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I Quit My Job Because Of Burnout – Should You?

Written by: Ellyn Schinke, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Should you quit? Seriously, should you quit? If you’re burned out to the max at work, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better, is quitting the right next step to take? Well, as someone who did just that ‒ burned out hard and then quit in her previous career – my answer might surprise you. In some respects, it even surprises me because my answer is “no.”

Stressed out businesswoman surrounded by colleagues needing help inside the office

Quitting might be the step that you ultimately arrive at, absolutely, but I think too many resources online default to quitting way too quickly.


Now, clearly, this is something that is on everyone’s minds. In 2021, the Great Resignation was front-page news. In April 2021, 4 million people quit their jobs. 4 million! I was shocked by that statistic at the time. However, I am even more shocked by the fact that, in 2022, 4 million people have left their jobs each month in the U.S. so far this year. In fact, 40% of workers are considering quitting their jobs soon. But I realize I really can’t be that surprised by those numbers.


In my last article, I wrote about 15 job burnout statistics that should worry you and in that article, one of the most shocking statistics to me was that 70% of professionals feel that their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization. So, it’s no surprise that workers are throwing in the towel at organizations that don’t seem to care.


But is that the best move for them? Is quitting really going to fix burnout? Well, the short answer is no.


For most of us, quitting comes with its own stressors. Most of us cannot afford to go without that consistent income. You don’t get unemployment if you quit. However, perhaps the most important thing to consider is this: a job search comes with its own forms of stress and burnout


Uncertainty about if our decision to quit will work out can cause burnout just as much as a rough work schedule can, which is why my first instinct here is to say “no.”


High-achieving professionals have some tendencies which may hold them back from being able to easily quit and find another job.

  • They’re perfectionists - keeping them from applying to jobs unless it’s the “perfect” one or they feel they’re “perfect” for it.

  • They’re people-pleasers - so the exact same things that drove them to burnout (saying “yes” to too much, for example) will likely be the same things that drive them to burnout in their new job as well.

  • And, well, they’re ACHIEVERS - they like being productive, contributing, and knowing that they’re moving the needle in their projects and in their lives. Submitting job applications? It might not provide them with enough fulfillment…

But, more so than any of that, for high-achievers, burnout is a cycle. It can repeat and recur every 3, 6, or 9 months depending upon the person and their burnout-inducing habits. This is an important thing to think about when you consider quitting your job due to burnout.


In my experience working with my high achievers from corporate environments like Amazon, JP Morgan, VISA, etc., these people go through a cycle of burnout, which ramps up over time as they get more and more in over their heads.


Once the burnout gets completely unbearable, they breakdown. Depending upon the severity of the burnout, this breakdown might look like a weekend spent in their pajamas with no social contact, OR it can be as substantial as requiring a full-blown, multiple-week stress leave from work, which is something I directly experienced with a client back in 2020 (just after the pandemic began).


After they break down, they bounce back. They return to their lives as normal, and if they’re lucky, they take some important lessons and self-awareness with them.


But this is where things start to vary because, well, not everyone learns from their experience with stress and burnout. Not everyone does experience this cycle and emerges with some important lessons about what triggers them, what leads to their burnout, etc.


And that’s why the cycle repeats. Because ‒ ultimately ‒ burnout is the result of a pattern of repeating the behavior. If we don’t intervene in that behavior and make significant changes to how we operate and how we work, it’s likely that the burnout will come back.


That is the biggest reason why I say, “no, you shouldn’t just quit your job” because, unless you have some awareness about what’s leading to your burnout, it’s likely the burnout will just come back. It’s likely you’ll be in the same situation after you go through all the effort to change positions, and that’s just a waste!


So, instead, here are some other things to think about to build that self-awareness muscle:

  • Do a weekly review to start becoming aware of your triggers and bad habits. Once you’re aware of them, you can start making changes to minimize and mitigate them.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my job make me a version of myself that I like?

  • Does my job align with my values and interests?

  • What does your future career look like? Do I want that? Not sure what I mean? Look up the ladder. Do you want your boss’ life?

  • Will this job give you the kind of lifestyle you wish to create? Don’t just think monetarily here. Think beyond that. For example, how will you have to spend your time?

  • What are the costs of staying?

  • How much control do you have over making a change?

  • Are you just in a busy season? Will the stress and burnout subside?

  • These questions and action steps will help reveal to you whether your current job is one you should stay in or if there are aspects of your job that are fundamentally at odds with the kind of lifestyle you want in your life.

Ultimately, quitting is entirely a possibility and might be the best move. The point of this article is that quitting may not fix the issue. There are tons of other things we should do and consider before we quit.

When I quit my Ph.D. in 2016, I had been mulling over the decision for 1.5 years. There were several reasons why it took me so long to decide…

  • Yes, I was emotionally and physically burned out, but I had wanted to be Dr. Ellyn for a long time and didn’t want to make a rash choice

  • I wanted to try adding new elements to my thesis project to make it more interesting

  • I wanted to talk it out with people to see if they had any advice and insights that I needed to hear.

  • I tried a ton of different things, but ultimately, the biggest thing that convinced me to move on was this: I looked up the ladder. I looked at the people that were above me and asked myself if I wanted their work and if I wanted their life. Only then did I realize that I didn’t. Not one part of it. Science wasn’t the right path for me.

It’s time to quit when you hit a point of no return. A point where you realize that there’s no to pour so much of yourself into the work you’re doing because, ultimately, it’s not the right work for you anyway.

If that’s where you’re at, then, by all means, quit.


However, if it’s just a tough season, you love your job but are just tired, or you don’t have the self-awareness to know what’s triggering you and if those triggers can be taken off your plate, then I wouldn’t recommend quitting just yet.


Can quitting fix burnout? Yes.


But quitting should be the last resort, in my opinion. I’ve been there. I’ve done it myself and I know that quitting comes with its own stressors and that, ultimately, quitting may not fix the problem if done for the wrong reasons.


So, put in your due diligence, and if push finally comes to shove, then and only then should you quit.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Ellyn Schinke, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Ellyn Schinke is a former scientist turned top coach and international speaker specializing in burnout and stress management. After burning out while pursuing her Ph.D., Ellyn was sick of all the cookie-cutter, BS burnout tips online and sought out the real, tangible tactics that would actually make a difference in her life. As a result, burnout when from being her lifestyle to her passion. Now, she's focused on helping corporate professionals and businesses free themselves from burnout and take back their lives. Ellyn is the founder and CEO of Coach Ellyn LLC, one of the top burnout coaches on Google, host of the Burned Out to Badass podcast, and more. Her mission: Make burnout a choice.

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