If you’re thinking of leaving a comfortable job, you’re not on your own. All the major media outlets and recruitment sites are talking about the Great Resignation of 2021 and 2022. The pandemic has caused many people to look at their life and career and reassess.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics news release showed that 4.4 million people quit their job in April this year.
According to a survey by Flexjobs, “Overall, 30% of respondents said they are currently considering quitting, while 25% quit their job in the last six months. Of those who had recently quit, 68% did so without having another job lined up.”
The main reason for leaving was a toxic company culture, followed by poor salary, poor management, and a lack of work-life balance. 43% of people quit their job because, after the pandemic, many companies would no longer offer remote working.
Whatever your reasons for thinking about leaving a good job for the unknown, it’s normal to have concerns and fears about how you’re going to manage and what’s next for you.
In this article, I’m going to look at the most common reasons people fear leaving a comfortable job, and how you can overcome them to get the career you really want. Whether you’re leaving a comfortable job for more money, leaving a comfortable job for growth, or for any other reason, read on.
“Making a big life change is pretty scary. But know what’s even scarier? Regret.” – Zig Ziglar
Why people are scared to leave comfortable job
1) The comfort zone
Even if you really don’t like your job, if you’ve been there any length of time, then it’s familiar to you. You know the building where you work, the day-to-day routines, and there are probably at least some people that you like.
It’s easy to walk in and do what you usually do. You don’t have to start from scratch and learn everything anew. It’s safe, it’s routine and familiar. You know what to expect.
Even a job that doesn’t make you happy can make you feel stuck if you give in to that lulling feeling of being in your comfort zone.
2) What if…?
Fear of the unknown can keep you stuck in place, even if you know things could be much better for you in another job.
What if you don’t find another job soon? What if you hate the new job more than this one? What if you get an even worse boss next time? What if nobody wants to hire you? What if you never find another job in your life?
The ‘what ifs’ can have you mentally spiraling if you let them. But breathe, think rationally, and calm down.
The fact is, none of us know what’s around the corner. You have no idea what the future holds, even if you stay in your current job. You might get made redundant at some point. You could find that the job changes and it’s worse than ever. You simply don’t know.
It’s no use panicking over what might be in the future. Don’t let that stop you from taking a chance and going for a better job.
3) Fear of change
One of the biggest things that prevents people from leaving a comfortable job is fear of change. It’s scary to go into the unknown and change what you do every day and where you go. It can be scary to meet new people and try to become part of a new team.
It’s certainly scary to step up into a bigger role and know you need to learn new skills and grow as a person.
But change doesn’t have to be bad. Changing your job might be the best thing you’ve ever done.
“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” – Mandy Hale
4) Emotional ties
Especially if you’ve been in your current job for any length of time, you’ll have emotional ties to it. Even if you’re not keen on your job, you might have made some great friends there or have even small aspects of the job that you like. You’ll very likely feel attached in some way.
If you really love your current job, leaving can be even harder. You might be moving on to something amazing, but that doesn’t mean you won’t mourn for your old life to a certain extent. You might feel sad about leaving the people. You might even find it hard to hand over your old role to someone else.
But you can’t let your emotions rule you and keep you stuck in place. True friendships will still be there even when you’re in your new and exciting job. And you’ll get to do even more interesting and exciting things in a new role that you can make your own.
“You get a strange feeling when you leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but you miss the person you are at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again.” – Azar Nafasi
5) Financial concerns
Financial concerns are very real and not to be dismissed lightly. Some people have partners or savings to fall back on if they don’t get a new job straight away, but others don’t.
Considering the financial implications of leaving, is an extremely practical and necessary thing to do. You need to know whether you can get the same benefits elsewhere. You need to look into medical insurance and other necessities.
However, try not to become so bogged down in financial stress that you let it stop you going for the job you really want.
“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with another hello.” – Paulo Coehlo
How to overcome your fears and move on to your new job
“My dad said, ‘If you got hit by a bus tomorrow, were you living your life truthfully, or were you waiting to get rich?’ If I died and my soul started leaving my body, would I be looking down going, ‘You idiot. You could have gone to Prague, you could have been on Broadway’? Those are the things I wanted to do.” – Juliana Margulies, on leaving the TV series, ER.
That’s a powerful quote from a great actress and it’s so true. Would you be happy with your life as it is right now if it ended tomorrow? Would you feel you’d accomplished everything you wanted to do?
If not, then it’s time to get over your fears, get unstuck, and move on to better things.
Here are some practical steps to help you with that:
1) Assess where you are right now
Take a look at your current job and think about how you feel. What do you like about it and what don’t you like?
It’s easy to look at what you currently have and decide what you don’t like, but it’s a little more difficult sometimes to know what you want instead.
Starting with this exercise can help you focus on the things you will accept in a new job and the things you won’t. Is remote working important to you? Do you absolutely have to have included healthcare insurance? Would a bigger salary draw you over everything else?
Really dig into this and think about your must-haves and your no-nos.
If you’re not sure, listen to your body and your gut instinct. If the idea of cramming on a train for two hours to get to a job fills you with dread and makes you panic, for example, then it’s a good sign that remote working is a must-have for you.
2) Do your research
Try to narrow down the type of job you’d like now you have your criteria from the last exercise. Think about your skills and experience. Work out what you enjoy doing and what you’d like to do more of.
Consider taking a career aptitude test to help you work out job possibilities. These tests look at your personality as well as your skills and interests and they can help with new ideas.
Then take a look at the job market and see what’s out there. Check out different jobs. Look at job requirements.
Don’t forget to compare salaries, perks, and benefits. This is about you getting a better career and those extras matter.
3) Refresh your resume
Now you have more of an idea of what you’re looking for and the job requirements, take a hard look at your resume.
Get it updated to show your current role, and think about how you can show that you’re ready for something more.
4) Get some backup
If your confidence is wavering and you’re doubting yourself, get some backup. Talk to supportive friends and family about your ideas.
Ask them what they think your skills and talents are, if you’re not sure. You might be surprised at what you hear.
This can be an excellent confidence-boosting exercise that might just give you the push you need to make a move.
5) Get your financial ducks in a row
If you know you can rely on your partner or family to support you, or you already have savings, then you are in a good place to quit your comfortable job right now and focus on new and better things.
If not, then you have some work to do.
Start with a budget. Work out what you need to live, including rent or mortgage, bills, food, clothing, and extras.
Look at what benefits you get from your current job, including healthcare insurance, dental plan, and similar items. If you need to pay for these yourself in your next job, that’s something you need to consider.
Look at your full financial picture and then make a plan to work your way out of your current job as soon as you can.
You may feel more comfortable staying in your current job for long enough to save up several months’ salary before you make the leap. Now you have a budget, you can plan for that and start putting your dollars away.
“And suddenly you just know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” -Eckhart Tolle
With practical research and a plan behind you, you may find that those fears you had about leaving a comfortable job simply aren’t there anymore. And it’s time to move on to bigger and better things.