Why It’s So Hard To Quit A Job

Waking up almost every weekday at 6:30am to go to work at a job which I simply do not resonate with is really taking a toil on me. I have never voiced my unhappiness to my bosses since they would never be able to solve the root of the problem anyway.

Nonetheless, I have been rotated to a few departments and each time, I held hope that things could turn for the better and it’s indeed possible to embark on a career in this organisation. But seriously, each transfer has been worse than the last (just like Andre Villas Boas?) And that’s even though the workload is actually getting more and more manageable! So maybe, the amount of work doesn’t have a big impact on job satisfaction, at least for me.    

Work motivation is waning and the dread of going to work is just getting stronger day by day. But even though I am seriously starting to contemplate quitting, the act of tendering a resignation appears extremely daunting. Firstly, that’s because I have never done it before. And furthermore, there’s these factors listed below:   


Salary, Bonuses, Increments & Other Benefits

Yeah, there’s some who values the power, the network or the perceived achievements in the workplace. But these are really the minority and mostly enjoyed by the top brass? The majority of us work because of the money, including yours truly.

ANd it’s not just the monthly salary alone. After adding the bonuses, increments and benefits like medical and dental reimbursements, the annual renumeration would top $80,000 for me. A change in career to my desired job would likely mean a pay cut of at least ~30%, which is pretty significant and not to be sniffed at.

No Good Time To Quit

This is especially true in the Public Sector, as many can attest to.

In April, after receiving the Performance Bonus, this appears to be the best time to quit. But then, one starts to think about the increment he has just received and concludes that it might be good to enjoy the higher pay for a couple of months before using it to apply for a new job.

By July, there’s the mid-year bonus to look forward to and this is the time when the job market is flooded with hungry young graduates. By October, there’s just a few months to go before the Year End bonus and in January, it doesn’t make sense to quit and forfeit the Performance Bonus for the past year.

And then, it’s back to April and we have completed a full annual cycle. Voila! And slowly, this indeed becomes an endless treadmill.

Strained Relationships

It doesn’t help that my skin is super-thin.

I have only been in my new department for two months and it’s hard to quit without burning some bridges. My resignation would definitely not be well-received since it is likely to be perceived as some sort of vote of no-confidence in my new bosses. My fellow colleagues’ workload would also immediately increase. *sigh*

And I guess the notice period is also another subtle way to discourage people to resign?

I am starting to imagine how awkward it would be to bump into my bosses in the washroom or pantry after I have tendered my resignation. *another sigh*

The Prospect of Unemployment

And yes, I haven’t gotten another job yet. Quitting now or soon would mean that I am going to join the ranks of the jobless. Since Mrs 15HWW’s income can easily support the both of us and with at least a year of expenses in cash lying around in our bank deposits, there’s no real financial concerns. Yet. 

Amazingly, Mrs 15HWW has been really supportive of this. I think she’s on the verge of even allowing me to semi-retire first (albeit not a 15 hour work week yet) although she’s pretty sure I can easily find another 9-6 job if necessary.

Like what Christopher (Growing Your Tree of Prosperity fame) had mentioned in one of his blog post, it’s the ego management part that could prove to be the most difficult when one is retired or unemployed. When the time comes, I guess it wouldn’t be that simple and easy to inform my parents-in-law that “I quitted my job”.


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23 thoughts on “Why It’s So Hard To Quit A Job

  1. Micky Neo

    I tell my colleagues that the only reason I’ll accept their resignation gracefully is when they tell me they have grown too big, and the company is restricting their growth.
    All other matters – pay wise, management, PR, political, they have to acquire the right skills to manage them else it will only appear in the next job.

    We do not have to go through the what, when, how part on what you should do – you probably know it better. Just like most of us know we should lead a healthy lifestyle – we know what and the how part, somehow we didn’t get to start on it.

    Tackle the why part first.
    1) why have you not left yet?
    2) There should be some issues to handle, imagine what are the benefits if you overcome them?
    3) How will this impact your life then?
    4) Start small steps

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Micky,

      You’re right that I probably know what I should do better than anyone else. The post might appear as some form of whining from me but I have to admit I am much clearer of what I should after putting down my jumbled thoughts into writing.

      Regarding the why part, there’s no doubt I could make an effort to overcome some of the problems I am facing at my current workplace. But the question is if it’s worth it?

      The “job” that I desire to change to is fundamentally pretty different compared to my current job, so I am definitely hoping that the grass is indeed greener on the other side.

  2. ABC

    Just read your original post on the root cause. Will say that almost 99.9% of the jobs will be like that – take up a lot of one’s time and not something that, by default, you would find interesting enough to do for free.

    Only a very few lucky people will get paid for something they would already be doing for free. We, as investors, savvy in economics, know that in the real world, jobs with pay must be jobs that are not attractive enough to be free in the first place (otherwise, why would the organization need to pay a salary).

    So what to do?

    For me, I try to find purpose in the work that I do. I used to work in the government sector too. Even if my boss or organization did not explain to me, I would sort of find out in what way the work I was doing could help Singapore. With that understanding in mind, at least I felt I was doing something useful and not a waste of time. I had a colleague who would go down to the ground to see the sector of the Singapore public that she was serving to understand better their needs (and also see that she really could do something to help them and have a sense of why her work was important).

    I also had an ex-boss who was previously thrown to what most of his colleagues felt was a dead-end, underperforming place with worst work environment in the organization (ulu part of Singapore with lousy facilities in that unit). He took up some self-initiative and analysed what he could do to improve that unit and did such a good job, he was noticed and promoted.

    There are also alternatives. Some other colleagues made their work time more interesting by making friends and have great conversations throughout the day (of course doing average to even great work at the same time). They also Lived to Eat (and not eat to live) and so looked forward to lunch outings (and sometimes after-work ones also) to try good food around the area.

    Overall, if the workplace on its own does not make us happy, then we owe it to ourselves to see what we can do to improve the situation. Of course, resigning is always a valid option but only if we know the next place will be better. But if the next place is much the same, then we need some other solution.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi ABC,

      Thanks for your insightful comments. Guess you’re right that a pay is what makes most jobs palatable for most people.

      There’s no doubting that my current job indirectly serves a good if not great purpose. But I think deep down, I know this isn’t the place where I am making a unique difference (i.e. someone else coming in could do a just as well if not better job than me).

      I am also in search of something where I don’t mind putting in my full focus and work even longer hours and it seems that I know what it is. I guess that’s a blessing by itself.

  3. Richard (Invest Openly)

    I guess you have stated the common dilemma that most working adults here are facing. At least you have the full support of your mrs and one less critical factor (financial support) to think about, in case you really throw in the letter like, tomorrow! 😉

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Richard,

      Yes, I am really grateful for the “assets” that I have. The conviction is indeed stronger today than yesterday. =)

  4. EFG

    Hi 15ww,

    I think ABC has brought up many valid points. Being more than 10 years older than you, I would like to share with you a relevant experience of mine.

    I am now a school teacher. A few years ago, I was appointed into the senior management of a school. However, as I missed the direct interaction with students, I chose to step down and join the teaching track. Thanks to the new career paths introduced by MOE a few years ago, I need not take a pay cut. In fact, my pay continue to increase slowly in the past few years.

    However, monetary rewards aside, there are other unexpected problems that I have to face since I stepped down. My parents have been nagging on me over my career suicide as they were hopping they I can do them proud by doing well in my career. In addition, returning back to the ground again allows me to see many poor decisions made by incompetent middle managers in my current school and I sometimes wish that I still have the authority to influence the direction of the school or the department. Yet there is no turning back for me anymore.

    So before you resign, do consider carefully ‘the other problems’ that you have to face.

    All the best.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi EFG,

      First of all, that’s a nice moniker.

      Actually, I would like to become a teacher just like you.

      When I look at the potential “problems”, they are mostly a non-issue. Although the paycut could be significant, I feel that we can easily cope with it. And if the grass is indeed greener and more suitable, it really doesn’t matter that much if I have to save less and semi-retire later.

      Deep down, I guess I am just afraid of the criticisms of my fellow workers, bosses, friends and relatives. But well, as the saying goes “You will be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t”. As long as my heart feels it’s the right decision, I probably should go for it.

  5. Henry Tiong

    Follow your heart my friend!

    I have the privilege of knowing someone who went through our education system, got his degree in business & finance, rejected a decent foreign bank’s offer because he decided then that he does not want to be an employer doing things that do not interest him.

    He went back to his first love – internet. He now owns a few content publishing sites, have several income streams including google adsense, and he achieved financial freedom by 28.

    It’s really hard work and even today, he faces issues like his family doesn’t really understand why he is bumming around in the house, doesn’t get a job. When I visited his family, his mum will tell me to look up to me – all office-wear but truth be told – he is miles ahead in terms of success (my definition).

    He pays everything in cash (banks don’t grant him credit card due to his employment status).

    Believe me, it’s extremely hard work at the start and it may take years or as long as your determination is to succeed.

    You are lucky that you have your spouse’ support – to me, that is the most important pillar you will need.

    Agree to give this a time period if there are any lingering uncertainties. Dust yourself, pack your bags, and move on to the path that you find more joy walking down.

    Life is too short for regrets.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Henry,

      Sometimes it really pays to take the less trodden path. Think such paths would also provide immense satisfaction for me and I probably can’t delay this form of gratification any longer.

      Thanks for your encouragement! Really appreciate it. =)

  6. SG Young Investment

    Hi 15HWW,

    Here I am again. I know its difficult to find sacrifice yoir high pay now in exchange for lower pay in another desired job. No one likes to suffer a pay cut. I’m sure you already know what kind of job you want and what is the expected pay there. With a lower pay, its hard to change.

    Nevertheless, I still think if you know what you want, go for it when you’re young. I can tell you after a few more years, it’ll be even harder to quit and pursue your interest. At that time when you’re not young anymore, then you really have no choice.

    But still, sometimes when we’re not happy in our jobs, it may also be due to our own self. Try looking at your job positively and think of the good stuff instead of the negative stuffs. I did not enjoy my work at first but as I changed my thinking towards my job, I began to like it. There is a purpose in every job. Try to make a difference in the world through your job and you’ll be happier in it.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi SGYI,

      Higher pay = higher savings = stopping work earlier

      Think that’s where the pay cut actually hurts, not the lowered standard of living. But if I go to somewhere where I find it more enjoyable, I probably wouldn’t mind this trade-off of a later semi-retirement.

      I have to admit that some of the unhappiness at my workplace have been heaped upon by myself. Not making an effort to be more sociable probably ranks first and not knowing when to say “no” is a close second. But guess in the end, I really value my innate preferences and it’s unlikely I will suppress it for much longer.

      Thanks for your advice and congrats on receiving your first pay cheque from your blog!

      1. SG Young Investment

        Hi 15HWW,

        Not knowing when to say know seems like an ex colleague of mine. He worked in my company for 10 years and in the end couldn’t stand it anymore so he resigned.

        Well, if you got lower pay, you still can have higher savings. It depends on what you spend on. Maybe if you’re happier at another place, you won’t have to spend a lot to destress anymore 🙂

  7. ABC

    It’s me again. I understand the thinking you are going thru. I also took a pay cut in coming to my current job but it is something I have more passion for.

    Since you have indicated you are interested in teaching (or some other new area), my main advice is to try it out first in some safe way before committing to it.

    Going into teaching in Singapore is a big investment in time (going thru NIE etc). Try some relief teaching first and if the experience is able to confirm that this is where your passion lies, then go for it. I had a colleage who switched to a teaching job and loved it. I also know of people who started out in teaching but found it was not what they had in mind and ended up quitting.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi ABC,

      Actually I have tried relief teaching before although it was a short two weeks. And given quite a bit of tuition over the years. “Teaching” by itself is definitely enjoyable. But the unknown is the other responsibilities of a teacher.

      I guess in the end it really depends if it’s the right fit. I have friends who enjoyed teaching a lot and there were also those who couldn’t wait for their bonds to end. Just like there’s people who love their jobs in my workplace too.

  8. Derek

    Hi HWW,

    I will put it bluntly, we are just afraid of jumping from one shit-hole to another. No offence but that’s my mind set when I switched jobs. There are just too many intangibles to consider. Most of it as you have already mentioned are the people – bosses, colleagues and then there’s the company culture, working hrs and so many others. When switching job, I just tell myself that the only cushion I have from falling into a deeper shit-hole is the salary.

    Your scenario is a bit different but I think the crux of your problem is how you deem people will see you. If you can get pass that, I’m sure you will be a happier person.

    To quote “You can’t change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react and who you choose to be around.”

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Derek,

      Yup, in the end, like what Buffett always says, it’s really more about whether we care more about our inner scorecard rather than the external one. I am learning to be less affected by external views. Have already managed it for expenses and it’s time to expand it to other areas of my life. =)

  9. 3 Passion To Follow

    Just left my job in Public Service Sector with Annual 100k. If you dont like what you do, you should consider quitting…

    All the best.

  10. Cory

    Do read “Micky Neo” comments again and again. Probably will not find enlightening one for a long time to come. I have been in management position for many years. I think he has seen it all in management. You are very lucky to get one who put it in words of such clarity.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Cory,

      I have been really surprised to find so many helpful and encouraging comments for this post. Somewhat happy that the blog has attracted readers like him.

      I have indeed ruminated on Micky’s words and found them useful in my evaluation/reflection.

  11. Gerald

    Don’t stay in the job because of the pay. If you have no passion in your work, then you should quit.

    I have resigned from public sector before because I found my job scope not meaningful, though the pay was very good.

    You should join the investment sector since you like investing so much!

    SG Wealth Builder

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Gerald,

      Thanks for your advice. I realise that money isn’t as big an issue compared to other concerns. Maybe I was using it as an excuse so that I do not have to confront the “other concerns”.

      Hmm, investment sector. Somehow I am not convinced that I would enjoy it if this “hobby” is turned full-time, and that is if I qualify. =p