Photo: Bram Naus

Let's face it: not every first, or second, or fifth job is the perfect position that a person has dreamed about since they were eighteen. The truth is that part of what makes a career successful is one's ability to change. That might mean changing jobs a dozen times or even changing career fields. These choices to start over are not failures; they are steps in pursuit of success—they show intelligence, courage and drive.

You are a person containing dreams and fears, ambitions and anxieties. You might have answered every "when-you-grow-up" question since you were eight with "elementary school teacher" but, when you finally earned that position, the school's principal turned out to be unorganized and the other teachers were unfriendly. Even a seemingly perfect position might land you in a negative workplace. There are so many reasons you might want or need to change jobs. The first step is realizing that you do want to change and that this change will be a positive step in your successful career.

Recognizing that it's time

This first step is tricky because everybody moans, jokingly or not, about Mondays and working late and unreasonable bosses. It's when you realize that you dread Mondays—that you have trouble even enjoying Sundays because Mondays come next—that a change is necessary. Some signs that this is the case:

  • You're as stressed about going to the job as you are about doing the work it involves.
  • You feel stuck without hope of advancing.
  • You don't feel comfortable with coworkers and weekly meetings are demoralizing.
  • The quality or timeliness of your work suffers because of anxiety or disinterest.
  • You feel that you deserve a better salary for your level of experience.
  • Evaluation of your work is irregular or nonexistent, leading to constant fear that you aren't succeeding.

These signs indicate that the job is simply not right for you. It is not your fault. But it is your responsibility to admit this and take action to rectify the situation.

Leaving a job

Changing jobs might, at first, seem like adding work and stress to an already draining situation. It is undoubtedly work but it's work that will move you away from a negative position and closer to your perfect job. If you are leaving a good employer because you want to advance, it will be easy to remain polite and respectful during your exit. However, if you are leaving a particularly bad position, it is equally important to act professionally. You cannot throw away work relationships or a potential employer reference by ranting on social media or sprinkling your letter of resignation with shade.

To a boss you liked working for, consider offering help during the transition process. Give two weeks' notice and write a polite, gracious resignation letter. Make the best of a possible exit interview by focusing on what you learned and liked. If you've had a good relationship with your employer, you can even ask for a letter of recommendation.

Leaving a job you hated is trickier, emotionally. Start with yourself: remind yourself that leaving this job respectfully is part of the road to your dream position. Realize that you're intimidated by a job search and unhappy in general because of the job you are leaving and that things will become better when you've moved on. Do not surrender to anger or impatience: even the worst employer could be a reference in the future. Ignoring your pride and frustration is important in moving to your next position quickly.

If you have to, write out your rage on a loose-leaf paper and tear it up into the trash. Then, calmly, carefully write your respectful resignation letter. You can find the positives: was there one coworker with whom you connected? Did you learn anything from the job? (You did, like it or not.) Finally, do not post to social media unless you are prepared to praise the job you've despised and thank its employees and administration.

Post-job job searching

In most cases, it's a good idea to start your job search before you've fully resigned. While it should be kept private, searching before you've left allows you to talk to potential employers about your decision to look for advancement rather than explain why you suddenly left a position without preparing your next step.

If you're changing careers or fields, consider taking free or paid online courses to build skills and boost your resume. Some offer certificates and others will show up on your LinkedIn profile. All of them will make you more confident in your change and in the interviews that come with it.

The most important key to a strong job search is reminding yourself of the reasons that made you start it. You suffered long enough in a bad position or you've been ready for months for advancement after a stagnant job: either way, you're moving closer to your dream position. Aim carefully for it. Start your search with that dream burning brightly in your mind. You deserve that job and, now, you're closer to it than you've ever been. It took courage to admit that you weren't satisfied. With that same courage, push for the best for your life and career and find your perfect fit.

Tom Twardzik is a writer covering personal finance, productivity and investing for Paypath. He also contributes pop culture pieces to Popdust, travel writing to The Journiest and essays to The Liberty Project. Read more on his website and follow him on Twitter.

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Quiet Quitting is the latest trend among Gen-Z TikTok that encourages setting boundaries at work

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Toni Morrison has an anecdote about her first ever job, which was cleaning some neighborhood woman’s house. The young Toni arrived home after work one day and expressed her troubles to her father. But he didn’t provide the sympathy she expected. Instead, he gave her something better — his advice:

“Listen. You don’t live there. You live here. With your people. Go to work. Get your money. And come on home.”

Years later, she wrote about this remarkable experience for the New Yorker and said, in hindsight, this is what she learned:

1. Whatever the work is, do it well—not for the boss but for yourself

2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you

3. Your real life is with us, your family

4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are

What Morrison so eloquently articulated was setting boundaries. I revisited this piece during the pandemic when working from home ramped up in earnest. Back when work was one of the few things that anchored my day.

Without a physical office, the pandemic shattered the work/life balance for many people. There was no more of that physical separation that Morrison talked about. There is no coming home from work physically. There is no real life to come back to — just a manufactured commute to your laptop in your makeshift home office.

But, par for the course, Gen Z are navigating this boundaryless era using TikTok. While internet gurus promote hustle culture and constant online availability since you’re not getting face time with your managers, there’s a trend in town — “quiet quitting.”


@zaidleppelin On quiet quitting #workreform ♬ original sound - ruby


The trend arose from the depths of the pandemic. Layoffs, salary cuts, and furloughs proved that their employers did not care about their hard-working employees.

The Washington Post dubs quiet quitting as a fresh trem for an old phenomenon: employee disengagement. In many cases, it’s a response to burnout. For much of Gen Z, it’s a way of establishing healthy boundaries in the office and resisting the pressure of the rat race. After all, why work yourself to the bone for a company that just proved it’s ready and willing to let you go?

Despite the term’s negative connotations, Quiet Quitting can provide an empowering shift in thinking for employees.

For far too long, employees have been indoctrinated with a slew of toxic workplace advice. Faced with these old misconceptions and lacking job security or clear paths for advancement, Gen Z is untethering their identities from work.

Quiet quitting — therefore — might be a bit of a misnomer. These employers aren’t completely disengaged. They’re certainly not launching Flight Club-esque sabotage attempts on their employers. NO. Contrary to media panic, Gen Z understands the value of a job — the fickle market they entered ensured that. But they also understand the value of life.

They’re doing what they’re being paid for. Nothing more, nothing less.

According to Chief, a private membership network focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders, older generations should learn from this approach.

“Gen Z has already endured the largest seismic shifts to the career landscape than any previous generation, having started their careers in the middle of a pandemic that changed office culture forever and a gig economy that makes piecing together work more viable. They’re taking both those realities and therefore demanding more autonomy and flexibility than any other generation.”

Gen Z are less attached to job titles and statuses. They’re more concerned about their lives. Sure, this can lead to problematic outlooks on money and experiences — see the “I can earn my money back” TikTok trend. But it’s better than hustling for no reward. Besides, as some Gen Z-ers put it on TikTok, the office isn’t even a vibe.

“With the ability to work from anywhere and for more than just one place, Gen Z-ers are forging their own paths that don’t rely on old patterns set by previous generations and are redefining what “career success” looks like. Gen Z can take note, as more and more leaders are similarly pursuing multiple income streams of their own through the form of a portfolio career. The way in which work looks like and where it happens is evolving.”

With less single-minded focus on one job, some TikTok business gurus advocate shutting your laptops precisely at 5 pm. And then jump onto your side hustle. Do nails or lashes on the weekend. Become social media managers for your phone. Sell soap on Etsy (again … perhaps not in the Fight Club way).

But this valorization of side hustles is not about hustle culture, either. They say job security isn’t guaranteed. Learning new skills and develop an alternate income stream/s to keep you afloat. Just make sure you’re not left in the lurch. BTW inflation is here. So every little bit helps.

But where do you start? Watching TikToks can only get you so far. Try a course on LinkedIn Learning to sharpen up your skills and learn new ones that you can turn into a verifiable side hustle — or leverage in your job search if quiet quitting leads to … real quitting.

Learn on your own time with bite-sized videos or in-depth courses. Watch them after work, before you clock in, or on your lunch break. Then, after your courses are complete, you’ll have certificates prominently displayed on your profile that prove your skills.