Why you’ll never leave your corporate job

why you'll never quit your corporate job

Last week, we started to consider whether or not you should quit your corporate job. We looked at where the so-called 9 to 5 came from, what’s wrong with it (including how unproductive it is, the stress and burnout it is causing and the lack of flexibility), and what the alternatives might be. We also recognised that it’s not as simple as just BOOM, quitting your job, and there are all sorts of things that might make you say, “Yes, BUT…” Because here’s the thing: most of you reading this are never going to leave your corporate job.

“Oh but I’ll do it when…” I hear you protest. When you get that promotion or salary increase, when you have kids, when your kids are older, when you’ve saved enough, when x y z… But will you really take the leap when that x y z happens, or will there not just be one more “I’ll do it when…” to procrastinate indefinitely? There’s never going to be a good time, so if you don’t do it now (and when I say, “do it”, I mean start thinking about how you might do it, not actually shouting “I quit!” at your boss), you’re likely never going to quit your corporate job at all.

Why are you not going to leave your corporate job (even though you want to)?

There are bound to be individual reasons and explanations for why you’re not doing anything about this right now and I’m sure you’ll tell me, “Oh but you don’t understand my particular situation…” However, in my experience, there are also some very consistent themes as to what’s keeping people stuck in their corporate jobs even as they fantasise about the possibilities that might be out there.

These reasons include:

  • You assume it’s not possible because you can’t afford it / you don’t have time / you don’t have the skills / etc.
  • You don’t know what you want to do instead and so you stay where you are by default
  • You get stuck in ‘analysis paralysis’ trying to research and assess all the different options
  • You follow bad advice from people around you who don’t know what they’re talking about
  • You know that you want to move but you just don’t know where to start and how to make it happen
  • You’re not willing to put in the work that’s required both to find an alternative path and then to work hard to make that alternative happen
  • You’re afraid of failing and so instead you don’t even try

Whether one or all of these reasons apply to you, the result is that you’re stuck in a situation you know you want to escape and yet you’re not doing anything to change that situation. And, in my experience, it’s no exaggeration to say that this can be soul destroying.

No, really, you’re never going to do it

“You’re wrong!” I hear you claim, as you insist – to yourself and to anyone who will listen – that you definitely will take the leap and do your own thing, you’re just waiting for… working on… trying to…

Unfortunately, even when you’ve decided that you are going to do something about it, and you actually start taking action, there are plenty of reasons why you still won’t actually leave your job. Because, as I discovered myself after leaving in 2013, it’s not just about that one-off decision to quit: it’s many little decisions, you have to be courageous not once but again and again, and keep working, keep pushing, keep taking those steps in the right direction.

So there are plenty of pitfalls even after that first momentous decision:

  • You narrow down your choices too soon, limiting yourself to just a couple of alternatives as you assume that’s all there is, and either giving up because those alternatives are no good or else pursuing them and finding that you’re no better off
  • You rush into action and sign up to an expensive course or send your CV to hundreds of companies before you’ve really worked out what it is that you want to do, so that you end up wasting both your money and your time
  • You take no action at all as you keep thinking, researching and weighing the pros and cons
  • You decide what you want to do but then you waste time and energy focusing on the wrong things so that you never make any real progress
  • You stubbornly try to do it all alone, without asking for help – whether that be moral support from your friends or your partner or professional guidance from a coach or mentor – so that you feel isolated and you end up giving up too soon

Okay, but what if you really do want to quit?

If all these pitfalls and obstacles are just making you all the more determined to commit to this decision, to work hard to make this happen, and above all to prove me wrong, then, fantastic! That’s the resolve you need to really shake things up, get out of your comfort zone and take steps towards realising your own career change.

Because it’s absolutely possible to change your mindset, to get clarity on what it is you want to do and to put the effort into the right priorities so that you have a clear vision that you’re working towards and you make progress towards that vision; but it’s still not going to be easy.

There are some real concerns that you’ll need to work on overcoming, including of course the thorny issue of money (can you afford to quit? what if the business fails?) and the modern-day epidemic of being too busy and not having the time to make change happen. So stay tuned in the coming weeks as we look at these very real obstacles and how you can start planning how you’re going to break them down.

Here’s to making you one of the (growing) few who actually take the leap and leave the 9 to 5 for good!

Make sure you join our Facebook community, where we’ll be digging into – and working to overcome – these blocks to help you start taking action and moving in the direction of your dreams. Join the Facebook group >>

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