Quitting takes courage — especially if you don't have a Plan B. Usually, it's not advised to quit before you know what you're going to be doing next. But there are some times when quitting, even without a backup job, is just necessary. When the job you're currently working is a toxic one, you might not have time to come up with a plan before you have to get yourself out of there.
One FGBer is grappling with just that, and she shares her struggle with the Fairygodboss community on the discussion board.
"I have been at my job for about one year and eight months, and it has been a total nightmare," she says. "Bit of background — I am a successful investment professional with a Master's degree from a top 10 B-school, 13 years of experience and multiple designations, and I have always succeeded in every job I have had... until now. I find myself in a situation where I am in an abusive relationship with my job. They gaslight me, use me as a pawn (the partners are fighting for future leadership) and have basically set me up for failure since day one."
She says that she has never felt so disrespected.
"It is a toxic situation that I am trying to leave but struggling," she goes on. "I know that is has affected me personally and this is coming out in interviews (and also personal relationships). I want to quit with no backup but that scares me so much. Anyone have any experience with this? I am single, so I rely on myself financially, but I am mostly worried about how this will look to future employers."
Of course, the Fairygodboss community has chimed in with advice to help. Here's when it's OK to quit your job without a Plan B, according to FGBers who have been there, done that.
1. Leave if it's hurting your health.
"I entered into an abusive relationship with my last (not current!) employer; I was fresh out of school and eager to begin my job in my field of choice," says an anonymous FGBer. "Unfortunately, because of the high rate of toxic environments/burnout in my industry, I was lead to believe in a 'stick it out' attitude until things got better/I got through the 'impostor symdrome phase.' Well guess what? TOXIC is TOXIC is TOXIC! I left with NO Plan B as I was dreading waking up in the morning, gained 30 pounds in the time I worked there (four months!) and watched two employees hired after me walk out."
She says she was having panic attacks before work and waiting for her daily berating from her boss. She knew she just had to leave.
"Leaving was scary — I stayed unemployed for six months," she says. "I was terrified when trying to find jobs the longer my unemployment lasted, but I kept pushing. My current employer didn't even ask about the gap — just about my skills and how I handle problems. It wasn't until they asked why I left my job that I just answered 'my employer wasn't a good fit for me,' and then I asked about management style/work-life balance. Turns out they knew my former employer and understood her to be toxic. I love my place of work now. I am so happy to be where I am, and I have grown so much from taking that risk! I look forward to work everyday, which is something I never believed to be a real thing. If it is killing you, you have to leave — for YOUR sanity and health."
Other FGBers agreed.
"I couldn't agree more!" says Shay00. "I've done this! I've had no backup plan! It is not peaches and cream when searching for those months before you find your next job but you can and will find something else! People will tell you don't leave it's what we are taught, but HEALTH — nothing is above your health. Panic attacks when you start huffing and puffing while driving, making moaning noises as you are walking in giving the long fake smiles. You sit down and your heart is dancing. It's time to go! Anxiety is something that can happen even when you aren't doing anything, but you don't want your job to trigger it. There is life after your job, I promise!"
2. Leave if it's affecting your self-esteem.
"Feeling the same fear you do, I stayed at a previous position until it got so bad I was suicidal," says Jen Stephens. "The longer I stayed, the more my mental health deteriorated, making even looking for a new job all but impossible. My mental health was so bad it was affecting my physical health. My self-esteem got so low I was convinced no other company would want me — which is a textbook abusive relationship. Realizing that I was leaving that job, or my life — I quit."
Stephens got a new job just six weeks later.
"It was a massive pay cut, but so very worth it," she says. "I'm not saying quit right now, but please, please, please do not let it get as bad as I did. And scary as it is, once it reaches a certain point, quitting a horrifically toxic job is what you need to do to find a new one so that you are out of that toxic environment and can use your energy to find a new job instead of it all being used to deal with the toxic job."
Other FGBers also note the importance of maintaining some semblance of sanity.
"Your health and well-being are more important," an anonymous FGBer adds.
3. Leave if you have the funds.
Maybe you don't have a Plan B, but if you have some money saved up to survive until you figure one out, calling it quits is much easier.
"This is why best practice is to have three to six months of your fixed expenses in an emergency fund," says finkelmurphy. "Some clients keep a separate FUF (Forget You Fund). Whatever you call it, start squirreling into it BEFORE you pay any bills so that you can pull the plug."
Many FGBers in the community seem to deem emergency funds important.
"[Do] you have an emergency fund that is not retirement that is six months ( winter is coming), and [do] you have the ability to find other employment?" FGBer Flossy also asks. "Tender a resignation... If you are concerned about clients, offer to structure a notice that supports them but be strict on what you won’t tolerate. They can choose to accept, negotiate or refuse your terms. I’m hoping you have documented the toxic work culture. If you offer notice, you aren’t killing your career. Move on... Now lesson ladies: This is why you have an emergency fund. Everyone needs six months outside your retirement fund of FU money."
Most others agree.
Johanna Tatlow asks a bunch of questions regarding funds and savings: "Do you have funds to live off of for a few months? Does your area have a strong gig economy such that you could stretch your savings with driving Uber or some such thing until you land your next position? Do you have a list of companies you would like to target, and possibly even names of connections or potential connections there?"
She says that, sometimes, you just have to jump ship before you go down with it.
"Just make sure you at least have a life vest with you or a boat to swim to," she adds.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.