Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles have been in the news recently- not only for their excellent performance as athletes but also for taking the ‘bold’ step of stepping back from career-crucial tournaments to take care of their mental health. Their fans- and the public in general- have had mixed responses. Some lauded them for knowing that they are bigger than their ambitions and that dreams can be achieved in their own time. And some went as far as calling them weak for quitting or not doing their job well. It is essential to address that quitting your job or taking a break from work to focus on your mental well-being should not be frowned upon.
Along similar lines, the National Centre For Biotechnology Information’s research conducted in 2019 suggests that most women between ages 25-40 suffer from endometriosis. Chronic pelvic pain affects their ability to work smoothly. This causes them to lose about 5 to 10 hours of work per week. And work absenteeism hinders their productivity. This condition has forced women to quit their jobs because it is an all-consuming illness that needs full attention. If you’re facing a similar struggle and are unsure when to take a break from work, maybe it’s time to have a hard conversation with yourself or your manager.
Words like ‘quitting’, ‘stepping back’, and ‘taking a break from work have been looked down upon by most. We’ve been told that ‘winners never quit, and quitters never win‘.
We’ve been told to push through, persevere, and that nothing good comes easy. The popular idea is that quitting is setting yourself up for failure.
Is It Ok To Quit Your Job As An Act Of Self-Care?
Three years ago, I quit my second job because I wasn’t doing well. The extensive travel and long working hours took a toll on my already bad back. The pain made it tougher for me to focus on work and manage my independent lifestyle. Everyone around me asked me to reconsider my decision to quit. Because I was just starting out and taking a break from work due to physical health issues would not flatter my resume.
Similarly, a few days ago, one of my friends called me up during work hours. The moment I picked up my phone, he blurted out, without a hello: “I quit my job”. Upon inquiry, he said, “I can’t go on working like this when I have no time to give to myself. I am too young to feel so uninspired. I need to reassess my steps.” While I had no choice but to stop working, he had a choice but he could afford taking a break from work.
But I had my family and he had his generous savings to fall back on. Could we have done it if we didn’t have a solid foundation? Probably not. At least not overnight.
Is it really okay to quit? Not for any other reason but a career break for mental health? It should be. It is. But it’s not easy. And if you are someone who cannot afford to quit overnight, then you will need to plan it.
The wheel of the hustle is tough to step off. If planned correctly, quitting can be nourishing and can work out in the best way.
Before we head on to the section where you plan your exit, let’s talk a little about the (in)famous question:
“How long do we take a break for?”
If you are quitting your job to take care of a physical health issue, you can put a tentative timeline for when you will start feeling better.
However, if your reasons are more to do with mental and emotional health, or being uninspired and unhappy ﹘ such reasons do not follow a timeline. All require deep introspection, healing, and internal work and cannot be penciled into calendars. Hence, your reasons will also greatly impact your planning.
Things To Consider Before Quitting Your Job
If you have decided to quit, here are a few things you should keep in mind to make the process of post-quitting life smooth:
Consider Your Lifestyle
Now that you know that you need to step off the hamster wheel, you need a fool-proof plan to actually do it. For starters, think of the plan you’ll need to get back, your savings, and how you want to prepare for the career break for mental health and life after it.
The first step is to take into consideration your lifestyle. If you live independently, will you move back home or shift into a smaller place? Does anyone depend on you ﹘ family, pets, siblings? Do you have any outstanding loans to pay off? If you are taking a break from work due to health reasons, then you will need a plan on how you will pay for that specific big expense and evaluate your recovery time.
Have A Plan To Get Back On The Wheel
Quitting today and not having anything to do tomorrow sounds fun. But what will you do once you feel better and want to get back on the wheel? For that, you need a plan.
A plan will ensure two things:
a. Your anxiety about the future will be under control
b. When the stipulated time of your career break is over, you will be able to navigate the new market much more comfortably since you will have a plan in place.
Another thing to consider while formulating this plan is that the market will change during the course of your career break, and for that, you must prepare yourself well. Look for courses you can enroll in to bridge the gap between what you would’ve learned on the job and what you will be expected to know at your new job.
You can also be a part of short-term passion projects to expose yourself to newer fields and experiences. You can travel and assist NGOs, use your skills and learn more in the process.
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Save, Because Your Life Will Depend On It
Transitioning from earning a steady paycheck to not receiving a paycheck is one of the biggest changes you will have to get accustomed to once you quit. Your expenses won’t reduce once you quit the job for taking a break from work, so you will have to start saving in advance to ensure that you don’t have to compromise on comfort.
You should start investing a small amount every month, and at the same time, reduce overhead expenses as much as you can so that quitting your job doesn’t bring along financial headaches
Consult People Who Have Quit For Similar Reasons
The network you’ve built over these years is what will help you in this. Find and connect with people who also chose to quit their jobs to take care of themselves. Ask them about their story, their journey, how they went back to work, what they did while they were on a career break and what were the glitches they didn’t plan for.
There are a lot of things you can fail to account for while planning. Hence, the experiences of others will be your best teacher in this scenario. Learn from them how they explained the gap in their resumes and how that played out for them. This will not only inform your choices but will also motivate you to do what you really need to be a better version of yourself.
Utilise Your Break By Doing What You Love
Quitting doesn’t imply that you will do nothing during your break. Quitting your job means that you will be breaking free from the shackles of a 9-to-5 setup, and will have the freedom to invest in what really sparks joy in you.
Plan activities that will nourish your mind and heart. Whether it is investing time in hobbies, taking short courses to upskill yourself, or finally learning yoga!
You must have a bunch of sustainable activities to keep you active and fulfilled during this career break for mental health.
Whatever the reason may be, if you are constantly feeling like a work martyr, it’s probably time to consider quitting your job and hit the pause button to take a career break for mental health Your mental, emotional, and physical health is more important than sticking to a career plan or a job that doesn’t let you feel good about where you are headed in life.
But we understand that it can be tough. Planning will be key to maneuvering your way around this with the least resistance. And a good question to start with is: “What would I do once I quit if I weren’t so scared of quitting?”
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Updated on 14th Sep’2021