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Don't Quit Your Job

I am writing over the next several weeks about the differences between seeking a job and crafting a career.  The current state of our nation produces fear, anxiety, even panic, about how we are going to assure a livelihood for ourselves and our families.  It is also an opportunity, if we keep our heads, to move forward with a more planful strategy of crafting a job.  I talked last week about the importance of keeping your wits about you and not making up stories when you are thrust into the unknown about employment. 

Today, I want to discuss the second critical behavior of career success.

Don't Quit Your Job!

Don’t quit your job. “But….my job quit me!”  In this time of rampant unemployment spurred by the COVID 19 virus, most people finding themselves partially furloughed, fully furloughed, or fired are responding to employers caught between a proverbial rock and hard spot.  It is easy to blame them for your plight, even when you know it is outside their capacity to keep you whole in this time.

To make this point, I will use my example of a coaching client who was furloughed to 60% time.  She was already working from home which was not comfortable for this highly relational extrovert and now she was being told to only work 24 hours a week.  Upon explaining to her supervisory that she had over 40 hours of work on her plate already stacked up, she was told to figure it out and only work 24 hours a week.  When she called me with tears of frustration, my first advice was, “don’t quit your job.”  In my explanation, that directive has three critical meanings:

  1. Literally – Don’t quit your job.
  2. Implied – Resist becoming disenfranchised and unengaged – Don’t quit your job and NOT leave.
  3. Planful – You have been given 16 hours a week to work on your career – Don’t waste this gift of time.

It is incredibly stressful to have your income cut or to have it completely go away.  This is a time to keep calm, breathe and structure meaningful goals.  Resist the urge to stay in your pajamas or reframe the definition of being “dressed” to include sweat pants and slippers!  Instead, start your new job.  It takes a full time commitment to build readiness for a new position that fits your career objectives.

Set an action plan, sign up for webinars on your (unpaid) time.  Pull out your resume for that much needed update.  Take a hard look at your professional network.  Reach out to people to let them know the work you are interested and want to secure. Fill the unpaid time with career development, professional growth, work-related skill development.  In other words, don’t quit work… work on your career.

Next week we are going to address some of the emotional elements that come with employment disruption. Until then, remember to BREATHE!

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Leading in the Moment is produced by Margaret Sumption of Sumption & Wyland. Margaret has over thirty-five years of experience assisting hospitals, nonprofits, and other organizations move their business forward. She is a popular, dynamic, and effective speaker for nonprofit professionals, associations, and policy makers. Margaret is frequently sought after as an executive coach, serving leaders in hospitals and nonprofit organizations.
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