Career Change: When Should You Quit Your Job?

Growing up we are taught to find a good stable career and hold onto it for as long as possible.  The reasons make sense.  A good job leads to good security and good prospects for the future.  A good job can buy you a house, help you raise a family and help when you retire. 


But what if you don’t like your good job?


  1. If you quit your job tomorrow, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
  2. You have to get another job or find another *way to earn money

*Bank Robbers and Politicians do not represent good career options or value for money


And that’s scarier than staying in a job you hate?

To Do List

My To Do List March 2010

When you should make the decision to leave

A UK study conducted in 2012 concluded that we spend approximately 35% of our total waking hours at work (based on an average 50 year paid working life). If you’re in a job that earns you decent money, gives you good paid holiday and helps you do the things you want to do, then congratulations!  You’re obviously in a good position.  But if you’re in a job that earns you decent money, gives you good paid holiday but is making you miserable, all the money in the world isn’t going to help you through the 92,120 hours of your life spent working.


Why should you listen to me?

In 2010, I was in a well paid job with good benefits including additional paid holidays.  But the company I worked for changed my job role and I slowly began to grow more worn, tired and miserable.  My job was earning me good money but I was not enjoying it and it was making me ill.  I left in March 2011 without any job to go to.  I knew that if I stayed, I wouldn’t have the energy to apply for other jobs and I would become stuck.  I did the complete opposite of what every job guide, recruiter and career professional tells us we should do.  Yet it’s now 2016 and I have successfully started 1 business by myself, and have been a partner in a second business which I recently sold my stake in. 


If I hadn’t made the decision to leave my job in 2011 I would not have moved house, I would not have made new friends, I would not have learnt new skills and most importantly, I would not have met my girlfriend/partner/*evil**genius.  My income is not as high as it was in 2010, but I don’t define success by how much I earn.  I want to continue to build a career out of my writing.  The money I earn from this is worth far more to me than the money I earned from my old job, even when it’s less. 

* Only when people are being deliberately stupid

**Except for early in the morning

The goal to go for

The goal to go for

What should you ask yourself before deciding?

Below I have listed a few questions which helped me decide when to leave my job.  If you’re thinking of a career change, I would recommend asking them of yourself.


  1. If I don’t know what I want to do, do I know what things I am interested in?
  2. Can I afford to live on a lower income?
  3. What sacrifice(s) am I prepared to make to my lifestyle?
  4. Am I prepared to move to aid my new career?


It’s important to ask yourself these questions when you want to change career.  They helped me understand much more about what I want, and what I need to get what I want.  When you’re starting a new career, the wants are things that drive you, but the needs help you get there. 

For example; I want to be a commercially and critically successful author and writer.  I need time and commitment and to sacrifice some luxuries in order to get what I want.  If I had stayed in my old job, or at the other business I was a partner in, I would never have got this far.


What if I make the wrong career decision?

Don’t worry – most people don’t really know what they want to do until they start doing it.  But if you stay doing something you know you don’t like, but are too afraid to leave, then you will never find the something you do like and could be good at.  If you’re still not sure, read this article by Alexander Kjerulf.


What’s the worst that can happen?

I will finish by repeating this question, because it’s something that people often misunderstand.   When I started this journey, I had nothing.  No clippings, no completed novels, no experience, no money, no girlfriend/evil genius.  Nothing.  However my journey ends, I now definitely have all those things.  But I could still have ended up with nothing – just like at the beginning.  What have I lost by trying?




About the Author

John is an award winning science fiction, horror and fantasy writer. He is also a public speaker and consultant and has worked with Time to Change - a campaign to end mental health stigma - and for Wellment - an organisation that delivers mental health at work training. He loves science fiction, fantasy and horror stories and novels. His work has appeared in Vector Magazine, Ink Pantry, Sci-Fi Bloggers, The Huffington Post and more. His short fantasy "Thanks for Applying" won an Honourable Mention Award in the Writers of the Future competition in 2017. HIs short horror "By the Boiler's Hand" was longlisted for the 2018 James White Award and won an Honourable Mention in the Writers of the Future competiton the same year. John has spoken at several events including the Nine Worlds Geekfest in London, Bristol Con 2018, and the Moorfields NHS Trust. He has delivered masterclasses on ending mental health stigma in the workplace for Time to Change. He lives with his wife and a pile of books in the UK.

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