Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How To Quit Your Job

I had the pleasure of going through this process so I just want to keep a record of what went good, what went bad, what I would have done differently. 

You don't necessarily need a solid plan of what you will be doing instead, although it certainly does help. For me, I had some ideas on what I wanted to do. But a lot of it was I wanted to spend some time learning and exploring. The main decision that I had to make was whether or not I wanted to stay at my current job. For me I had been there for 7 years (which is an eternity for people in tech) and my rate of growth slowing to a crawl. I still loved working with specific people, but a majority of those that I worked and bled with had left. And management was starting to add layers and bureaucracy. So I made a decision that I wanted to leave.

Even though I made that decision, there was still some things to sift through. The number one thing was to get finances in order. If you don't have your finances in order then you should not quit your job. This is so important because having the ability to not worry about finances gives you important leverage. You can turn down job offers (which I have so far). You can take your time to thoroughly execute your plan instead of rushing. You get to choose. If you have time against you then you can be forced into a bad decision which is not idea or even counter productive. How much do you need? Well a lot of internet advice says 3 to 6 months. But I'd put that as a minimum. First you really need to know how much you spend. Track your spending with an app. I did this for 2 years and will continue to. Not to quit the job but more to make sure stop any bleeding that (compounded) would hurt my financial future.  A rule of thumb is that the more unclear your plan is the more you should save to account for the flexibility you need.

Ok so finances are good. Check. One thing that gave me so much confidence of doing so was faith in my work ethic. I actually took a couple weeks off straight from work and did not go on a vacation. I wanted to simulate what life would look like when I was off from the tight work schedule. Would I be disciplined and excited? Or would I be lazy and wake up every day at noon. I was really paying attention to my discipline. I woke up every day early, went to the gym, read, devoured books and info as it was my job; all habits that I slowly put in place months before. I'd say that if you don't have strong habits in place then you want to start building these before you quit.

These habits are important because before you can quit you need to commit to a system of getting better as I've wrote about here. Regardless of what the next endeavor is (finding a better job, starting a startup) you need to know what you will absolutely fail at them and the solution is to push through the dip and not give up. Commit to learning and improving regardless of the obstacles.

Lastly theres the specific work aspects that you need to clean up before you leave. Absolutely give as much notice as possible. This also gives you plenty of time to spend with them - its much harder to get together after you leave. It also gives them a chance to appreciate you. Work hard in those last weeks and make sure to document everything and hand-off. When you do give notice put it early in the month so that you are covered for an extra month of healthcare. Think about who you'd like to use as possible references if needed. Ask them if they could. Its easier to do it while you are still working. 

When giving your exit interview, remember that it is not the place to air your complaints. Talk about the positive impacts of your coworkers. If you do have anything bad to say you should blame yourself for not taking initiative to influence or make things better yourself. Complaining to HR is never the right way; even if you thought they had the power (or will) to change anything (which they don't)

After you leave make sure to leave positive LinkedIn reviews for your coworkers. Don't expect them to return the favor - some will some won't. Do it regardless. 

One thing I didn't do was exercise stock options ahead of time to avoid AMT. If you think you will eventually buy the stock its worthwhile to exercise early to buy it at a lower fair market value and also to avoid any extra AMT. 

So there you have it, just some considerations before quitting. Absolutely go for it just make sure you put a little bit of thought into it.