Perhaps one of the more surprising outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic is the way it’s changed our perspective on the role work plays in our lives. Millions of American workers transitioned to remote work at the beginning of the pandemic.
And for many, the idea of returning to the daily grind isn’t appealing–even when conditions are safe to do so. As a result, workers are quitting their jobs in droves, causing a significant labor shortage in the United States.
The trend is so noticeable that it’s been named The Great Resignation–and it seems to be getting worse. In September, 4.4 million people quit their jobs, a record high according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re considering quitting your job or retiring early due to the pandemic–or for any other reason–be sure to ask yourself the following questions first.
Before quitting your job, ask yourself these 10 questions:
#1: Why am I feeling this way?
There are many reasons Americans are currently leaving their jobs. For some, the pandemic underscored the idea that life is too short to stay in an unfulfilling job. Others appreciated the balance remote work allowed them to create in their lives and don’t want to return to pre-pandemic working conditions.
And many workers are simply burned out. A recent survey by the job website Indeed revealed that 52% of survey respondents are experiencing burnout in 2021. That’s up from the 43% who said the same in a pre-Covid-19 survey. In addition, burnout is most rampant among older workers, although younger generations are experiencing it as well.
Before quitting your job, ask yourself what’s driving your decision. If you can identify the underlying issue, you may be able to find a more appropriate solution than leaving.
#2: How long have I been feeling this way?
Indeed, burnout rates have accelerated since the start of the pandemic. According to data collected by the Kaiser Family Foundation, four in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorder during the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, only one in 10 adults reported these symptoms.
If your mental health has declined since the start of the pandemic, you’re not alone. However, that may be a sign that your work stress is pandemic-related and not necessarily tied to your job. You may just need some time off to recharge. On the other hand, if you’ve been considering quitting your job for more than the last two years, it may be time to act.
#3: Have I explored all of my options?
If work, in general, is stressing you out, quitting your job may be your only option. However, if your issues are more specific in nature, you may be able to remedy the situation without leaving altogether.
For example, perhaps there’s another role within your organization that’s a better fit for you. Or maybe you can discuss the possibility of modifying your hours or working remotely with your employer. Be sure to explore all of your options before quitting your job, especially if losing your income will be a stretch financially.
#4: What do I want to do instead?
Whether you’re considering quitting your job or retiring early, take some time to think about what you’d like to do instead. Rushing into a new job may only make matters worse, especially if you haven’t pinpointed the reason you’re leaving in the first place.
If early retirement is your goal, think about how you’ll spend your time if you’re not working. Many retired Americans end up returning to the workforce at some point, whether due to needing more income or wanting personal fulfillment. In fact, 40% of American workers aged 65 and older have previously retired, according to a report from Rand Corporation.
It’s not unusual for your job to become part of your identity over time. Having a plan for after you leave can help you avoid an identity crisis of sorts.
#5: What would my perfect day look like?
In an ideal world, what would your perfect day look like? If you can’t imagine a scenario where you’re happy day-to-day, you may be dealing with a more serious issue than hating your job.
On the other hand, envisioning your ideal future can help you plan for your next move. For instance, you may decide you need a job with more freedom that lets you work remotely while you travel. Or perhaps it’s time to change industries altogether so you can use a different skill set.
You may want to spend time journaling or meditating to zero in on what your perfect day looks like. No matter how you decide to approach this question, give yourself time to figure out what could make you happier before making any big decisions.
#6: How would quitting my job impact my loved ones?
Quitting your job is a personal decision; however, if you have loved ones who depend on you financially, be sure to consider the impact your decision may have on them. For example, in some cases, losing your income even temporarily may result in a major lifestyle change. If this is the case, make sure everyone is willing to make this sacrifice or help pick up the slack in the meantime.
#7: What do I gain by quitting?
Our brains are wired for survival. As a result, we tend to focus on negative events to avoid potential threats in the future. Unfortunately, this type of negative thinking can also lead to poor decision-making.
Before quitting your job, try flipping the script. What will you gain by making this decision? For example, you may find a different job that allows for more work-life balance. If you plan to take some time off or retire early, maybe you’ll have more time to spend with family and friends. Or perhaps you can focus on your mental health for a while. Thinking about it this way may help you determine if this is indeed the best decision for you and your loved ones.
#8: What will I lose by quitting?
Of course, you need to be realistic about your decision. And that means identifying what exactly you’ll be giving up by quitting your job. Some of these things may be more abstract in nature–for example, security and stability. However, there are also things you can quantify, like your salary and healthcare benefits.
Make a list of all of the things you’ll be losing by quitting your job. If any of these losses causes you more stress and anxiety, it may not be the right time to stop working.
#9: Are my expectations realistic?
According to a recent FlexJobs survey, one in six American workers said they’ll quit their jobs if they can’t continue working remotely. Indeed, the desire for more flexibility seems to be one of the factors driving The Great Resignation. Unfortunately, not all jobs can be done well remotely.
No matter the reason you’re considering quitting your job, be sure to do a reality check first. Are the conditions you’re seeking available anywhere? If not, you may need to adjust your expectations for the time being.
#10: Can I afford to quit my job?
Finally, be sure to run the numbers before quitting your job. If you plan to eventually return to the workforce, calculate how long you can survive without your income. Depending on the result, you may need to work a little longer and focus on building a cash reserve first.
If you plan to accelerate your retirement timeline, make sure you have enough saved to meet your lifestyle goals. Even if you can’t afford to retire today, you may still be able to a by making some smart money moves in the meantime.
If Quitting Your Job Is Inevitable, a Trusted Advisor Can Help
After answering these questions, you may realize that quitting your job is the best choice. On the other hand, you may want a little more guidance to ensure you’re making the right decision.
A fiduciary advisor like Align Financial can help you evaluate your current financial circumstances and develop a plan to achieve your objectives. Please contact us if you’d like to schedule an introductory conversation.