It’s Time To Quit Your Dream Job

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Congratulations, college graduate, you made it to exactly where you wanted to get! Now it’s time to quit your dream job.

Steady paycheques, prestige, a sense of fulfillment.. working your dream job has been fun, challenging, and an all around great experience for you. So why am I asking you to get rid of it?

quit your dream job

I’m a huge advocate of strategic quitting.

One of the best things you can do is abandon ship after you’ve looted it for good.

If I sound like a pirate, I don’t mean to. You don’t have to sink the ship. Actually, it’s probably best if you don’t. But you should hop in a life raft or swim to shore if the time is right.

I don’t often quit employers, but I do change roles when the opportunity presents itself. Many friends and family and peers alike are critical of my quit-and-move-on strategy, particularly if I’m making a lateral move with the same employer, often not seeing the positive results of my actions until they’ve blossomed a few months later. I understand how my behavior can appear risky from an outsider perspective, but truthfully it’s strategic. I simply don’t like to stagnate. As far as I’m concerned:

If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind.

Which is why I quit even when I have a good thing going.

SIDENOTE: Some people aren’t ship-jumping risk-takers like myself. Some people want to find a stable, secure job where they feel comfortable and useful, and this is great! There is something to be said about committing to a role for a long time, even your whole working lifetime. Some people are diligent workers, and some of us are like preschoolers that need a new box of crayons every 15-minutes because we’ve scribbled too enthusiastically during drawing time.

SECOND SIDENOTE: Abandoning employers on a regular basis is bad news bears. I do NOT advocate switching companies like you’re on some sort of merry go round. It’s bad for your resume, it’s bad for your bosses, and it’s bad for you. If you’re working for a company you love, stay there. Just try to change your role.

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I recently quit the full-time role I had for two years.

It was a job I loved. When I first got it I described it was “my dream job”. I knew it was my dream job because in May 2011 I wrote a list of things I wanted in a job, and then in September 2011 I started in a position that provided me with everything on the list. It was a unique find. I got to do everything from public speaking to traveling to teaching. I had my own office and met industry leaders. It was fun, it was challenging, and all around a great experience.

So after 2 years, I quit my dream job.

And if you’re in the same boat (I’m really on a ship theme here, aren’t I?), you might want to consider quitting too.

Why you need to quit your dream job

You’ve learned everything you can

One of the best things about a new job is developing a new skill set. If you’ve been working long enough that your tasks are routine, you’re not developing. If there’s still more you want to learn how to do, find a job that will take you to the next level.

There’s little or no room to advance

As I said above, some people are cool hanging out where they are, some want to shoot up the corporate ladder, and most will fall somewhere in between. If there’s little or no room for advancement where you’re working, there will be little or no advancement for you. If you want to move up, it’s time to move on.

A new opportunity has presented itself

Life works in mysterious ways and sometimes something unexpected might come along that you want to try out. Do it, particularly if the two points above are also true.

You’re deeply unhappy and ready for a change

Good benefits and a steady paycheque isn’t necessarily a good excuse for a life of drudgery. You can pursue something that’s more adventurous, fulfilling, or whatever! This is your life, live it the way you want.

I quit my dream job for some of the reasons I listed above. I’d maxed out my skill set, there wasn’t any room for me at the top, and I seized an opportunity that came available. And I quit, because I’m a risk-taking pirate, but also because it was the right thing and the right time to do so.

What is your advice on when to quit your dream job and when to stick?

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About Author

Student debt killer, super saver, and stock market addict. BSc. in Chemistry from the University of Alberta, MBA in Finance from the University of Calgary, and PhD from the school of life in being a badass. Currently residing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, but hooked on travelling.

13 Comments

  1. I totally agree with this, but I wonder how do you know what opportunities are the “right” opportunities. I always have a lot of self doubt when I think about switching jobs, and I worry that things won’t work out or I’ll be worse off some how. I think this prevents me from taking a lot of risks.

    • There’s always a lot to weigh up and often an element of guessing, I think. I try to make pros and cons lists, think out all the possible outcomes, and talk to people I trust who have more experience and knowledge.

    • It’s scary no matter what but when you’re ready to go, you can’t stay any more. Starting out or starting over again is never easy, but if it’s worth it, you need to do it!

  2. I guess it also depends on what kind of profession you´ve got. and the financial situation you´re in. I´m not sure if I would quit a job that I loved… but then again, I´ve never been a risk taking pirate as you!

    • Finances are a HUGE factor — that’s why it’s so important to get your financial house in order. Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, you have a lot of freedom with your money.

  3. I’ve had to do this once already. I had been working to try and get a software development position so I would have the credentials on my resume. I got a position and figured I would be set for a long time. Not too long I got a phone call from a former boss asking me to stand up an electronics lab. It wasn’t in the field I was originally aiming for but it was a chance to head up my own project. It was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

    • That’s awesome! Sometimes the best opportunities are totally unexpected — and a perfectly excellent reason to quit your dream job.

  4. It seems as though we all have something inside us that says that the grass is greener elsewhere. It can be – but we all need a strong BS radar. People often big up their own work jobs and work places to make themselves feel better.
    Internal advancement, and not being afraid to ask for a raise is the plan b that so many people forget about.

  5. I’m living my dream job- performing for a living, working with brilliant people, and traveling the world. But the in between is ridiculously difficult- paying bills, establishing savings, worrying if I have enough weeks of work to qualify for insurance, etc. Definitely not sustainable forever, but not ready to jump ship just yet.

  6. A job where I’ve learned everything I can with no more room to advance would cease to be a dream job at that point!

    I’ve left positions in my company, but so far have stayed with the same company. The first time I intentionally moved, I thought I could have a bigger impact elsewhere and wanted to work on the front end of the business. The next time it was just because a new and exciting opportunity (oh, shiny!) presented itself. I still consider this to mostly be the same job, and there is a lot of freedom to move and grow – so it is still a dream job.

    I would leave a job I liked for a better opportunity, but there would have to be some level of dissatisfaction with something in order to give me the push.

    Best of luck in your new adventure!