Quick. Quiet. Effective. That’s how a ninja gets things done. It’s probably also how they quit. At least the bad jobs.
Poof. Barely a trace you were ever there.
That’s not how a lot of us imagine quitting. We seem to prefer the Jerry Maguire style. You know, the one that leaves you utterly unemployable, desperate, and begging for clients.
Show me the money… Except in reality they don’t.
Most of us have quit a job before. Or dreamed about it. You might quit again in a few years. Each time presents its own dangers. You can bungle your exit, and leave plenty of pissed off people — enemies.
Quitting calls for a certain amount of discretion and stealth. You have to be careful and keep your guard up until your last day and beyond. And you also need to strategize your life after. A sloppy quit can follow you into your next job. It can cloud your future.
Don’t threaten to quit before you do it.
Ninjas don’t posture. They don’t telegraph. You never know what a ninja’s planning until they’ve done it.
Then they ghost.
Sure, you still have to give a two weeks’ notice. But that’s all you have to do. No arguments. No turf wars. You don’t have to make an ordeal out of quitting— not with your managers.
Let’s say you work in a toxic environment. Threats and ultimatums only make things worse. Any frenemies or outright foes will try to make your life miserable for as long as they can.
Plus, threatening to quit just makes you look silly. You’re either going to quit. Or you’re not. Make up your mind first. Quitting doesn’t work very well as a bargaining chip, unless you’re leveraging a job offer for a promotion. Even then, you only do that when you actually want to stay.
Don’t ask for a going away celebration.
Not that you would. But just in case. See, some people think a party is mandatory every time someone leaves. Don’t listen to them. Those fuckers just want free cake on Friday.
Someone might throw a party for you. That’s fine. But don’t count on it. Especially if you’re leaving on less than ideal terms.
Presents and parties happen when you retire. When you leave a job you like for a promotion. That kind of stuff.
But you’re not doing that. You’re quitting for one of a dozen other reasons. So let go of any expectations. You don’t have to showcase your contempt. But you don’t need to put frosting on it, either. Tell a small handful of people you trust. Don’t put all your reasons in writing. Let them wonder. Ninjas are all about mystique and deception.
Plan out your departure
Quitting takes strategy. You need to decide on your last day, and how you’ll hand over your responsibilities. It’s not about owing your employers anything, more about the reputation you want to leave behind.
A reputation as someone with their shit together.
Don’t give anyone a reason to talk trash about you. Don’t let your boss pretend you’re completely expendable.
We’re all replaceable. But we’re not disposable.
Also, the work you did mattered. So decide on what projects you want to wrap up before you punch your eject button.
The worst thing you can do is jump out of the car and watch it fly off the edge of a cliff. Slow down. Pull over. Hand the wheel to someone else. That means tying up loose ends. Answering questions about how things run. Giving your boss a timeline that includes a date after which point you’re going to stop answering their desperate pleas for help.
Don’t try to piss off your boss.
You don’t want to cremate yourself in the process of leaving a crap job. Even if you think of your boss as a chicken in a person suit, you’ll probably need them for a reference at some point.
Civility might pose a challenge, especially if you pride yourself on a certain brand of terse honesty. It’s okay. Your boss probably suspects what you really think about them already.
You don’t have to say it out loud.
Storming out of some office or board meeting probably won’t help your career. Neither will a rant over the phone. A ninja doesn’t do any of that. They solve their problems in silence. And they leave.
Keep your resignation brief.
Keep your official letter vanilla, and your real reasons to yourself this time. It’s a public document. Not a platform to air all of your grievances. Not a chance to zing your boss one last time. People are going to have access to that letter, and you don’t want it attracting much attention.
Besides, a good employee like you has already given their boss every last chance to resolve problems. You’ve already let them know what’s wrong. Maybe several times.
You’ve asked for the resources and support you needed. They never came. You’ve pointed out the mistakes, and nobody fixed them but you. Don’t belabor your reasons for leaving.
It just makes you look like a toxic person. You might be pissed, but an angry screed for a resignation makes you look like the problem. Remember: your job now is to escape as quickly, quietly, and painlessly as possible. Save the roasting for later, over drinks.
Let your haters hate.
Ninjas know their enemies. They don’t expect everyone to speak well of them in their absence. Besides, anyone who talks trash about you after you’ve quit didn’t like you anyway.
They were just pretending to.
Plus, they probably talked trash about you while you were there. You just didn’t know. They’re doing it more openly now because it’s free of consequences. So let them. Don’t respond.
People who actually respected you won’t think any different. They’ll only start to wonder if you keep sniping at former colleagues on Facebook. You’re supposed to be moving on, right? That’s why you quit.
Give yourself some down time.
Maybe you’re quitting a demanding job. One where you didn’t feel valued or respected. One where you couldn’t rely on key people. One that started to drain you like a vampire.
So you’re probably tired.
You don’t want to drift after you leave a job. But a little rest can help revive your old self. Especially if you’ll be walking into a new workplace. You don’t want to carry all the old baggage with you.
Some time off can help with that, if you can afford it. Think of a week or two as a buffer between your old job and your new one. If you’re going to finally pursue your dreams — like self employment — then you’ll want to make sure you’re energized and optimistic. Not strung out.
Don’t look back for anything.
You have to actually let go of your old job. That’s how you move forward with your new life and career goals.
That means making the new hire in your old position figure things out for themselves after a certain date. Letting them make different decisions than you would have. Letting them screw up.
After all, it’s not your job anymore.
You’re not responsible for what happens at your old workplace after you give up a position. Some of us secretly hope everything goes to hell after we leave, because that somehow vindicates us.
But not really. Long term, it’s better to focus on making an impact at your new job — not watching your old company crumble. Maybe it will. But that won’t change anything about your future.
If that happens — and you hear about it — great. But don’t turn into that former colleague who keeps showing up at happy hour, fishing for gossip and dirt. Ninjas don’t hang around bars. Well, Deadpool did. But we’re trying to aim a little higher here.