This second article in a 3-part series about How to leave a job. The first article was B. Exiting yourself from the job. This article takes a step back, to choices you have before exiting a job.
A. Making a decision to leave
You aren’t happy in your workscape. There’s much discontent. What will you do?
Is leaving the right decision for me?
A common reason for people to leave a job is that they are not getting what they want or hoped for from the job or the organisation. When frustrations are high, it seems the only option is to leave.
Changing jobs is a high-energy activity and can cause disruption to your life – which isn’t to say it’s a reason to avoid taking this step, simply that it might not be the first option to consider. There may be less energy to spend but greater results to achieve by changing some things – right where you are.
The grass is greener – where you water it.
~ Justin Bieber (From song: As Long as You Love Me)
Find yourself saying things like these?
“I’m not valued around here” or “I feel betrayed that I’m not getting X”
A useful way to explore the source of frustrations and what you might do about it, is the Value Exchange Activity
“I’m sick and tired of X“.
The most immediate thing you might do is practice some self-care. Try to get yourself in a calm self-caring frame of mind before making any big decision, including leaving. It may turn out that leaving is ultimately the best form of self-care, but if you aren’t practicing self-care in the small things, then it’s likely you aren’t doing it in the big things.
“I’m not happy – this isn’t satisfying me”
Maybe you are having occupational growing pains and it’s time to consider what’s a good fit for you. What fitted before, doesn’t always continue to fit. You may even what to try new styles. Figure out who the next version of who you might be with the Vocational Self Portrait Activity.
“I’m bored and need something new”
Maybe you need something to change, but it doesn’t have to be the whole job. Check out this article by Ashley Abramson, Trick yourself into creating a fresh start. I particularly like the suggestion: “Even small tweaks like getting a haircut, rearranging your furniture, or switching up your daily commute can punctuate how you see episodes of time.” to “[create] a clear, mental break between the “old you” and the “new you.”
“I want to run away and join the circus”
Well maybe you aren’t literally saying this, but here’s an article with a bit of humour to get you thinking: “even though this [current workplace] is not your circus, these could well be your monkeys. And there is something you can do to end the madness.“
I’m thinking I need to leave
You’ve been working through the possibility that this phase or job is over. Now it’s time to clarify the decision to leave – in your mind, and to prepare yourself for letting go.
You may have words going around in your head “I can’t harden up anymore“, “I can’t be flexible anymore“, or “I don’t feel confident anymore“. These may well be the signals that you are being compromised as a person, in your psychological and physical well-being. Listen to yourself. Honour yourself.
The decision in in your hands. Truly. The decision to leave may come with consequences that aren’t pleasant but that’s not a reason to stay and avoid them.
If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.
Leaving a job that no longer serves you, and you don’t feel you can serve the organisation well isn’t failing, or quitting or running away – and is not something you need to feel guilt or shame about. It’s taking responsibility for creating and maintaining the best conditions for you to do your best work.
It’s an exercise of adult behaviour of human agency that you are aware of yourself and your surroundings, and you choose to do what is within your control.
I don’t mean to sound all doe-eyed – I get that there can be very strong constraining elements about Financial Security. So seriously weigh up if your Mental Health is being sacrificed for Financial Security. Decide how much Financial Security you really need and look at how you might reduce your cost of living, to make the current income less of an anchor to which you are tied.
One technique to help you through the decision-making process is to re-orientate yourself to what is truly important to you. When you know what’s valuable to you (from the Value Exchange Activity), and you can see how your decision aligns to that – you can put up with a lot of unpleasant things.
I’m learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things not meant for me.
~ Malika E Nura
Be confident that you are in a position of power because you have the knowledge of what’s important, and you value it enough to act accordingly. Use this knowledge wisely when others might attempt to persuade you away from your choices.
It’s time to go
You’ve reach the decision, you’re leaving.
Make a time to tell your manager, in person if possible. That conversation is when to agree on a finishing date, and how the news will be shared with your colleagues and other people, e.g. clients, suppliers.
Now you enter the exiting phase – and there’s helpful advice in this article (first in this series) to guide what you do next.
New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.
~ Lao Tzu
There’s emotional labour in ending something that has been important and significant in your life. You probably had expectations when you started the job about how great things could be and now reality is different. Be sure to give yourself time to process these emotions. Be more kinder to yourself than usual, especially about what else you take on or expose yourself to at this time.
Choosing to leave one work gig doesn’t have to be dramatic, you can choose to move forward with grace, calm and clarity. Remember you are the Sovereign of your workscape, and you are simply stepping between work opportunities.
There’s a third article still to come in this series: C. Transitioning to a new job.
Helen Palmer, Founder of Self unLimited, has not followed a traditional path in her ‘career’, nor does she intend to. It’s been her personal experience that she’s made plans, then life happened and things went in a direction that wasn’t anticipated. As a consequence she’s fascinated by the emergent and serendipitous approach to life and work. She thinks about ways to help others navigate the future of work, given the ambiguous possibilities and opportunities if there is courage to take that journey. And for good measure, she likes to inject humour and originality into her work.