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When quitting is a smart job move

By Alina Dizik,
Quitting a job may result in a healthy career change.
Quitting a job may result in a healthy career change.
  • Quitting can be a great career move, even if it doesn't feel like it
  • Tip: Save enough money to cover 6 months of expenses while looking for a new job
  • Test out your new job before leaving your current one

( -- Leaving your job can be one of the toughest career decisions you'll ever need to make. After all, it's not easy to get hired in the first place and walking away from a steady job is a big risk.

Despite the uncertainty, quitting can actually be a great career move -- even if it doesn't feel like it.

"Realize that there will never be a right time to quit," says Eugene Farber, who left an accounting career to pursue his own Internet marketing company. Each month that you stay at your job it can be tempting to make excuses, he adds.

Many career switchers say quitting their job has enabled them to start a career that's truly enjoyable.

Ready to take the plunge? Here's what to consider as you say goodbye to your job:

Have a safety net

If you're not making the leap to another employer, it's important to save as much money as possible before leaving your job.

Have enough saved to for at least six months of living expenses, says Tina Su, a blogger who previously worked as a software engineer and, before quitting, saved up enough money to live jobless for two years. Having a safety net takes the pressure off from pursuing revenue streams that may not fit your career goals. The moment you realized you had to quit?

Do your research

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No matter what you're looking to do next, it's important to be as knowledge as possible about your new career.

"Be prepared, read as much as you can about the field you want to go into, as well as talk to as many people possible about the best way to enter the new career," says Dan McLaughlin, who quit his job as a professional photographer to pursue a professional golfing career.

Expect an abrupt transition

With so many people stuck in mediocre jobs, making a sudden decision to leave is common. Quitting abruptly is tough but is often the only way for some people to actually switch careers.

"Some jobs just hold you back," Farber says. "Yes, you may be working only nine to five, but the emotional and psychological toll it has on you can prevent any progress on your own time."

If you must quit a job abruptly, don't worry. Even if you don't find exactly what you want to do, try taking an internship or support yourself with part-time work until finding the right fit. True tales from work: I fell into this career but I love it

Test it out

If you do have time before leaving your job, it can help to test out your new career path.

Farber says he took a week off from his accounting firm just to see what it was like to work from home. I needed to see "if I can actually be productive in that kind of setting," he explains. "It's important to see if you can actually work on your own without a boss lurking over your shoulder before you get rid of the boss."

Set clear goals

Just walking away from a full-time job doesn't solve a problem. Instead, it's important to be clear on what your career goals are and how you can achieve them by leaving your job. Before leaving do as much research as possible -- talk to others in your desired field, read industry news and look around for job opportunities. Overworked or challenged at your job?

Be ready for challenges

Even if quitting is a smart move, it doesn't mean it's an easy one, says Lauren Zettler, a musician who left her desk job at Universal Music Group to pursue her own music career.

"If you are quitting to work for yourself and pursue a personal passion, you are going to have to work a thousand times harder, with less support and encouragement," she says. You must also be ready to explain your goals to others and hear objections.

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