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5 ways to minimize your anxiety when quitting your job

By Keeley Teemsma, LCSW


So many people talk about the anxiety of the first week at a new job– getting the lay of land, feeling new people out, acclimating to a new role, and figuring out company culture– but seldom do we hear about the anxiety surrounding quitting a job.  

There is never going to be a good or convenient time to leave a job. Someone (including you!) will always feel hurt/angry/upset/abandoned/disappointed/sad/anxious that you are leaving.  It can be quite anxiety-provoking to have to provide your notice of leaving to your employer.  And on the converse side, your employer is likely to face as much anxiety and stress surrounding your departure as you are.  Here are some tips to help ease the process. 

1. Tie up all of your loose ends before you even let your employer know about your decision to leave.

It can be very scary to an employer to see lots of incomplete documentation, projects, and other overdue items.  Oftentimes, people wait until just before their departure to tie up loose ends, which leads us to feel stressed and anxious in addition to making your employer feel stressed and anxious, which then leads us to feel even more anxious.  Stop the cycle before it starts and get all of your proverbial ducks in a row.

2. Leave in the most ethical way possible – provide proper notice.

Sometimes we can be so excited to begin a new job that we want to start as soon as possible.  Sometimes we want to leave a job that we hate as soon as possible. Sometimes our new job puts pressure on us to start as soon as possible.  Whatever the case is, if your employee handbook asks for a month’s notice, do your best to give that month.  It will take that time to transition your responsibilities to someone else.  This also allows you to start your new job with good boundaries, letting your new employers know that your time is yours. 

3. You don’t need to say why you’re leaving.

In several states, an employer doesn’t have to provide you with a reason as to why they are letting you go. You also do not owe anyone an explanation, even if you are pressured for one. This can save you on enduring friction with your supervisor or other coworkers, and it can also save you on the anticipatory anxiety. 

4. Do provide written notice. 

You can simply write a short letter or email stating the date that you are providing notice and what will be your last day of employment. Make sure that you keep a copy of this. Something short and to the point is all that is really needed. 

5. Take advantage of exit interviews. 

Though you might not be readily offered an exit interview, it never hurts to ask for one.  Exit interviews not only allow you to plan for items such as COBRA, but are also an opportunity for you to share what worked and what didn’t. They are also a great place to ask for feedback surrounding your performance.  If you have a supervisor you are not comfortable speaking with candidly, ask to meet with someone from human resources or another neutral party. 

In the end, the school of thought is don’t burn your bridges. Many professions are a very small world. Leave on best terms possible so that no one can say on or off the record that you didn’t.  You also never know when you might need a recommendation. Unless your employer or coworkers have been horribly abusive, do your best to say goodbye to people and thank them for one thing that they helped you to learn during your tenure.