Amy Zhang is the founder of The Command Shift.
Amy Zhang decided to quiet quit her job because she felt burned out and had outgrown it. She planned an 8-month transition period that allowed her to focus on wedding planning. She trained her successor and only took on projects where she didn’t have to learn new skills.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Amy Zhang, a 30-year-old founder who once “quiet quit” a job. It’s been edited for length and clarity.
I quiet quit for eight months. To make it work, I had to take advantage of every second.
I knew I had to start prioritizing myself.
There’s never a perfect time to quit
I knew that quitting right before my wedding and a new marriage wasn’t ideal — but I wanted to do it on my own terms and timeline.
My job wasn’t terrible, but I’d outgrown it and wasn’t getting what I needed anymore. I was giving way more than I was receiving.
I worked in an intense and high-performing culture where people were sharp, quick, and agile — and everyone was expected to be, which bled into the personal sides of work relationships.
Plus, COVID had completely shifted the way people interacted with each other at work. I suddenly became the go-to person for emotional support at work, and the emotional labor required to hold up my team and stakeholders became overwhelming.
I started making a plan to quiet quit
Weddings are a time to be selfish. Knowing that gave me the jump I needed to start prioritizing myself in work as well as my personal life. I began creating a plan for my quiet quitting journey.
My first target was September — my wedding date, which was just three months away. But I had my eye on a sizable bonus in February too. So I gave myself an eight-month timeline and prepared myself with an ‘out’ in September if I needed it.
First, I made sure not to take on any more long-term projects at work
I actively pushed back on taking on anything where I had to learn something new. I knew I couldn’t just blatantly turn these projects down without adding some other value — so I picked projects that were easy for me but also important to the company.
I also worked on developing my team. I wanted to give them a chance to step up while relieving me of much of the “doing” work. I gave leadership updates on each employee’s development progress and team status.
The projects I picked were completing a system upgrade and solidifying the team while training my successor. The system upgrade was the right choice since I was the expert in that area, which meant I wouldn’t be pestered with questions and could work freely on the project.
Training my successor was a win-win-win
She would get mentorship and a promotion, the company would save money by paying her less and have a seamless transition, and I would get time and space to focus on other things.
My successor wanted to work hard because she knew she wasn’t going to get this level of attention from me forever. She would actively problem-solve and came to me for guidance. She wanted to make sure that she got enough practice reps in with me before I moved on to something else.
This gave me clarity, because I knew that when someone was calling, it wasn’t going to be for an emergency — because she was handling that.
I also assigned work to my team that matched their personal motivations
Happy people are more productive and it meant less emotional burden for me to carry. One employee wanted to be seen as the senior expert in his field, so I gave him and a new hire a project to work on together. This helped me train my new hire and also motivated my senior employee.
Another time, I had an associate who loved operations and execution and hated ambiguity. So I gave them quick wins like database management and clean-up that was easy for them. This not only helped them feel less overwhelmed, but also helped me on a task that would’ve probably been ignored until something broke.
My quiet quitting plan helped me plan my wedding, attend bachelorettes, go on my honeymoon, and attend a handful of other family events
My daily routine became clearer and I regained control over my schedule. I created better boundaries and signed off every day around 6 p.m. to focus on my wedding.
Two months into my quiet quitting timeline, I went to Italy on a two-week family vacation. I set this up as the first “test” for my successor to run the team without me. We planned a post-mortem to review what she did when I got back.
Four months into my plan, I went on two bachelorettes, got married, and went on my honeymoon. I was no longer in “test” mode with my successor — we were in full operation.
With this groundwork done, the rest of year was smooth sailing. I even had to request an exception to go five days over my year’s PTO allotment, taking a total of 35 days in 2022. And during my PTO, I only ever had to answer one or two minor text messages.
As my team became more self-sufficient and motivated, I realized I’d eliminated my own position
This meant it was time for me to leave. In March 2023, I left my company, and it felt like a satisfying relief. My mission was accomplished, and I think I left the company in a better place.
What I found during my eight months of quiet quitting is that it’s easy to fall into a passive state and stay there. Maintaining boundaries, managing well, motivating others, and shaping your own life at work and at home takes discipline, dedication, and a good system.
Looking back, I can’t believe I was living the way I was
I was burnt out, constantly on calls, fielding problems, and had little to no personal time. I worked long hours and after work, I had to handle household duties and plan a wedding with almost no headspace to think straight. So I chose to take the solopreneur route — and now have taken full control of my schedule and balance.
My new venture — launching a company focused on guiding businesses in achieving higher performance — was inspired by this experience. After taking time to enjoy my own personal life milestones, I realized I could help more companies create better systems for their employees too.