From the moment that we step up to the plate for the first time, or slip on our first pair of pink ballet shoes, we are told that quitting simply isn’t an option. Rather than viewing quitting as an opportunity to move forward with new and exciting opportunities, we were raised to see it as a character flaw or a lack of work ethic; for some, “quit” and “give up” are synonymous. Unfortunately, this belief can carry over from childhood to our professional lives, keeping us in jobs that aren’t the right fit, all because we are too afraid to quit.

The phrase “winners never quit and quitters never win”, along with a myriad of other sayings discouraging us from quitting, can feel just as present in our professional lives as they did in those sideline huddles and backstage pep talks. So how do we quit when quitting has never been an option? If you find yourself struggling to leave a job that no longer aligns with your career goals, here are a few guidelines to follow to ensure that you resign without feeling like a quitter.

  • Make a calm decision. It is important to note that you should never quit in a moment of frustration or anger, even though that’s precisely when we want to quit the most. Making a snap decision will almost always lead to regret, so if you feel like your emotions are getting the best of you, calmly remove yourself from the situation and give yourself time to think. You may still decide to resign; however, some space will give you time to gather your thoughts and form a rational exit strategy.  
  • Finish the season. If you ever stopped playing a sport or participating in an activity as a youngster, chances are that you were only allowed to do so after the season had concluded. “Just finish the season” is one lesson that should carry over into our professional lives from our childhood. Rather than putting in your notice during your company’s busy season, or in the middle of a project, demonstrate that you are a team player and follow through with your commitments.
  • Talk to your manager first. Even though you will likely want to tell your office bestie that you are quitting (and all of the reasons why), your manager should be the first person in the office to know that you are resigning- not the last. Who is thinking about quitting is a hot topic around the water cooler, and the last thing that you want is for your manager to catch wind of you leaving before you have talked with them and officially submitted your notice.
  • Don’t take your team with you. It can be tempting to tell everyone exactly why you are quitting, and you may even want to share your reasoning to receive some validation that you are making the right decision. However, whether you are unhappy with management, are looking for a higher paying position or simply want to explore your options, it is best to keep details to a minimum. You do not want your last days with a company to be spent convincing fellow team members to leave as well.  

Although quitting isn’t always the best option, it is an option (despite what our little league coaches told us). If done appropriately, it is possible to resign and move forward in your career without feeling like a quitter. Keep these tips in mind if you are currently searching for your next career opportunity, and are preparing to turn in your resignation!