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  1. Blog
  2. Unemployment

I Quit My Job. Now What? 6 Ways to Stay Positive & Proactive

Don’t panic—you know yourself best

Woman with glasses thinking about what to do after she quits her job
Image courtesy of Paola Aguilar

You might find yourself in a situation where you need to leave your job immediately. Whether it’s for your own safety, mental or physical health, or the realization that the job is simply not what you thought —it might mean quitting without a backup plan. Some may tell you to never quit your job until you have another one lined up, but if you find yourself in a situation where you simply can’t stay, trust yourself.

Maybe you’re wondering if you should quit your job or how you would explain your decision in an interview. Maybe you’re thinking, oh my god, I quit my job. Now what?

Should I quit my job?

If you find yourself in a workplace that makes you feel unsafe, threatened, or marginalized and you can afford to leave without having something else lined up, go for it.

Executive coach Randi Braun tells InHerSight that there are plenty of good reasons to leave your job: “When you feel bored or like there is no more room to advance, your job is forcing you to live outside of your values in some way, when you know you're being paid beneath market value and your current employer won't right-size you, the culture is toxic, or you find yourself hungering for a new challenge you just can't get in your current job.”

But before you pull the plug out of frustration, make a plan so you don’t find yourself in dire financial straits. “The decision to leave your job without another job lined up shouldn't be made lightly,” Braun says. “It's one thing to leave your job without another job lined up, it's another thing to leave your job without a plan. To assuage panic, return to the plan. While life is predictably unpredictable, that plan should be grounded in reality about your finances and your next steps, offering some grounding in moments of panic.”

Read more: Resignation Letter Examples

How to talk about why you quit your job in an interview

You’re not the only one to leave a job without having something lined up, nor will you be the only one to have a gap on your resume. And leaving a job quickly will not automatically disqualify you for a new one.

What you want to avoid is having a hiring manager assume you were fired when you were not.

“Be prepared to tell a concise and compelling story about why you chose to leave in two to three sentences, max. Especially because if you left without anything lined up, rightly or wrongly, they may assume you were fired. I advise my clients to 1) acknowledge the elephant in the room, 2) speak for two to three sentences about why you left, and 3) immediately pivot to a forward-looking perspective about the role you're applying for.”

If you need help talking about why you left your job, try our guides: Reasons for Leaving a Job: The Good, Bad & Messy and The 3-Step Formula for Answering: Why Are You Looking for a New Job

Panicking because you quit your job? It’s going to be okay

1. Put it all in perspective

Your job does not define you. Your job isn’t who you are, it’s simply what you do. You don’t need other people’s approval to justify your decision to quit your job. Many may actually be impressed or even envious that you had the courage to make a brave decision to do what's best for you.

2. Create mental space

Sometimes you’re so burnt out by the situation you dealt with at your old job that you aren’t quite ready to throw yourself into a job hunt right away. You may feel like you lost your mojo or like your spark has been dulled, or you might simply need time to move on from a toxic work environment.

Listen to your body. Our bodies often know us better than our minds do. Rest if you need to. Cut out social media for a day to allow space to focus on what you actually want out of life. Take a long walk. Meditate. Breathe. Be silent.

Creating space mentally will help you decompress, find your center, and stay positive as you begin your new job search.

Read more:How to Create a Self-Care Plan That Actually Works

3. Keep a journal

According to the University of Rochester’s Medical Center, journalling can help you manage stress and anxiety, cope with feelings of depression, set priorities, and cultivate a practice of positive self-talk.

If you quit your job without a plan, keeping a journal throughout the aftermath is a healthy way to organize your thoughts and make a plan for your career ahead. If you’re at a loss for direction, writing down lists of your interests, career goals, and ideal company culture can help you narrow your focus.

4. Update your LinkedIn profile

Even if you aren’t ready to dive into your job search yet, you can make good use of your time by updating your LinkedIn profile. Update your LinkedIn summary and headline so recruiters and hiring managers know you’re available, which is a great way to “passively” put yourself on the job market. Add a few new connections while you’re at it and let your network know you’re looking for new opportunities.

Read more:How to Build a LinkedIn Profile That Demands Attention

5. Schedule time to job hunt

With all this free time, you might feel like you need to spend every moment applying for jobs. While job searching is partly a numbers game, this is a sure-fire way to burn out quickly. Instead, schedule time to apply for jobs with plenty of breaks in between.

And remember, you don’t have to apply for every job you see. Consult your journal to narrow your focus and remind you of what you truly want out of a job.

Read more:How to Find a Job You Love (No, Really)

6. Pick up a side gig or part-time work

Taking a part time gig while you’re job searching for full-time employment is a great way to keep money coming in and decrease the pressure to get hired immediately. Part-time hours give you time to keep applying and scheduling interviews while you try out something new and maintain some income.

Read more:What to Do if You Want to Change Careers, But Don’t Know What to Do

About our source

Specializing in women leaders, Randi Braun is an executive coach and the founder of Something Major. A thought leader who has been featured by Forbes, The Washington Post, and Parents Magazine, Randi coaches and speaks frequently on the topics of women's professional development and leadership, business development, thriving in working parenthood, and building meaningful professional relationships.

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