It has been just over a year since I quit my job.
January 15th, 2021. I had been planning the day for about a month. One afternoon in December, I reached my breaking point.
My frustration had been growing for months. Years, if I’m being honest. The pandemic pushed me over the edge—I didn’t need my job to be an additional source of stress. What I’d been able to tolerate for a long time suddenly became intolerable.
I’d been plotting my escape for awhile, sending out resumes. But on that day in December, I decided that I couldn’t keep waiting for a new job to come along. Feeling undervalued and burned out was too high of a price to pay for stability.
On January 15th, I had a regularly scheduled 1:1 with my boss, our first touch base of the new year. I chose the date in particular because it meant that I wouldn’t raise any alarm bells by requesting a separate meeting.
The meeting was at 9:30. After getting my kids on the bus and off to school, I took a long walk around the neighborhood. Even though it was January in Chicagoland, the sun was shining and the temperature was mild. I took a lot of deep breaths, telling myself, “It’s almost over.”
My boss and I chit-chatted like we always do. Sometimes our non-work conversations can last a long time, but on that day, I cut it short. I dove right in and said, “I have some news. I’m leaving the company.”
After a long silence, my boss asked, “Were you sending me some vibes this morning? Because I had a feeling that something was up.” Maybe I’d been subconsciously sending a message while I was enjoying the sunshine and my impending freedom.
A quit date can still have a backup plan
On the day I quit, I didn’t have a new job lined up. I was in the final stages of interviewing at several companies, but no firm offer. Quitting without the stability of a new job was definitely a risk.
Choosing a Quit Date wasn’t a decision that I made alone. As a family, we have a mortgage and three kids. My income was a significant part of our household budget. We had some savings, but not enough to sustain a lengthy period without a job.
My husband and I talked about what a hard Quit Date would mean. We agreed to immediately adjust our lifestyle so we could add more to savings. I’m a personal finance nerd, so I planned out a new budget and different cuts we’d have to make until I found something new.
In addition to quitting my job, I also decided to pivot careers, leaving fintech to pursue content marketing. I discovered that content marketing had many opportunities for freelance work. The backup plan was that I would freelance to supplement our income until I found a full-time job.
I was lucky; within about a week of quitting, I had a job offer. But that very easily might not have been the case. By giving myself a month until my Quit Date, we had time to brace for the impact.
A quit date reduces stress
You might think that quitting before I had another job would have been a source of stress. Budget aside, I was taking a leap into the unknown.
But once I made the decision, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm. I got very quiet at work, not sharing my opinions about anything. I became an outsider looking in, watching discussions and decisions, but refusing to participate. Why bother?
My husband was supportive of a Quit Date because he’d watched me suffering through stress for years. It was bad for my mental health. And after almost 21 months into a global pandemic, reducing stress in my life felt like a necessity. Otherwise, I was going to break.
It felt immensely satisfying to put my needs first. I was also excited for the future and where my career could go.
A quit date forces an aggressive job search
With a Quit Date in mind, I upped my efforts/ to find a different job. I sent out multiple applications per day and put a lot of effort into each submission.
The job market at the time was good, but it was slightly ahead of The Great Resignation curve. Companies at the time were hiring, but now the job market is on fire. Still, I felt reasonably confident that I could line up some good job prospects within a month.
I spent a lot of time refining and polishing my resume and cover letter. Since I wanted to move into content marketing, I continued to build my portfolio for any potential employers looking at my work.
My husband quit his job in August of 2021. He had been working remotely and his employer was forcing the team back into the office. Our response to that was, “Nope.” While that resignation was certainly less expected—he’d liked the job otherwise—we developed a similar plan. There was a return-to-office date, so he had a few weeks to find a new job. We didn’t quite reach the point of a Quit Date, but we talked about it, depending on how his job search went. As a software engineer, he found a new job easily.
But my husband had a different experience because he was staying in his field. Because I was changing careers, I had few contacts in my network that I could lean on for support. I ended up changing jobs again in October of 2021, moving to a company that was a better cultural fit for me. But this time, I knew a large number of people in my field (and learned about my current role via a former colleague).
I learned some things from my two job changes in 2021. It is far easier to maintain a presence (LinkedIn), resume, and portfolio on an ongoing basis. The second time I began a job search, I was better prepared.
In the News: Remote work is protecting employees from toxic workplaces
Remote work means fewer opportunities for discriminatory remarks, behaviors, and other microaggressions, according to a story by CNBC. Colleen James, founder and principal consultant at Divonify, an equity and inclusion consulting firm, says that many in-person work environments do not foster safe spaces for marginalized people.
For companies that plan to return to the office, this relief is only temporary unless company policy changes are made. “When things do happen and things are reported, there is something to say: ‘No, the company said there is zero tolerance for microaggressions, for discrimination,’” James said.
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