In this post, I’m sharing 6 important lessons that I’ve learned from quitting my job that didn’t make me happy. Here we go!
If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I quit my job almost 2 years ago (you can read about that here). My husband was given the opportunity to work in the United States for a year and I decided to go with him.
At the time I was in a job that didn’t make me happy. I felt tired, miserable and I was fighting to get through the days and make it to the weekend. You can understand that moving to the U.S. really felt like a way out for me.
I finally had a reason to quit!
It felt like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders! To be honest with you, if it wasn’t for this, I don’t think I would have been able to quit. I’m pretty sure that. I would still be stuck in that same job right now.
I’m still so grateful that the universe offered me the escape from my job that I so desperately needed! I realize, though, that I had a lot of things in my favor when I quit. I didn’t have to worry about making money, for instance, and that made the decision to quit much easier.
Looking back, I’ve learned a lot from quitting my job. Most of these lessons I wish I’d learned sooner. It definitely would’ve made things easier when I was looking for a way out of my job.
I hope that sharing the lessons I’ve learned from quitting my job, can help you if you feel stuck or unhappy in your job right now.
1. People will have an opinion
As with anything you do in your life, people will have an opinion about you quitting your job. It doesn’t even matter why you want to quit, opinions and questions will be thrown at you, whether you want it or not.
”What if you can’t find a new job?”, ”Aren’t you worried about a gap in your CV?” And my personal favorite: ”How are you going to be able to pay your bills?”
Quitting your job is a difficult thing to do. Especially if you are uncertain about what’s coming next and you’re still trying to figure things out yourself, all those people asking questions and voicing their opinions can get to you. It can make you feel insecure and you may even start to doubt your decision.
Just remember it’s usually their own fears and doubts that are triggered when you tell people about quitting your job. Hence, all the questions and opinions.
I know it’s difficult not to let those opinions get to you, but please don’t let it throw you off from doing what you think is right for you.
2. There is more to life than work
I think sometimes we forget that there’s more to life than work. We put so much emphasis on work, trying to get ahead in our careers and making more money, that it becomes our biggest priority.
You spend more and more time in the office and slowly, work starts taking over your life.
Quitting my job has opened my eyes to the things I neglected by prioritizing my work: spending time with family, taking care of myself and my health, enjoying life, but most of all my happiness.
I realized that I prioritized making a living over making a life. I prioritized making money over enjoying life and being happy.
And while I do think you can have both, you should be careful that you’re not focusing too much on working to make money and forget to live and enjoy your life.
So, don’t forget about the other things, besides work, that are important to you and that make you happy. Spend time with your family and loved ones, take care of yourself, and have fun!
If you look back on your life in 50 years, when you’re old and grey, you don’t want to regret having worked too much, right?
3. You are not your job
When you spend a lot of time in the office each week, you can get so caught up in your job, that you don’t even know who you are anymore. You start to associate your identity with work.
After quitting my job, I felt like I had lost my identity. I started to think about who I was now that I didn’t have a job anymore. To my surprise, I couldn’t come up with an answer. I didn’t know who I was, what I liked or what I was good at. I felt empty and I knew I had to find out.
It’s easy to get caught up in identifying yourself with your job, but remember that who you are and what you do are two different things.
Your job is just a part of who you are and a part of your identity. You just want to make sure that it is not the only part of your identity.
So start digging in, find new hobbies, explore old ones and try new things. Find out what’s important to you and make it a part of your life. For me, work is now a part of my identity, but it’s not the only part anymore.
4. Your job doesn’t define you
When you identify yourself with your job, your self-worth unconsciously can get tied to your job as well.
You start to value yourself based on the amount of money you make, the job title that you have, or the company you work for. That’s when your job starts to define you.
I never truly realized how much my self-worth was tied into my job, until I quit. I realized that is wasn’t the work I did that I liked and that made me feel good about myself. How I valued myself completely depended on the job title, the company’s name and the particular industry I was in. It all sounded amazing and it looked good from the outside. That’s what made me feel good about myself.
But from the inside, it wasn’t as glamorous.
When I quit my job to move to the US, I suddenly became a housewife (even though that wasn’t initially my plan). Just talking about it made me feel uncomfortable, and I’ll admit that I even felt embarrassed about it at times.
I’ve had to learn how to value myself from within. Now I know that a job doesn’t define you.
You shouldn’t base your own worth on what other people think of you or what you’ve accomplished (or not). You’re more than your job title, you’re more than the amount of money you make.
You are enough, whatever you do.
5. There are always other options
Just like many people, I hated going into work and I was waiting for someone to save me. Every day was a struggle, and yet, I kept going into work. It truly felt like I was stuck, that I didn’t have any other options and couldn’t leave.
Now I know, that there are ALWAYS other options. You just have to be willing to look at them and explore them with an open mind.
You could start looking for a different job (sounds obvious, but for me it wasn’t an obvious option at the time), you could work less hours, or switch to a job that is less demanding.
In your head, there are probably a million reasons why those other options aren’t really options for you. You might be thinking that you won’t make enough money or that you will look like a failure. Or you’re asking yourself: why would it be any different in another job?
But are those really reasons why you should stay in a job that makes you unhappy? Or is it just your fear coming up that you’re covering up with excuses? For me, it was definitely that. And it was also how I was keeping myself stuck in the unhappy place I was in at the time.
I’m not saying you should quit your job right now (because I definitely didn’t do that when I was in your situation). I’m just saying that you’re keeping yourself stuck in a place where you’re not happy and that there are other options that might be worth considering too.
6. Always take care of yourself first
This is perhaps the most important lesson that I’ve learned from quitting my job: always take care of yourself first. Your happiness and health should be your top priority.
If your work is the most important thing in your life, you might start to neglect your health and happiness. And if you’re in a job that makes you unhappy, it can start to affect your health, mentally and physically.
The latter happened to me, and I was trying so hard to survive that there was no space for anything else anymore. I just didn’t have the energy to give myself what I truly needed to feel good and happy, let alone take care of others. I was constantly tired and felt miserable.
If you’re in this situation right now, I want you to know: you shouldn’t have to feel miserable every day because of your job.
If you’re unhappy, no amount of money can make up for that. In the end, it’s not about the money or the things you can buy. It’s about how you feel and your happiness. Perhaps you’ll realize that you don’t need the income you think you need, and that you can be happy even if you make less money.
I’m currently working a minimum wage job. Yes, I’m making less money. But at least, it’s not making me feel miserable. It gives me space to work on the things that I truly find important. And most of all, I’m happier than I’ve ever been in previous jobs.
Just one more thing…
Quitting my job made me a happier person. But I don’t think you have to quit your job to be happier. Even though it might feel like you’re stuck right now and that quitting your job is the only way out, there are always other options that you can explore first. Simply taking a step back, working less or putting more focus on other things besides work, can already make a huge difference.
If you feel stuck and you’re brave enough to make a move, any move, that’s the first step of moving forward out of that unhappy place you’re currently in.
Also, it’s totally normal if you feel scared about taking the next step. I felt scared too. Change is scary, but it’s also a part of the journey!
Now that you know all about me, I’d love to hear from you! Do you feel stuck in your job right know? Have you thought about quitting? How does it make you feel and what are you most afraid of?