In what some economists have dubbed the "Great Resignation," 95% of workers are considering changing jobs, according to a recent poll from job site Monster.com. Most respondents blamed burnout and a lack of growth opportunities as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic for the shift.
Many Americans aren't just thinking about leaving their jobs, they're actually doing it. Four million workers quit their jobs in April, setting a 20-year record, according to the Labor Department, and another 3.6 million people left their jobs in May.
"As we're coming into this 'Great Resignation,' all of the circumstances are different," says Lauren Baptiste, founder and chief empowerment officer at Acheloa Wellness, a career and life coaching firm. "We've all been in this 'survive, not thrive' mindset. Before you quit, you want to make sure you're in that thrive mode."
Baptiste knows from personal experience how damaging working in "survival mode" can be. In 2013, well before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, she battled a burnout experience that was so bad, she ended up in the hospital. Since hitting what she describes as "rock bottom," she's reinvented her career and helped thousands of clients do the same.
At the time of her burnout, Baptiste had spent more than 10 years working as a senior manager for a big four accounting firm. She started noticing symptoms including psoriasis, burning eyes, mood swings, and minor depression. "There would be days at work, I would just wear sunglasses all day because my eyes were burning so much," she says.
After her hospital stay, Baptiste left her job in accounting. Now she runs Acheloa Wellness full time, where she helps guide people who are burned out and ready to quit, too. But she doesn't usually tell her clients to leave abruptly. "You have to be able to work out whatever is going on with your health and mental well-being first, because otherwise that will just follow you to your next job," she says.
Before quitting, Baptiste suggests asking yourself these two questions to ensure success in your next endeavor.
"For me, the problem was that I had to wait to see the fire to understand that I was burning out. There was smoke in the room, I couldn't smell it, and I didn't see it," says Baptiste. To avoid getting to that point, she suggests conducting 'a personal audit' of what's going on with you.
"Before we even say, 'Do I stay?' or 'Do I go?' [the question] is, 'What's changed?'" The answer can help you figure out your next steps.
Video by Courtney Stith
Start by thinking about what's changed physically, she suggests. Often clients who want to leave their jobs come to Baptiste experiencing symptoms including insomnia, acne, lower back pain, and for women, irregular menstruation. Many people also experience emotional changes, she says, like a lack of energy, depression, or a strain on relationships with family and friends.
Add to that the time some have had to reflect during the Covid-19 pandemic: "A lot of us have spent the last year doing a good amount of thinking and gaining perspective," she says. "Let's say you've just become a parent, and you're just less career motivated. And your job is really taxing and you want to spend more time with your family." That reasoning is more than acceptable, she explains — it just helps to be aware of it. Or maybe your commute will take two hours out of your day and that's time you don't want to give up.
Understanding whether it's your feelings about your job that have changed, or your needs, can help you determine what you're looking for in your next endeavor.
Before leaving your current role, it's important to "visualize your ideal scenario," Baptiste says. "It's not just freeing yourself from the shackles of your 9-to-5, but understanding what is freedom to you."
For example, maybe in your ideal situation your schedule allows for regular gym visits and spending more time with family or friends, she says. Or maybe it has a lower stress level that lets you recover from physical burnout symptoms.
It's also important to ask yourself, "What's the opportunity cost?" Baptiste says. "You might now be taking a job that has better hours, but can you sustain less income for your family?" Will that new job allow you to prioritize the things you want to have in your life?
Asking yourself these questions will help you factor in every aspect of your life before making a major life change, Baptiste says. "What will changing jobs mean for your body, your mind, in your profession, in your relationships? That way when you leave your job, it's complimenting your life, rather than your job being your life."
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