How do I quit a great job ?
September 4, 2019 8:18 AM   Subscribe

I have to leave my current role so that I can join my spouse in another city. I am finding it impossible to make the jump. What to do?

In February I asked this question about my concerns about leaving the city when we relocated our household to the country due to spouse's new job. I was ambivalent about leaving my job but it seemed like there would be other opportunities and I wanted my spouse to be happy so I made my applications and got on with it. I rent in a house-share in the city during the week, going 'home' to new region at the weekend. We agreed that this would be a temporary situation until I found a new job.

Seven months later things feel very different. After turning down a not-quite-right offer very early on (I realise the folly of this now, but alas that ship has sailed) I've failed to find much else. I've interviewed for three other roles but didn't get an offer. Whilst the kind of work I do is available in the new region it doesn't come up very often. There is plenty of other work that I could try for but it would likely mean returning to a career path I actively left in order to pursue my current role.

In the meantime my current job is going really well, I have a lot of autonomy, a great team and a solid plan for the next 6-12 months. However It's increasingly hard to keep things on track whilst searching ofor other work and I can feel my performance slipping. The weekly travel is really getting to me, I'm stressed all the time, I miss my husband a lot during the week and the cost of renting in two places with weekend visits is...well a lot. I'm also not available for local opportunities that come up quickly.

So the practical thing would be for me to give notice in my current job and if nothing has come up before I leave just look for temp work or something else until I'm back on track. We have savings to cover me for at least six months, more at a stretch. To this effect I've drafted my resignation letter and am ready to go.

Except every time I try to give notice I freak out and back off. Literal crying fits sometimes (not in public of course!). My institute has prestige and a national profile, my work is interesting and pays well. It's not perfect - it definitely hasn't been an easy ride and I've often struggled to make it work (there's a lot of frequent organisational change), but it's pretty unique and the overall mission aligns closely with my values. I'm in my mid-40s and it took a long time to get here. I hate the thought of giving it up without something compelling at the other end, but the reality is that my work is already suffering and the constant back-and-forth is doing a number on both my mental and physical health. Husband is supportive of whatever choice I make but his preference is for me to be with him.

I don't know what to do. Can any one shed any light?
posted by socksister to Work & Money (31 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This is really hard, but if you're having trouble getting offers while employed, I'm not sure the perceived stigma of not being employed while interviewing (or while doing temp work) will help. I'd worry about that.

I also think you need more of a plan than "doing temp work til I'm back on track." How will you feel if you end up stuck in contingent work indefinitely?
posted by praemunire at 8:23 AM on September 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

FYI, I have not read your previous questions. Any chance you could keep the current job and work remotely and make less frequent trip to the main location?
posted by tman99 at 8:37 AM on September 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

The thing that "makes sense" is clearly the thing you do not want to do, which makes sense because hey, you're about to be the wife who sacrifices everything for her husband's career. Nobody wants to be that woman, even though it is sometimes necessary. In your case, I don't think it is.

I would talk to your new job about telecommuting one day a week, and I would ask your husband to switch weekend relocations with you.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:45 AM on September 4, 2019 [19 favorites]

Thanks for the thoughts - this is helpful. Not thread-sitting but to answer the above I currently already work remotely one day per week. My employer won't allow any more than this. We can't swap weekend locations because my rental is mon-fri only. Full time rental is too expensive (I'm in a capital city). My issue is that we didn't expect it to take this long so how to cope with an indefinite period when a mere seven months is already making me crazy?
posted by socksister at 8:55 AM on September 4, 2019

What DarlingBri said. Don’t do it. Don’t quit your job. One of the most important things that I have learned from Al Anon is that it is OK to change your mind. You made a plan, but that plan is not working for you. You do not have to quit a job that you enjoy and that you are good at now that you know there is no other job available in the new location that equals what you have.

Your husband may have a preference, and it’s understandable that he does. But those crying fits? That is your body trying to tell your brain in every way possible that quitting your job now is a terrible idea. And it is not on you to solve this problem alone. You can decide alone not to quit your job, but your husband needs to work with you so you can survive the situation and get your job done and enjoy what you have as well as suffer from what you don’t have, which is a home with your husband. Plenty of couples make long-distance relationships work. He should absolutely be taking turns with you to travel. You might consider traveling one weekend a month and him one weekend a month and then both of you having a weekend to yourselves every other week. Because you never get a break otherwise. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 8:55 AM on September 4, 2019 [20 favorites]

I just went back to your other questions. This is like the third time you've asked the internet to talk you into making a move that you clearly don't want to make.

So - here's another vote for don't-do-it.

Turns out, it was your OH who wanted this big move to the country. You didn't. If you did, you'd be there with him already. Great that he wants to be with you - but luckily he can come & visit any time he likes.
posted by rd45 at 9:00 AM on September 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

You mention two things that are draining you - job hunting and being apart/travelling. if you dropped one of them (job hunting), would you have more spoons to cope with the other? Could you at least try that for six months and see if it restores your equillibrium?

And maybe if you have enough cash to cover you not working for 6 months, some of that be used on a hotel in your city to stay some weekends so your husband can come visit you there? Or upgrading to a 7 day a week place to stay? It might seem frivolous and wasteful to use savings to be booking into a hotel or paying rent on a room when you're away a couple of weekends a month, but if it enables you to stay in a job you love and maintain your sanity, might be worth it.
posted by penguin pie at 9:01 AM on September 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

What strikes me is in your October question, you had some shared goals - a different lifestyle, closer to family. In your February question those goals mostly vanished and in this question it's focused on your job entirely. Has the rest of your life changed? Do you still share those goals, or no?
posted by warriorqueen at 9:06 AM on September 4, 2019

Warriorqueen - I still want those things, I hadn't realised it may mean sacrificing my current career.

I'll leave the thread alone now.
posted by socksister at 9:18 AM on September 4, 2019

Maybe it's time for your spouse to think about moving back.
posted by metasarah at 9:34 AM on September 4, 2019 [17 favorites]

it seems like your goal needs to be "how to make it work without me quitting (or otherwise negatively infringing on) my job."

First thing, take quitting off the table, at least for a year. You've seen that the job prospects are not great now. Maybe in a year you'll have different skills to market. Now it seems like no go.

Fix the living situation so he can be the one traveling sometimes. Maybe you get a different rental. Maybe he negotiates for more remote days. Maybe you find a place in the middle and both commute, is that possible? Throw money at this if you have to. Ultimately it is likely to be less money lost than would be if you were to be unemployed or doing temp work instead of full time.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:34 AM on September 4, 2019

Warriorqueen - I still want those things, I hadn't realised it may mean sacrificing my current career.

Yeah, that's super hard. Without knowing your career, here are some thoughts.

One is, some of use want to do meaningful work but the area that the work is in is less important than the meaningful part. So if you can figure out what part of your job you love and see if it applies to other jobs, then you might feel better about it. For example, I switched jobs pretty dramatically, big drop in prestige, etc., but I realized my motivations are "interesting problems to solve" and "using my energy and expertise to help solve problems with measurable results." That's opened a lot of doors for me mentally.

In other words, there are more options than "move backward to a field I didn't like" or "temp work." It will take time and possibly retraining in between, so you might need to figure out how to stay and save more (hard with two places, I know) or how to fund that.

Second is, if your career is a niche career that you literally cannot do anywhere else, you may have learned that this move isn't for you and you and your husband do need to sit down with that and have a look at it. And that's truly okay. I've done that too and it was a great result for us collectively although at the time it was really fraught.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:35 AM on September 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't quit until I found another job, tbh. You could be unemployed for months which would be incredibly demoralizing. Are there any remote jobs in your field could do instead?
posted by shaademaan at 9:46 AM on September 4, 2019

Is it possible that you could find a different job with a headquarters in your current city that does allow fully remote working? Also, it looks like you're in London. I use Trusted Housesitters quite often for housesitting, and there are a plethora of housesits (almost always taking care of a cat or dog, if that's possible for you) in London. Some are for the weekend, some are for longer. If you stayed in one of these places for a few weeks, at least your husband could be the one traveling. Just a temporary idea.
posted by pinochiette at 9:47 AM on September 4, 2019

My institute has prestige and a national profile, my work is interesting and pays well. It's not perfect... but it's pretty unique and the overall mission aligns closely with my values. I'm in my mid-40s and it took a long time to get here. I hate the thought of giving it up without something compelling at the other end

To me this is a slam dunk "don't do it."

You sound resourceful and driven. Could you define what would be compelling and then work toward that? (E.g., starting a consulting group?) I would not leave something you love for nothing / something ill-defined / a poor fit (unless you really welcomed being forced to find something new, which you don't). I would figure out what you want and work to make that happen.

As I approach my mid 40s, I definitely wouldn't give up what I've worked for to go into a poor fit. It's the prime of your career when all those dues you paid start to pay off. It's also the time to be maneuvering toward the next phase of your career, be that as a senior executive where you are or launching your own thing. You have the knowledge and experience to be strategically navigating toward a role that you want, so I would figure out what that is.

Last, you need the time and energy to do this visioning and then start taking action to make it what you want. To me, quiet weeknight evenings sound like the perfect time. But is the issue that the loneliness is crippling? Could you make friends or join a gym or become a regular at a cafe to get enough socializing that being away from your husband can be productive "you time" instead of feeling like a sad waste of time (if I'm understanding the current situation correctly)? Or maybe you're exhausted from the workday... see if you can identify the barrier and find a solution. Maybe if it's hard to switch gears, could you put in extra hours at work on those four days so that the fifth day at home is more of a day to work on your own planning? Would they even let you work four ten-hour days?
posted by salvia at 10:17 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

You've been wrestling with this for quite a while. Or maybe it would more apt to say against this.

Like Bella Donna said -- it's really OK to change your mind on the whole deal. It's clearly not a spur-of-the-moment thing, this water runs deep for you.

It's not at all trivial to give up a job you like; jobs you like and fit are really quite rare. And you're absolutely right to be concerned about the big picture. What if this turns out to be the last real job you've had, if temp work led to not much led to staying home? Could you live with that?

I think you need to share these deep currents with your husband, and renegotiate from there.

It's really ok to change your mind. Don't quit yet.
posted by Dashy at 10:23 AM on September 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

Further to my suggestions above - can your husband downsize the place he's living in to free up some money for you to get a 7 day a week place, so he can come stay with you sometimes? It sounds like your initial set up has been based on the assumption that you'd soon relocate (so he's maybe got decent accommodation there, on the basis it would soon become your main home?). The circumstances have changed - both in terms of you not finding a job quickly, and in you realising how much you love your job - so it seems fair for you to both reassess based on that.

For you to be doing all the travelling, and living in what feels like temporary accommodation, and to be job hunting and faced with giving up your job, sounds like it was maybe survivable for a temporary thing, but given the reality of how things are panning out, you deserve not to be making so many sacrifices.
posted by penguin pie at 10:25 AM on September 4, 2019 [12 favorites]

Oh and, on the finances, I hear you. I'm sure it's a lot. On the other hand, your husband got a significant raise by jumping on his timetable rather than yours. That raise will lead to higher salaries for him in the future, too. I'd take the time you need and try not to let that aspect trouble you.
posted by salvia at 10:28 AM on September 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

First, of course you are feeling burned out - you are working and job hunting and doing all the LDR commuting?

What is he doing for your joint couple goals? Could he be taking on some of your job-hunt work, especially if you took a few hours to give him some kind of training on what/where to look? If your job apps are like mine, you need to fill out 10 screens of inane repetitive info in addition to writing your actual resume. He could be doing the inane part. Can he do your shopping and send you off with your food for the week?

And yes, you either need a weekend to yourself or part of his cool new job money needs to go towards a hotel in your city or at least closer to you. Could either of you negotiate such that instead of every-weekend travel, you could take a few work days off every other month or something, and make a longer trip?
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:31 AM on September 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

I think after seven months it is time to revisit the whole situation. I don't mean necessarily that he moves back to the city, but it is time to put everything back on the table to figure out a way that the two of you can achieve your goals together, rather than focusing on "how do I quit?"

A couple of work-related suggestions that I haven't heard mentioned yet. Tell your job that you are going to move to new town to be with your spouse, but rather than resigning immediately, you'd like to work remotely (or work remotely more often) for a period of time that is mutually beneficial. While it may be true that they do not want employees to work remotely, they may well prefer it to having them leave completely. Even if the arrangement only lasts as long as it takes them to hire a replacement, that will be several weeks to months that you will have much more time and energy to look for work in your new location, and maybe they will be happy with the remote arrangement over a longer term once they get used to it.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:51 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

You know the answer already, which is why you keep asking about it, hoping that someone here is going to convince you otherwise. That's not working.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:57 AM on September 4, 2019

I heard an interesting podcast episode recently from the How To podcast. It was called "How to uproot your life," and it was a conversation with a woman who was agonizing over a decision about whether or not to leave one country to move back to her home country. They brought in Annie Duke, a former professional poker player who has a whole approach to making decisions where you don't have all the information. In your case, you don't have all the information: what kind of job you'll get, and if you'll be happier in the country. And ultimately, it sounds like you haven't really decided to leave your job.

So take a listen to this podcast, and maybe read some more about Duke's approach. Good luck with this all.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:58 AM on September 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

It’s cliched advice but for good reason—don’t quit until you have another job in hand.

I also don’t think you were wrong not to take the not-quite-right offer. Hold out until you find an opportunity you want.

I think you should convene a family meeting with your husband, put all options back on the board (even seemingly crazy ones like renting a place in your current location all week despite the cost), and find a different solution so you can keep the job you actually care about.
posted by sallybrown at 1:05 PM on September 4, 2019

You'd be giving up one source of stress (not being full time with spouse) for a whole lot of sources of stress (no job, no prospects of job, no local friends, no local business network, no familiar environment, etc). This sounds like a bad idea.

For some people those stressors might not be stressful at all, but they are to you, and you know it.

Also, you should be the protagonist in your own life. Do what works for you. If your spouse won't help you become more yourself, finding more joy and more fulfillment in life, they're not a very good spouse.

I'm not saying dump 'em, I'm saying they should be on board with helping you, no matter what you decide.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:06 PM on September 4, 2019 [8 favorites]

What if you move to a suburb? Can you live at an underground terminus?

You don't want to be where your husband is, he doesn't want to be where you are, can you find a compromise place? My spouse and I did this and we're both really happy where we are now.
posted by notjustthefish at 1:10 PM on September 4, 2019

Don't quit.

How long does your husband have to be at his current job before it can become a stepping stone to get an even better job back in London? 12-18 more months, tops? Plan to be long distance until then, with alternate weekends in the city/country. You can stay in hotels on the city weekends, or you can upgrade to a full time apartment if you think that'll be easier on you.

The plan to move out to the country didn't work. That's OK! You gave it an honest try and it just didn't. That happens. Time to cut your losses and figure out a new plan that does.

If you're worried about seeming "cold" or "selfish" (which I don't think you are, by the way): If you sacrifice your career for your husband's after you've worked so hard for so long for it, that's going to put such an enormous, unhealthy pressure on your marriage. It's probably better for the relationship to just be long-distance for a while rather than to do that.
posted by rue72 at 1:29 PM on September 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don’t disagree with the advice in this thread per se, but I also don’t think quitting is necessarily a disaster.

I waited a similar 6 months of LDR while job searching & saving, before finally quitting without a job lined up. For me, I hated my job AND I ended up getting an offer on my last day at my old job, so it worked out. It’s not always a bad idea to quit to relocate near family, and I think my situation was a good example of that. Your situation is less clear-cut, and you need to be as you as you can that this is the right choice.
posted by samthemander at 1:56 PM on September 4, 2019

As I sit here empathising with your position (because I myself am considering leaving a solid and enjoyable job for an opportunity that just popped up), I suddenly remembered that I'm sitting over 11,000km from my home town and I moved here 10 years ago with no job and no plans at the time. And everything worked out just fine. Actually everything worked out great. So why am I so worried now about moving jobs just across town??? Is it a stage-of-life thing for you and I?

Sorry I have no real advice to offer, just this little bit of perspective.
posted by McNulty at 2:37 PM on September 4, 2019

I read your question without reading your previous questions and I found myself wondering if your trepidation was 100% about leaving your job, or if there was more to it (perhaps hesitation about leaving the big city for the country). I went back and read your two previous questions and my suspicions were confirmed. Perhaps you no longer feel the same way; perhaps your hesitation now really is only about your job. But I think you should do some thinking about what is really upsetting you and lay all the factors on the table when you speak to your husband.
posted by sunflower16 at 8:45 AM on September 5, 2019

Thanks everyone for the very thoughtful responses. Everyone made great points, I just marked bluedaisy's because the podcast really did help me get some perspective (and the book too - great recommendation)!

We have talked some more and have resolved that I will wait until an opportunity comes up. It's not ideal, but then none of the options are so I guess that's just the wall we've hit. It sucks but what can you do.
posted by socksister at 12:35 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

the podcast really did help me get some perspective (and the book too - great recommendation)

Oh, I'm so glad, and what good timing! I had just listened to that podcast a few days before. I know you're in a tough spot, but I hope you have some tension relief of having at least a sense of your path forward rather than being stuck in indecisiveness.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:38 PM on September 17, 2019

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