Quit or Stay? A Tough Career Choice

We have all faced the dilemma of quitting or staying in our jobs.

Years ago the NY Times did a series on people who for some reason or another resigned their job and moved on. One example was a very senior corporate attorney who resigned his position and moved from a major city to a small town in the country. There he opened a law office and worked an eight hour a day job that gave him ample time for the rest of his life. As a result he had time to go fishing with his son (something he had missed with his own father) as well as regaining his health and sanity.

When we find ourselves with the urge to quit what do we do?


After the reality check of a cost/benefit analysis about our work we choose to stay. We make adjustments to our job like reaffirming our priorities that can make the job fulfilling once again.

Most people I know, including myself, love the work they do. It is deeply satisfying to make a difference in one’s organization, contribute to the common good, be at the table where innovative strategy is being formulated, and gratifying to be a part of development of the lives and careers of others. Such people say, “You mean they pay me to do this?”

Others don’t quit because of the “golden handcuffs”. The latter could be retirement benefits they lose if they leave, the mortgage to pay, kids to put through college, and the price of pulling up one’s roots. Furthermore, it is not worth resigning over a boss we do not like because there are frequent managerial changes.


There are a number of sound reasons why people would move from their present job. These include,

  • The pressures of the job are compromising our wider life

When a person is sleep deprived because of the chronic work crises their efficiency goes down, their lives are shortened, and families are compromised. When such stressors are out of our control leaving the situation may be our best option.

  • There really is a glass ceiling

Some organizations really do not accommodate the ambitions of their employees. Women and minorities do encounter a glass corporate ceiling. In Japan, for example, many women have left corporate life with its male dominated culture to launch out into their own businesses. No matter how much these women “leaned into” their power, the political and cultural realities severely restricted their career progress.

  • There are actually better career opportunities elsewhere.

We are often warned that the “grass is not greener in another field”. However, this is not necessarily true. Multitudes of people have found better opportunities elsewhere. Even after they were downsized.

  • There is a whole different life calling us.

A couple of my friends had an epiphany one day as they reflected on the downside of their high-pressure job in the high tech industry. They asked themselves, “Why are we doing this to ourselves?” The action they took resulted in paradigm shift on how they lived their lives. They cashed in their investments and began a spiritual journey that took them all around the world. This action gave them new opportunities to use their gifts and serve others.


Where am I on this quit/stay question?

How can a radical change bring me new opportunities?


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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