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People Are Quitting Their Jobs in Record Numbers—Here's Why It Might Not Make You Any Happier

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Almost 4 million Americans quit their jobs in April, according to the Labor Department. The most on record since the government started recording labor turnover in 2000.

Reasons for quitting vary: some were looking for better pay, others wanted to stick with the work-from-home life Covid-19 ushered in and some realized they were dissatisfied and burned out with their job.

But will quitting your job really make you happier? Experts say maybe not as much as you think, especially in the long run and if don't plan properly.

CNBC Make It spoke to two leading happiness experts about why quitting your job doesn't necessarily bring long-term happiness and key things to think about before you quit.

People tend to adapt back

Quitting your job might make you happy — at first. But that feeling may not last long, says Sonja Lyubomirsky, distinguished professor of psychology and vice chair at the University of California, Riverside.

Lyubomirsky has been studying happiness for more than 30 years.

When making changes, "we focus on the immediate change and how it will make us feel but not what will happen a month later," Lyubomrisky says.

"When we think of, 'Oh the day I quit, it's going to be so amazing. I don't have to deal with that boss anymore or that work anymore, it is amazing,' says Lyubomirsky, author "The How of Happiness" and "The Myths of Happiness."

But it may be only a day, a week or maybe a month before you adapt back and new problems bubble up. It's a phenomenon in psychology known as hedonic adaptation — people have a general tendency to return to a set level of happiness despite life's ups and downs.

"Hedonic adaptation leads us to get used to that positive change and our expectations become a bit higher," she says.

Quitting a job you don't like can contribute to overall happiness "because goal pursuit in itself is associated with happiness," Lyubomirsky says. "But they shouldn't just put all their hopes in that one basket."

You can't run away from yourself

The reason for quitting a job can also affect whether or not it will add to your happiness.

"Is it something about you or is it something about the job? Because if it's you, you will likely bring that problem to your next job," Lyubomirsky says. "We take ourselves with us to the new job."

Annie McKee, Ph.D., author of "How to Be Happy at Work," agrees.

People should "think long and hard about what it is about their current job that is making them unhappy and get really clear about that," says McKee, who is a senior fellow and director of the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education Penn CLO Executive Doctoral Program.

Typically, says McKee, there are really only a few things that make people hate a job, like a boss, the commute or office culture. It is important to get clear about what your issues are, so you don't make the same mistakes again, she says.

"You also need to know what you want and what you'd like to find in this new chapter of your life," she says.

"So it's really not a question of, 'Can you be happy when you quit your job?' You definitely can," she says. "Rather it's more of a question of: What are you leaving? What do you no longer want in your work life? And more importantly, what do you want?"

3 things to think about before you quit

McKee, who advises clients from CEOs at Fortune 50 companies to government officials in South Africa, says she encourages people to think about three things before quitting a job.

Find your why

McKee says you first need to figure out what fulfills you and gives you purpose in your work.

"Then look for companies or small businesses, where you can actually do the things that make you feel like your work and life is worthwhile," McKee says. "So that's No. 1."

Think long-term

When looking for a new job, McKee advises people to think more long-term and visualize the kind of lifestyle they ultimately want.

"Plan for not only the job you want now but your trajectory. The next job after that," she says. "Career trajectory is going to be the one thing that will allow you to feel truly hopeful about that future."

Think about your future co-workers

It's also important to think about the kind of people you want to work with and search for companies and industries that have those kinds of people, McKee says. Ask yourself things like: Are they creative? Do they share your values or interests?

The people you surround yourself with at work matter, she says.

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