On some level, it’s fun to quit a job. It’s fun to remind people that they don’t own you. It’s fun to feel that burst of freedom as you walk out the door. But it’s no fun if you don’t quit right.
Before you quit, you need a semi-plan for what you’ll do next: You will either work or play. Pick one. You cannot pick sitting in front of the TV because it is lame and you will be sorry.
If you pick work, then get another job lined up before you quit, because getting a job while you have a job means that your company paid you to job hunt.
If you choose to play, make sure you have enough money to play in a way that will actually be fun. One of my most misguided attempts at play was when I took a trip to France and ended up earning room and board by chopping off chicken heads.
Before you quit you also need to make sure the job is the problem. Maybe you are the problem and you are blaming everything on the job so you don’t have to look at yourself. The Occupational Adventure offers a good way to take a look at your life to see what’s really holding you back. Do an honest assessment. If your job is not holding you back, then deal with what is, while you’re gainfully employed. Self-examination is always easier to do when you can pay your rent.
If you really do think quitting is the right decision, here’s how to tell your boss:
1. Be kind, even if you hate your boss, because your boss is not your boss anymore. She is part of your network. And some people who are jerks to work for are actually nice and fun outside of work. You don’t know until you try. So hedge your bets and be gracious on the way out, even if you don’t feel that way.
2. Make sure your boss knows that this is a good move for you. Even if you’re not sure if it’s a good move, tell your boss that it is. We all need to believe in ourselves, or else who will?
3. Put it in writing. Why are there six thousand examples of resignation letters on the Internet? You are not Winston Churchill. You can write one sentence: “I’m leaving this company on [date].” If you want to tell your boss how much you hate her, see rule number one. If you want to nail your boss for illegal behavior, see a lawyer. Don’t tell the company how to fix itself. You are leaving. If they care about your input so much they can pay you as a consultant. Which they will not, because they do not care.
4. If you want a counter-offer, give your boss enough notice to come up with one before you leave. A counter-offer is much less likely to come after you’re gone.
5. Show gratitude for what your boss has done for you. A personal thank you note is a good way to leave because your boss can reread it all the time and remember only the good things about you. This will help when you call your boss for a favor — like when you need a reference.
Also, people who express gratitude are happier than those who don’t. The National Institute of Healthcare Research reports, “People who regularly practice grateful thinking reap emotional, physical and interpersonal benefits.” So find something nice to say about your boss and you’ll feel great as you walk out the door.