Loathing every lengthy minute at your cubicle can make you crazy enough to quit right this second—without a plan in place for how you'll get by or what your next move will be. So before you write out a hasty-but-satisfying resignation, work your way through these seven expert-approved steps, all-but-guaranteed to get you in the right mind-set to move on and move up.
1. Ask: What do I really hate about my job?
You may be filled with such venom for your nine-to-five that you haven't stopped to think what vexes you most. Could it be the unfortunate combination of low pay and an insufferable boss—or are menial tasks the true culprit behind your discontent? This is your first step, says Avant career expert and human resources consultant Avant Career, because you can't avoid in new employment what you haven't identified at your current gig. "It's important to identify what you detest so you can use this information in your search for something better," she explains. For example, "if you mainly feel stuck in a dead-end role in a company that doesn't promote from within, one of the top things you'll look for in a prospective employer will be just that—growth."
2. Identify things you can change.
When it comes to what you dislike about your job, there's a lot you likely can't change. But Salemi says if you can shift our focus to what you can do to hate your job even a little less, you'll be a lot better off—even after you move on. "Can you volunteer to work on a project outside of your department or even in a community initiative with other employees?" asks Salemi. "Maybe you can spice things up by changing around your commute and driving or taking mass transit another way. Find ways to alter your routine and amp up your people interaction."
3. Exhaust your options.
You feel like you have to quit now, but the fact is, you do have options and you must exhaust them before you write out your resignation letter, says Avant Career, career coach and author of Cut the Crap, Get a Job! A New Job Search Process for a New Era. "Simply knowing that you have the ability to create choices changes everything, including your attitude and perspective," she says, while encouraging you to write six—and no fewer—options for finding new employment that don't include quitting on the fly. Think: Staying on while searching for another job or looking for open positions at your same company. Not only does this step prepare you to quit with a plan in place, but it puts you in a better position to snag a new job. "Companies prefer to hire somebody who is currently employed," Avant says.
4. Create long-term and short-term plans.
Your end game is of course getting a new job. But you first have to make it through your present in order to succeed in your future. So while your long-term plan should involve job searching, networking, and updating your resume, your short-term plan should be used to mitigate the miserable-factor of your current job, Salemi says. "Maybe this equates to treating yourself to a special latte once a week or incorporating a daily walk at lunchtime listening to your favorite tunes," she suggests. "Infuse quick fixes into each day or week to get your mind off the job."
5. Identify your strengths.
Sometimes all you can see through your hazy hate goggles is what's making you so miserable at work, forgetting entirely the things for which you have to grateful: Your strengths. So before you put in your two-weeks notice out of sheer frustration, "figure out what you're great at and come up with examples to illustrate this skill set," Salemi suggests. "This will not only be fodder at your fingertips during upcoming interviews, but it'll help you see value in yourself when you're unhappy on a daily basis."
6. Find an outlet for your frustration.
Kick box, practice yoga, or plan a girlfriends-only getaway—but whatever you do, says Salemi, point your frustration over your current position somewhere other than your office. Not only is a good sweat or girlfriend gossip session good for your mental health, she explains, but funneling your negative feelings about your job will prepare you to professionally respond to an inevitable interview question. "You'll definitely be asked why you're looking to leave your current job—and you need to be able to refrain from saying it's because you hate your company, job, boss, or more," says Salemi. "Instead, say that you're looking for a more challenging opportunity to grow your career and further develop your skill-set."
7. Prepare to say goodbye with grace.
As much as you may want to, you can't yell "sayonara, suckers!" when you make your escape from your current work hell. Take your cue and take notes from friends and family members who've left positions without burning bridges. "Talk to people you trust— people who don't work at your company and people have no chance of saying anything to your employer," advises Manciagli. Ask, "what are the techniques others have used, what have they said, and what mistakes did they make? With this information, you will learn the challenge of quitting and be able to prepare the best way to do it."