What Moment Made You Realize You Had to Quit?
It's hard to quit a job, especially these days. It takes courage to realize that your current position just isn't for you, then tender your resignation and head back into an unstable job market.
Yet sometimes, things happen that make it a whole lot easier to leave. Whether it's a ridiculous outburst from your crazy boss, the realization that you have to persuade yourself to get out of your car and go into your office each morning, or just another sleepless night worrying about work -- sometimes, we just have those "aha!" moments and we suddenly know we've been pushed over the edge and there's no turning back. It's quittin' time.
Below, five workers share their last straws:
'My boss demoted me'
"I had a nightmare boss, and after six and a half years of working for him, one day he was angry about something and tried to punish me by taking away my VP status and promoting a new employee in another state. 'Amanda is now your boss, and you will do whatever Amanda tells you to do!' My back was against the wall. I looked him in the eye and said, 'Well then, Amanda can run the place!'
"I got up and walked out of his office, went into my office, grabbed my purse and walked out the door. This happened 11 months ago in the middle of a recession. I had very little money in the bank, but it was the best thing I ever did. I was always sick while working in that environment, in and out of the doctor's office. I have since started my own business and I am doing better than ever."
-- Marla Martenson, author of 'Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker'
'I was told to keep my opinions to myself'
"I'll always remember the moment I decided to find something new. I voiced my opinion in a department meeting (being a strong-willed Millennial, I couldn't sit it out). After the meeting, my boss pulled me aside.
"'It would be best,' he said, 'if you didn't speak up during meetings anymore.'
"When I asked him the reasoning behind his suggestion, he simply replied, 'A comment was made.'
"I later found out his boss -- the head of the department -- had asked who I was and what I was doing in the meeting."
-- Nick Kinports, digital innovation manager, Maddock Douglas
'I realized quitting was an option'
"About two years after I earned my Ph.D., I was working in what would be considered a 'dream job' for many new psychologists, but it wasn't a good fit for me. The work was interesting, but provided too little opportunity for me to use what I knew were my real gifts. After months of complaining to my sister, she finally said, 'Kate, why don't you just quit?' and I realized that the thought had never crossed my mind that I could do that. Shortly thereafter, I gave my notice, without having any idea what my next move would be.
"Many years later, I knew I had to quit the last job where I worked for someone else when I was unable to get one day off work to be with my aunt on what we knew would be her last Christmas on Earth. I knew then that I had to have more control of my life and my time. A couple of months later, I went into business for myself."
-- Katie McCorkle, Ph.D., founder, Balanced Heart Healing Center
'My boss threw a stapler at her assistant'
"I worked for one woman who was a terror. One minute she was as sweet as pie and the next minute she was pitching a fit like a toddler. I had been toying with leaving, but then one day she threw her metal stapler at her assistant. (She missed, but left a nice dent in the wall.) That was the 'aha' moment for me. This woman was clearly mentally unstable.
"I spent the afternoon making informational interview calls and updating my résumé. I gave notice later that week and left. They could not pay me enough to work with/for her. I quit, another of my peers quit, the assistant quit and the last of our department transferred to another office. The kicker was, we worked in human resources consulting. It was a classic case of the cobbler's children."
-- Jodi R. Smith, Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting
'I realized I was paranoid'
"After getting my [bachelor's degree] in psychology and realizing that I was now qualified to do... about the same stuff I was qualified to do before I enrolled freshman year, I took a job working for a doctor. It was supposed to be a temporary job to tide me over until I found my dream job. The position paid well and there were excellent perks like all-expense paid trips and extravagant gifts for birthdays and holidays.
"Fast-forward seven and a half years. I'm still working for the doctor and hating every moment of it. The environment is toxic. The doctor is paranoid, hot-headed and the job itself is very stressful. I cry before work, during my lunch and when I get home. The doctor's paranoia is rubbing off on me and I am convinced he has the office wired with cameras to watch us when he is out of the office.
"[Then] on a day, much like the nearly 2,000 days of work that came before it, I found myself urinating in the pitch-dark in the office restroom for fear that there were cameras in the bathroom. I knew that very minute that no matter what, I had to leave that job. It's a level of clarity I've only known a few times in my life. It set in motion an amazing, frightening, exciting set of events that transformed my life. I decided to enroll in graduate school, found a lower-paying job with flexible hours and took control of my destiny."
-- Stefanie Luna, Wallin & Luna Counseling Associates
Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job seeker blog, The Work Buzz. Kaitlin spends her days researching and writing about all things career-related and trying not to inspire any of her colleagues’ “annoying co-worker” articles. She lives and works in Chicago, but hails from Connecticut and graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a degree in journalism.