Earn Careers

Should I quit my job? How to plan a resignation

Chelsey Zhu  |  April 4, 2023

If you’ve been thinking about resigning, here’s how to tell if you should quit your job or try to stick it out.

Whether you’ve been at your job for two weeks or 20 years, quitting isn’t always easy. Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck which means leaving your job could be detrimental to your finances.

But that doesn’t mean you should stay in a toxic work environment. Here’s how to quit your job and what to do before you hand in your resignation.


Quitting a job can be a complicated decision, especially if there are some aspects of your work that you like. Staying with your company can make you feel trapped and your frustrations might boil over until you rage-quit. A Pew Research study found that most people leave their jobs because:

  • Low pay (63%)
  • No room for growth (63%)
  • Disrespected at work (57%) 
  • Child care issues (48%) 
  • Lack of flexibility (45%)
  • Poor benefits (43%)

Feeling like quitting and knowing it’s the right decision aren’t always the same thing. But you should probably quit long before you actually do, according to Annie Duke, decision-making expert and author of “Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Talk Away.” Duke stopped by the HerMoney podcast to talk about how to quit your job — the right way.

“There are clear signals before you literally can’t take it another day for you to quit,” says “The right time to quit is going to be long before that point.”

Make a pros and cons list and go over what you like and don’t like about your job. If the bad outweighs the good and your health is suffering because of it, it might be time to make a plan to quit your job.


The first step in planning your resignation is to give yourself a deadline. Say you want to be out of your job by the end of the year. This gives you the chance to set up the necessary steps to get there. That looks different for a lot of people, but can include:

  • Updating your resume
  • Getting references
  • Applying to jobs
  • Taking interviews
  • Boosting your emergency fund

You don’t have to wait until your absolute worst day before you can finally say you should quit your job. If you make a plan for leaving far ahead of actually doing it, you regain the ability to choose what your boundaries are and when enough is enough.

As soon as you realize you’re unhappy, ask yourself how long you’re okay with the status quo, and by what time things need to change, says Duke. The answer is different for everybody, but a reasonable timeline would be three to six months. You don’t want to stay in a truly toxic workplace for a year or more, but you also don’t want to leave before you know that your concerns are long-term. 

SUBSCRIBE: Want more expert career advice? Subscribe to the HerMoney newsletter!


After you’ve set a deadline, you can write up your conditions for leaving. You can also write up your conditions for staying.

“Imagine it’s three months from now, and you’re happy in your job. What does that look like?” asks Duke. Write down concrete benchmarks, like:

  • You’ve gotten a raise
  • You have a better relationship with your boss
  • You’re working fewer hours each week

Then ask yourself the opposite question. What does it look like if you’re miserable once you’ve reached your deadline? 

These are your standards. If, at the end of your timeline, your job is closer to the “miserable” picture than the “happy” one, you can feel confident that you’re quitting for the right reasons. 


If you have a solid list of pros about your job and the standards you need to meet for you to stay there, try to make staying at your current job a reality.

Once you know exactly what you need to stay, “don’t just allow the world to happen,” says Duke. “Instead, look at those things and say, ‘What can I do to create the good version of the world?’”

If you need a raise or promotion, talk to your boss about the steps you can take to make that happen. If you need to work fewer hours, let your boss know you’re overwhelmed and see how they respond. After all, what’s the harm in asking for changes that might make your life better if you’re thinking about quitting anyway?

The worst thing they can say is no, and if that happens, you’ll know you tried your best to stay. If they say yes, then you might not need to quit after all.

LISTEN: Get career advice just for you. Subscribe to the HerMoney podcast.


A quitting coach isn’t always someone you hire to teach you how to quit your job. In fact, it’s someone you can talk to about your situation. This can be a mentor, friend, or therapist who can look at the situation without bias. A quitting coach can validate your concerns and give you the resolve to quit, or talk you down if your expectations about work are a little off-base. 

“It’s really good to sit down with a mentor and say, ‘How long should I be okay with this situation? What do you think bad looks like? And what do you think I could do to make things better?’” says Duke. “They’re not in the decision with you, so they’re able to see your situation more clearly, generally, than you can see it for yourself.” 


Quitting isn’t always easy, especially if it’s at a job that you thought you would love. Rather than make a brash decision, take some time to evaluate your job as a whole. After you’ve listed your pros and cons and taken some time to see what needs to change, then you can tell if you’re ready. Talk to a trusted friend, colleague, or mentor if you need an extra boost.



How do I know if I should quit my job?

You know if it’s time to quit your job if you feel like the cons outweigh the pros and you don’t see the downsides going up even if you plan on making big changes. Set a deadline and make necessary arrangements, like tweaking your resume, finding a new job, and beefing up your emergency fund.

What is quiet quitting?

Quiet quitting isn’t actually quitting — it’s completing the minimum requirements of your job and not going above and beyond. Doing the minimum means you’re not looking for special attention or promotions, but rather only fulfilling your basic job description.

How soon should I quit my job?

“Soon” is relative. Some might think a couple of weeks is too soon, while others might deem two months on the job too soon to quit. The younger you are, the more likely you are to quit sooner rather than later. If you can, try to put in three to six months. That’ll give you an idea of the company through different seasons.

Editor’s note: We maintain a strict editorial policy and a judgment-free zone for our community, and we also strive to remain transparent in everything we do. Posts may contain references and links to products from our partners. Learn more about how we make money.

Next Article: