How to Overcome Your Fears About Quitting Your Job, with Lynn Marie Morski

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 175:

How to Overcome Your Fears About Quitting Your Job, with Lynn Marie Morski

Airdate: January 23, 2019

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List, a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps professionals find fulfilling careers.

I believe that lifelong learning is the key to a successful career. And to get a better job, you need to learn the job hunting skills that will help you find the role of your dreams.

That’s why we’re here today. Every week on Find Your Dream Job, I interview a different career expert. We discuss the tools and tactics you need to find the work you want.

This week, I’m talking to Lynn Marie Morski about how to overcome your fears about quitting your job.

But before we get started, thank you to the many listeners who responded to our recent survey.

Your thoughts and suggestions were so helpful. In a future episode, I’ll share key highlights from what you told us.

In the meantime, congratulations to Portland listener, Jean M, as well as Roschelle H and Sofia F, on winning our drawing for three $50 Amazon gift cards.

Now, let’s get back to the show.

Lynn Marie Morski is an expert in quitting. She’s quit schools, jobs, and careers. She says quitting is a useful tool to carve out the life you want.

In our conversation today, Lynn Marie and I talk about the benefits of quitting. And we look at what stops people from doing so.

Quitting a job you no longer like or want, says Lynn Marie, can be good for your career, your health, and your relationships. The key is to quit in a thoughtful, strategic way. And she makes a strong distinction between quitting and giving up.

So, why would you stay in a job you might hate? You may worry about what others think. Or you could care about the time you’ve invested in a position. Lynn Marie and I talk about how to address these and other concerns.

Want to learn more? Listen in now at the Mac’s List studio as I interview Lynn Marie Morski about how to overcome your fears about quitting your job.

Lynn Marie Morski is a physician, attorney, and speaker. She’s also a lifelong quitter.

Lynn Marie is on a mission to help people carve out a successful life through strategic quitting. And she’s the author of the new book, “Quitting by Design.”

She joins us today from San Diego, California.

Lynn Marie, thanks for being on the show.

Lynn Marie Morski:

Thank you for having me.

Mac Prichard:

Well, this is a topic that I’m really looking forward to because we talk every week about how to help people find jobs but this is also about bringing a job to a close. A lot of people, when they think about quitting a position, they’ve got a lot of fear.

Let’s start, Lynn Marie, by talking about, where does that fear come from?

Lynn Marie Morski:

Much of it comes from fear of the unknown. As in, will this new job that I’m picturing in my head, that I’m quitting the old job for, be better and will I be able to make it financially feasible or beneficial compared to the job I’m in now?

Will I survive, if they’re thinking about quitting a job where they don’t have another one lined up?  Will I be on the street? Will I be able to make ends meet while I find another job?

A lot of those things are the fears that come up and then a lot of them are less logistical and they’re more societal. Because people often fear what other people might think of them quitting their job, especially if it’s a very secure job, or maybe a prestigious job.

There may be familial or perceived societal pressures to stay in that job because it is good or secure. Then, there might also be the fears that they’ve wasted time or money in that job if they leave it.

Those are some of the big categories.

Mac Prichard:

I want to explore each of those categories in turn. A couple of more specific questions that are often on the minds of our listeners, thinking about their careers, what about concerns about job hunting? Do you find when you work with people who are considering a job change that they fret the employer going to worry if they’re in the job for less than two years, for example?

Lynn Marie Morski:

I have seen that and I have been in that position myself. I’ve had the LinkedIn fear of, “What if it says I’m in a job for less than ‘said amount of time’?” I can understand where a prospective employer might not want to look at your LinkedIn and see 8 months, 8 months, 8 months, but it also depends on who you want to work for.

If somebody has a really old school mindset, and to them the quantity of years is more important than maybe the quality of those years, then that’s one thing; but I think it’s getting more into the newer mindset where people do move and change jobs a lot, and it’s not this thing where it’s a badge of honor to be staying at your bank job for forty years so that you can get the watch.

I think it’s less of a stigma now. I’m not a boss, I do not hire anybody so this is literally another one of my perceptions, but I think that people are realizing that there’s no reason to stay in something a long time if, first, maybe it’s not working for you, or second, maybe you completely got what you wanted to out of it and perhaps that employer got what they wanted to out of you.

Who’s to say that just sitting around twiddling your thumbs for another three months so it says you’ve been there a year is somehow a better choice than moving on when everybody’s, let’s say, desires have been fulfilled?

Mac Prichard:

Any advice about how to talk about a change like that? If you leave say at six, eight, nine months and you’re interviewing and someone says, “Well, I see you’ve only been at your position for this short period of time.”

Lynn Marie Morski:

Absolutely, I would say be honest but as within all types of quitting, it’s best to go with the, “It was me and not them”. As in the, “It’s not you, it’s me,” when you’re talking about a certain position. Try not to bad mouth anyone there as to why you left that. Make it more about your own personal journey and your personal development.

“Okay, I was looking for this in a job. I went there. I was able to accomplish this and this, and then the work, maybe, headed in a different direction than I had expected and I felt compelled to go out and try this new path.”

Spin it in the most positive way possible and make it more about your dreams and your aspirations than, “Oh, I didn’t like my boss.” Or, “This didn’t work out with this co-worker,” or whatever it is because I think bosses want to see people who are interested in developing themselves as well as the company, and that’s the important thing to focus on.

“I wanted to find the right fit. Here I am at your interview because I feel as though you are a better fit for who I have become in the past year.” Lots of things can change in a year that change what you’re looking for in a job. It just takes spinning that in the right way, and I don’t say spin like it’s not true, just focusing on the positive and the growth aspect as opposed to maybe, any negative aspects of why you left.

Mac Prichard:

I want to bring up an example that doesn’t happen very often but certainly as a hiring manager, occasionally I’ve run across this; what would you say to the person who starts a job, it’s week two, three, four, and they realize they’ve made a terrible mistake and they’re ready to leave?

How do you recommend somebody do that and how should they talk about it afterwards?

Lynn Marie Morski:

Well, with any job, and almost anything in life, you don’t know what it’s going to be like until you try it, right? You can visualize or fantasize about what it’s going to be like in any job but you do not know until you go in and you give it a whirl.

If you go in, and you try it, and you know within the first few weeks it is absolutely not for you, and, by the way, I have been in that position. This was post-college, but I worked at Eddie Bauer for three and a half minutes, I think. It was just clearly not for me, this is while I was doing pre-med studies, but there’s no reason at that point…I think that’s where it’s the least offensive thing to do to just go say, “I just have realized this is not the job for me.”

Because it’s not like you put six months in and you finally realized this isn’t for you. No, if something’s wrong for you, that wrong, so out of alignment that you realize immediately, it’s best for everybody involved to get out immediately, because who are you doing a favor to if you’re staying in the job that you feel that uncomfortable in?

If I had stayed miserable at Eddie Bauer for six months, I’m not going to be the most productive of happy employee. We’ve seen the disgruntled employees, that’s because they don’t want to be there.

I would say, just tell whomever, tell your current boss and tell your future interviewers, “I thought it was going to be this, I soon realized this was the actual situation and a, b, and c didn’t work with what my current goals and passions are or my comfort levels.” Be honest, because at the end of the day if any of those things that didn’t work out about the job you’re leaving are present in the new job, then the new hiring manager at that point can tell you, “Oh, that part didn’t work for you? Well, you should know that part is still going to be present here.”

Then, everybody can be upfront and then you’re not making another possibly bad decision; you have more information when you’re going into the new job.

Mac Prichard:

I love the specificity of that advice, Lynn Marie, and let’s go back to where we started,  which was about fear. One of the barriers you brought up to quitting was the fear that people have about what others might think about them leaving. What would you say to somebody who’s worried, not just about what a future employer might think, but peers and colleagues and friends, if they quit a position?

Lynn Marie Morski:

Yes, there are two things I’d say, and the first is, that whoever is judging your quit, which is what we’re worried about, we’re worried about judgment, whoever’s judging your quit has never been you for one second. They don’t know what you’ve been through, they don’t know what you’re current desires are. I mean, they may know you well, they may be a close friend, but they’ve not walked in your shoes.

They’re judging your quit through their own lens and so, for a lot of people in my generation, I’m forty-one, so I’m kind of on the cusp here, but a lot of my parent’s generation you did not move jobs. You got one job, it was the thing you did for life, and so, if somebody in that generation is looking at somebody from my generation or the millennials saying, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, you want to leave this good job after a year and a half?” They’re looking at it through a totally different lens from somebody who’s brought up with this more mobile career movement.

You have to realize that they’ve never been you and they’re not the one who has to continue to be in that situation, so, what they may think about you quitting, let’s say a government job, something that sounds really secure, you’re going to quit this government job because it definitely isn’t working for you and your parents and whoever else is like, “But why? It’s so secure.” Their judgment, it may impact you for the minute that they’re talking to you about it, or whenever they call, or however often, but you’re the one to go to that job forty hours a week.

How do those two weigh out? One weighs a lot heavier; the thing you actually have to experience weighs so much heavier than what somebody else may think. We’re imagining the worst here, but they may be inspired by the fact that you have the courage to leave that job.

That’s the first thing I say, your experience of being in that job is so much more important and what you have to consider, compared to other people’s possible thoughts that will last for just a few minutes that they’re talking to you.

That rolls into the second thing is that most people aren’t thinking about your quit for very long at all unless it is your immediate family who you live under the same roof with. How often do I think about some quit that I see a friend have on Facebook? The two seconds that I’m scrolling through it and then I go back about my own business and so does everybody else.

All these people that you think are judging you for your quit are going to think about it for, like, two seconds and then they’re going to go back to their own lives and worrying in their own heads if other people are judging them, that’s just how the world works.

Please try to diminish that fear. Using either of those realizations, that people are not thinking about you that much probably, and secondly, what they do or may think should not outweigh what you have to feel all week long.

Mac Prichard:

Well, here’s another fear that you touched on at the start of our conversation; it’s the money and time people have invested in a job and I’m thinking, particular people think, “Well, I’ve been at this company, or this non-profit for five, seven, ten, years and if I stay I’ll get this benefit or I’ll be up for this promotion. Or I’ll qualify for this pension.”

What do you say to people who feel they’ve invested so much, there’s no turning back, they can’t walk away?

Lynn Marie Morski:

I would say that the pension is the one situation where the impetus to stay may be a little bit stronger, and I’ll put that as a side note for a second. Just imagine we’re not talking a pension. Imagine we’re talking, like you said, more about a promotion, and say you’re at a law firm and you’ve put five years into being at this law firm, which is not an easy job, more than 40 hours a week definitely, and you’re trying to make partner, but those five years have been miserable.

When you make partner, is it suddenly going to be like, “Oh, hearts and flowers? None of that work that you do before is there, none of the stress?” It’s likely that’s not the case. Maybe you get an additional legal secretary or a paralegal or something, but it’s still the same work, and if you were in, perhaps, a company culture that you didn’t like or maybe you had a boss or coworkers you didn’t like or work you didn’t like, how is getting promoted going to make any of those things go away or better? It’s not, it’s just going to make it more complicated for you to leave later.

You’ll get a little more money, but you’re still unhappy and that extra money is not going buy your happiness. For people like myself, who have spent, I’ve spent a quarter million dollars on medical school, and ten years to go from where I was initially as a multimedia designer to eventually a sports med doctor. That’s a huge concern that a lot of people have, “I have dedicated so much time or money into this thing.” I would see it more as, you invested that much time and money into your happiness.

If you went into law and you went to a law firm, the goal was probably two-foldl to make a good salary and to be happy. Generally, people don’t try to go into things thinking, “This career will make me miserable.” If your goal is to be happy, and you’ve dedicated or invested all this time or money into it but you’re not happy, well, see that as an investment and then, move on.

“I invested this much in trying to find happiness. I didn’t find it here. I need to now continue to try to find where it will be because I have invested this much.”

Mac Prichard:

Let’s pause right there, Lynn Marie, because I want to take a break. When we come back, I want to continue this conversation. I know you have a point to make about pensions, as a factor that you might want to consider before quitting a job.

We’ll be back in a moment, and we’re talking today with Lynn Marie Morski she’s the author of the new book, “Quitting by design”  and she’s joining us today from San Diego, California.

We all know how important it is to have goals when you look for work. When you have goals, it saves you time and effort, too.

When you stop applying for every vacancy and focus on what you really want, you make your job search shorter and easier.

That’s an approach listener, Alisyn Maggiora, encourages all job seekers to follow. Earlier this year, Alisyn shared on the Mac’s List website how she found her dream job at the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.

Alisyn says a big factor in her success was knowing the kind of work she wanted. And then she put her time and energy into those opportunities. Don’t expect to get a job you can love, Alisyn says, by sending your resume everywhere.

But what do you do if you’re struggling with your own job search goals? I’ve got a new resource that can help. It’s called Finding Focus in Your Job Search.

And you can get your free copy today. Go macslist.org/focus.

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To get Finding Focus in Your Job Search today, visit macslist.org/focus.

Stop applying all over town. Instead, identify the job you want and the organizations that offer it.

Go to macslist.org/focus.

And now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. Our guest this week is Lynn Marie Morski. She’s the author of the new book, “Quitting by Design.”

She joins us today from San Diego.

Lynn Marie, before the break we were talking about this week’s topic, How to Overcome Your Fears about Quitting Your Job. You were making the point about someone at a law firm and thinking about your long term happiness.

What prompted that was, one of the fears people have when they invest a lot of time with a particular employer, they may feel that there’s no turning back. One of the points that people often consider is pensions and you said you had some additional thoughts on that you wanted to share.

Lynn Marie Morski:

Yeah, the pension is the one situation where I wouldn’t say, “Okay, just leave.” Because if the sum-cost fallacy, which is what describes…we were talking about before, where like, “Oh, I’ve spent so much time and money at this law firm” or “into this medical career. That means I should stay and spend more time and money into it.”

It’s a fallacy because if you look at it, logically that doesn’t make any sense, but for pension purposes, if there’s a monetary advantage to you staying, then that’s an entirely different situation. I would want to work one on one with or talk one on one with anyone who was in that situation because at that point is it like, “Okay, I don’t love my job but I only have to do it four more years and I get my pension? Okay, maybe not terrible.” But is it, “I need eight more years to get my pension and my job is killing me. I have anxiety, I have insomnia, I have acid reflux, I am irritable all day long.” Those are the factors you have to weigh.

How out of alignment is your job and how much longer until your pension?

Mac Prichard:

Let’s talk also about the stigma that some people may feel that comes with quitting and I know that you make a distinction between quitting and giving up. Can you talk more about that?

Lynn Marie Morski:

Absolutely. The type of quitting that I advocate is strategic quitting. I think the quitting that gets a bad name is more like giving up. Like, “Okay, I’m trying to run a mile.” Three-quarters of the way, “I’m kind of exhausted. I’m going to just start walking.” That sounds to me more like giving up.

The quitting that’s strategic is where you’ve realized that something is out of alignment, it may be causing physical symptoms or mental discontent of some sort. Then you’ve analyzed, “Okay, I’m feeling these symptoms, or having this out of alignment feeling. What exactly is causing it?” Then you’ve dialed down to, “Okay, I’m just going to quit that one little part of what’s causing it.”

It may just be that your commute is driving you crazy and not the whole job, so, you find a way to quit the commute. Or if it is the whole job, you strategically go through, “Okay, how do I overcome my fears and how do I prepare my logistics and how do I make a quit in the most beneficial way possible?” That’s a strategic quit.

Giving up is like the old school office space where the guy just burns down the place and you’ve just had it. You walk out in the middle of the day on your boss, or you leave a relationship in a fiery argument, or, like with anything else, like I mentioned before, the difference between quitting and giving up in athletic endeavors is, are you quitting a run that, “Okay, I’m just feeling a little bit lazy.” Or, are you realizing, “Oh, my foot is no longer…now it’s numb, and I’m feeling extreme pain and this is clearly doing more harm than good if I continue.” That’s a strategic quit, that’s what you have to look at.

Are you just kind of not feeling it, are you feeling a little bit lazy, or things have gotten just a little bit tough? Or have you realized systematically like, “This is out of alignment with my passion, and my purpose, and my higher goal, and my best self, and my health.” And then left something, that’s the kind of quitting I’m talking about.

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned health earlier and how, particularly, a job can have such negative consequences on somebody’s health. What other signals should people pay attention to when they’re considering making a quit?

Lynn Marie Morski:

Are you saying symptoms besides health or specific health-related symptoms?

Mac Prichard:

In addition to health, or if you want to talk about health symptoms as well that you haven’t touched on, that would be terrific too.

Lynn Marie Morski:

I’d say most of them fall under physical or mental health, and mental health is very broad here. Like I was mentioning before, it may just be this feeling of discontent. I was in a startup at some point and when the email would go off on my phone, it was just for the startup that notification sound, all of a sudden my stomach would sink.

It’s not like I had massive acid reflux or couldn’t sleep at night but that little bit of, “Okay, now I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I feel a bit anxious. Where did that come from? Oh, it came from the fact that I heard that sound and now I’ve got to deal with the startup.” It made me realize, “Wow, dealing with the startup is never my favorite thing to do.”

I dialed backwards, I was like, “Oh, actually I’m not sleeping great.” Those are anxieties, insomnia, migraines, chronic pain, intestinal issues like acid reflux or irritable bowel symptoms. A lot of those start from stress. High blood pressure, all the things, like the cardiac issues, many of them start from stress.

They may start off as just this kind of pit of your stomach feeling but that’s your body whispering to you, and you can listen to it while it’s whispering, or if you don’t, it might start shouting with physical symptoms and actual diseases and conditions.

Mac Prichard:

Other signals besides health factors that people should pay attention to, perhaps in relationships or elsewhere.

Lynn Marie Morski:

Well, yeah. I lump everything so much under health that I assume, okay, if you’re fighting in a relationship, that’s because you’re having mental discontent. If you are coming home, and I think that’s the thing, if you’re in a relationship and you’re irritable with that person all the time, it’s a sign of either that relationship isn’t going right, or maybe the job that you’re coming from when you’re coming home to that person isn’t going right. That’s why you have to look, not at, “Okay, I’m irritable with this relationship.” You have to look at yourself and taking the symptom into yourself.

Okay, the symptom is irritability; now, what’s the cause? Is it the job? Is it the relationship? That’s why, to me, a lot of things that’s just like…how do you feel in a situation? I’m sure there are signs, people say, “If suddenly you have less money,” or, “If suddenly your friends walk away from you those are signs to look at.” Yes, but those probably began with a mindset or an attitude that you have within yourself, like, maybe your friends walked away from you because your job makes you so irritable they don’t want to hang out with you anymore.

I think most things start within ourselves. They may look external at some point but there’s some internal route cause.

Mac Prichard:

Lynn Marie, we’ve talked about the why people should consider quitting, and some of the benefits and the fears they might have to overcome. I’m curious, do you have some famous quitters that inspire you? Or that you share as examples with the clients you work with?

Lynn Marie Morski:

Absolutely. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg. I believe they all quit, at least two of those had quit Harvard. They all quit college at some point and we know they’re winners. To say quitters never win is totally false, just look at those three.

If you’re more into sports you can look at Michael Jordan. He quit and unquit so many times and is a massive champion. It’s even funny because he has some, “Never Quit” quote out there and I’m like you’re such a quitter. Just whether or not you realize because in sports you can call it retiring and then you can come back and it wasn’t a retirement; it was a clearly just a quit that you can unquit from.

Quits don’t have to be permanent. Say you’re in a job; if you quit the right way because you may be…you say to your boss, “I’m looking to do this side hustle,” or, “This city isn’t working for me because my wife isn’t happy here.” Then later, you have to come back because the side hustle didn’t work out, as long as you told your boss…the reasons weren’t, “Hey, it’s because I don’t like this job. I don’t like you.” Or, “I don’t like the team.” Then it’s much more likely that that avenue will be open for you in the future.

Mac Prichard:

Well, tell us, what’s next for you, Lynn Marie?

Lynn Marie Morski:

I recently put out a book. It’s called, “Quitting by Design” and it’s on Amazon and all the other outlets and I have a podcast called Quit Happens, that you can find on iTunes and Spotify and Sticher. And coming in January, I will have a course that, it’s online but I will be participating at some point and there will be some group calls, and I think it will be called “Making Quit Happen in 2019.” I’m really excited about being able to bring the strategic quitting process to more people.

Mac Prichard:

I know people can learn more about you and your work by visiting your website, which is quittingbydesign.com.

Lynn Marie, thanks for being on the show this week.

Lynn Marie Morski:

Thanks so much for having me.

Mac Prichard:

It’s been a pleasure. Take care.

Lynn Marie Morski:

Thank you.

Mac Prichard:

Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Lynn Marie. There were a number of takeaways for me, one that stood out was the image of a ping on a cellphone going off when she was telling her story about her experience working at a startup, and the physical reaction she had when she heard that sound and how that communicated to her that that position was causing stress and other unpleasant health effects. It was a clear signal that it was perhaps it was time to consider making a quit.

I also liked her advice at the start of the conversation, about how to talk about a quit. Whether it’s been just a few weeks or perhaps eight or ten months, but I think she’s just spot on in her point about having a story and being transparent and honest about the reasons for why you took the action you did. That’s going to address a concern that’s going to be in the mind of an employer. They may not even bring it up, so you need to get your story out there and make it part of the conversation.

Above all, I think her last point about having that story, it comes back to the importance of having focus when you’re doing a job search and being clear about what you want. You need to know that, whether you’re making a quit or you’re looking for your next position. It’s something that people struggle with a lot.

We’ve got a resource that can help. It’s called Finding Focus in Your Job Search and you can download it today. It contains actionable tips about how you can set job search goals and get clear about what your next position should be.

Go to macslist.org/focus.

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

Join us next Wednesday. Our special guest will be Ruth Winden of Careers Enhanced. She’s a career coach for professionals over 50.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

It can be scary to quit your job, even if you’re not happy in the role. You may be worried about what others will think or perhaps you feel that you’ve invested too much time in the position to walk away. But, quitting your job can be good for your career. Moving on to a new job is one way to shape the career and life you want.

On this episode of Find Your Dream Job, my guest Lynn Marie Morski, MD, Esq. says that quitting your job can improve not only your career, but also your health and your relationships. In order to quit the right way, you need to understand the difference between moving on and giving up. Lynn Marie tells us how to quit in a thoughtful, strategic way.

About Our Guest:

Lynn Marie MorskiMD, Esq. is a physician, attorney, and speaker. She’s also a lifelong quitter. Lynn Marie is on a mission to help people carve out a successful life through strategic quitting. And she’s the author of “Quitting by Design.”

Resources in This Episode:

  • Major life change almost always requires quitting one thing to start another. Lynn Marie’s book, “Quitting by Design”, is a step-by-step guide to quitting successfully and transforming your life.
  • Lynn Marie’s podcast, Quit Happens, provides listeners with actionable advice and features interviews with professionals who have used strategic quitting successfully.