The Art of Conscious Quitting: How to Leave Your Job with Grace and Purpose

Have you heard about “conscious quitting”? It’s becoming more popular for employees to leave their jobs when their values don’t align with their employers. Many people in the US and UK would quit if their employer’s values didn’t match their own.

So how should you consciously quit your job? Leaving your job might seem overwhelming, but remember that it can open doors to exciting new opportunities. Pinpoint your reasons for leaving and plan for your exit strategy. Speak honestly with your boss, keep it professional, and offer to help with the transition. Knowing the company culture and your legal rights and obligations can make exiting easier.

Stay optimistic and confident, looking forward to your future, and you’ll be on the right track to a smooth transition. You’re not alone—one in three people will say goodbyeOpens in a new tab. to companies they deem lacking when it comes to shared corporate values. So keep reading to master the art of conscious quitting, which involves taking intentional steps to leave a job in a positive and respectful way.

1. Understand Why You’re Leaving

Not everyone leaves their job because of better opportunities or relocation. 65% of employeesOpens in a new tab. quit because of bullying. Furthermore, 97% of CEOs think their companies care for mental health, but less than 70% of employeesOpens in a new tab. agree. Empathy is the key to retaining talent in workplaces.

Understanding why you’re leaving your current job is the foundation for a successful exit strategy. Taking the time to reflect on your reasons for leaving is crucial. For example, you might quit due to:

  • A lack of growth opportunities
  • A toxic work environment
  • A better offer from another company

Evaluate your career goals honestly and how your current job aligns with them. Once you understand your motivations for leaving, you can start planning your exit strategy and ensure that you leave your job with grace and purpose.

“More of us are stepping forward to play our part in the intergenerational work of co-creating regenerative workplaces and livelihoods that are in service to a life sustaining world for people and planet,” shares Lynda MorrisseyOpens in a new tab., a senior recruitment manager and career coach.

If you need more ideas about what a good work environment looks like, we have written an article entitled, What is a Sustainable Workplace? (6 Ways to Create a Sustainable Work Environment)Opens in a new tab..”

2. Plan Your Exit Strategy

Once you know why you need to leave and confirm that your decision is final. Then, you can plan a well-thought-out exit strategy. Here are some helpful tips for an effective strategy:

Mark important dates on your calendar

Take into account all the necessary dates involved in leaving your job, such as:

  • When to submit your resignation letter
  • Your last day at work
  • Any meetings with your boss
  • Any other necessary preparations

It can help to have a speech to thank your colleaguesOpens in a new tab. and express gratitude for the experience gained. Ultimately, a clear timeline can help you stay organized and minimize stress.

Consult your support system

Discuss the move with a trustworthy colleague, mentor, or career coach who can offer unbiased advice and assist you in identifying any areas you might overlook.

Stay composed

Try to avoid getting too emotional or worked up by your work environment. Remember why you plan to quit if your colleagues inquire about you leaving, and stick to your decision.

Be adaptable

Be willing to adjust your exit plan, like postponing your resignation date, to ensure adequate savings.

Be discreet

Try to keep your plans to yourself as much as possible to avoid negative effects on your job or reputation.

April RutkaOpens in a new tab., a business coach, advises, “It’s very easy to get pulled off track especially if you are sharing your dreams with other people who aren’t where you are at right now. They may bring up all kinds of scary stories about what could possibly happen and your mind might end up doing a tail spin and you find yourself huddled up in a ball on your couch. Not to fear—just be mindful of who you are sharing your dreams with and why. If they have broken free of their previous job shackles, well that’s a deserving ear. If you are talking to your mom who has had the same job for the past 25 years, her unsupportive opinion (because she wants grandbabies sooner than later) may not be as welcome. It may sound harsh but the world is full of naysayers and you don’t need the emotional downer at the moment.”

An effective exit strategy helps you transition smoothly to your next opportunity. Changing jobs requires a clear plan and confidence.

Critically thinking about quitting your current job in the first place may take some time to ponder. Is It a Good Idea to Quit Your Corporate Job to Start a Craft Business?Opens in a new tab. may inspire you with ideas.

3. Have a Candid Conversation with Your Boss

You’ll have to speak with your boss. It’s best to be authentic and concise about why you plan to quit. This discussion is why you must understand the reason you want to leave your job. Having a firm grasp allows you to communicate your decision in a thoughtful and assured manner.

Prepare a brief script to help you stay focused and clear during the conversation. If you’re leaving for another professional opportunity, explain how your current role has provided valuable experience and skills for your new job. Express gratitude for the time spent with the company, but clarify how the new role aligns better with your future aspirations and goals.

In the case of unhappiness with the current workplace, express a desire for things to have been different. However, highlight that you have found a work environment that better suits your needs.

Remember to steer clear of blaming your boss or coworkers. Instead, concentrate on your career objectives and ambitions. You may be tempted to decrease the effort you put into your current job — you’re leaving soon anyway — but it’s best to work hard until your last day.

“Demonstrate your professionalism by asking your employer when they’re available for an in-person meeting and schedule a conversation to discuss your resignation. Face-to-face communication indicates that you’re confident about your decision, respect your boss, and don’t want to drop the news over email. Moreover, this is an opportunity to have a constructive dialogue, allowing you to talk about why you’re quitting and ensure there’s no animosity in the future,” says Ryan GiffenOpens in a new tab., a human resources director. He adds, “A timely conversation also gives your boss enough time to prepare and identify how to operate afterward. Ultimately, an in-person meeting shows your integrity and that you care about your employer’s time.”

We have written a more detailed article on jobs that give you more stress than peace. Read Signs of a Toxic Work Environment & How to Help AbolishOpens in a new tab..”

4. Give a Timely Notice

Executive resume writer Jessica HernandezOpens in a new tab. remarks, “When writing your resignation email, share that you’re leaving and that you’re grateful for the experience and opportunities. But don’t make the mistake of diving into any issues that may have prompted your move. If you feel compelled to share feedback, opt to do so in a one-on-one conversation or an exit interview.”

Giving two weeks’ notice when resigning is the usual practice in most workplaces. It’s not only courteous, but it also gives your employer enough time to planOpens in a new tab. and organize your replacement. Likewise, it leaves a positive impression on your colleagues and bosses. Doing so can come in handy if you need to use them as references in the future.

You could think about extending your transition period if:

  • Your job requires you to handle complex tasks
  • You have the option to stay a little longer

This paves the way for smoothly handing over your responsibilities and leaving your team on good terms.

Sometimes, life happens, and you might have to leave on short notice. For instance, your new boss wants you to start working ASAP. In such cases, read your contract and speak with HR to avoid legal repercussions. And if you’re dealing with extreme situations like workplace harassment, bullying, or personal crisis, leaving on short notice or no notice at all may be justifiable.

Writing the Formal Letter of Resignation

Writing a resignation letter can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Start by stating that you’ve accepted another position and express your gratitude for the opportunities and experience your current organization has given you. Then, provide the final date you’ll be on the job and offer to help your company transition to its replacement.

After Writing and Handing Over the Letter

Set up a meeting with your boss to let them know in person. Many employers try to keep someone who plans to quit by giving them a counteroffer.

Paul McDonaldOpens in a new tab. advises steeling yourself against that possibility: “Don’t be surprised if you receive a generous counteroffer that may include a higher salary, more paid time off, or expanded perks. But beware—these deals are oftentimes too good to be true. They might seem attractive on the surface, but accepting them may prove to be risky.”

When you announce your intention to resign, it can change how your employer perceives you, potentially leading them to question your loyalty. Suppose you accept a counteroffer and stay at the company. In that case, management may view you as someone who isn’t fully invested in the organization’s success, putting your career progression and job security at risk.

Accepting a counteroffer could lead to management passing you over for a promotion. In the event of layoffs, you may be among the first to go. It may be better to finish strong by emphasizing your commitment to giving your best effort during your remaining time there and being available for a limited amount of time to answer any questions after you leave. Remember: you’ve left the company. While it’s a good idea to help them transition even after you’ve left by answering questions they might have, they no longer compensate you for your time. Lastly, reiterate your appreciation for the company and the positive aspects of your employment.

How you leave your job leaves a lasting impression on others. Stellar work history can be tainted with a bad exit. Provide as much notice as possible so that you do not regret anything when you leave the company.

5. Don’t Burn Bridges

Burning bridges when leaving a job is a shortsighted move. After all, today’s coworkers could become tomorrow’s clients or supervisors.

While some actions, such as rage quittingOpens in a new tab. or sending a scathing email, are obviously destructive, others may not be illegal but still reflect poorly on your judgment and personality.

Stealing from the Office

One common mistake is taking office supplies. Your coworkers will notice. Doing this shows a lack of respect for the company and your colleagues. 

Paid Time Off as Notice Period

Similarly, giving no notice or taking almost all of your notice period as sick leave or vacation is the same as giving no notice. This can leave your employer scrambling to find a replacement and reflects poorly on your professionalism. Remember: the point of giving two weeks’ notice is to help your organization transition.

Destroying Company Property

Another way to leave a bad impression is through methods such as:

  • Deleting intellectual property
  • Damaging equipment

These actions can raise eyebrows and damage your reputation with future employers.

Ranting on Social Media

Resist the temptation to bad mouth your past company or coworkers online. Even if you think it’s anonymous, it’s not difficult for others to figure out who wrote it. Such an act can damage your relationships with former colleagues and potentially harm your future job prospects.

Your departure from a job can have a long-lasting impact on your reputation and relationships. Whether you’re leaving due to a difficult boss or a better opportunity, the last impression may “last” for a lifetime.

If you’re still unsure about what to do, you may gain insights from reading “The Joy of Work – Bruce Daisley (30 Ways to Fix Your Work Culture and Fall in Love with Your Job Again)Opens in a new tab.”.

6. Offer to Help with the Transition and Provide Helpful Feedback

You want to avoid leaving your coworkers in a lurch, so tie up any loose ends when you provide a two-week notice. And let’s be honest — you don’t want your last impression to be that of a slacker who left their colleagues in a bind. So, finish up any major projects, document your processes and procedures, and offer to help find and train your replacement.

Moreover, when quitting a jobOpens in a new tab., many employers want to know what they could have done differently to improve their workplace for future employees. You can provide constructive feedback during a conversation with your boss, letting them know what made your employee experience great and what could have been better.

Some companies conduct exit interviewsOpens in a new tab. before workers leave. If that’s the case, the HR department will likely ask you to rate your:

  • Experience
  • Job responsibilities
  • Benefits
  • Learning and training
  • Company culture
  • Relationships with managers and colleagues

Your feedback should be genuine and specific so that the employer can address potential issues and boost employee retention.

Another consideration is the company culture. Depending on your workplace, the way you approach your exit may vary. Some companies prioritize maintaining positive relationships, while others focus on squeezing every last bit of productivity out of you.

While it’s easy to get caught up in negative feelings or frustrations, try to keep things positive by offering help, expressing gratitude for your opportunities, and communicating clearly with your boss and coworkers.

7. Reflect on Your Experience

Part of the art of conscious quitting is to reflect on your experience and stay positive and confident. Leaving a job can be a valuable learning experience and an opportunity for growth. Spend time thinking about the following:

  • What you’ve learned
  • The skills you’ve acquired
  • The relationships you’ve built

Career coach Jasmine EscaleraOpens in a new tab. provides valuable insight on this:

“Never start (or continue) a job search coming from a place of desperation or anger. I started my job search because I seriously wanted out of my current role. And that anger of spending over 5-years in a toxic workplace was the energy that carried me right to another complete WRONG position and workspace. So instead of leading with negativity, I encourage my clients to find the positive reasons for their transition and connect to the great things their new role will bring them once they accept it.”

Maintaining a positive attitude and outlook will help you maintain good habits while you’re between jobs. It’s essential to embrace new opportunities and approach them with confidence and excitement.

8. Embrace the Future

After all that meticulous preparation, you’ve handed in your formal letter of resignation and completed the exit process.

You’re now free to focus on the future and the new opportunities that lie ahead. It’s time to embrace the next step in your journey with a positive attitude. Reflect on what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown, and use that to guide you toward your next career move.

More importantly, determine what kind of job you would like to pursue. Have a deep understanding of what you need from your employer to flourish rather than just get by.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and try something new. Keep an open mind and remain optimistic about what the future has in store.

Remember, leaving a job is not the end of your career but rather the start of a new chapterOpens in a new tab.. By embracing the future and your new opportunities, you can move forward with confidence and excitement.

Read The Future of Work – Adjusting to the New NormalOpens in a new tab. to learn new things and ways of life.

Related Questions

1. Do employers get mad when you quit?

When you inform your manager about your resignation, their reaction may be influenced by their emotions at that moment. They may feel upset or even angry, and may also worry about how to handle the workload without you. It’s possible they may feel betrayed, so it’s important to approach the conversation with kindness and understanding.

2. Will I regret it if I quit my job?

Feeling regret after quitting is a natural occurrence. You may feel relieved and thrilled immediately after submitting your resignation, but it’s also common to experience a sense of regret down the line. The danger of experiencing remorse is that it can cloud an employee’s judgment, even if it’s just temporary. Remember your reasons for leaving—take control of your career and find the path that’s right for you.

FAQs Covered in this Article

Q: What is “conscious quitting”?

A: Conscious quitting is the process of thoughtfully and deliberately leaving a job, taking into account the impact on one’s career, relationships, and personal well-being, and ensuring a smooth transition for both the individual and the organization.

Q: Why is it important to leave a job with grace and purpose?

A: Leaving a job with grace and purpose maintains professional relationships, builds a positive reputation, and ensures a smoother transition for the organization and the employee moving forward.

Q: What steps should I take before making the decision to quit my job?

A: Before making the decision to quit, consider your reasons for leaving, evaluate alternative options, reflect on the potential consequences, discuss your concerns with trusted colleagues or mentors, and create a plan for your future career path.

Q: How can I prepare for a conversation with my boss about quitting my job?

A: Prepare for the conversation by outlining your reasons for leaving, considering potential counteroffers, being ready to discuss your notice period and transition plan, and practicing your communication to ensure a respectful and professional tone.

Q: What should I include in my resignation letter?

A: In your resignation letter, include a clear statement of your intention to resign, the effective date of your resignation, gratitude for the opportunities and experiences gained during your employment, and a willingness to help with the transition process.

Q: How can I maintain a positive attitude and continue to contribute during my notice period?

A: Maintain a positive attitude by focusing on completing projects, transferring knowledge to colleagues, staying professional and respectful, and reflecting on the positive aspects of your time with the organization.

Q: How can I leave a lasting positive impression on my colleagues and the organization?

A: To leave a lasting positive impression, offer support during the transition process, share your appreciation for your colleagues, maintain open communication, and continue to demonstrate your commitment to your work until your last day.

Steve Todd

Steve Todd, founder of Open Sourced Workplace and is a recognized thought leader in workplace strategy and the future of work. With a passion for work from anywhere, Steve has successfully implemented transformative strategies that enhance productivity and employee satisfaction. Through Open Sourced Workplace, he fosters collaboration among HR, facilities management, technology, and real estate professionals, providing valuable insights and resources. As a speaker and contributor to various publications, Steve remains dedicated to staying at the forefront of workplace innovation, helping organizations thrive in today's dynamic work environment.

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