What’s the difference between a good life and a good job?
It might seem like a silly question. To a lot of people, having a good job is a big part of having a good life. But to the millions of people with good jobs who are still unhappy, the distinction is critically important.
We define a “good job” by a checklist of things that other people say we should want:
- Good salary
- Healthy work culture
And to be sure, all of those things are positives. But for many people, being hyper-focused on having a good job leaves them unsatisfied. Worse yet, when they see how many people would like their job, they feel ungrateful for wanting something different.
The reality is this: There’s nothing shameful about wanting something else, regardless of what you currently have.
Below I’ve written a strategy to help you admit your great job isn’t your dream job, and to start taking action to get where you want to be in life.
How To Recognize You Need To Leave
When you evaluate your job, your impulse will be to ask these kinds of questions:
- Would I make more money somewhere else?
- Do I have the skills to fit another market?
- What have I done to deserve something better than this?
The problem is, that doesn’t gauge your happiness.
Those kinds of questions are an attempt to understand how other people see you. You want to know how much the job market values your skills, how much your friends would value you if you were unemployed, and what a future employer might think of your story.
Shouldn’t you get a say in what happens to you?
To gauge your happiness, ask yourself these questions instead:
- How often did I daydream of being somewhere else today?
- When was the last time I woke up excited about work?
- What would it take for this role to be completely satisfying for me?
If you can’t recall the last day you were pumped to get out of bed, can’t imagine how this role could satisfy you, or spent your day envisioning your vacation, you aren’t happy.
Once you realize that, you have a choice. You can choose to believe you don’t deserve to be happy, or you can begin working towards the career and life that you truly want.
How To Create An Exit Strategy
When people ask me how to quit their job, I give them the same three step formula I’ve used in my life and with my clients. It looks like this:
1. Figure Out Why You Want To Leave
The first step to creating an exit strategy isn’t figuring out where you want to go, it’s figuring out why you want to leave.
Be self-aware throughout your day, and anytime you find yourself putting off a task you hate or feeling drained, write down what caused it. Doing this will give you a list of things to avoid when setting goals.
2. Decide What You Want
There’s a mental flip here. Once you know what you don’t want in your job, it’s much easier to define what you do want in your dream job.
This sounds simple in theory, but many people go about it the wrong way.
The #1 mistake people make when deciding what they want is that they make it too big. They try to imagine what they want to have achieved 10 years from now, and it overwhelms them.
Imagine what you’d like to do tomorrow. If you could walk into a job tomorrow and be happy, what would it be? There are no wrong answers here, you can say “investment banker” or “ice cream truck driver.”
3. Focus On What You Can Achieve Today
The final step to your exit strategy is the hardest. You have to wait.
To get what you want, you’ll undoubtedly have to learn new skills, acquire new experiences, and forge connections with new people.
All of that takes time, and you inch your way there every day by asking yourself questions like, “What can I do today that will move the needle in my life?”
Ask yourself that question constantly, keep taking action, and over time you’ll get where you want to be.
How To Leave Without Burning Bridges
The final fear that holds people back from leaving a job is typically this:
“I’d be betraying my friends and teammates if I left.”
Everyone wants to be a good team player. No one wants to make an enemy. But quitting a job isn’t the same thing as betraying your team or sleeping with your best friend’s spouse.
The key here is to be honest and compassionate in your relationships before you quit. Then, when you decide it’s time for you to leave, the people you work with will mirror that compassion back to you.
Let me give you an example. When I decided to leave my job as a VP at Goldman Sachs, I walked into my boss’ office and simply said, “It’s time for me to leave.”
We had a long discussion about my motivations, and when it was clear to my bosses that I was making the right decision (for all of us), they wished me well.
We’d built an honest and compassionate relationship, and so when I left they didn’t only ask, “How does this affect me?” They asked, “What can we do to help you?”
You deserve to be happy and excited about what you’re doing today, not where you might be in 10 years. If you build a good relationship with your teammates, they’ll support you in finding that happiness.