So you wake up and realize you’re not happy with where you are in your career (a.k.a.: your “Mission”.) You’re not sure why you’re doing what you do. You used to be passionate about your work but now you’re on the dreaded treadmill that never quits and you can’t get off. The vicious circle of making money, paying bills and the daily grind gives you the sensation of being trapped. The career you once fantasized about has turned into a job, which has turned into work and work has turned into punishment. A feeling of resentment and anger builds. You are not fulfilled and you can’t see a way out. Screaming seems like a viable solution, but that won’t really help (though it may feel good to get it off your chest.)
I have marvellous news for you: it’s time to leave and that’s okay. Don’t panic. You can do it. You have the most significant faculty at your fingertips to make this decision: CHOICE.
How did you get here? We’ve all been there. For many of us our working career began immediately after school. We landed a job; we started making money and began paying the bills. In most cases we found a place to work before giving any thoughtful review to it. And depending on the generation and timing of the search, chances are no review was needed – you were just thankful for employment. But the two most important questions you must ask before choosing a position are the following:
Where do I want to go in life with respect to my career, my passion?
Who do I go with in order to fulfill my passion?
Back to the issue at hand. So years go by and the “golden handcuffs” are firmly in place, you start to feel like there’s no departure in sight. There are vesting bonuses, share offerings, more vacation time and bonus days; but the pressure from all these residual benefits are almost forcing you to stay at a job you’re not fulfilled by.
This is all crap; you still have the choice.
What are the signs that it’s time to go?
Do a self-assessment on your current role. Are you aligned with the employment satisfiers? (pay, competency, values, growth, fit, balance.)
If you spend more time fantasizing about what you’d like to do rather than what you’re getting paid to do. It may hit you in a meeting and suddenly you realize you can’t learn anything more from the people you work with. You don’t see growth. Your values are no longer aligned with corporation (or perhaps never were). You recognize that your skills and competencies aren’t being exercised, or that the compensation is out alignment with your target. Perhaps there’s no balance, no time for you and plenty of demands from work. There are many signs that it’s the right time to go. But you must consider (1) where you want to go with your career? and (2) who do you want to pursue that with?
If you’ve answered the questions and decide that it’s the right time to leave, let me tell you that there’s also a right way to leave. Just as I coach you to be thoughtful and calculated on your employment decisions, you must also do so upon your departure. First, create your exit strategy and follow through. If you want to leave within two weeks, put that in writing. Second, avoid the havoc of mass destruction on your way out. Be helpful. Tie up loose ends. Don’t give them any reason to disparage you to others. Third, don’t burn bridges. The world we live in is getting smaller through technology and social media. The bottom line is that unless you’re being abused or harassed don’t throw a temper tantrum. Leave with dignity and grace.
I’ve left senior positions where I thoroughly enjoyed the role and everything that came with it. So why did I walk away? It’s simple.
I was no longer aligned with one or more of the “satisfiers of employment” (pay, competency, values, growth, fit, balance) and because of that, I could never be fulfilled. I moved out and onto other roles that would match my satisfiers and when I was fulfilled, the cycle would begin again.
The key is to get in touch with what makes you tick. Do you thrive in a busy environment? Or falter? Do you like teamwork? Or working alone? Whatever the case may be, learn to follow your passion. When you follow your passion, you’ll always know whether it’s time to stay or pursue something else. The power is within you and the ability to choose!
Now, I want you to take three minutes and watch this video: “What if money didn’t matter by Alan Watts