As years pass, more and more people find themselves trying to escape a job that sucks at least once throughout their career…
However, making up your mind to hand in your resignation is no walk in the park…
All too often, the thought of jumping ship is accompanied by immense amounts of doubt, fear, and anxiety that can hold you back months or maybe even years from finally making your exit (if ever).
A while ago, I was there myself; hopelessly stuck in a job I hated for over 2 years…
During that time, one thing that always fed me with a sense of hope and motivation to do anything in my power to eventually leap out of that job I hated was reading through other people’s job quitting stories.
That being said, for this article, I got 14 professionals to share their real-life job quitting stories that will hopefully offer you insights as well as motivate you to finally quit that job that makes you miserable.
14 Real-Life Job Quitting Stories
- Quit to Travel for a Year
- Escaped a Toxic Workplace
- From Realtor to Life Coach
- The Twilight Job
- Became the Leader I Wanted to Work With
- My Harasser Had Killed a Woman
- Entrepreneur at Heart
- Left to Become a Full-Time Blogger
- Freelance Mom of 3
- Fate Gave Me a Nudge
- I didn’t Hate My Job
- Work Felt Like an Uphill Battle
- I Snapped and Quit Right on the Spot
- The Company Struggled on Many Fronts
1. Quit to Travel for a Year
My wife and I had been saving money and planning to leave our jobs in London to travel to South America, Oceania, and Southeast Asia for nearly 5 years.
In 2017, we finally embarked on our adventure.
My wife took a sabbatical leave.
I loved my job so I tried to negotiate a sabbatical with my employer as well, but they felt that it was too risky, so I had to quit.
I handed in my notice a few months before leaving to allow my company enough time to find a suitable replacement.
I didn’t have much of a plan regarding how I’d resume my career, but I knew other people who had no problem whatsoever landing a new job after returning from a career break.
Eventually, I established a blogging business, Career Gappers, which advocates for the benefits of taking long breaks from work and helps people plan their travel career breaks.
Taking a career break to travel or take part in any other activity that could help you unwind is perfectly acceptable.
Sometimes, allowing yourself some time off to clear your mind could create enough space to reflect upon the required steps towards reshaping your life for the better.
Thanks to Alex Trembath, Founder, Career Gappers
2. Escaped a Toxic Workplace
Prior to my current job, I was working in a very toxic workplace for almost 2 years.
My last year there was unbearable; I experienced a lot of catcalling from my senior officers, telling me I must learn to sell myself since I am in the field of marketing and sales.
What they reiterated every single time is that I needed to be less sensitive to clients who discreetly harassed me sexually.
After realizing that my job had started affecting my mental health, I just knew that I had to quit.
However, life without the financial stability of a job would be very difficult.
So I decided to make my exit strategically and hand in my resignation only after I’ve landed another job.
Never tolerate any kind of mistreatment. Value your worth and prioritize your well-being, otherwise, you might end up damaging your health, reputation, and career.
Thanks to Sandra Matthews, Marketing Specialist, The Product Analyst
3. From Realtor to Life Coach
After graduating from college, I could barely pay my bills, so I turned to the real estate industry.
Within just one year, I managed to become a successful realtor as well as win two real estate awards.
However, about 4 years in, my job got me burnt-out.
When I became pregnant with our second daughter I realized that I was looking forward to maternity leave, activating my out-of-office email, and forwarding all my phone calls.
At some point, I started consulting with a business coach to try and figure out what to do after my maternity leave ends.
After a few in-depth sessions, I found out that I loved mentoring other women through growth.
My coach helped me put together the frameworks for my own coaching program and this is how Adriana Keefe: Life Strategist & Empowerment Coach was born.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and overworked, take note of what you love to do and what your deal-breakers are.
This will allow you to start zeroing in on the type of careers that could fulfill you.
Don’t hesitate to ask your friends and family for feedback. I bet they’ll point out things you might have never recognized as strengths of yours.
Thanks to Adriana Keefe, Life Strategist & Empowerment Coach, AdrianaKeefe.com
4. The Twilight Job
Early in my career, my husband was in the military so we used to relocate about every two years.
In Canada, the majority of military postings are in small towns where jobs are not easy to come by.
Also, most potential employers used to pass me over as they knew that I wouldn’t be around for very long.
Eventually, I landed a job. I was super excited.
However, once I got working things changed.
The position was for a government organization that needed five people to form a new team.
There was obviously money in the budget to hire us, but there was no actual work to do!
My weekly workload consisted of 2-3 hours of actual work. This was the case for all the members of my team. Trying to stretch that out was painful. I felt like I was drifting into insanity.
Today we hear about people being overworked and how there’s not enough time in the day to complete all their daily tasks.
That’s definitely bad…
But I can tell you that the opposite was pretty darn bad too.
I hated wasting my time just sitting at a desk doing nothing when I could be doing dozens of other things to pass it way more constructively.
Eventually, I started talking to my peers about resigning.
However, their responses were troubling…
All of them claimed that they loved sitting around all day doing nothing. The experience felt like living in the twilight zone.
One day, I just submitted my resignation letter. No fanfare or drama or anything like that.
The job was within walking distance from our home. The pay was fair. There were benefits and lots of paid days off.
I just couldn’t stand it.
I ended up joining an entrepreneur in a small start-up.
Low pay, long hours, long commute, Monday through Friday, no guarantees.
Best move I ever made!
Thanks to Angela Malejczuk, Marketing Specialist, CYDEF
5. Became the Leader I Wanted to Work With
Before becoming an entrepreneur, I used to work a regular 9-5 job as a sales representative for almost 4 years.
Every day at that job was a battle of negotiating my worth and being unable to share my ideas due to the strict company culture.
My mental health was deteriorating… Being stuck in a cubicle made matters even worse.
I’d tried reaching out to my manager multiple times but my concerns were constantly invalidated.
Eventually, I got tired of this vicious cycle and didn’t want to keep wasting my potential.
So, I decided to quit the 9 to 5 grind to pursue my dream of launching my own business, building my own team, and becoming the leader I’ve always wanted to work with.
The frustrations I faced while working for my former employer helped me recognize that my priorities as a business owner should always be my team’s wellness and open communication.
If you’re in a job you hate, start taking small steps that’ll improve your situation and lead you where you want to be.
Results won’t come overnight but small steps can bring big changes.
Thanks to Valentina Lopez, Co-Founder, Happiness Without
6. My Harasser Had Killed a Woman
After receiving my Ph.D., I accepted a position as an assistant professor at a university.
A month later, a male student began to sexually harass me. An evening when the department was empty, he locked me in my office, demanding to know why I was ignoring his advances, and told me that he was going to wear me down.
I was beyond scared.
The next day I reported the incident to the dean of the university as well as the campus police.
To my surprise, I was victim-blamed; the male officer stated that if I wasn’t interested in the student he wouldn’t have done that.
After checking the university’s website I found no information on policies and procedures against sexual harassment.
My next step was to file a report with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
However, somehow, this made matters even worse.
Some of my coworkers started sending me harassing emails, one female professor told me to grow up and stop complaining, and the student continued harassing me.
At that point, I started consulting with a counselor and a psychiatrist as I experienced immense anxiety, my hands were shaking uncontrollably, and I cried every day on my way to work.
I also began looking for another job.
A while later it was brought to my attention that the student harassing me had served 7 years in prison for killing a woman.
This was the last straw… I was done… I knew that I had to quit…
If you’re working in a toxic environment, find a solid support system. Dealing with a toxic work environment alone is rough.
Also, contact an employment lawyer to find out about all your employee rights. HR departments exist to protect the employer, not you.
The main lesson that I learned through this experience is that I should have left a lot sooner, even with no other job lined up.
No job is worth my safety or sanity.
Thanks to Dr. Carey Yazeed, author of Shut’em Down: Black Women, Racism and Corporate America
7. Entrepreneur at Heart
A few years back, I used to despise the idea of working 40+ hours a week to start what felt like “living” at 6 pm.
I wanted to live to work and create a lifestyle instead of a “job”, and that’s exactly what I set out to do.
During my career, I was constantly coming up with ideas to build my own business, but none of them were powerful enough to ultimately take the leap. Until one night at dinner with a colleague, I came up with an idea that led me into the NYC world of technology and dating.
After over two years of brainstorming, I launched Cheekd – a dating service that reverses the process of online dating and allows singles to leverage technology to make real-world connections.
I completely threw away my 15-year architecture, furniture, and design career to shift from building structures to building relationships.
Entrepreneurship has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Building a business has been an incredible learning experience. I’ve never been more dedicated to anything.
I’m living the American Dream – I’ve given birth to an invention. I’ve gone from 15 years of helping others build their dreams to a life finally dedicated to building my own.
Thanks to Lori Cheek, Founder & CEO, Cheekd
8. Left to Become a Full-Time Blogger
Many years ago, I quit a comfortable, stable job in the defense industry to become a personal finance blogger.
At first, I operated the blog on the side of my job; after work and over weekends.
However, once my blog started generating an income I seriously considered handing in my resignation as I needed to be able to devote more time to growing it.
When I eventually quit, I gave a month’s notice and learned, very quickly, that once you say you’re leaving, they treat you like a pariah.
It’s nothing personal…
Employers just prefer investing in the folks who’ll stick around. I could’ve left the day after resigning and no one would’ve cared.
The biggest lesson I learned through this experience is that the people you meet in a workplace aren’t necessarily your friends.
You may be friendly and cordial with one another, but once you leave, chances are that you’ll never talk to any of those people ever again.
That being said, make sure that you put your needs above everyone else’s.
Thanks to Jim Wang, Founder, WalletHacks.com
9. Freelance Mom of 3
Earlier this year, I quit my job to focus on my own freelance business as well as spend more time with my two toddlers.
Before leaving, I’d broached the topic of “scaling back” with my company as I hated the idea of leaving them in a lurch without giving them any time to find someone to fill my role.
However, 6 months passed and nothing changed. They hadn’t hired anyone new, my hours hadn’t lessened, and I was still feeling overworked and exhausted.
The thing that pushed me over the edge to finally resign was finding out I was pregnant with a third baby.
There couldn’t possibly be a better or worse time to take the leap, so I went for it!
The biggest lesson I learned was to put my own needs and desires first.
Ultimately, once I’d finally left, the company replaced me almost instantly, so putting their needs above my own was just a waste of my own time.
Thanks to Chrissie Jones, Freelancer & Writer, OneHangryMama
10. Fate Gave Me a Nudge
A few years back, I used to work as a commercial carpenter.
At some point, I started investing in real estate on the side. I basically purchased distressed properties, renovated them, and then put them up for sale or rent.
Eventually, I realized that I wanted to become a full-time real estate investor. Working for myself had always been a lifelong dream of mine.
However, the fear of losing my health insurance and financial instability always stood in the way.
Fate had its way of giving me a little nudge when I herniated a disc along my spine while doing carpeting work. The injury was so severe that my doctors recommended abandoning the construction industry altogether.
This accident left me no choice but to start pursuing my self-employment dream. I had no plan in place… I just knew that I had to do whatever it takes to succeed.
I’ve now been in the real estate business for over 3 years.
If you’re in a job you hate, figure out what you’d love to do and find a way to make it work.
Thanks to Dustin Singer, Owner, Dustin Buys Houses
11. I Didn't Hate My Job...
But I knew there was more…
I’d been working in corporate roles pursuing other people’s definition of success, never feeling good enough, and waking up every day with a feeling of low-grade dread for 30+ years.
In 1999, I had the opportunity to work with an executive coach. The work we did together had such a huge impact on me and my career that I decided that once I retire I’d become an executive coach as well.
So, in the fall of 2019, I started my coaching training with the intention of becoming certified so that upon retiring in 2024, I could hit the ground running.
In the meantime, a few unexpected things happened:
- I fell in love with coaching. I knew this is what I was meant to do since attending my coaching first class. I began feeling regret that I hadn’t get started sooner.
- The pandemic hit. Working remotely allowed me to devote more time to practicing my coaching as well as reflect upon what was really important to me.
- My father had a stroke. I came face to face with the reality that life is short and unpredictable.
I also realized that sticking to my retirement timeline wasn’t as crucial as I initially thought.
As such, four days after my father’s stroke I told my boss that I was planning to retire early.
August 7, 2020, was my last day at that job.
I have since launched a leadership and executive coaching practice, helping leaders of all levels find fulfillment, confidence and make the right choices.
No fear, no doubts, and no regrets.
That’s what it feels like to live on purpose.
My advice for those who are stuck in a job they don’t like is to spend some time reflecting upon what’s really important for them.
What are your values? What do you want to be remembered for? What brings you joy?
Hiring a coach can be a great way to answer these questions, gain clarity regarding your purpose, and plan your next steps.
Thanks to Alicia Daugherty, MBA, CPCC, ACC, Founder & Principal, Alicia Daugherty Coaching LLC
12. Work Felt Like an Uphill Battle
It’s been exactly five years since I left a six-figure job that was no longer aligned with my soul.
I didn’t have a solid plan regarding what I’d do next, but I instinctively knew something needed to change as every day at work felt like an uphill battle.
However, I’d devoted 17 years working my way up through the organization I used to work for so I wasn’t really ready to toss everything aside without first making a solid attempt to improve my situation.
So, I started consulting with an executive coach hoping to eventually fit my square peg in that round hole of a job.
A while later, I got diagnosed with three fibroid tumors on my uterus that according to my doctor were probably caused by too much stress.
At that point, I knew I had to quit as soon as possible. I just wasn’t willing to keep sacrificing my health for a job.
Thus, I handed in my resignation and walked away.
There’s not a single moment I regret leaving. As a matter of fact, I only wish I’d left much sooner.
Trust your instincts. If your job is taking a toll on your overall well-being start planning your exit right now before it’s too late.
Thanks to Kelli Reese, Founder, Lead With Soul, LLC
13. I Snapped and Quit Right on the Spot
Once upon a time, I used to work as a tech in an IT company.
This was actually my first job so I started off with tons of excitement.
Unfortunately, the job turned out to be way worse than I had initially imagined…
Unprofessional colleagues, ungrateful bosses, late salaries, and total racism for newbies were the norm.
Since this was my first job, I tried to stick it out as much as possible, hoping that the situation would eventually improve.
However, as months passed, things were going from bad to worse. Eventually, the job started affecting my psyche.
One day I just snapped and quit right on the spot.
I felt liberated…
After that, I remained jobless for months… There were times that I regretted quitting without having a plan in place. The whole experience was scary but also exciting.
In the hindsight, I’m grateful for my decision as it opened up opportunities that lead me to where I am now.
There are hundreds of reasons not to quit a job…
However, if you truly value your happiness, you should do your best to free yourself from that job you hate.
Gather some courage, create a backup plan, and you’re good to go.
Thanks to Jeff Walker, Founder & CEO, Best VPN Canada
14. The Company Struggled on Many Fronts
I’m an educated, highly-experienced Human Resources executive who, like many other women, juggled the responsibility of being a working mother of three children.
A while ago, I was employed by a company that struggled on many fronts…
…broken relationships at the executive levels, toxic corporate culture, extremely high-turnover, high-pressure workloads, and more work than available resources.
In my department alone, positions were constantly being cut, which resulted in even more work to be done by fewer people.
At some point, I started feeling burned out and mentally exhausted. I also developed an anxiety disorder that began to take over my life.
After enduring there for 6 years, enough was enough – I’d decided to resign.
However, one of the company’s owners talked me out of leaving by convincing me that this wasn’t the right move for my children as well as improving my compensation package and schedule.
Fast forward 18 months, my body began to break down from the stress the job caused me, so my doctor suggested that I take a leave of absence for a while.
During this time, I consulted with a therapist who kept suggesting that to recover from the mental anguish and PTSD accumulated throughout the years of being exposed to such a toxic environment, I had to leave.
Eventually, I quit my job without another job lined up.
Shortly after, I landed a new job without much trouble.
Leaving a stable income can be scary, but no job is worth sacrificing your physical or mental health. Stress has a major impact on our overall well-being.
If you’re working for a company you’re unhappy with, leave.
If I can leave a six-figure job with no plan whatsoever other than focusing on my health and my family, you can definitely do the same.
Thanks to Amy Ogunyemi, MBA, M. Ed. Author, Founder & CEO, The Anxiety & Depression Alliance
The process of quitting a job is rather messy…
As you saw for yourself, none of these people had it easy.
Almost all of them were filled with stress, exhaustion, doubt, fear, and uncertainty.
However, they made their exit anyway.
And as it seems, despite their initial hurdles, most of them ended up in a much better place.
That being said, the main takeaway of this article is that even though career shifts are indeed inherently scary, risky, and challenging, they’re also paramount towards attaining job fulfillment.
Always remember that the only thing standing between you and the first day in a job you love is the last day at a job you hate.
Do you have an interesting/insightful job quitting story to share?
Send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll consider featuring it in this article with a link back to your online presence (if any).
All the best,
Harry, Founder & Editor at dearboss-iquit.com