Quit Your Job Without a Plan? 3 Tips for the First 3 Months of Your Job Search

calendars

Canva / Fairygodboss Staff

Profile Picture
Marta Lee-Perriard, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)185
Empowering Women
May 25, 2024 at 11:18AM UTC

A peculiar aspect of anyone who works in a corporation is that over time they become corporate. I peppered my language with “positioning,” “maximizing” and “redundancy.” My identity became Vice President. My mission equaled the company mission. And then, after twenty years, I quit. Without a plan.

The euphoria of quitting evaporated in a week. My mind whirled: “I need a job, what do I do next?” I did’t know. Who was I without a team and a company AmEx? It was time to shed the layers of corporate skin, but I didn’t know how.

If you quit your job and don’t have a plan, here are three tips for the first three months.

The first month, detox.

The first month I baked brioche. I baked this fussy, sticky bread simply because it was complicated. Brioche rises twice. The temperature must be exact. Every unsuccessful loaf distracted me from ruminating over my former career but not for long.

I finally stopped baking brioche — to everyone’s relief — and stopped the whirring thoughts by writing down my career’s most painful episodes. This catalog of frustrations, mistakes and humiliations, once complete, went into the sea. This gesture began my liberation.

Next, I stripped the corporate jargon from my language. I reminded myself that a title wasn’t an identity. I stopped deluding myself that the company’s mission translated into anything other than “make more money.” I was ready for something different.  

All the energy freed from ROI, P&Ls, and KPIs became available for my dreams.  

The second month, dream.

Growing up I dreamed of being a writer: a journalist, a poet, or a novelist. Other times, I planned to work on empowering women. I misplaced these dreams for 20 years. After I dug through my memories, these dreams emerged, dusty and disheveled, but still compelling to me.

Remember the career ideas you had as a child? Perhaps someone dissuaded you from pursuing these because you were too smart or not smart enough; or that career didn’t earn enough money; or your parents had another plan. Maybe you accepted the first job offered to you, and this led you down a path you never felt you had chosen. 

In the second month, start a journal. Find those old dreams and examine them. Think about what you enjoy doing, not necessarily what you are good at. I can write a compelling business case. Did doing so fill me with joy? Never.  

Write a little in your journal every day. It will soothe your anxiety and make sense of your dreams, thoughts and feelings. Sometimes you don’t know what you think or who you are until you write it down.

The third month, ignore your loved ones and experiment.

When I announced my intention to volunteer at a women’s safe house, my friends immediately asked: “How will you pay the mortgage?”, “What will you live on?” and “Can you negotiate a salary?”. They meant well, but their questions added to my anxiety.

To completely ignore your loved ones’ concerns and advice can be impossible. Instead, I disregarded the advice and used expressions of concern as an opportunity to enlist support. With a dash of extravagance, I suggested that they:

  • Listen to me but offer no advice.
  • Bring breakfast in bed, please.
  • Find inspiring activities for us to do together.     

Often people who care about you want you to “be safe,” which often means to continue in the same career. A friend may scuttle your idea of changing careers because of the risk. If you are mustering the energy to take a risk, this kind of comment dampens your spirit. 

In the third month, ignore your loved ones’ well-meaning advice or anxieties. Focus on your dreams and what fills you with energy. And then, experiment. Find a volunteer opportunity. Apply for an internship. Think different. 

You may find something unexpected. You may need to try something else entirely.  To quit allows you the freedom to deviate from a script written by someone else, and so begin to write your own.

--

This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Marta Lee-Perriard, Ph.D., has over twenty years of experience in product management, most recently as VP of Product, and currently advises Fortune 500 companies with a focus on women in product.  She also works to empower women through her writing and non-profit commitments.  Please get in touch with Marta here: www.redlipstickandsunshine.blog.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for those who quit without a plan? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always