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Don't Get Mad—Get Even! Plan Your Exit Strategy Now!by Mel Dawn
I wrote this article a few years ago and never placed it. There are some links going around on Facebook about women leaving themselves an exit strategy. Since those articles better cover exit strategies involving sexual abuse, I wanted to cover exit strategies that may be just as psychologically damaging when they’re based on bullying, racism, threats, or any number of other tactics that corporations practice.
The best reason for planning an exit strategy may be when you realize that it's better to leave your job than take even one more minute sucking up to your boss, or handling an abusive work situation that doesn't improve. This calls for some quick planning on your part.
Ideally, you should have a two-year exit plan in place. The single top reason why no one leaves their job now is due to financial stress. Everyone needs to pay their rent, bills and eat. Without a solid plan in place, you are either going to end up on the street, or worse, back at your parent’s house.
Obviously some situations call for you to leave immediately. Anything involving physical abuse for example. In those situations I suggest you contact a lawyer, so you can at least have a solid termination package in place, covering expenses and healthcare while you look for a new job.
The rest of the people may be on the cusp, meaning your job is so awful you can't take it anymore, but someone else might be rushing in to take your job from you. Generally, people don't leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. People work bad jobs that have great bosses and colleagues.
What you must do is plan your job exit accordingly. You must be ruthless. You have made one of the most difficult decisions of your life and now you must follow-through. Let's hope you can eek out your work existence for another two years. If not, one year should give you enough of a cash cow for you to survive, until you can find a better job.
It goes without saying that right now you're going to need to be ruthless and cut all your utilities. Decide which is more important, cell phone or home phone. Cancel all internet service, cable service, alarm monitoring plans, and cell phone data plans. Toss out those magazine or online subscription renewals. No more gaming, nor more magazines or books.
Keep some used food jars and save them for your cash. Each month set up three jars. One for rent/mortgage, one for food and one for utilities, etc. Place $100 in each one, except for rent, that needs to be the exact amount. When those jars are empty, stop. You are not buying anything until the next month.
Can you do it? Yes you can! You can visit the library where there are shelves full of free-to-use books, CDs and DVDs. Why buy those anymore?
Once you have your expenses in order, you must start placing money in your savings account. Ideally, this needs to be one entire paycheck per month. Yes, that's right. You must learn to live on only one pay check per month. Because when you're off work, you're not going to have much to live on. After you have set aside your one paycheck, and the other paycheck has been divvied into the jars, what's left is going to be used to pay off any of your other debts, such as car loans or school loans. And that all needs to be gone in one year's time, leaving you debt-free.
When you start despairing of this, remember how you spent the last seven nights for several hours curled up in a ball on the bed crying about your job. It'll all be worth it in the end.
The next thing you need to do is change your meals. No more eating fast food, meals out, or junk food. Shop the healthy aisles at the grocery store. Remember that library? They have some great cook books. Whenever they have free lunch day or free donuts at work, load up. Pack up some to take home. That will take care of some of your meals. Pour some coffee in your thermos for when you wake up in the morning. It's not that bad.
Now is the time to ask for a reference from human resources. Of course you're not asking for a job reference, you are asking for a reference to return to school. Once you’ve left, they won't have an issue with confirming your employment, as you have already asked.
The “return to school” explanation is also perfect if someone starts questioning you. They can, and will notice a change in your attitude, mainly, the “I don’t give a fuck anymore” attitude. It can simply be explained away by long nights of night school, homework, and being broke. You’ll also get brownie points from your manager as employers love employees that pay for their own schooling.
It must also be said that you should be documenting any abuse that you’re experiencing from a manager or supervisor. You’ll also document any emails, letters, or correspondence. Be sure to show your side of things, and how you attempted to fix the situation, perhaps with human resources, another manager, or the CEO. Keep all your records at home. This may be the difference between being able to apply for EI—Employment Insurance—or not.
Many countries are taking a stance against bullying and abuse in the workplace. Having a valid excuse for quitting your job will still qualify you for EI, but you’re going to need to have documentation, and possibly letters from physicians. And, having some extra cash coming in while you search for your next job will help ease the worry that your landlord may dump you on the curb because you have no money for rent. Never feel bad about being on EI—your employer was an asshole, not you.
Make sure you write down email addresses and phone numbers of people you wish to keep in contact with. These may be people that you'll need a reference from later. Get all the info now, so you won't forget later. Start cleaning out any personal information from your email or computer. You’d be surprised at how little you'll need to do once you put in notice on your last day.
If you have a chance, ask for a raise. The more money you can save, the better. Be sure to max out all your benefits. Need fillings, caps or braces? Take care of that now. New glasses? Physical exams? Minor surgery? Do it now. Use up all your paid sick days, if you have them, as most companies don’t pay them out when you leave. If you have paid vacation coming, don't take it. If anyone questions it, say you are saving it for a big trip to Europe. No one will question you. When you leave, they have to pay you out for it. Having four weeks of vacation paid out is going to give you one month of living expenses that you won’t need to worry about during your job search.
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