probably. Considering your current situation and your finances, I would recommended actively looking for a new job first and also, discussing your situation with your manager and the rest of the leadership.
It depends. I wouldn’t leave without another job lined up, but I have 2 work colleagues that decided to leave on a certain date, even if they don’t have another job. Their boss sounds like the worst person (maybe related to your boss?) if you decide to leave, my suggestion is to have 4-6 months of emergency funds in case you don’t find something straight away. I did wind up staying for a job two awful years before I was laid off and just happened to receive 2 job offers. I was so miserable and I was actually physically sick, so I completely understand your hellish situation and sending good thoughts and prayers your way.
Hi! It seems like you’ve already gotten some great advice below, particularly on the question of *whether* or not to quit, and whether it’s a good idea, etc. From my personal experience, I’ve had time where I’ve had maybe 3-6 months of cash on hand and decided that was too scary, especially in an uncertain job market. So I relied on some of the strategies mentioned by the women who have already responded to your question, i.e. ways to work hard at trying to dual path working in a draining job while also working towards what job you’ll have next. I’ve almost always waited until I had something lined up, but that’s me and you have to DO YOU. In my most recent role, I left without something lined up, even though I swore up and down before that I never would! However, I also had basically a year’s worth of of cash on hand for the first time in my life, just sitting around in my checking account (I know ladies, that should probably be invested! Don’t worry; I invest also, haha). In my penultimate role, I spent two years feeling unseen and fairly miserable, and when 1,000 people (including me) were laid off during the pandemic, I had secured my next job, as Chief Operating Officer, in 9 days after learning I would be laid off. You NEVER KNOW what could happen. Now I’m facing possibly being without a job for months, because I realize it’s all about timing, and I still recognize that you NEVER KNOW 🤷🏾‍♀️. I could have a job in a month or in 4 months. I’m less scared because of the money I’ve saved.So, you have a lot to work with about what to do, and I’m sure you’ll make the right decision for you. But you also asked about — assuming you do quit — *HOW* to quit your job. I have been a career coach for early career folks, but I needed my own coach to help me figure out how to quit my job because I was so afraid of how my boss would react. I’ve seen him be vindictive, emotional, and make rash decisions all the time. One of the things my career coach worked with me on was the fact that IT’S NOT ABOUT HIM. Over and over I brought up issues about my manager and what could potentially happen if I quit. She made me make a list of the fears I had, what I thought was the *most likely* outcome, what I thought would be the worst case scenario of each, and what I could do to combat each. After I made that list, and prepared an honestly MUCH SHORTER quitting script for myself than I’d initially intended, I was fine. I quit. It was fine. The world is still spinning. Good luck to you!
Hello, Jeraldine. Let me start by acknowledging the very. real and valid feelings you're experiencing with regards to this career decision. It is never easy to decide to quit a job we've worked very hard to excel in, even if the workplace is downright toxic. As humans, we are designed by evolution to minimize risk. And financial (in)security is the modern day equivalent of the sabertooth tiger. You are ultimately the one who must decide what level of risk you can handle, but if it helps to know someone who's taken the path less traveled, I have quit very comfortable jobs at least twice in my life without knowing what was coming next. In both cases, I wound up with something much better as a result, and in very unexpected ways. Another thing to consider, sometimes when we are burned out it prevents us from bringing the best version of ourselves to the table, whether that's for our current team or a hiring manager from a company where we would love to work. If you are able to take some time off, even 1-2 weeks without quitting, you might gain the clarity necessary to make a decision you feel good about, and you might even think of ways to help address the situation with your boss (i.e. Could he be "going through it" and need an ear? If not, does this company have an upward feedback survey? Is there someone to whom you could suggest it? Do you have trust/credibility with a more senior leader whose ear you could bend to your concerns?)If you'd like to chat, feel free to message me directly. Happy to help whether as a job search accountability partner or with tips on how to quit without burning bridges. Long story short, you are not alone.Jessie
Hi @Jeraldine111,Sorry to hear about your tough situation. Love the wonderful, supportive suggestions so far.Are staying to quitting your only option? You may have built enough goodwill and loyalty to have earned a few weeks (you need at least 3-4 weeks, negotiate as long as you can) of sabbatical. You may need to give up your current role but you’re clearly someone who can get back to a good place when you’re not burned out anymore.If you search HBR you’ll find studies that show women are much more ready to give it all up and start again from scratch than men are.Use the sabbatical to figure out your next step. Either negotiating a more reasonable workload or find a better place to continue your career. Sound like your current employer owes you this and if you’re willing to give up your current role there’s no downside for them. So they have no reason to say no.It’s a lot easier to look when you have a plan B.Best of luck.Best of luck!