What to Do When You Feel Like Quitting

Mark ReaganBurnout, Stress Management2 Comments

What to do when you feel like quitting

Ever get so stressed out or frustrated at work you wanted to quit on the spot?

During college I worked part time in a warehouse full of comic books. We had millions of them.

Most college jobs aren’t very glamorous, and as fun as comics can be the warehouse was anything but.

In the summer it was a furnace. Every time it rained the roof leaked. Some employees had been there in the same position for 20 years and despised it. And the owner was like Michael Scott from The Office, who while hilarious to watch on TV, was not fun to work under.


I remember one time I came back from an amazing trip to Chicago to visit friends. Returning to the dank, cramped warehouse was so bad in comparison I got angry and felt like I was going to be stuck there forever.

I almost quit on the spot.

As burned out on the job I was at times, it was good I didn’t quit in the heat of the moment. While the job wasn’t fulfilling by any stretch, it was flexible and worked well around school, and mostly left me on my own (which was fantastic for introverted me).

You might be so stressed, frustrated, and burned out you might want to throw up your arms and say, “That’s it! I’m done!” and storm out.

But that might not be the best thing to do, and here are 5 things to do instead.

(I’ll be using the words “job” and “work” here, but it could be a hobby, relationship, etc.).


1. Wait For It…

How long is what you’re feeling going to last?

If your anger or stress is going to be gone tomorrow or when the current project finishes, it’s better to look at it with a long-term view.

There’s that phrase you’ve probably heard, “This too shall pass.”

Leaving might absolutely be the right answer, but do it with a clear mind and not out of a knee-jerk reaction.

Make some time to do something that’ll reduce your stress level in the short term like spend some time with friends, read a book, go for a run (or like millions of others right now, maybe download Pokemon Go on your phone and enjoy a hike while capturing Pokemon. Yep, I’m a nerd).


2. Ask the Right Questions

Once you’re in a more grounded state of mind take some time to do some introspection.

“Deep” work is important, but it’s easy to keep putting it off or think we don’t need to do it.

Question yourself. Talk it out loud or use a journal to write down the questions and answers.

Is your job purposeful for you? Or does it allow you to do meaningful things because of it?

If you see yourself in the same job in a year, will you have more energy or less energy?

Where do you really want to be in a year? 5 years? Will your current work help you get there?

What’s keeping you at your work? Is it because you feel you “have to” or are you there because you want to?


3. Take Control of Your Stress at Work

What do you do if you like your work but are consistently stressed by it and don’t handle it well?

Or maybe you don’t enjoy it, but want to stay there a little longer for whatever reason.

The stress can break you down, or you can get better at it.

First, find a way you enjoy to de-stress properly. It’s not surprising that there’s ways we try to manage our stress levels that don’t work.

You can probably guess a few. There’s the big ones like drugs and alcohol abuse. But there’s also ones like going shopping, watching too much TV, and isolating yourself.

Better ways are: spending time with friends, exercising (I know – it’s exercise, but it can be a huge help for our stress), or reading a book.


4. Where Do You Have Control?

This is one of the best ways to reduce your stress levels at work. Sure, you can do things to manage your stress better, but there’s another way.

Events that cause us stress can range from anything from a policy change that comes down from above, to being rear-ended in traffic, or having a friend get angry at you.

All of these have one thing in common – they take control away from us.

Now I’m not urging you to become a total control freak, but when we’re in control of a situation it causes us less stress.

Much of the stress is caused when we focus on those things we have no control over. Sometimes we try to control every little thing, and it causes intense stress and pressure.

My coaching trainer, when he had a client who had to have control over everything, would tell them to go to NASA’s website, have them look at a picture of the universe, and ask them, “So what exactly do you have control over?”

That’s one way to look at it. We can give up control over those things we can’t control to begin with.

But we can also look for those things we actually have control over. You might not be able to control stressful policy changes, but what in your position do you have control over?

No matter the job you often have a lot of control that you might not realize. There might be consequences, but you have control over showing up to work or not. Whether you answer those emails or not. Whether you go to that meeting.

It might not be good if you don’t show up – that’s not the point. The point is you do have a choice. Focus on the choices you do have, not the ones you don’t.


5. Just Do It

Ok, this isn’t an alternative to quitting, but sometimes it’s exactly the right decision.

Author Seth Godin talks about this in his book, “The Dip.” If we’re working on a project or in a job where it’s a dip (like we’re in a valley), it’s a tough spot, but we know we’ll come out of it once we’re on the other side.

But if we’re heading off a cliff, it’s time to quit.

My girlfriend linked me to this post yesterday.

A manager wouldn’t let their best employee come in a few hours late so they could attend their college graduation.

The employee quit that day.

For 6 years this employee never missed a day of work, but the manager wouldn’t budge to let them come in a mere 2 hours late. According to the manager, this employee was their best one.

The manager was thinking the employee was making a mistake.

She wasn’t. Seems to me like the job was one where they weren’t appreciated and was going nowhere.

It was time to quit. Notice the employee (at least in the story), didn’t get angry. They didn’t fly into a fit.

The employee took some time and came back later that day with their notice.

Sometimes quitting is absolutely the right thing to do.

It can be hard though! You’ve invested a lot of time and energy, and it can be difficult to let go.

As people, we often try and stick with something well beyond the point we should’ve quit because we’re invested in it.

If a job, hobby, or project is never going to go anywhere, it’s time to quit.

There’s a lot of quotes about “never quitting” and never giving up.

It can feel shameful to give up.

But like Seth Godin says, it’s about quitting strategically.


Where in your life do you need to stay, and where do you need to quit?

Is it time for you to quit a job, relationship, hobby, or even a habit that no longer serves you?

If it’s time to quit, do it. But do it with a clear head, clear conscious, and a plan if you need one.

Denver Hypnosis for Stress Relief


Just because you’ve made a choice doesn’t mean it’s not going to be stressful. Stress is a natural part of life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce it – or better, make it work for you.

Sometimes that stress is linked to other things – maybe it’s linked to having to speak in public, or  you react to your stress in a way you no longer want to, like smoking or eating. Hypnosis can help. I practice hypnosis and hypnotherapy in Denver, Colorado, and I can help you, too. Click here to learn more or call me at 720-382-0223 for a free consultation. 



2 Comments on “What to Do When You Feel Like Quitting”

  1. Excellent post Mark, with some key action points. I totally resonate with the knowing what you can and can’t control bit – so many people get hooked up in a cycle of fear around what they hear on tv or read in the newspapers, the vast majority of which they have absolutely no control of (and some of which is only loosely related to the truth of the situation).
    And at work, or as you say in relationships, there some things we can have an influence over and a lot we can’t. One we definitely CAN choose is our attitude.
    Thank you – I’m sharing this one to spread the word!

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