If you spend more time daydreaming about finding a new job than being focused on your responsibilities, it’s a clear sign you’re not satisfied in your career.
Though you may fantasise about putting in your notice and seeing where the wind takes you, most professionals have anxiety when their next employment is unknown.
It’s normal, but it’s also unhealthy to stay in a lousy job situation for too long.
Here, we spoke with six inspiring female leaders who took the leap of faith and found something better, happier and more fulfilling. Learn from their stories and lessons before doing the same:
Don’t quit in the heat of the moment
What she was doing: After spending five years getting a degree in fashion design and merchandising, Lia Garcia spent another five years in the corporate world, working as a business systems analyst at a Fortune 500 fashion retailer.
Why she quit: As she inched closer to her mid-20s, she felt like time was moving way too fast. As she puts it, she felt like she was watching the world move around her, only to blink and find that months had passed. She didn’t want to spend all-day, every-day glued behind a desk, waiting for something to change.
So, she tried to identify what was missing and kept coming back to travel. She decided to save up to travel for an entire year, then return to work, reinvigorated. Then, of course, fate happened: she met her now-husband, and the ‘very big trip’ became their honeymoon, and they both quit their jobs a few days after saying ‘I do.’
On the side, they started a travel blog, Practical Wanderlust, that turned into a small business. Today, it’s one of the largest travel blogs in the world, with a team of 10 people.
Her advice: “Avoid making impulsive decisions! Instead, make a plan and begin to plan backward to set benchmarks for how you’ll achieve that plan. Talk to your family, loved ones, and dependents about that plan to make sure they’re on board and their concerns about big, scary changes are addressed.
“Take your time working on that plan, and when it comes time to quit, don’t burn any bridges if you can help it! Make sure you have a savings cushion to fall back on if things don’t work out.
“And give yourself space for things not to work out perfectly: learning and growth come from failure, so if you quit and it doesn’t work out, you’re not starting over again. You’re taking all the things you learned from that failure and the perspective and clarity it gave you and moving forward, onwards, and upwards.”
Always have faith in yourself
What she was doing: Deeannah Seymour was working at a pharmaceutical industry for a publicly-traded company.
Why she quit: After two decades working for someone else, Seymour saw a major need that wasn’t being met. She realised there were millions of women — like her — that suffering from feminine health issues related to vaginal imbalance. She wanted to create an affordable, simple and most of all, effective solution.
Thanks to her biology background, she developed a natural remedy backed by research and founded her company, pH-D Feminine Health. To date, it’s remained a top seller on Amazon for five years.
Her advice: “Always have faith and believe in yourself. Self-doubt can be crippling, and learning to control your inner-critic is important, especially when you’re seeking to make a major career change.”
The grass isn’t always greener than where you are right now
What she was doing: Shannon Tarrant was a veteran with a decade-worth of experience in the wedding sales and execution industry. Before she jumped ship, she was a manager at a golf resort for five years.
Why she quit: It’s the same ‘ole story so many relate to: feeling like a robot going through the motions of a job. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, Tarrant had lost joy and passion in her role and felt guilty not giving her couples the time and attention they deserved on their special day.
To figure out how to shake things up, she thought about what made her excited every day. She realised that her love of the wedding industry hadn’t wavered, but more so, she was more excited working B2B with other companies, rather than directly with the engaged duos.
Thus, she built a business that helped to connect the dots called WeddingVenueMap. She gave a three month-notice, and as they say, the rest is history.
Her advice: “Take the time while you are employed to do the research and learn more about the new direction you want to take. See if there are volunteer opportunities or LinkedIn connections you can make and interview people who are successful at your next path. Make a plan before taking the leap.”
Build a side hustle before quitting
What she was doing: Susan Gold worked as a celebrity producer for an internationally-acclaimed family entertainment television program.
Why she quit: For the launch season, Gold had managed to bring in an array of A-list celebrities to a television talk show hosted by two cartoon characters. Even with her experience, the feat had surprised Gold, and she feared she set Season Two up for failure.
Unfortunately, she was right — and the head of the network had unrealistic expectations that were near-impossible to meet. She performed above and beyond, but she never felt it was enough for the higher-ups. Gradually, she started to explore becoming her own boss, which naturally led to PR from media outreach, thought-leadership and business development.
Her advice: “It’s often easier to find a job with a job. If you are permitted, start consulting on the side or think about building a side hustle before you quit. Think through how your current talents can transfer to multiple fields.
“Network with others who have made successful transitions from jobs to others or to their own businesses, listen to their stories and create a support network. Look for user groups along the lines of what you are seeking and participate.
“Humbly ask for help and add something to the group, even if it’s acknowledging a member’s experience or offering support. We’re not alone on this path, and ultimately I believe we’re all being led to the point of purpose and usefulness that is of benefit to all.”
Do it — but be smart and calculated
What she was doing: Rachel Sobel had a successful 20-year career in public relations focused on technology and start-ups. Her last in-house job was managing communications for a privately-owned, mid-sized software company.
Why she quit: The culture was what Sobel describes as ‘mean-girl’ leadership, making it a toxic work environment. She started to notice that every woman who succeeded in climbing up the ranks did so by knocking others down. She couldn’t deal with office politics and playing the game and started to build up a freelance business on the side.
Because she had a family and a mortgage, quitting without income wasn’t an option. Once she put her kiddos to bed, she did as much extra work as she could. Months later, when the contracts starting to become steady, she quit — and never looked back.
Today, she’s a freelance writer, author and speaker — and happier than she ever was in corporate America.
Her advice: “Make sure to have an honest dialogue with yourself and family members about how your decision will affect the finances and logistics – not for permission, rather for support and to have a place to hash things out.
“I have never regretted my decision to carve my own path but I am also working harder than I ever have in my entire life since everything now falls on me. Making this decision with my husband involved every step of the way, talking everything out together, helped me enter this new chapter with his unwavering support. And that fuelled my fire even harder.”
Don’t be afraid to give up something good for something that may be great
What she was doing: Nicole Loher had her dream job in fashion, when the company started going through structural changes. These could require her to move from New York City to Paris.
Why she quit: She loved her team and expressed interest in relocating, so the company sent her to Paris to interview with the newly-restructured senior team members.
When she returned to the Big Apple, it was clear she had two choices: one — take the opportunity and start her personal life from scratch or two —quit, even though it was her dream job, but keep her personal life intact.
The second would also allow her to pursue a new career trajectory that was a hobby at the time: artificial intelligence. Ultimately, France didn’t get her ‘oui oui!’ but it was a move that pushed her journey on another path.
She had a multi-month notice to train her replacement and negotiate to only work four-day weeks. Then, she could double-down on pivoting.
After plenty of work, she landed a consultant gig at Hypergiant, a brand that was everything she dreamed of. Today, she’s their senior manager of digital strategy.
Her advice: “The week after I left my job, I had the fortune of hearing Venus Williams. She said something powerful I will always remember: ‘Fear is the devil.’ I realised she was so right; that I probably hadn’t pursued AI sooner was out of fear of uncertainty.
“Uncertainty of my next job would be how I would pay my bills and what people would think of me. That fear, at times, was so powerful it made me forget what I actually loved —which is technology and being challenged in my career.
“If you’re on a quest for something greater or something that would make you happier, that’s the right quest no matter how content your current path may feel.”
The article was originally published on The Ladders.