How To Leave Your Job (10 Step Plan From Someone Who Did It)

By Laura @ IWMLB Project | Help! I'm so burnt out

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Jan 23

You stare out the window, daydreaming of the day you get to control your own time, go to the gym, spend time with your kids and no longer crawl home from the office on your knees.

And then you snap out of it and continue answering the 300 pointless emails in your never-ending inbox.

The actual leaving itself isn’t difficult in a practical sense. You write your resignation letter, you hand it in and you work your notice.

But there are quite a few steps both practical and psychological that you also need to plan for.

Just to be completely transparent here, the way that I left my job resembled someone rolling down a hill hitting every tree on the way down.

It was a snowball of worry, doubt, fear and panic. I did, however, have 12 months of expenses saved up and some side-income from rental properties.

So although the psychological and mental aspect was comical, the practical aspect was pretty well covered. 

These are the 10 steps that I either used or wished that I’d know when I was planning to leave my job. 

Should I Leave My Job

How To Leave Your Job (10 Step Plan From Someone Who Did It)

1. Be Clear on Why You Want To Leave

Is it a career change you want, or to start a business? Perhaps you want to get a less stressful job so you have more time to enjoy life?

Whatever it is, make sure you are clear what you are working towards.

If it’s just a vague “erm I’m not really sure what I’m doing, maybe I should leave my job”, it won’t happen.

You need to have a really clear reason to get the motivation to leave.

If you don’t have a clear goal, you won’t make a plan, and if you don’t make a plan, you won’t take action.

2. Explore Alternatives to Leaving Your Job

If you feel like you are dragging yourself kicking and screaming into work every Monday (or any other day), leaving your job completely might seem like the only answer.

But maybe it isn’t. 

I’ve talked about this in another post before, there are other avenues you can take when you are burned out and miserable in your job.

What about a sabbatical (where you take unpaid leave but can still come back to your job afterwards). Or could you go part-time at work?

There might be some other options to help you get what you need without leaving completely.

3. Get Money Ready

If you are desperate to leave your job and a sabbatical or part-time won’t cut it, you need to have your financial foundation in place.

If you are used to being the proverbial ostrich, get your head out of the sand and get your money sorted.

You can start by working out your net worth to see where you are at with debts and make a plan to pay off any credit cards or loans.

Then work out what your monthly expenses are, how much you need to save and how long you need to save for.

Perhaps you want a good 12 months worth of money to allow to explore what to do once you leave.

The amount you save is totally up to you, just make sure that you have yourself covered.

(I have a course come out shortly that will help you with all the money stuff involved when you want to quit your job. You can sign up to the mailing list at the top or bottom of this page to find out when it launches)

4. Know the Implications

Before you leave your job, you want to make sure that you’ve factored in any big life events or things that require you to have a steady income.

Your mortgage for instance. If you have a remortgage coming up, you may find it harder to find a decent deal if you aren’t in full-time employment.

I timed my resignation to make sure I was still in my full-time job while my remortgage went through.

Another thing to think about is maternity benefits.

If you don’t already have kids or are planning on more, you may want to check whether it’s worth you leaving depending on what the benefits are at your company.

This was the exact situation I was in before I left, we were going to start trying for a baby so I wondered whether it was worth staying on.

However the maternity pay at my company was so pitiful, I decided it wasn’t worth me staying there. Had it been a year’s full pay, I might have thought twice…..

Just make sure you have checked dates on mortgages, loans and credit cards etc so that you have all the information before you decide when you leave.

5. Investigate What To Do Next

You may have a really clear idea on what to do next, or maybe you haven’t quite landed on a business idea or what career you want to go into.

Spend some time testing a few ideas if you don’t know what business to start. A lot of female entrepreneurs I have interviewed on the blog and on the podcast, started out by offering their services for free in Facebook groups to gauge the reaction.

Also, leverage your network and I don’t just mean professional connections. When you sit down and think about that motley crew you went to school or university with, I bet some of them have interesting careers.

Anyone who has their own business could give you invaluable advice on how to set yours up. Or maybe one of them is a lawyer, digital marketing expert, accountant or something else that is relevant to your business.

You don’t necessarily need a definite plan, I quit without really know what I wanted to do next. I thought I was going to set up a personal finance blog but switched it to I Want My Life Back Project a bit later on.

6. Set an Exact Date

Although this sounds a little strange, it worked for me when I wanted to leave my job.

I spent so much time procrastinating it was ridiculous.

One day I would come home from work and announce to my partner, ‘that’s it! I’m leaving my job’. The next day I would come home and say ‘well, I’m really lucky to have a well-paid job so I should probably just stay in it a while longer’.

This went on for a loooooooong time. I knew deep down that I wanted to leave though, so one day I sat down and wrote my resignation letter and dated it for a month in the future.

I put that date in my google calendar as ‘resign from job’ and that is finally what pushed me over the line.

7. Build The Confidence to Leave

Although you will probably regain most of your confidence once you leave your job, you should still plan to work on it before you leave.

Realising that the job you used to love just isn’t for you anymore can be a really difficult time.

If you don’t love your job and you are burned out, you might be feeling that you aren’t doing a great job. This is definitely how I felt.

The more burned out I got, the less energy I had for the job and the more mistakes I felt I was making. The more mistakes I made the more I lost confidence, and that went on and on for many months.

Also, if you have worked your way up the career ladder, you’ve definitely attached some of your self-worth to your job title. It becomes part of who you are.

Thinking about stepping away from all of that means you’ll have to work on rebuilding who you think you are.

You can build confidence by seeing a therapist, or thinking about all the things you are great at. Or listening to podcasts or guided meditation. Whatever works for you. Hell try all of them and see what works.

8. Plan for Recovering From Burnout

If you are exhausted and have been for a long time, a week on the sofa just ain’t going to cut it.

You will be so used to ‘running’ in your corporate job, (running to meetings, running to keep up with the latest strategy change), you will probably find it quite hard to slow down at first.

If your financial cushion allows you to, make sure you build in some proper time to wind down.

Plan in nice things to do, go to a workshop, learn new skills, go to the gym etc

Don’t try and go straight from your job into a business start-up or new career. Give yourself some breathing room first.

9. Resign Without Burning Bridges

Even if your boss is worse than David Brent from The Office, just make sure you leave with grace.

You never know what might happen or who you could bump into further down the line.

When I left my corporate job, I swore I would never set foot in there ever again. Fast forward 18 months, most of the senior management have gone and I am now back there 2 days a week as a freelancer. And it’s great.

I know what I’m doing, I don’t manage a team, I go in at 9am and leave at 5:15pm. It’s a very different place to the one I left in 2017 and it allows me to work on this blog and get paid enough to cover my monthly expenses.

So yeah, as much as you want to bust out of there flinging papers in the air, don’t do it!

10. Trust Yourself

Although this sounds like a bit of a wishy-washy step. It really isn’t.

If you are going to take the leap to leave your job, you need to trust that you will work it out.

Maybe things won’t go exactly as you planned, or life throws a curve ball at you. Whatever it is, just know that you will work your way through it.

If you have enough money to support yourself, you will work it out.

And finally,

Thinking about leaving your job can be pretty scary. I know because I have been there.

Just get your finances and mental health in the best possible place, make a plan, and go for it!

It really is the best thing I have ever done.

Did I think I would be back freelancing at my old place? No, I didn’t.

Did I think I would be writing this blog? No, as I started out writing a personal finance blog and then realised it wasn’t for me.

It’s all worked out though, and I am sure it will for you too!

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About the Author

Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)