Six reasons you’re not a villain for quitting your ‘do good’ job

Posted by | August 27, 2015 | How to change jobs, Work tips

Six reasons you're not a villain for leaving your 'do good' job


King Joffrey: face it, you're nowhere near as evil as him.

“I am the king! I will punish you! ” – You & Joffrey are just SO SIMILAR.

You’re miserable at work… but you can’t let them down. You want to quit your job… but you’ve poured your heart & soul into it. You’d love to make more money… but leaving seems selfish.

Sound familiar? Quitting a job can be hard, not matter what field you work in. For those of us who work in the ‘do good’ sector,  leaving can feel almost impossible. Because our jobs are about helping others or the environment, stepping back can feel fraught with betrayal, fear or selfishness.

But quitting does NOT make you the King Joffrey of NGOs. Not even close. Here are 6 good reasons people quit ‘do good’ jobs, accompanied by images of the most bad-ass baddies around. If you want to reach their villainous heights, you’ll have to work a lot harder.


Ursula: trust me, you've got a way to go. Have you ever tricked a mermaid into giving her your voice?

“Now I am the ruler of all the ocean! The waves obey my every whim!” – Ursula’s pretty much your twin. Jealous!

Reason #1: You’re not getting the support you need

This is a common problem in ‘do good’ jobs: there is often not enough capacity (time, resources, energy) to create or implement processes that ensure workers get the support they need. Just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.

Unfortunately, your employer may not realise what you need, until you ask. Support could look like professional supervision, mediation, regular check-ins or even looking at a re-allocation of work within your team. But if the support isn’t there, or isn’t working for you, quitting may be the next logical step, one that shouldn’t make you feel like an evil lavender-skinned Sea Witch octopus-woman (unless you want it to).

Like Callisto, you too are the leader of a group of mutant outcasts living in the sewers.

Like Callisto, you’re so totally the leader of a sewer-dwelling gang of mutant outcasts

Reason #2: You’re not getting paid enough

For many, it’s a given that ‘do good’ jobs won’t make you rich: it’s the obvious trade-off for doing work that we love, work that feels important to us, work that aligns with our values.  For some, earning less or working fewer hours can be an important and deliberate choice, a challenge to the status quo.

But circumstances change – babies, mortgages, dentist bills – and we decide that we do need to earn more. Or perhaps we change, grow older,  find we aren’t content with our shared flats and carefully measured shopping lists.  This doesn’t mean that we’ve become leaders of mutant outcasts living in the sewers, it just means… well, that we’ve changed. And that’s okay.


Cruella de Vil: when did you last try to make dalmatians into a coat?

“Oh, yes! I love the smell of near extinction!” – you & Cruella = BFFs

 Reason #3: You’re not irreplaceable

Would your workplace fall apart if you stepped back? Would your departure create a legacy of smoke, tears and destruction? Are you the keystone species of the fragile ecological web of your social enterprise rainforest? For most of us, the answer is no. Perhaps our departure will be met with tears, we will be missed, but our role within the organisation will be snaffled up eventually.

If your workplace will be genuinely ravaged and destroyed, then you need to change this, and fast. Write down instructions, teach others, create guides to your systems, divest that knowledge! Too much responsibility is a dangerous thing.


Emperor Chang: when did you last take over a community college?

“Chang eats the sun and drinks the sky”  – you want to be Emperor too, eh?

 Reason #4: Your health is worth more than any job

Jobs can be stressful. Very stressful. ‘Do good’ jobs are no exception to this rule (see Reason #1). If your work ever gets to a stage where you feel like your mental or physical health is being seriously put into jeopardy, it’s time to talk to your manager or employer.

If this doesn’t make an impact, talk to friends, family or a counsellor and work out a plan that will get you out of that job ASAP, safely. Does putting your health first equate you with a power-mad ex-Spanish Teacher who makes himself emperor of a community college? Probably not.


Scar: that time you led an army of hyenas to murder Mufasa and exile Simba,

That time you led an army of hyenas to murder Mufasa. Memories.

Reason #5: You want to climb higher

In small sectors and organisations, employees often reach a certain place: a standstill, where we’ve mastered our current role and there’s no positions to set our sites on above. “Where to from here?” we wonder. ‘Oh look, that organisation has the perfect next step…”

This is a perfectly legitimate reason to quit, but do talk to your current employer or manager first. There may be hidden options, ways to bring fresh challenges to your role that you haven’t yet thought of. But wanting fresh horizons, a challenge,  even a pay increase… these desires certainly don’t make you a modern-day Scar. I mean: do you even know any hyenas?

"Only I can live forever" - Voldemort 5 Year Plan is the same as yours.

“Only I can live forever” – You &  Voldemort have the same 5 Year Plan

Reason #6: A job is not an unbreakable oath

A job is a transaction where you are paid money by an employer to complete ongoing work or a specific project. It is not an unbreakable oath. If you are not getting what you need on your side of the transaction, then you are free to ask for changes or resign. If your employer was not getting what they needed, they’d sure as Hogwarts let you know about it.

Did you say you’d stay for 18 months, and it’s only been 10? Well, that’s unfortunate, but not unreasonable: circumstances change, workplaces change, roles change. People change. Quitting is well within the bounds of expectation. Unless, of course, you are a Death Eater, and then you might have more pressing concerns, anyway.

Are you now convinced that quitting your ‘do good’ job doesn’t make you a villain à la Joffrey, Cruella de Vil and Lord Voldemort? I hope so (there aren’t that many Dalmatians around as it is).

Have YOU ever quit a ‘do good’ Job? What was easy or difficult about quitting? Do you agree that ‘do good’ jobs can have extra stressors compared with corporate jobs? Share your story by commenting below.

By Liz Willoughby-Martin

Like this post? You might also like Escape the daily grind: take a radical sabbatical and The courage to continue: 7 big successes who failed first

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