How to Find the Courage to Quit Your Unfulfilling Job


“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake.” ~Francis Bacon Sr.

Isn’t it a shame?

You’ve studied and worked hard to get to where you are.

You’ve succeeded.

And you got that job.

But now, it just doesn’t feel right.

Well, I understand exactly what you’re going through.

Once upon a time, I thought I had it all too.

A great position, a great salary with generous bonuses, and I was working in the heart of the city of love: Paris. My life and career might have looked perfect on the outside, but on the inside, I was desperately yearning for something else.

As the months went by, my sadness skyrocketed. And the voice inside telling me to change grew ever stronger. So did my concerns, worries, and fears about the future. What if things didn’t work out? What if I couldn’t make enough money? What if I would come to regret my decision?

Sound familiar?

When I evaluated my life, though, I found that the idea of staying was scarier than anything that may happen if I quit. So, I finally found the courage to leave the safety of a corporate job to find my true calling in life.

If you’re yearning for change but too scared of the what-ifs, the following tips will help you evaluate your life and finally find your courage as well.

1. Choose to live by design instead of by default.

Take a step back and look at what kind of life you truly want to live. Does it look like the one you’re living today? A while back, I asked myself that question. One of the things that came back to me was that I wanted my life to revolve more around yoga. So, now I’m training to become a yoga teacher.

Don’t settle for mediocrity or life by default. Instead, decide to make active choices to create the life you desire—that’s the only way you’ll get there.

2. Fear regret rather than failure.

Failing means you tried and learned something. Regret, on the other hand, comes as a response to what hasn’t happened. It’s an ugly emotion that usually doesn’t show up until it’s already too late.

Failing at something is scary, but regret is even scarier. Wouldn’t you rather try and fail now instead of one day regretting you never tried at all?

3. Imagine the worst-case scenario.

What’s the worst thing that can happen if you quit your unfulfilling job? Maybe you’d have to find another full-time job? Maybe you’d be standing without a safety net, unable to care for the people that depend on you?

By clearly defining a realistic worst-case scenario, you can prepare yourself not to end up there and to cushion the impact if it occurs. That could mean making sure you have enough savings, someone to fall back on, or a job lined up if things don’t work out.

4. Listen to your gut.

I had a nagging feeling inside of me for years before I acted on it. I had tried to push it away, and when that didn’t work, I changed tactics and chose to allow the feelings in. Only then did I understand the message behind it and what I needed to do.

Now I know that the discomfort I was feeling was a good thing. It meant that my inner guidance system was working correctly, giving me direction in life. What are your feelings telling you? What are you being guided toward?

5. Know that you’ll be better doing what you love.

“If I could be good at something I was fairly interested in, what would happen if I did something I truly love?” This was a question I simply had to find the answer to.

I believe outstanding work can only come from a place of loving what you do. This is when you utilize your unique skills, talents, and natural gifts. Imagine for a second how great you could become at something you love doing?

6. Let happiness be the key to success.

Studies prove (and people like billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson confirm) that happiness fuels success and performance, not the other way around. Now, isn’t that nice to know?

Creating a life around what makes you happy is the key to living a truly successful life.

7. Become an example.

Imagine that someone you care deeply for, such as a little sister or a friend, is observing your actions. He or she will copy everything you do. A bit scary, huh?

Now, would you want this person to stay in a place that left them feeling unfulfilled? Or would you want them to find the courage to pursue what they truly desire?

8. Come back to the present moment.

Worrying about the future doesn’t change anything; instead, it hinders you from making the best of this moment. Here and now is all we ever have. It’s the only place where we have control.

So, focus on what you can do right now to go in the direction you want.

9. Know that everyone feels the same.

Realizing that I wasn’t alone with my thoughts and fears gave me a surprisingly comforting feeling. I wasn’t weak or fragile for being scared—I was simply human.

Understand that what you feel is normal, but whether to act or not is your choice.

10. Define your why.

I left my job because I wanted to work with something I cared deeply for, where I could express myself fully and make a positive impact in the world.

If you’re clear on why you’re leaving a job, you’ll see the value in taking the risk. It will help you stay motivated and keep you focused in the right direction.

11. Trust that you have a gift to offer.

All seven billion of us have a unique set of skills, talents, and personality traits. I once met a woman whose great passion in life was the connective tissues in our bodies. Pretty unique passion, right? We’re all different, and that’s the beauty.

You have something special only you can offer this world, and we’re longing to take part of it. So, trust yourself, and show us what you’ve got.

12. Connect with like-minded people.

Connect with people that are on a similar journey to yours. Build a support network, in person and online.

To have people around you that support, motivate, and inspire you is priceless. They’ll help you through the most difficult days.

13. Take risks for what you will gain long-term.

Sometimes we need to take risks and make short-term sacrifices for what will serve us long-term. Basically, we must be willing to bet in order to win.

Just think about this. Staying in an unfulfilling job means taking a greater risk since you already know it’s not what you want. So, you risk more by not taking risks.

14. Aim to put a smile on your older, future self.

Imagine yourself being ninety years old and at your deathbed. Looking back at your life, how would you want the story to unfold?

You’ll want to die with a big smile on your face, knowing that you made the best of your time here. And that you lived a life true to yourself, not the life others expected of you.

15. Know that the timing is never right.

Maybe you’re young without any proper experience. Maybe you’re older and take longer to learn new things. Or maybe you just got promoted and want to give this opportunity a chance.

The time will never come when all the conditions are right. When I accepted this, I understood that everything is as perfect as I perceive them to be.

16. Trust that the path will unfold.

What’s scary in following your dream is that the path is unclear. Stepping off the beaten path means that you can’t see a straight road in sight.

But, we don’t need to know the whole path. We just need to know the next step in front of us.

17. Make uncomfortable the new comfortable.

When we want something we don’t have, we must do things we haven’t done before. And that means becoming uncomfortable.

When I accepted this as a natural part of the journey, I decided to make uncomfortable my new comfortable.

18. Nurture faith, not fear.

Fear is uncertainty about what doesn’t exist yet. Faith is the same, but trusting that it will turn out for the best. So, instead of imagining scenarios of what you don’t want, choose to focus on what you do want.

Give your energy to faith, not fear.

Live by Choice Instead of Chance

It’s not easy feeling frustrated and restless in an unsatisfying job. It’s not easy knowing that leaving might be a big mistake. But, staying might be an even bigger one.

You don’t know how things will turn out if you quit. We never do. But here’s what you do know—staying where you are most likely won’t get you where you want to be.

Wouldn’t you rather live life by choice instead of chance? Wouldn’t you rather look back and know that you did everything you could to create the life you desire instead of wishing you’d had? Wouldn’t you rather take a chance on faith instead of fear?

Who knows, you just might get everything you wished for.

Quitting image via Shutterstock

About Maria Stenvinkel

Maria Stenvinkel is on a mission to help you move from fear to fearless—and to unleash your confidence, greater potential, and true self-love. Download her free and powerful worksheet: "The Secret to Boosting Your Self-Confidence [Easy Worksheet]."

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