I often surprise people by suggesting they write a letter of resignation and have it constantly at hand in written form, so they can sign it and hand it to their boss at a moment’s notice. Some people think it’s disloyal, or pessimistic, or somehow dangerous to have this incendiary document close at hand.
Please know I make this suggestion not to encourage people to quit their jobs – although quite often this is exactly what they need to do.
Counterintuitively, when people take my advice, they often find that they can re-engage with their work more positively and energetically. There’s something to be said for a “f**k it, I can quit this job, but before I do, I want to see what I can make happen” attitude. There’s something about giving yourself the “quit option” that might help you achieve a state of grace and help you step away from victimhood into a creative stance and a new level of commitment.
Giving yourself the option to quit can increase your willingness to take risks in your current job, to speak up, to set boundaries, strive towards new goals, and speak truth to power. In other words, it can give you a greater sense of personal power to do the things you should be doing anyway.
Now, of course, we are sometimes in positions in life in which we are truly trapped in a job, due to macroeconomic or personal financial situations. But for many of us, we trap ourselves in an unsatisfactory job because we don’t have the courage to either change the way we show up in it or to get out of it altogether.
Write the letter and see how it feels. It might feel good. It might help you find reasons to give more to your current job rather than leave it. That, after all, might be the best choice – you can leave the letter of resignation in the desk drawer but don’t lose the feeling it gives you – the feeling that you can change your circumstances one way or the other. Stay in your current job with a level of motivation to make it what you want – or leave. Sticking around and mailing it in is a bad choice.