Would You Leave Your Job in this Economy?

By Kevin M

You hate your job; you can?t even stand the thought of staying one more week. You don?t like your boss, and you?re pretty sure he doesn?t like you. You?re not going anywhere and haven?t been for a long time. It?s been a few years since your last raise, and you?re not sure if another one?s ever coming. You?d quit tomorrow, if only?but the job market is lousy, and the economy looks so uncertain. You?d like to move on, but it doesn?t look like there?s any place to go?not any place decent at least.

Are you in this situation right now? You probably have a lot of company. This recession, poor economy?or what ever we want to call it?is getting old, very old. The job market has been weak for several years now, and many workers have been trapped in that uncomfortable ?lucky-to-have-a-job? limbo for a very long time.

Not only have jobs and opportunities evaporated, but raises, promotions, bonuses and benefits have also been cut or disappeared completely for the survivors.

Despite signs of an improving economy, the job market remains stubbornly tight. Unfortunately, all the signs of a ?jobless recovery? seem to be in place. And if it is, how long should you wait before making a move?

The reality of the moment

Much as we don?t like to think about it, when economic conditions are as poor as they are right now, the lucky-to-have-a-job mantra IS the order of the day. Realize that having a paying job?even one you don?t particularly like?is far better than having none at all.

As emotionally appealing and liberating as picking up and leaving a bad job might seem at some moments, I can tell you that based on the people I know who are out of work and looking, the pressures of surviving each month with very limited means is usually a lot more stressful than trying to manage a crappy job. The fundamental difference is that if nothing else, money is coming in while you?re struggling with the crappy job.

Concentrate on cash flow

For many today, the idea of connecting work primarily or exclusively with money is a bit distasteful.

In the TV and entertainment dominated world that we?ve been living in for quite a few years now, it?s often easy to forget that employment is first and foremost about survival. On TV, characters are out trying to ?find themselves?, find happiness, self-actualize or to find the cure for the world?s problems. It really would be nice if we could find these things through our work, and maybe we come closer to it during more robust times.

But for the vast majority of us who don?t live in TV Land, most of what we do through our work is creating and maintaining a cash flow.

If we can get back to that basic view of work, holding any job?even one we might hate?becomes more tolerable. To borrow a phrase, income is Job 1!

While it?s certainly preferable to generate a cash flow doing a job we like, as adults we also understand that this is not always possible. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do?but that doesn?t mean you have to sit still and die on the vine either!

Creating a better future

OK, all of this might help us to put the situation into some kind of perspective that makes the moment more tolerable, but what about the future? Are you doomed to the current state of affairs for many more years, or even forever?

Feel free to disagree, but I think it?s fair to say that, based on developments in recent years, we have solid reason to believe that the current poor state of the job market may not be as temporary as we?d like to believe. Business, it seems, has found ways to survive and expand with fewer employees, and none of that bodes well for the future of the job market.

Simply put, if we?re looking for a brighter future, we may have to look for it outside of work. We may have to find our own ways to promote ourselves, to increase our incomes and to improve future prospects that have nothing to do with our jobs.

Decide what you actually like to do. If it looks like there are no promotions in your future, it may be more important than ever to be happy with what you do for a living. Think about what kind of work you?d like to do if money were no object?then start thinking about how you can make it happen. If what it is that you like to do doesn?t pay particularly well, think of ways to supplement your income doing something else?something that will compliment your passion while providing extra cash. Then start working right now on a plan to make it all happen. As you move forward, doors of opportunity will open for you, but only if you?re ready.

Work into a new industry or career field on a part time basis. If it looks as if prospects in your current industry have faded for good and you feel it may be time to make a wholesale change, see if you can gradually move into a new career or industry on a part time basis. This will be a way of getting needed experience without a taking a big drop in income. Only when you?re ready to make it a full time venture do you quit your current job, at which time the income disruption will be minimal.

Develop a business idea as a side venture. Have you been nursing a business idea for a long time but haven?t felt ready or able to get it going? Now might be the perfect time. Increasingly, having your own business may be the best way to move forward in your life. There is a lot of risk in starting a business, especially in this economy, but you can minimize that risk by keeping your full time job and working the new venture as a side business. Your full time job will keep your cash flow coming in while the new business helps you to build the future you?ve been looking for.

Get your finances in order. Many times we leave our financial security to our employers. But you can offset a sense of powerlessness on the job by taking action outside. Start building savings and paying off any debt you have?as your financial situation improves you?ll begin to feel a sense of control over your destiny. At that point, the sense of dependence on your job may drop, enabling you to like your job a little better. Also, if you plan to start a side business, or transition into a new industry or career, a stronger balance sheet will help grease the wheels.

So should you leave your job if you?re really unhappy with it? That always depends mostly on the options you have available outside your job. But if you?re feeling trapped on the job, try taking a few calculated risks on the outside and you?ll develop a clearer idea of what you should do next. Forward motion has a way of bringing us to our destination, even if we?re not always certain where that destination is.

If you absolutely hated your job, would you leave it in this economy? What would you do to prepare for departure?

( Photo by BLW Photography )

8 Responses to Would You Leave Your Job in this Economy?

  1. I left $35K/year in February of 2010. The only reason it was possible though was becoming debt free and we had a much better financial plan. No debt and an emergency fund will give you plenty of wiggle room to figure things out.

    Great post!

  2. That’s a seriously deep question. The answer for me would be no. On one hand, I love my job so I wouldn’t leave anyways. But even if I hated it, that would completely turn my lifestyle upside down. I would probably have to work twice as hard for half the benefits. I’m paying off debt, emergency fund is non-existent. The savings we had got ate up these past couple of months because of emergencies.

  3. Brad – That’s the point of getting your finances in order while we tread water. The fatter the bankroll, the lower the cost of living, the more options.

    Briana – I would agree, I think most people would have to be really careful with this. Taking calculated risks may be the only way.

  4. There’s no way I’d leave my job (especially in this economy) without having another place to land! I mean, maybe if I was independently wealthy, but then it would be early retirement. 😉

  5. Kevin – Everybody should have a mission of continuing to look for that perfect job instead of just settling.

    Also, I’m curious to know your thoughts on this…. with 10,000 twitter followers, how come you don’t get more visitors to your site? With just 10% of your followers coming to your site, you’d have 1,000 visitors a day no problem! Perhaps having Twitter followers is kind of meaningless?

  6. Sam – It’s more like a 100 a day from Twitter! Yeah it would seem as if there’d be a bigger flow, but I think it’s more akin to advertising–you put out the message and the response is realively small. But two things–once you have the Twitter following, you only need about 10 minutes a day to get those 100 hits, and the overall traffic to the site has grown steadily with the increased Twitter following. I’d guess 1000 Twitter hits a day would require a following of 100k–that’s a climb I don’t feel like making.

  7. Hi Kevin,

    I can only recommend your readers tim ferris’s “4-hour work week”. It’s an amazing book on this topic.

    thank you for the reading.


  8. Olmo – I’ve read that book as well, and it’s a part of my permanent library! In fact it’s available under the “Book Store” tab at the top of this screen. Excellent, excellent read on a number of fronts.

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