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Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress

Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress

Does your job give you chronic stress? Chronic stress is different than regular stress because it causes your brain to consistently release adrenaline and cortisol hormones.[1] In turn, your body reacts to the constant strain: you feel fatigued all the time, have frequent headaches, can’t concentrate, and you get sick a lot more than you used to before you started working here. Those are just a few of the symptoms of chronic stress.

While you’re working a job that causes chronic stress, the solution seems complex. The common advice is for you to use all sorts of tools and strategies — but now you’re discovering the simplest, least stressful solution: quit.

But you also wonder, “I quit my job because of stress, is it bad?”

Not at all! Reading further, you’ll find out exactly why quitting your job is the smart thing to do. Our culture is chained to the idea of persisting for consistency’s sake, but there’s a reason why Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

To be consistent in a stressful situation such as yours is to work harder, not smarter. And don’t be fooled by the word “quit” — this is about empowerment.

Keep going to find out why you should quit your job and leave chronic stress behind.

1. Your Toxic Job Is Making You Sick

Chronic stress and consistently adverse work conditions will affect your health. Think back over the course of the last 6 months or so. How has your health been?

You need to think about the long-term. Even if you haven’t been sick lately, people oftentimes make the mistake of running themselves down over an extended period of time. When you do this, your immune system flatlines and you get hit hard.

Poor health is your body’s way of telling you something isn’t working. There are some specific things to look for when it comes to stress-related health problems. According to CompTIA, the following symptoms are telltale signs your job stress is negatively affecting your health:[2]

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  • You need to sleep far more than normal, or you suffer from insomnia.
  • You’ve experienced significant weight loss or weight gain.
  • You lack energy and motivation, and you don’t feel like socializing very often.
  • You seem to always be coming down with a cold, and when you get a cold or any other illness, it takes longer than it should to recover.
  • Your job encroaches on your life to the extent that you don’t have time or motivation to exercise.

No job is worth losing your health over, and if you haven’t experienced a major breakdown yet, this is the perfect chance to break away.

Wait until your health breaks down completely, and you won’t be able to search for another job, or at least it will be much harder.

2. Multitasking Is a Recipe for Failure

Is there nothing insanely stressful about your job yet you are still insanely stressed? Chances are you’re juggling a full-time job and another (or more than just another) full-time obligation.

For example, if you’re a nontraditional student who went back to school because your job prospects were slim — yet you still have to work while you’re in school — you’re creating stress.

You need to quit something. About 61 percent of multitaskers who seek counseling have anxiety, and 49 percent are depressed.[3]

Counseling helps, but it’s not a cure for multitasking. Professor Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine says that people who multitask are more susceptible to stress, neuroticism, and impulsivity.

According to Mark, it takes your brain about 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain focus after you switch tasks. This drains your energy reserves, and if you continue, you can enter a state of chronic stress.[4]

People who have two or three major priorities weighing on them all the time are caught in a multitasking trap. Determine your priorities and evaluate your job. If your job is not something you’re passionate about and it’s not at the top of your priority list, drop it.

3. Employers That Don’t Help Relieve Stress Aren’t Doing Their Job

The truth is employment shouldn’t be a one-sided relationship.

You pour your heart into your job, you take pride in your work, and you truly care about the outcome. An employer who doesn’t encourage you to take breaks and doesn’t provide opportunities for stress-relief is an employer who doesn’t deserve to have you around.

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You offer something many fantastic employers would bend over backwards to have: a work ethic and a high level of commitment. Good employers know it’s their responsibility not to run people into the ground. They know they must pay attention to how much you work as well as how stressed you are.

At the core, you’re dealing with a culture of stress. A study of organizational culture showed that a hierarchical, bureaucratic culture, in which the organization showed little care for employee well-being, created a state of low morale.[5]

An organization’s negative, stress-based culture leads to poor performance, high turnover, and a low level of engagement.

The bottom line is that when you’re dealing with a culture of stress, you’re completely justified in being uncommitted.

A company’s culture is its identity. Don’t commit to a culture — therefore an identity — that is tearing itself down instead of building itself up.

4. There Are Great Jobs You’ll Love

A lot of times, when someone who is overly stressed doesn’t quit and find a new job, it’s because they feel stuck. They aren’t exercising free will, they aren’t choosing to recognize the agency and autonomy that allows them to go where they please when they please.

Philosopher Mitch Horowitz talks about this in his new book, The Miracle Club: How Thoughts Become Reality. Although there are some circumstances you can’t control, within your current set of circumstances you can select a life you prefer.

To put this in the employment context, you are able to envision the type of job you want and the type of company you’d like to work for. You’re not working somewhere else because you haven’t selected to do so.

Select a different job and take the steps to get there. You have the ability to concentrate all your efforts in a new direction.

Yes, there are practical considerations — including the fact that you need to pay the bills. There are also practical solutions. Here are some of them:

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  • List your resources. Do you have a car that’s in decent condition? Are you able-bodied? Do you have an internet connection at home or at least one you can access every day?
  • Search for part-time gigs you can work when you’re able, such as driving for a ride-share company or any of the other gig economy work you have the resources to do.
  • List your bills and calculate how much income you’ll need to pay them while you’re looking for a different full-time job.
  • Work your part-time gig enough to pay the bills.
  • Spend the rest of your time looking for the full-time position you really want.

A lot of people try to look for a different full-time job while still working their current job, but that won’t give you as much time as the part-time gig strategy.

When you’re looking for something new, don’t just select anything that comes along. You’re selecting a different path from among the nearly infinite paths you could select. To select the right path, find the answer to the most important question.

Here’s the important question to ask yourself:

What do I love to do?

Once you answer that question, all other actions must center on getting to a place where you can do nothing but what you love to do.

5. You Are the Driving Force Behind Your Own Success

Right now, you’re working for an employer who is placing responsibility on you and you’re not in control. The responsibilities and tasks in front of you are selected by other people.

Why do you have all these responsibilities and tasks to begin with? Because you have the skill set necessary to do them, as well as a great many other things.

In terms of types of things you could do, your work represents a relatively small percentage. The corporate division of labor is such that most people only take care of one or two types of things, with a bunch of related subtasks. The rest of your intellectual and physical ability goes untouched.

This isn’t to say you don’t have a lot to do — you’re probably overloaded with tasks, you’re bogged down in minutia. But you know you’re capable of other things.

In general, you’re capable of a higher level of thinking. The reason why you haven’t started your own business or struck out on a freelance career is you haven’t selected that type of route yet.

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Now is the time to own the full capacity of your abilities. The stress at your current job isn’t worth it when you can do the thing you love so much better.

Once you seize onto what you love to do and find a way to make it your life, stress becomes positive. It’s no longer chronic, harmful stress because you view it differently.

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal discusses how, in a massive study, people who viewed stress as a positive thing didn’t have harmful physical reactions to it and actually lived longer than those who viewed it negatively [6].

Once you’re doing what you love, the pressure of getting things done is akin o the increase of heart rate from exercising. Since you are focused on the thing you love — much like a runner is focused on the act of running until completion — you cope with stress by continuing with your momentum.

You look at problems as possibilities. That’s how you succeed.

Stress Is Your Spark

It’s true that a toxic job full of chronic stress can make you sick, and a lifestyle that involves multitasking and lack of focus will contribute to a lack of well-being.

At the same time, it’s true that you wouldn’t have come to this realization and an important move in your life if it weren’t for stress.

A level of stress you can’t handle is your catalyst to do something new. You’re going to select the path you want and use your capabilities to actualize your full potential.

In the end, the stress was a good thing. It made you aware of your threshold and now you know it’s time to move on.

More Tips Related to Work Stress

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dan Matthews, CPRP

A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

The world of productivity has several hacks or tricks to help you manage your time: to-do lists, the Pomodoro Technique, Parkinson’s Law… All of these strategies are great strategies in their own way, but one strategy stands above all the others: the 80 20 rule.

This particular strategy has been used the most and is regarded as the most helpful in developing time management and other concepts in life.

But what’s so special about this rule? How does it give you success and how do you use it? Let’s explore the specifics.

What Is the 80 20 Rule?

Many people regard this rule as the 80 20 rule, but it has a proper name: the Pareto Principle[1]. The principle was named after its founder,  the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in society were divided into two categories:

  • The “vital few,” which consisted of the top 20 percent with respect to money and influence.
  • The “trivial many,” otherwise known as the bottom 80 percent.

As he researched this further, he came to discover that this divide didn’t apply only to money and influence, but other areas, too. Virtually all economic activity was subject to his previous observation.

He observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth at the time was controlled by only 20% of the population.

Since the development of this rule, humankind has used this particular ratio in all kinds of situations. Even if the ratio isn’t always exact, we see this rule applied in many industries and in life. Examples are:

  • 20% of sales reps will generate 80% of your total sales.
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits.
  • 80% of the revenue will stem from 20% of the workers.

Either way, I’m sure you can piece together why people call this rule the 80 20 rule over Pareto’s Principle[2].

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Make Your Life and Your Business More Efficient with the 80-20 Rule - Salesforce Canada Blog

    In terms of how this particular rule will be able to work for you, it’s a matter of applying this rule to how you spend your time. For us to see success, the goal is simple.

    We need to set it up in such a way that 20% of our input is responsible for 80% of our results.

    Another way to think about it is we use 20% of our time on activities that give us 80% of our results in a given area of life.

    How Does the 80 20 Rule Work?

    To best explain this, let’s visualize a bit.

    In an ideal world:

    • Every employee would contribute the same amount of effort to work.
    • Every feature that’s released for an app or product would be equally loved by users.
    • Each business idea you come up with would be a hit.

    In that scenario, planning would be a breeze. There wouldn’t be any need to analyze anything so long as you put in the effort.

    But that’s not reality.

    Yes, the effort is certainly an element, but what the 80 20 principle states is that everything is unequal. Invest in 10 start-up companies, and you’ll find only a few will pass year two and make it big. You’re in a team of five, and there’ll be one person doing more work than others.

    We wish our lives were always one-for-one in terms of input and output, but that’s simply not true. Understanding this is key to understanding how the 80 20 rule really works.

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    So how does it really work?

    It’s a matter of focusing on what’s giving you the most in your life for little of your time.

    Going back to the few examples I’ve presented above, consider this:

    • If two start-ups you invested in are making it big, focus on having a more direct hand, and see if you can help them prosper more.
    • If 20% of sales reps are giving you 80% of your sales, focus on rewarding those and keeping their spirits high and motivated.

    These scenarios can go on and on, but the idea is to place your efforts on the 20% that is actually making the difference in your life. Another term that’s good to know is the diminishing marginal utility[3].

    Pareto didn’t come up with this one, but the law goes as follows: each extra hour of effort or worker will add less “oomph” to your finished results.

    Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you will spend a lot of time on small and unimportant details, similar to perfectionism.

    So before hitting that point, you want to have a laser focus on the most important details, from family and relationships to your work or business. Prioritize the activities that are going to move you forward the most, and be wary of adding extra time, effort, or more hands into those particular tasks moving forward.

    How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule

    So now that you have an understanding of the 80 20 rule and how it works, what is the best way to take advantage of it?

    Depending on where you are applying this rule, this can be used in all kinds of fashions.

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    For example, you can apply this rule to goal setting, as demonstrated by Brian Tracy in this video:

    Or you can apply it in terms of general productivity as explained in this article: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

    The core of this rule is that it forces us to ask ourselves the questions we wouldn’t consider otherwise. It helps us to place our focus in the right places with regards to all things in life.

    In short, the 80 20 rule places us in charge of our lives and helps us set out on our goals and dreams. With this in mind, here are some things you can consider concerning this rule.

    1. Focus on Your Big Tasks First

    While this is the essence of the 80 20 rule, it’s still worth mentioning. Why? Because so many of us feel intimidated by the biggest task. We instinctively avoid it and opt for smaller tasks first.

    We think that if we complete enough small tasks that we will feel motivated to finish that really big one later. But that’s really false hope at work.

    Once we finish off a lot of small tasks, we either feel drained, or we tell ourselves we’ll do this the next day.

    Instead of doing all that, bite the bullet and tackle the largest task first.

    If you need help with prioritization, check out this article.

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    I argue this by challenging you to ask yourself this one question:

    “Is the task I’m about to do the top 20 percent of my activities or the bottom 80 percent?”

    I’m sure you’ve seen time and again you or other workers spending a lot of time on one task for most of the day. In those kinds of grinds, you’re barely getting ahead and have next to nothing to show for it. That’s because they’re putting all their attention on work that’s in the 80 percent.

    It’s normally the big tasks that are part of the 20 percent.

    Another way to think about this is that everything we do starts a habit. If every day we spend our energy on low-value tasks, we will always prioritize those.

    2. Stretch This Into Personal Life

    While I’ve been talking about business and setting goals, remember you can use this in other areas of your life, too.

    Take your personal life and ask yourself some of these questions:

    • How much TV do you watch on a regular basis? What sort of shows are you legitimately into? These questions can help you in recognizing what shows you are watching purely for consumption. By applying the 80 20 rule, you can cut back on Netflix, TV, or YouTube video consumption and prioritize other areas of your life.
    • What does your wardrobe look like in terms of colors? Are there specific colors that you like? Knowing what you wear most times will help you in sorting out your wardrobe significantly. It also saves you time to come up with what to wear every morning.
    • How many newsletters do you actually read? This question can help you in figuring out which newsletters to unsubscribe to and can clear up a lot of space in your inbox. It can also relieve pressure from having to check your emails constantly.
    • How much time do you spend on your phone every day? How much of that time is actually doing something meaningful? These questions can help you in clearing out various apps that aren’t helping you with your goals. In fact, this can curb the need to check your phone constantly.

    Final Thoughts

    The 80 20 rule is the productivity hack that many of us need, and for good reason. As you can tell, it’ll help you to focus and prioritize the more important aspects of your life.

    Not only that, but it’ll maximize those outputs at the same time and ensure you’re not spending too much time working on them. All you need to do is start asking questions and taking action.

    More Techniques to Help You Succeed in Life

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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