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I regret quitting my job. What does it mean?
July 8, 2010 8:36 PM   Subscribe

I spent several days debating the pros and the cons of accepting a new job offer. I accepted the new job, quit my current job, and am in the middle of my 'last two weeks'. And I think I really regret quitting. Help.

[For context: i work at a mid-size marketing agency with an excellent reputation, i'm moving to a small agency that's been around a couple years and that's still building its reputation. I live in Toronto, which has decent number of agencies, but its still a pretty small community.]

I've been in my current job for a bit less than two years. There have been some rough patches, but overall i've been pretty successful, my boss has been making an effort to give me the development opportunities i've wanted, and has been making an effort to put me on the types of projects she knows i'm interested in. I've made a few good friends, and i've become really central, both professionally and personally, to the project team i work on, and very important to the clients we serve, who i love working for. A lot of the difficulties i'd had in the job really feel like they're in the past.

I was offered a job for more money (although i don't really need more money, to be honest), with a better title, at a smaller company, in a field i'm not as familiar with. There's a lot of "on paper" upside to moving to this new job. I'm moving from a mid- level job at a big office to a 'director' title at a small office. Its a good 'career progression'. But because i didn't really feel ready to leave my current job, it took a lot of advice and pro/con lists and reassurance from others for me to feel ready to quit. And so i did.

I assumed that after I quit that i'd feel a sense of relief at making the decision, and excitement about the new challenge. But instead all i feel is regret. I'm going to miss my project team and my co-workers. I feel i've let down my boss who was making a real effort to invest in me. I feel regretful that i'm not going to work on the projects that were lined up for me, and that i'm going to be disappointing the current clients i work with. I have the 'i had made a mistake feeling' in my stomach, instead of excitment.

So! An actual question: Is this weird version of buyers remorse semi-normal? Has anyone else ever felt this way? Can you tell me its just nervousness? Or is this totally abnormal? Should i assume that my regret 'means something', and i should consider trying to 'unquit'? Is un-quitting even possible? Like legally? and in the 'looking like a jackass' sense? And what about quitting the new job that i've accepted but haven't started yet? What would the implications be?
posted by Kololo to Work & Money (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yes, it's normal. Plenty of people have it. It can be scary to step out into the unknown, but that's how you grow.

The possibility of un-quitting is completely up to your desire to ask for it and your boss's willingness to accept it. Unless, of course, you've signed a contract. Keep in mind, though, that you may burn a bridge at the other agency when you take away your acceptance of their offer.
posted by inturnaround at 8:40 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


So! An actual question: Is this weird version of buyers remorse semi-normal? Has anyone else ever felt this way? Can you tell me its just nervousness? Or is this totally abnormal? Should i assume that my regret 'means something', and i should consider trying to 'unquit'? Is un-quitting even possible? Like legally? and in the 'looking like a jackass' sense? And what about quitting the new job that i've accepted but haven't started yet? What would the implications be?

This is totally normal! Plenty of people have felt this way! It's just nervousness and a normal part of the process of moving from one stage of life to the next! It's not totally abnormal! Don't try to 'unquit' because you might regret that, too! Unquitting is a bad idea though legally probably fine! If you unquit, your current work environment might change because everyone will know you have one foot out the door! If you quit the other job you can probably forget ever working there in the future and your professional contacts at this company will see you as a flake!

Really, this is totally normal. Give yourself time to get used to your new environment. It will be difficult at first, undoubtedly, but once you make a few friends at your new job and get settled, you'll be fine.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:44 PM on July 8, 2010


Even with jobs I was very keen to leave, everything suddenly seemed rosier once I had put in my notice. You can enjoy the good bits, because you know you won't have to put up with the bad bits for much longer. So it is probably just normal.
posted by AnnaRat at 8:51 PM on July 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


If you're feeling this way two weeks after you start your new job, I would be more worried. As for the feelings of regret now, as others have said you're about to step off into the unknown from your nice cozy raft of known entity. Of course it's scary! Also, it's your last two weeks, people are almost certainly turning on the nice.

Un-quitting is not a great idea. It's a nice fast way to acquire a flaky reputation. Keep your bridges intact, maintain relationships at your old firm. Who knows, maybe they'll welcome you back with open arms and a nice corner office someday.
posted by charmcityblues at 8:53 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


OTOH, we once hired a woman who stayed exactly 5 days before she reallized she made a mistake and went back to her previous job. Her bosses there were dellghted to take her back. We were a little devastated on our side, but it was better that she left quickly if she was going to be unhappy with us.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:56 PM on July 8, 2010


What you've described sounds perfectly normal to me; you're ending a (working) relationship with many people you seem fond of.

There is the possibility of coming back to your current job a little bit down the road if things don't work out. I have two coworkers who resigned to pursue other opportunities, didn't like what they found, and were rehired -- one returned after about a year, one after only a month or so.
posted by Several Unnamed Sources at 9:04 PM on July 8, 2010


Yup, totally normal. I was you a couple months ago, except in a job I absolutely couldn't take any longer. Got an awesome offer at a prestigious company with more money and other perks - it's an amazing opportunity. Had dreams about giving my notice; I'd been waiting for this chance for months. And once I finally did, and could see the light at the end of the tunnel... all of a sudden the things in the tunnel didn't seem so dismal after all. After thinking about the good parts about the job I just quit, I was sure I'd made a mistake. People would kill for the opportunity to be able to walk to work - I had to be an idiot to quit! But what about these awesome people I'd worked with for so long - we'd been though so much together! I could basically chose my own hours - was I insane to leave? For a month I second guessed myself - my "two weeks notice", as well as during the two week break I took between jobs.

Now, 6 weeks into my new job... I couldn't be happier with my decision. Things are different, yes. It's hard starting over from scratch. But I definitely did the right thing, despite those weeks of "buyers remorse".

Plus, you can't undo the past. If you un-quit, the atmosphere will change. Your employer knows you're out looking. They'll question your loyalty. What's done is done, and you did it for a reason.
posted by cgg at 9:27 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it possible that folks below you on the ladder will be expecting some kind of advancement when you leave and are feeling extra kindly towards you right now? If you suddenly pull the rug out from under them by changing your mind, that rosy glow might soon vanish.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:40 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Keep good relations with the first employer, and give it a year or so. If you decide you still want to go back after you've been at the new job for that long, no one will think any less of you. If you turn back now, that seems a little flaky.

And I'm pretty sure your remorse is completely normal. Give the new place a chance, then see how you feel.
posted by Loudmax at 10:03 PM on July 8, 2010


I think a lot of this feeling can come from the fact that, as you are preparing to leave, your coworkers tend to show their appreciation for you more and you tend to note how solid the relationships are. Before you announce you are leaving, people tend not to do this – so you suddenly seem more popular and appreciated. Don't know if that's the case here, but it shouldn't inspire you to stay if that dynamic has picked up, as it will go back down to the previous level if you should stay.

The other thing to consider is that you are creating an opening for someone else on the rise at your old company. A problem with a lot a places is that there tends to be no room for advancement due to good people sticking around. Not a problem per se, but it might assuage the guilt by knowing that you are opening up a potential opportunity for one of your coworkers.
posted by qwip at 10:59 PM on July 8, 2010


Very, very normal. Every time I change my job I feel this way. As a young person, if you feel like you want to be ambitious and move yourself up in your career, it's important to always be making moves. You need to always be aware of your worth in the market relative to others, and see if you're really doing the best that you can do right now, and what would be the best for you in the future. Anything else can stagnate you, especially if you're young.

Also, never, never un-quit. It looks bad, and puts you in a very vulnerable situation. If they really wanted to keep you, they'd have asked you what you were getting offered at the other job and matched it. If they wanted to save their "investment", that's what they'd do. You're free to come and go as you please, as long as no contracts are involved. If somehow business was bad and they needed to cut someone free, that might have been you in a heartbeat.

Anyhow, unless you work with maniacs, your coworkers and your boss are probably happy for you that you're getting a new job with more responsibility and more money.

There's a book, Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz that goes into choice, buyer's remorse, and how our personalities and culture create these negative feelings around making choices. It's an interesting read.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 4:11 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


So! An actual question: Is this weird version of buyers remorse semi-normal? Has anyone else ever felt this way? Can you tell me its just nervousness? Or is this totally abnormal? Should i assume that my regret 'means something', and i should consider trying to 'unquit'? Is un-quitting even possible? Like legally? and in the 'looking like a jackass' sense? And what about quitting the new job that i've accepted but haven't started yet? What would the implications be?

The regret is normal; you're going from a known to an unknown and though the move looks good on paper, you really have no idea what you're getting into. You're comfortable now, and successful, and so everyone kinda worries that they're letting people down by leaving.

The reality is, any good business has contingency plans in the event of staff leaving; this is why people are cross-trained and offered training and development opportunities. You may be an important cog and certainly, you will be missed, but good organizations survive losses of personnel all the time.

Also, I think leaving to go from mid-level to senior management is something everyone will understand. Your employer had the opportunity to offer something when you left, and if they didn't, so you're ethically in the clear.

One thing you can do, however, on your way out the door that will be great is to familiarize your co-workers with some of the things that you do that nobody else does. Help an employer who it sounds like you respect to provide continuous service by informing your successors. Good luck!
posted by Hiker at 4:22 AM on July 9, 2010


I once un-quit a job and instead accepted a promotion at my old job on my very last day of work. It was embarrassing, as my co-workers had made me a photo album and everything, and I felt extremely chagrined as a waffler.

I then endured several very trying months of re-remorse: I regretted staying, cursed myself as a coward, and fantasized about the road not taken.

Then, while I was wrapping presents on Xmas Eve, I saw a newspaper article that the new company had gone under. I drank a toast to Santa Claus, and got on with my life feeling much better.

Long story short: yes, you can change your mind. But then you might regret staying. But it might turn out to be a great thing to do.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:32 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was offered a job for more money (although i don't really need more money, to be honest), with a better title

Just so you know, you *do* need more money than you think you do. The higher salary does two things: it helps fight off inflation (which has the effect of lowering your salary in terms of purchasing power), and it sets the level that your next salary will be based on.

It's great that you don't feel that you need more money right now. If that's the case, take the difference between your new salary and your old one, and start socking it away in a secure investment. At some point in your life, you'll be *really* glad you did this.
posted by Citrus at 7:44 AM on July 9, 2010


Be brave and try the new job, it doesn't mean you can't ever return to your old company at some point in the future.

In my company I've met quite a few people who worked here for a couple of years, left for a better position in another company, and came back for an even more senior role here when the timing was right. They kept the door open for that by maintaining their contacts. There's nothing wrong with advancing your career with another company, people won't take it personally if they understand it's a logical choice for you. And odds are, if you do come back you'll be bringing a pile of experience that you wouldn't have gotten by staying at that company.
posted by lizbunny at 8:15 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're under the normal duress of impending change right now which can be pretty stressful especially because you didn't have a huge problem with where you were. I would go with the decision you made when you were doing soul searching and making pros/cons lists and more rational about it all. This opportunity came into your life for a reason, your gut told you to do it, now you're just nervous because switching jobs is scary. You will have new projects you're excited about, your current company will get along fine without you, everything will be ok.
posted by Kimberly at 8:22 AM on July 9, 2010


You are all correct, i think. And seriously, knowing that feeling this way is a normal, common thing has made me feel a lot better. And in case we're all wrong about why i'm nervous, then y'all are right: i can always go back, or go somewhere else, and i'll have more experience and be the better for it.

Thank you for providing the anecdata i needed to feel better about the decision.
posted by Kololo at 11:22 AM on July 9, 2010


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