Of all the tough choices in life, whether or not to quit a less than inspiring job can be one of the most agonizing. If your finances are tight, any job can seem better than no job at all. On the other hand, it's hard to throw yourself fully into finding something better when your current gig is sucking the life out of you every day.
So what do you do? You'd expect that Simon Sinek, the author of bestseller Start with Why and a major proponent of the idea that everyone should have a job that fulfills them, would come down firmly in favor of throwing caution to the wind and heading for the door as soon as possible.
But according to a fascinating recent post rounding up his thinking on the TED Ideas blog, his views on the issue are actually a lot more nuanced. "The opportunity to quit is always there, but I don't recommend doing it until you exhaust all the other avenues," he explains. Instead, before you call it quits on an unsatisfying gig, Sinek advises you go through the following ten-step thinking process.
Here are the steps in basic outline form. For many more details, check out the complete post.
- If your boss or work environment are abusive, leave immediately.
- If your boss or work environment aren't abusive and you've been there for only a few months, hold off on giving notice. "It takes around six months for anyone to settle into a job," cautions Sinek.
- If you've been there for more than six months, try to figure out what's wrong. The first suspect should be your attitude. "People can come in with the attitude that 'Work is just for work, and I find fulfillment in other places.' Which means they're showing up half-hearted and not committed, they're acting like this job is just a means to an end. And guess how they're going to be treated?" says Sinek.
- Consider the other possibilities. Not your attitude? OK, then exactly what is it then? Your duties? Your colleagues? Your boss?
- If you have a difficult boss, try a little empathy. Yes, this is hard but it's also often effective, according to Sinek, who says: "When a boss is particularly hard in a meeting, yelling at people or being short with them, you can walk into their office, close the door and say, 'Hey, you were really short with us in the meeting. Are you OK?'... Sometimes it gets them to open up."
- Treat your boss like a person, not a problem. "The other thing you can do is to inquire about your boss as a human being, saying something like, 'Can we start this meeting by talking about what we did this weekend?'" Sinek isn't the only one suggesting this idea.
- If that doesn't work, then be the leader you wish you had. "We might be the most junior person in the organization, but we still work with people. We can occupy ourselves with helping them go home fulfilled, that they feel heard, that they feel someone has their back."
- Know this process doesn't happen overnight. "It's going to take time," Sinek stresses.
- If you're still certain you want to quit, put your energy into growing -- not griping. Complaining is really not going to get you anywhere good. Despite the challenges, try to use your time productively instead. "There are ways to work at a job you don't like without complaining every day. Try and seek the advantages and the lessons you can learn."
- Never settle for a job that's just "good enough." Still not satisfied? Then go ahead and pull the trigger on quitting. "You're going to spend more time at work than being with your family or friends or doing anything else. So you should absolutely find a job you love," Sinek concludes.