I wish I had given up. I wish I had turned back and walked out. I wish I had quit.
When it comes to work, no one likes a quitter. But is there ever a time when it’s ok to just give up? I believe there is, and I wish I had done it.
Only a handful of years ago, I left a pretty decent job for one I thought would take me to new professional levels. I definitely reached new levels – ones of stress, humiliation, and even physical sickness. Start with an office culture as hostile as Germany during WWII. Add a boss who thought nothing was ever good enough. Toss around a few trips to the hospital because construction resulted in dozens of sick employees, and you have yourself a recipe for a job that was nearly impossible to digest.
I eventually moved on about a year later, but I consider it one of my biggest failures that I didn’t walk out sooner.
There came a point about three months in when I sensed I made a mistake. But could I really turn back to where I worked before and not see this thing through? Yes! That’s exactly what I should have done. I would have spared myself months of agony.
So often I think we get too caught up in proving ourselves that we forget it is okay to admit we made a mistake. That’s not weakness. That’s being strong enough to walk away from something that isn’t right.
We tell ourselves we need to work harder or do better, when in reality, maybe it’s the company that isn’t working for us, and we would do well to disassociate ourselves from it.
Here are some things to think about before you decide if giving up on that new job is the right thing to do.
Work is not play. But there should be some level of comfort in your work environment. Are you able to be yourself? Is everyone around you upset or unhappy? Ask yourself questions about what you’re used to and how much change you can really be ok with. Every culture will have things you will need to get used to, but make sure those elements aren’t so restrictive or unattainable that they border on abusive.
This is a big one and something we don’t often think about. I never used to ask about this in interviews, but I do now – every time. In the year I was at this particular company, more than 400 people began working there and were subsequently fired, or just walked out. That’s a lot of change, and it affected me on more than one occasion. Put some thought into how you would feel if there was a new manager every other month, or if your point person on a project changed several times throughout the course of that project. If staff don’t stay, there’s a problem somewhere and it’s usually not with the people leaving.
You deserve to work in an environment that doesn’t cause you to feel sick – emotionally or physically. We’ve all been up against deadlines that cause us some amount of stress or had a co-worker that gets on our nerves and this is normal. This can often even be good for us as we test our limits and see what we’re made of. But what I’m referring to is something more. When work makes you sick, either physically right away or in symptoms of stress that manifest themselves physically later on, it’s time to reconsider where you spend your time every day. If you find yourself in tears on a regular basis and losing sleep over the thought of going in, it’s time to move on. No job is worth your health.
With any job, it’s always good to consider the pros and the cons before doing anything drastic. But, it’s also perfectly fine to admit that something is seriously wrong. This doesn’t mean you failed. Remove that thought from your thought process. Think instead of shoes. Yes, shoes. If you try on a pair that aren’t right, you move on to the next pair. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. It just means you’re searching for the very best fit for you. And it’s no different with a job!