feeling anxious about leaving my bad job for a better one

A reader writes:

I don’t know if this is normal or not, but I’m having some workplace separation anxiety! Here’s the situation: I have been desperate to leave my job for some time now. I haven’t been happy here, I’m always frustrated, I disagree with the structure (or lack thereof) and my bosses’ ethics. Yesterday I went on my second interview for a new job within a huge company, and its going well. It is a great opportunity, especially since I’m working toward my MBA. I’m very excited.

And very scared.

I’ve been at my current job for nearly a decade. I love my small group of coworkers, and value my relationships with them. I have this desk that I sit at every day and business cards with my name on them. I have customers that I enjoy talking to and have built relationships with. I get to wear jeans and t-shirts everyday. I have a lot of freedoms here.

But, I’ve been unhappy for a reason, right? I don’t feel like I’m going to get anywhere further than where I already am — we haven’t had raises in years and hours often get cut when we’re slow. Oh and my boss … he’s a peice of work. He micromanages everyone. He lies about what he’s doing. We never know when and if he’ll show up for work. He has been caught extorting money from the company. His personal relationships are toxic and he allows them to influence how he runs the company. He makes poor financial decisions and is beyond disrespectful to his partner and his employees.

So why do I feel so attached to this place and why am I suddenly reluctant to leave? When I started to get my act together to look for jobs, it changed my attitude here. I became more positive and I became a lot nicer to my coworkers than I have in a long time. I began to appreciate them more, particularly because we are all in the same boat. But I don’t want that to be my reason for staying here when I should be leaving. I have a golden opportunity to move into a position with guaranteed room for advancement, education assistance, a stellar benefits package, and documented stability. It would be a big gold star on my resume. And most likely I’d leave behind the emotional rollercoaster of my current position, and the harbored resentment toward my boss.

It’s a no brainer, right? So why do I feel so torn? Is this normal?!

It’s so, so normal.

I don’t think I’ve ever left a job without feeling at least a little sad, even when I was dying to leave and knew the place was really dysfunctional. It’s hard to leave somewhere where you have a lot of history. As bad as a job might be, there are still usually some things that you like or at least feel really comfortable with — even if it’s just the physical space you work in or your routine of getting a coffee and and a cookie from the deli downstairs every afternoon.

Plus, leaving the familiar and going somewhere new can be hard — it’s the unknown, you don’t have a routine there, and it can be daunting.

There are people who leave jobs with nothing but glee, but I think for people who really care about their work, there’s usually at least some anxiety and missing-it-before-you-leave.

(The good news is that it usually goes away within hours or days after you actually make the break and leave.)

The key is just not to let it get in the way of your making good decisions for yourself. It sounds like you have plenty of reasons to leave, and you know that. Don’t let comfort and familiarity loom so large in your mind that they prevent you from moving forward.

By the way, I think you nailed a really common phenomenon when you described how your attitude changed once you started to seriously look for another job. When you stop feeling stuck and start realizing you have options, you start feeling more in control of the situation, which in turn will improve your attitude. You don’t even have to be looking for another job for this to happen; it can happen just from realizing that you’re choosing to be in your job for the time being (because you prefer it to the alternatives, because you value the short commute or the money, or whatever your reason might be). Feeling that you’ve made a deliberate choice after weighing all your options, and that you’re not simply stuck, is generally pretty good for your state of mind.

{ 87 comments… read them below }

  1. -X-

    I’m in a happier situation at work BUT have been there too long (20 years, though in very different roles over time) and have to get moving to do something different. Sigh.

  2. jmkenrick

    Yup. I’ve even felt this way when they KNEW I was going to leave, like when it was a summer position.

    1. Another Student

      As a student with nothing but summer and other contract jobs, I totally agree. I was hoping it would change once I graduated and started a ‘real job’. Guess not. Darn. :)

      1. jmkenrick

        Another way job-hunting is like dating…even if it’s not right, it’s always hard to let go.

  3. ChristineH

    I too can vouch for everything Alison says.

    I particularly like the last part of the answer, regarding a change in attitude. I remember years ago being absolutely miserable in my job and did everything I could to get out. Then, I got engaged and made plans to move out of the area. Still in the same state, but too far away to commute to this job. I truly felt at peace at work for the first time during those last 9-10 months. Now I understand exactly why…I knew I wasn’t going to be stuck there much longer. Oh sure, I couldn’t wait to leave, but I wasn’t as desperate as I was before my engagement.

  4. Anonymous

    So very enlightening! It’s so hard to get up everyday and go to a job that is frustrating and toxic. It’s so easy to say “leave it at work” however, when it’s that toxic, it affects everything in your life. The toxicity becomes a way of life. I ran thus topic past my husband (because I swear the OP and I work at the same company) and he said it’s similar to a convict wanting to stay in jail – they’ve become institutionalized. It’s all they know. Of course they want to leave however many end back in jail because it’s all they know.

    As AAM stated, when you resign yourself to accepting your circumstances and realize it’s your choice you do become happier. I work in a horrible environment but I see it as a means to an end right now with a toddler and possibility of another baby on the way.

    Change is so scary sometimes and fear gets in our way of good change. I hope you take this opportunity to better yourself and your future.

    1. Anonymous

      Yes!! Re: “institutionalization”! This is so true. And something employers are concerned about too, when hiring someone who has been at one workplace for a long time – will this person be able to adapt and function in a new environment? It used to be that it was a good thing for someone to get a job and stay put for many years but things are changing too fast now and flexibility and adaptability are much more inportant than they used to be.

      I know people who complain all day long about their jobs, but they would have a very hard time if they got a new job elsewhere.

    2. Hypatia

      This is a great comment. It really struck a cord with me, and I think you’re right on. We do become institutionalized. I’m leaving my job now because it became a situation that left me having panic attacks when I would come to work. I’m leaving for a much better situation, and yet somehow I find myself scared to leave now, and longing for the ‘comfort’ of the old job. Crazy!

      1. Anonymous

        This really struck a chord with me as well and, like you, my current job in retail makes me have panic attacks too! I graduated last year and have become so stuck in a rut that I’m terrified to leave, but reading this and other people’s comments has made me stronger in my belief that I really am doing the right thing. This morning, I accepted a job offer for an admin role, something which I have experience in (albeit a few years ago) and it’s a role I know I’d be so, so much happier in! I really agree with the ‘institutionalised’ idea too, especially as the managers in my current job are very ‘chummy’ and create that friendly bond with you, even though this ‘friendship’ leads to a lot of, “Oh, can you do me a favour…” (i.e. work loads more hours than contracted…) and, consequently, lowers the job satisfaction massively!
        I can’t wait to start something new and think that understanding you have control of the situation (and actually have done the entire time) is such a big part of embracing the next chapter of your career!

    3. Elizabeth West

      I kind of felt the same way when I got laid off. And I know a former coworker is that way because he’s been there for over 20 years and it was his first job and he worked his way up from a line worker in the shop, to a sales rep in the front office. One of our favorite pastimes was bitching about stuff, but then whenever I said “Maybe you should think about going elsewhere,” he would practically clutch the walls.

    4. Anonagain

      I’d like to think of that more positively. They say that employee engagement the job of the individual as much as of management. I think that a good person aims for loyalty and hard work for his own self respect, and manufactures a certain amount of his own engagement. For his own self respect he may hold onto his values even when it would be in his best interests to give it up and look out for himself. When he finally says, “This is all wrong and I need another job!” a good person is likely to feel like he’s betraying his own values of hard work, dedication, and loyalty. So the right thing to do can feel pretty wrong at the time.

  5. Job Interviewer

    I can relate in a way: I’m in a position now where I’m going on interviews I’m so excited about, butI feel an overwhelming sense of guilt about the whole process. (Also…coming up with “white lies” for these interviews makes me feel absolutely miserable.) I think it’s because I know filling my position now is going to be really difficult for my team, and if I give 2 weeks notice, it’s going to burn some relationship bridges when I leave them hanging. Training for my position is possible in 2 weeks, and I know my team can step up to carry the workload, but it pains me to think about creating that much added stress for them.

    I’ve never been in a position like this before, so any related advice is appreciated on how to handle my (potential) leaving! What I do have to keep telling myself is even if I leave now or in 2 years, that guilt will exist regardless because we’re such a small, close-knit office. I need to do what’s best for myself no matter the time.

      1. Anonymous

        I think it’s because I know filling my position now is going to be really difficult for my team, and if I give 2 weeks notice, it’s going to burn some relationship bridges when I leave them hanging

        How would that be? If you’re an at-will employee, you can safely make the assumption that the organisation feels it can replace you at any time. They should be grateful for having two weeks of notice.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I know you’re trying to make a point here about at-will employment, but the reality is that two weeks notice is a professional convention and expectation, and most good workers do feel concern about the impact that springing two-weeks notice will have on their coworkers and organization. That’s no reason not to leave or to feel guilty, of course, but it’s normal to be concerned.

          1. Anonymous

            There was no suggestion of not giving two weeks notice – merely pointing out that there is no rational basis for feeling the slightest concern of the ability of the organisation to continue. If that were a concern, the business would have acted to mitigate the risk.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              No one seriously doubts the ability of their employer to continue to exist after they leave. It’s about knowing that it will cause difficulties and inconvenience for your coworkers, manager, etc. Just because an organization survives just fine after someone leaves doesn’t mean that there’s not a transition period that can be challenging for other people.

              Not everyone has an adversarial relationship with their employer, you know. And even those who do often still care about the ease of their coworkers’ lives.

              1. Kelly O

                And even when or if you may not feel the happiest of emotions toward your employer, or to other employees, you may care about how you’re perceived when you leave, or care that people knew you did a good job and didn’t leave them in the lurch.

                I mean, I would feel really bad about trotting off to a new job right after a market, when I know things get busy, or right before a big sale. And my mixed feelings about my workplace are fairly clear.

              2. Anonymous

                Why the accusation of an ‘adversarial relationship?’ It’s simply a matter of looking at the facts – you can be sure that your departure will not cause significant “difficulties and inconvenience” to those who remain because the employer has hte option of acting to ameliorate such issues. In the event that the employer does not… well, that’s hardly the fault or responsibility of the departing employee, and it would be deeply unprofessional of those woh remain to blame the departee for the employer’s inadequate planning.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Right, I get that you’re trying to make a point about at-will employment. It doesn’t change the reality that most good workers feel some degree of concern about the burden that the transition period will cause for their coworkers and often their organization. And it’s not always because of inadequate planning; it’s sometimes just the way things are.

                  I described your viewpoint as adversarial because (here and in other comments) you’ve taken the stance that employees should only look out for themselves, and screw the employer. Employees should look out for themselves first, but most good employees also look out for their coworkers and (absent serious dysfunction) their employers too.

                  And that is very much the group that this blog is here to speak to. If it’s not your worldview, that’s fine but this is not the right site for you, and it wears me down having to debate this with you in the comments all the time.

      2. Job Interviewer

        Thank you for this additional advice! Tomorrow is my second round of interviews, and whether or not I get the job in the end, this has been a very eye-opening experience for me on the career scale as a whole. I have also only been at my company for almost a year and a half, so this “guilt about job searching” post is actually quite relevant.

  6. Carl

    That anxiety is based on some sort of fear. If there’s one thing to know about fear, it is to run right toward it. Not around, not wait until it passes by; run, head on. You’ll make it through just fine.

  7. Nodumbunny

    I agree with everything Alison said, but I did want to comment on this part – “The good news is that it usually goes away within hours or days after you actually make the break and leave.” the missing it does go away, but I’ve noticed a phenomenon in myself that I’ve talked about with friends and they’ve also experienced. Whenever I change jobs (I’ve changed jobs many times – probably too many – but in my defense: geographic move to be where I wanted to be as a young adult + geographic move to be where I wanted to be to raise kids + geographic move to follow my husband + layoff + bad situation) I go through a cycle where the first couple of days are nerve-wracking because OMG change, then the next couple of days are good, then about two weeks in I go through a period where I think “I am in WAY over my head – I can’t do this! I’m not smart enough!). I’ve learned to surf this period because it always settles back down into “yes, there is a learning curve, but it’s good – bring it on!”. So – in short, what I’m trying to say (sorry, I’ve had two glasses of wine) is you may experience regret now, before you leave, and you may experience some adverse reaction to all the change even once you are on the new job – but it’s going to be okay.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes! So true. There’s usually a moment of clarity at some point, where everything will click into place, but that the first month or two (and sometimes longer) is really just about getting there.

    2. quix

      This is one of the reasons long term (as in, more than a week or two) temp jobs can be nerve-wracking. You get to go through the learning curves over and over without getting to settle into the fixed position. My wife has a good one right now, but joining the company and diving right in to working on their big year end presentation with no onboarding or acclimation is rough and I’m proud of her for dealing with it.

  8. Anonymous

    Funny, because my office situation is exactly the same. But it’s the whole trying to actually land a job that’s got me worked up. I feel very stuck, but I know it will be very hard to leave. But I think when you know it’s time, it’s time. I’m applying for a job tonight, which I haven’t done in awhile now. I keep teetering, but I’ve gotta go!

  9. KT

    I think anyone who’s ever changed jobs can relate to this. I think Alison is completely right though when she says goes away within hours or days of actually leaving. It’s scary, but it really sounds like this change is really for the better! (you haven’t gotten a raise and your manager steals money!)

  10. Anonymous

    This is so me. I’ve been in some godawful situations in my life, including two emotionally/verbally abusive non-work relationships, and yet anytime I started thinking about moving on, the fear and regret started. Same with jobs. I’ve stayed far longer than I should have in really bad conditions because I was scared to leave.

    I think a good part of this might be a form of justification. I’ve been reading Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me!), and the authors explain that people will go to great lengths to justify what they’ve already done, thought, believed, etc. You took the job, and you stayed with it this long, so leaving now is like saying you made a mistake, and your ego is having none of that. If you stay (it thinks), it means the original decisions were spot on.

    Of course, another part of my problem is that I’m always second-guessing how bad the situation really is. In those relationships, I was made to believe that I was being a spoiled baby for wanting better treatment, so now I always feel like I must just be high-maintenance if I think I can have nicer people in my life or a better job.

    So, it’s worth looking at those reasons, too. If suddenly wanting to stay is a form of justification or you feel deep down that you don’t deserve better and it’ll all fall apart if you try to leave, you can face it head on.

    1. MeganO

      That’s really interesting – thanks for sharing. I think for me that justification can be a part of my reluctance to make changes, as well, but I wouldn’t have thought to put it like that. I’ll have to put that book on my reading list.
      I hope you’re in a better place with yourself and your non-work relationships now; I know it takes a long time for those wounds to start healing. Good luck!

  11. Anonymous

    It’s common enough that there’s a term for it. That feeling of not wanting to leave behind the familiar is called homesickness. The doubts and misgivings are called cold feet.

    You sound like you’ve made the right call and you’re doing the best thing that you can. Remember that doing the right thing is always hard in some ways.

    Enjoy your new job!

    1. Vanessa

      I agree….the pain of leaving the past behind.

      Without fear of sounding like a baby, I was emotional when I left my first professional job. I packed up all my materials from my cube, put basically two years of my life in a box, and shed some tears when I walked out alone. And I was so, so happy for the opportunity I was afforded in my new role and new home.

      When I leave an opportunity, it’s reminiscent of commencement…another time when I was Mz.Waterworks. So I’ve learned that for me, it’s going to be initially sad on my last day and quite happy and exciting very shortly after. Congrats on new job!

  12. Adam

    I can so relate to this, and I haven’t even gone on any interviews yet. I’m job hunting now because I want a better opportunity for myself. After two years in my current position it simply isn’t challenging anymore and there’s little room for maneuvering within the company. But I don’t hate where I work. I have respect for the directors and most of my coworkers are great to work with. If it weren’t for the fact that my particular position has essentially become a dead end job I doubt I’d be looking to leave. But I want more for myself and it’s become clear I have to branch out and find it myself. Change is pretty much always unnerving, and when you’ve got something that’s comfortable and not really disagreeable (even if rather unsatisfying) filling out job apps becomes a game of second guessing. Would I really be willing to leave a sure thing for something brand new? The flip side of options: having them can be daunting by themselves!

    1. Vanessa

      You sound really self aware, like the OP. Recognizing these challenges puts you in the best place to tackle them.

      1. Malissa

        It’s funny you say this. I just had the exact same conversation with my boss about an internal position that I’ll be applying for shortly. He told me almost the same thing you just said.

    2. Rin

      I am going through the same thing, wanting to leave something I like well enough for something new? What if I fail and am out of a job completely? It’s hard to take chances with something so important.

      1. OP

        “What if I fail and am out of a job completely? It’s hard to take chances with something so important.”

        YES, EXACTLY. I feel like I’ve already missed out of so many opportunities because of this feeling. And learned my lesson on that the hard way! My husband and I hated where we lived, but were so afraid to move and be rent-broke or move to a worse place, and then have incurred all those moving costs for nothing. Finally we took a chance and ended up kicking ourselves for not doing it sooner … I have a feeling that’s the way I’ll feel once I finally switch jobs!

  13. Eric

    It was put to me like this:

    It is like cutting off a huge chunk of your family and never seeing them again to go live with strangers.

    Certainly you get over that and get to know the people at your new job, but it is scarey and takes a few months to settle in. Once that happens, you wonder why you were so anxious.

  14. Jamie

    Leaving a job either because of the reasons you’ve stated or you’ve just outgrown it is a lot like graduating high school.

    Sure – excited to starts college and to get on with your life. You don’t want to stay in high school…you’d be miserable and left behind. But it’s a big transition and you’re leaving behind the good with the bad – and the unknown is scary. Even less than optimal familiar can feel comforting when compared with the unknown which is ahead.

    If transitions weren’t tough there would be a lot less crying at graduations.

    But it absolutely fades as you immerse yourself in preparing for the new job – so hang in there and good luck.

    1. Vanessa

      “If transitions werent tough there would be a lot less crying at graduations.”

      Totally sums it up

  15. Jess

    Yes! My last day at my current job is tomorrow, and I start a new job Monday. The new job is definitely a good opportunity career-wise, but I certainly am nervous to be starting over somewhere where I don’t yet know where the bathroom is!

  16. Anonymous

    It’s normal. I just started a new job after 3 years at a call center (pit of hell). I was so happy to be leaving, but so nervous to start something new. Am I going to be any good at this? Will my coworkers like me? Learning a whole new computer system! :(
    I’m in the middle of my 3rd week and thing have been going great. Everyone has been so good with me and really welcoming. It’s like the first day at a new school. It’s always turns out fine and you were worried for nothing.

  17. Loyal reader

    I love this entry! It is so so so true and applicable to most people. I changed jobs about 6 months ago with a feeling the I absolutely had to go for another job for my own sake yet I felt slightly scared that I no longer had the security of the old job. It is probably the fear of the uncertainly with new employment and forgoing the security of the current one.

  18. Anonymous

    This post came at the most perfect timing for me. I was in the exact same situation as the OP. Tomorrow is my last day at a job where I’ve been for 6.5 years. I too am nervous (but also very excited) for the new opportunity that I’m starting on Monday. Best of luck to the OP and know that you’re not alone!

  19. Ivy

    I agree with everything Alison is saying…. but I’m the odd one out because I’m the one that leaves with glee :D. Blame it on moving a lot as a child, but I LOVE change. I think it keeps me energized and at my best. So every time I have left a job I have done so happily and trusting my own judgement. Arrivederci old crappy job and hello new exciting life and new exciting coworkers! :D

  20. Andrew

    I think it might help to remember that change is a constant; it will happen whether you like it or not. Even if you stayed at your current job it wouldn’t remain the same for ever: colleagues will move on, clients will change, the management structure will shift. It’s inevitable.

    Far better to leap into the future than stay stuck in a past that, eventually, only you will inhabit.

  21. LA

    Whenever I come close to getting a new job (close, but no cigar so far) I always start to freak out. I begin thinking of absolutely everything that my current company is doing and has planned in the future and how much my leaving will affect these projects and the work load of my coworkers. It sort of borders on insanity how anxious I get thinking about it all. But a very wise person once told me: “There will never be a perfect time to quit.”

    I repeat that to myself when I get anxious about the situation. There are always going to be more projects that you could help on, and more coworkers and friends that you’ll be sad to leave behind. But you still have to take that next step for you.

    1. Job Interviewer

      Thanks for this perspective. I am going through this right now and even found myself trying to come up with things that might be wrong with where I *might* get hired (even though I haven’t even made it to the second interview yet) just so I can justify why I might not want to leave my current position. How warped is that?!

      There will never be a perfect time to quit. Repeating that to myself now.

  22. Same here

    I’m in the same state of mind as the OP. I’ve been at my current job for two years and it is the most dysfunctional organization, department, and direct supervisors I have ever worked for. I’ve been miserable for most of these two years, have even gone to EAP counseling several times, and have spent at least a year and a half job hunting and interviewing with other potential employers.

    The process of job hunting and interviewing made me appreciate the good aspects of my current situation, no matter how difficult it may be at times. The convenient commute, 35-hour workweek, higher than average salary, flexibility and leniency towards taking time off, and the fact that I enjoy my actual job and tasks — they have all made me mellow out.

    Another big factor is I have a toddler. This drives my decision-making regarding which jobs I can consider — the daycare closes by 6PM everyday so I need a job which has a commute and hours that allow me to work around the daycare center hours. I need to be selective in what job I accept to replace this current one.

    I still recognize the bad aspects of my current job but upon making this mental shift, I noticed things don’t end up bothering me as much anymore and I am not as desperate to get out. Plus I can be more selective in considering other jobs.

  23. Annamaison

    I’ve wrestled with this, and I’m sure many, many other folks have too. Thanks for normalizing this phenomenom and helping folks make transitions from bad to better.

  24. OP

    Thank you AAM SO MUCH for answering my letter–and with such great wisdom and encouragement! And thank you, also, for everyone’s comments.

    I feel so much better about the whole situation. It is really funny how everyone around you can be so supportive and encouraging, but you still doubt yourself. Knowing that other people go through the same feelings and have been in the same situation and come out unscathed has such a calming effect!

    Yesterday, actually, the recruiter called me to tell me they should be making a decision by the end of the week and it made me so nervous, so this came at just the right time! I know it’s not firm until I get an offer, but this job is my number one choice right now, and my “inside source” says that they loved me and they haven’t brought any of the other candidates in for a second interview. So fingers crossed! Either way, I feel a trillion times better (and more confident!) about job searching now :)

      1. OP

        Well, it turns out I didn’t get the job … they didn’t say anything other than “they went with another candidate.” So here I am back to the drawing board!

        Thank you so much, though, for making me feel better about my search! I think that my confidence and determination have finally taken that turn that will help me be prepared to find the right job.

      2. elizabeth jose

        Dear Ask A Manager,
        i’m Indian lady, 51 years old and I work in Mumbai city, India at an IT Company i have been employed with since Sept. 1998 (thats nearly 16 yrs now) My role is one of an Exec. Secretary though my designation has changed to Senior Executive over the years i have been here.
        Before i go ahead, just want to clarify that i determined to stay put here in the same place, is because in my early junior / mid level career days, I almost always left each Co i worked at after a year or two, sometimes 8 months, not because i wanted to, but for reasons like wanting more pay, my mother’s prolonged illness and when i worked in Kuwait way back in the 1980s because I was dependent on my Dad for sponsorship and didnt have a transferable residence permit.

        Coming back to where I am at now, I have been working with the same 2 bosses (who are very senior directors on the Board of our Co.) assisting in Daily office management, since a decade now. Same role function 10 yrs.
        Both my bosses are over 75 years old.. They are independent Non Executive Directors who can work as long as they feel fit
        to attend office daily, travel for meetings etc..
        Not that the job is boring or anything but, though secure, i recently reached a point where i began to wonder if there’s nothing really ahead for me, career wise. My immediate reporting boss’s work is more personal in nature, than official. He leaves office bet 3.00 pm – 4.00 pm daily, but since i am an employee of the Co. i need to stay on in the office till 6.00 pm.
        The commute is long and getting very tiring as I have turned 50 plus.

        The constant query i get asked at every HR round is ” Why do you want to leave after all these years?. I tell them for career progression, shorter commute times (if the job location is closer to where I live). Since 3 years i have never been called back after the 1st level round with HR. first level HR rounds today are mostly always done by an Exec who is half my age! mostly young ladies.
        I have just done one interview on April 30th and another one on Monday 12th May where thankfully the young lady though surprised that i had stayed on in the same office for 16 years, finally said that it was actually good to have stayed on for so long since her Dad did the same with his Co. which he finally retired from.

        ok long story! sorry about that.

        Ask a Manager – what would your advice be.

        welcome others comments too.

        elizabeth

  25. Suzanne

    No doubt much of the anxiety comes from the fear of the unknown, especially if you are currently in a lousy job. What if the new job turns out to be just as bad or worse? (Trust me, once you’ve experienced an insanely bad work environment, that fear never leaves you.) And what if the people are mean and hurtful? What if you really can’t do the job?
    At least, at the current job, you have support and pleasant co-workers and know you can manage the work, even if you hate it. So, it’s the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t know.

  26. Chocolate Teapot

    It is scary, but once you make the move, you will wonder why you didn’t do it before.

  27. Laura

    This post came at the perfect time! I’m actually in the midst of packing up my life to move across the world and have spent the last week freaking out about leaving my job, which I do love despite its chaos and dysfunction, for a new opportunity. Change is terrifying, but not taking opportunities seems even more so.

  28. Anonymous

    My job is fairly easy but it can be a toxic micromanaging work environment. I was going to leave because they couldn’t assure me they would accomodate my school schedule, plus on top of that my last supervisor was trying to throw me under the bus. The thought of leaving as well as interviewing with other places made me feel scared and unsure of myself because I didn’t want to be that new person again and when I’m new I feel under pressure to be perfect and feel that I can’t be relaxed at work for some time.

    Also, being new I wouldn’t be able to take time off and since I was planning to start school plus work I wanted to feel that I could take a day off if I needed to without the stigma of being new and the ‘how dare I take a day off’ attitude. So in the end I stayed because I got a new supervisor, my old supervisor quit, and they did end up accomodating my school schedule.

    I’m going to school for a certificate in teaching English so that I can live and work in Japan. So since I have a goal perhaps that makes day to day life at my job easier. However, I also sometimes get panic attacks late at night about leaving everything I know. I’ve been to Japan as a student through a structured exchange program, but not as a working adult completely responsible for myself. I will definitely miss some of my co-workers when I finally leave. So I’m sure when I leave I’ll feel a lot of emotions.

  29. incognito

    I was out of my field for four years when I finally got a job back in it. Three of those years I’d been somewhere else, and I was very ready to move on for a number of reasons. I was surprised when I started feeling anxious when I got the job offer. Giving my notice and telling my coworkers was nerve-wracking. I thought I should have been nothing but happy to move back into the field I love.

    I hadn’t started a new job at a new place for years, and I’d changed since then. The newness was terrifying. I didn’t know where to park, where to eat lunch, whom to trust… and I’ve mostly worked that out, 8 months later. And when I give notice for this job, it will probably be scary all over again, even though I know I won’t be here forever.

    I’m glad to know this is absolutely normal.

  30. incognito

    Any time an employee leaves, it causes difficulty on the employer. When I left my last job, my boss and I worked hard on delegating my duties to other people who already had jobs to take care of. There was a plan, but that didn’t change the fact that workloads increased as a direct result of my leaving, and I’m sure there were some hard feelings on some of the employees’ parts. I felt somewhat guilty because I knew these people already had a ton of work to do, but it didn’t keep me from moving on. It was hard for me because I knew the people who were going to take on the work and that my actions were placing a hardship on them. It was temporary, but it was there.

    1. Job Interviewer

      Thanks for sharing. I know it is going to (putting it bluntly) really suck for my office when I leave, and part of that guilt comes from the fact that right now I have that extra workload thanks to a coworker who left us in June. Even though we brought someone new on in July, and she’s quite a motivated employee, her progress and influence is simply hindered by time and the fact that she has had only a month to train, learn and listen.

      I am sure my office will be just fine in the long run, but I know they will be immediately affected if I leave. I guess that is how life is as a whole, though, whether it’s work or just everyday relationships. I need to just make sure I don’t let worrying about them keep me from making progress for myself.

  31. Anonymous

    This is so right. Monday morning : I wanna shooooooot the whole world down. Tuesday: Getting a phone call offering me an alternative job and now I love everyone and everything about where I work and hey it’s not so bad. I want to leave so desperately but now somebody offers me the opportunity to do so and suddenly I hate change and everyone at work is loveable x

  32. Twinkle Twinkle

    I know this post is a few months old but oh my gosh… this hit the nail on the head for me.

    I have been at my position 5 and a half years and that has been five years too long. I knew from the jump that this wasnt going to be a good fit for me (that gut feeling) and my leaving manager telling me to start looking also but I said I was going to give it the good ole college try (6 months) and then bounce. I started having feelings that I didnt give it enough time or that I would be viewed as lazy or whatnot kept me in my tracks.

    As the years went on, I got into a rut. When I would have an interview, in the back of my mind, I was thinking OH MY GOSH how can I do this to them? I will abandon them and they will hate me! And sometimes, I think that came out in the interview (especially when I had an immediate supervisor who as GREAT!)

    Now I am on immediate supervisor number 4 and he told me flat out that he wanted to let me go when I returned from maternity leave so he could “start fresh”. That has partially fueled my fire to get out of here but also once again I am consumed by guilt (because of everything they have seemed to do while I was on bedrest, maternity leave and personal leave) and because I have an infant to worry about now. *Le Sigh*

  33. Excitement and Nervous

    After 8 years in my current job, I landed the first and second interviews of the one outstanding position for which I applied. I then passed their testing with flying colors. The HR person has informed me, that, although they will not be making a “final decision” until early next week, that she would advise me not to take any other job offers I may receive in the meantime…Is it being over confident on my part to believe that I more than likely am going to be offered the position? I don’t think the HR person would speak to me with such assurance if it wasn’t true…Then there’s going to be telling my boss I am leaving. He’s going to be devastated, to say the least. I am very glad that I landed on this site because it has taught me that everything I am feeling, about leaving, is OK. I have known for a while, deep inside myself, that it was time to move on…but I kept on making excuses to myself why, despite my wanting to leave, I should stay. I am definitely headed upward with this more-than-likely position for which I have interviewed. It is loads better than what I have been “putting up with” at my current place of employment for all these years. I am excited about the change, but nervous at the the same time. Thank you all for teaching me that what I am feeling is not only normal, but fleeting upon departure…what a relief! I can’t wait to embark upon my new career!

  34. New Job

    Just wanted to add my $.02 and say how glad I am for finding this thread! Been at my current workplace (and first post-college, FT) job for over a year, but always knew it wasn’t right due to management issues and some pretty intense corruption. I’ve spent the better part of the past 4 months desperately searching for a new job, any new job! Anyway I just got hired today to work for a much bigger (and definitely better!) organization, and am now feeling guilty about leaving my current job, plus a little sad. I feel like I have all these projects I’m working on, and I’m disappointed I won’t be seeing them through. But, as my coworker told me today “You’ll get over it!” I’m just glad to know I’m not the only one.

  35. mage

    Oh man….you might as well have been talking about my current situation. I have been at my job for twelve years have accumulated the maximum amount of leave to the point that any leave earned is being forfeited. I have lost 160 hours of leave this way. I have established a reputation as a reliable worker which is a double edged sword. The more reliable you are, the more work and responsibilities are piled on you. Which would be nice if I wasnt severely underpaid.
    That in mind I got my act together polished up the resume and started applying. I have had several interviews including two working up to final interviews. I even reached out to an old contact at a place I interviewed years ago (long story) and they still want to consider me for a high paying position in their trainee proogram. No brainer for me too right? Im so glad I found this thread because Im thinking “It should be easy right? Your current job doesnt pay you what you’re worth, they dont appreciate you, use you, and take you for granted so why are you so conflicted? Wasnt as easy as I thought. For the very reasons everyone else is saying. Thanks everybody!

  36. Kate

    “When you stop feeling stuck and start realizing you have options, you start feeling more in control of the situation, which in turn will improve your attitude.” I love this quote. It is so, so, SO true. I decided last winter that I need to leave my job. I don’t hate the job itself, but my commute is horrible, the train pass is WAY overpriced, the pay is very mediocre (I don’t know how people with college debt pay their loans), and the place is just overall micromanaged and dysfunctional. I ‘fell’ into the job due to a certain skill without having any degree and realized that the field is not my cup of tea At All. I will go back to school in the fall for a major that’s both lucrative (with my skill set) and I always wanted to do. I wasn’t planning on quitting until a few days before school but I recently got an offer from my favorite store ever to come work for them, and I’m giving notice on Monday. I am both happy and sad (and anxious about not having the paychecks I’m used to) but most of all I’m excited. 2013 was a good year :) Just wanted to get this out of my system, I can’t currently tell anyone because my co-workers/boss friended me on FB (and I accepted… I know, I know.).

  37. Beth

    Although this is an older thread I’m thankful I found this thread as well. I’m not only in this position but I’m considering a major career change. I graduated with a degree in graphic design 10 years ago and worked in a great company for 4 years but hated doing graphic design. I had quit and made some not so great career choices. I went back to school to get a cosmetology degree and have now been a hair stylist for 7 years. I’m 31 and have built a big clientele and make good money but it is soooooo much work (I’m tired and physically drained). I can’t grow any more in my career. I have no benefits, 401k, or vacation time. At this time I’m considering a MAJOR career change and have applied and interviewed for a recruiting job. This job is better pay, and has much room for growth. ……. As I wait to find out if I’m hired I’m FREAKING out!! Am I going to leave all that I have built for 7 years? Leave all of my clients? Leave my fun job? My flexible schedule? What if I hate working in an office all day from 8-5? What if I regret it? I feel like I have no room to grow anymore as a hairdresser but yet I have all of these concerns and doubts. I know i cant do hair forever like when I’m 50 i hope to have accomplished more in life this just being behind the chair. its an Any advice? Allison how did your career change work out?

  38. Not the only one

    And here I thought I was the only one feeling this way. I had my last day today, and tomorrow I start at the new place. I can’t sleep. Today I was so sad and had a hard time maintaining composure, and now I’m a little nvous/excited about tomorrow, but worried about how my old company is going to go on without me. Maybe it’s irrational, I don’t know. But it was definitely time for a change because I had lost a lot of respect for my boss, and was very underpaid…they didn’t do anything about that despite the fact that I warned them about it. Anyway, after reading this post and a lot of comments I feel like I made the right decision and am just glad that I’m not the only one that has ever felt this way. I could identify with what everyone has said.

  39. Same feelings here

    I thought I was the only one feeling this way. I got a job offer last week and had to put in my 2 weeks notice today. I kept thinking, is it the right decision? The new job is in a completely different field than my current one and it will be a major adjustment. But the benefits, vacation and holiday time, pay, and opportunities for advancement are much better. So why am I having such a hard time parting with my current company that hasn’t given raises in 3 years and causes me stress? I think I have a hard time dealing with change and I tend to work for places for awhile before leaving because I get comfortable and stuck in a rut. I was here for 7 years and my last job for 5 years. I’m sure thought that after a few weeks at my new job, I’ll feel much better.

  40. I needed this post

    Wow…I needed to read this. Sitting here about to leave for a final interview in a much better place and feeling SO ambivalent about it. Not the best way to feel before an interview…but this post made me feel so much better!! :)

  41. DMS

    Finding this post is like a sign (I hope). I’ve been feeling so disgruntled in my current position. I’ve been here for going on 18 years, though. It is like a home. I think my car knows the way. I feel like I’ve really helped build this business and that makes it somewhat personal. But changes are happening in our industry and in our company and it seems like the opportunities are going to newer hires. Young blood, maybe. I’m feeling a bit on the fringe. I mentioned this to my boss with the offer that I’m here to pitch in, but I got a “sorry you feel that way.” I know management needs to do what they need to do during the hectic transition we’re undergoing, but I’m also management is my problem. I have put the feelers out and I have an informational interview today. It might be a long shot. Great company, good people, I’m familiar with their work and their reputation… I even know people there. I may be too experienced for the job, however, but I might be able to bring something to the table there. But I still woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night worried that I’d ruined everything. And I’ve been going back and forth all day: good idea/bad idea.
    All of a sudden I don’t feel smart enough to make it somewhere else.

    Leaving is hard. I’m not happy here, so I think I should be happy to leave. Worried that I’m jumping from the frying pan into the fire. AND, I haven’t even been offered the job yet.

    I’m so glad to know, though, that the nerves are normal and that change is inevitable and good. I hope it’s good. I’m going to go for it and make the best of whatever happens.

  42. Laila

    I’m a teenager, and even I am having anxieties! Having worked at the same restaurant since I was 14 years old, I feel like I basically went through my entire puberty stage working at Culvers- it’s familiar, it’s the same. I hate change, but something in me told me to go for the REAL job I’ve always wanted during High School- working with kids at a fitness center. Now I’m having regrets about leaving, I nearly cried at the register last night. And I know it sounds totally stupid because it’s just fast food- but in some ways, I feel like I’m betraying a family. I know now, by reading the article, that leaving is for the best.

  43. Bumblebee

    I have been in a job for just over 2 years now. It has helped me get through a lot. It hasn’t been a job but a crutch for me. I never stayed on in a company for as a long as I have and it feels like I am ‘betraying’ the team and manager by leaving. However the reality is I don’t feel appreciated, there is no room for career progression and I always end up doing work tasks of others here and it isn’t fair. The environment can be toxic and cliquey, but as a whole this trade isn’t for me. I am nervous about moving on but I do know I will be working way more hours than I am now and also in a field that I have the most experience in. This job has been my life for the past couple of years and I have been searching on and off for the past year for a new job. Albeit many rejections. However it was a case of take a risk and don’t look back. It is so easy to settle but without risk you can’t move forward in life and I would like to think this move will pay off not just financially but for my sanity too. So I have accepted another job offer and it is case of waiting my notice out to start.

  44. DJB

    Im going through this right now, but whats making it worse is that I have very few complaints about the people or the environment. It’s the fact that my skills aren’t being utilized very effectively and I’m bored with my job. Still, I feel like I’m leaving friends as my team is very social and outgoing. I feel like I’m letting them down somehow. Due to my start date at my new place, I’ve had to delay my two weeks notice for two weeks and act like nothing’s going on and it’s hard when they’re talking about things that would pertain to me if I wasn’t leaving. I am the only one who knows what’s about to happen.

    The saving grace is that I’ve been moved out of a cubicle and into a desk and now have to sit next to two other people. I hate that arrangement as it affords very little privacy. In my new job I get to have a cubicle again, so I use that as my “glad to be leaving” motivation along with my job dissatisfaction. I’ve also clung onto the other little annoyances that I’ve had to endure that I will no longer have to, as motivation for going.

    I will be sending my notice tonight after work. Wish me luck! :)

  45. Gem

    So, so glad to come across this . I have been in my current position for 3 years. I love my job, and am great at it, but my boss has no management or people skills, and honestly, I am terribly underpaid for what I do. For the first full year and a half, I was in a “bully” situation, and cried my way to and from work on a daily basis – truly a toxic environment. Although that has settled down, other dysfunctional aspects still apply. When others fail at their jobs, I am the one punished, as instead of training them or making them accountable, they just take that responsibility away from them and hand it to me, knowing it will be done correctly from now on. This has happened multiple times, it’s easier to give me the responsibility instead of dealing with the inadequacies of others. I have been handling another job for months – my coworker left – and finally they opened the position. I applied and was turned down. I know in my heart this is not about me, but about my boss not wanting to have to fill my job. However, I felt as if I had no choice and needed to leave. I have interviewed, same company, much better position in a different office and will be working with an ex- coworker that I really like. He assures met that getting out of that toxic environment was the best thing that ever happened and I need to jump in feet first without a second thought. But everything mentioned in all these posts pertains. I am scared to death – I know I need to leave, but am terrified of the change. Part of me thinks that I’m not qualified, and the other part knows that I have learned and excelled at every job I’ve every undertaken, and they are hiring me for my potential, knowing full well they need to train me. I am leaning heavily on friends that bring me back to reality when my thought process about why I should stay at my old job gets a little (or a lot) skewed! I will be a crazy mess for a while, but eventually, day by day, I will feel more comfortable. I just need to remember that. The comment made by one of the posters about “not knowing where the bathroom is” made me laugh out loud, and I really needed that!

  46. jilly bean

    just started a new job after working at my previous company for over 20 years. I still can’t believe I left. I was very unhappy at the old company and was passed over for a significant job promotion- ie they wanted all their leaders to come from the outside. It felt like a slap in the face. I found another job in the same area and industry with an increase in responsibilities and growth. Leaving was harder than i thought and I am still nervous in this new job of which I have been employed for onlhy a week. It is comforting to know others have the same feelings as I have. I do have faith my anxiety will decrease as my new boss and team couldn’t be nicer. I just miss the old routines and friends. thanks for the reassurances that anixty will the fear of the unknown will go away and that this change is part of growing.

  47. Lakasha

    Thank you to everyone who posted. I am struggling with what to me is the biggest decision I have ever made. I have been at my current job for over 18 years. I have around 6 1/2 of vacation time at my current job. I work in a treatment facility and I am really good at it, I love most of the people I work with and I love the kids I work with.

    I am also extremely comfortable with my job and can basically do it with my eyes closed, I am not learning much of anything new and I have been seriously underpaid for a long time. The management is awful and there doesn’t seem to be much hope of that situation getting any better. I randomly applied for a job with the county and to my surprise they offered me a job after a second interview. The benefits are great etc. When I told my current boss I was giving my notice he made me a significant counter offer (nearly $5 raise) and even more vacation time. I am now plagued with doubt about leaving my job and second guessing every time I make a decision either way.

    I am so worried that my only reason for not taking the new job would be fear of the unknown and change. I tell myself I just don’t want to have my vacation reduced to only 3 weeks a year but that seems like a trite argument when the new job offers so many other great things.

  48. elizabeth jose

    Lakasha,
    pls take a step of faith in Christ and go for the new job. vacation time is not everything. the new job, as you state yourself, offers so many other benefits.Fear of the unknown and change is definitely holding you back, but you are not growing in the current job.

    leaving will get harder when you hit your 50s, and are closer to retirement age. so take a leap of faith before that happens.

    I am in a similar position working 16 years in the same Co., & 10 years in the same role with my present boss! unlike you, however, i don’t have a job offer yet though i’ve attended 2 interviews in this month alone. (and at least 12 in the last 4 years)

    i wrote a really long post yesterday abt this, but no one has commented yet.

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