I was in a bad relationship . . . with my job.

Like many bad relationships, sometimes we don’t immediately recognize how it is impacting us, particularly if it’s a long-term relationship. Let me be very clear: it was a wonderful job in a phenomenal organization, but it is was time for me to make a change. So, I did, but it wasn’t easy. It’s usually never easy to break up with your job.

Unlike many people, I was in an enviable position of having two very good choices. I could accept a voluntary early retirement option or I could stay in my job. Not everyone is as fortunate, but the process and path can be very similar regardless of the circumstances.

At my age, I had never really even considered retiring at that moment, but then I realized that I had the opportunity for an entirely different career and a role I love. For me, the bad relationship was the result of  doing work, at the time, that was not fulfilling my calling.  In that time of decision, I realized that the days were not quite as exciting as they had once been because my current role was not fulfilling my passions. A change afforded me the opportunity to, again, do the work I was made to do.

Whether it's because you are not doing the work you were made to do, dealing with a bad boss or navigating a toxic corporate culture, if it hurts you, it's time to go. Click To Tweet

However, know this: you have to want to change badly enough because change is always hard even when it’s good.

How do you break up with your job?

Grow your network and build relationships. Not long ago, a friend of my made a similar decision as me and left her long-time position to start her own business. She was immediately successful. She credits her success to developing long-term relationships and constantly nurturing them over time. Your network will be the people who help you find your next role and support you in the process.

Choose what’s next before you leave your current role. There is the old advice that you need to run to something rather than run away from something. If you are going to make a change, know what you are running towards. Before I communicated that I would retire, I had already formed my new business including creating the legal structure, opening bank accounts and designing the brand complete with a website, logo and even business cards. It helped me focus on where I was going and not the 33-year career I was leaving.

Communicate your plans to others. Be sure you tell your story and don’t let others tell it for you. Be clear about your decision and why you are making a change. Focus on the positive and your future career not the baggage you may be leaving behind. If you are cryptic about your plans, people might draw their own conclusions and create an unfavorable narrative, which might impact your future career.

Heal the hurts. You may be fortunate and are moving on to better opportunities with no unfinished business. It might be transactional for you. For others, they are breaking up with their job because they have been hurt in some way. Perhaps, you have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment or endured a bullying boss. Whatever the case, take care of those wounds before starting a new position. Otherwise, you will carry it into your next role and sabotage the great change you have decided to make.

Burn no bridges. Especially when we are early in our careers, we don’t see how much everything we do connects to everything and everyone else. It’s highly likely that at some point you will eventually interact with some of the people you leave behind. They may be a future co-worker, client, vendor or customer. Be careful of how you respond in your exiting of the organization and leave no “muddy footprints,” as a former mentor of mine was known for saying.

It would be fantastic if we did not have to make these tough choices in our careers, but change is how we grow and growth requires change. Dr. Henry Cloud has written, “Change carries a fair amount of risk, and risk is something many of us avoid like the plague. However, it’s important to consider when taking a risk, it might be worth it.” Breaking up with my three-decade long job was change that required great risk, but I can confidently say it was well worth it.

If you want to learn more about how to Crush Your Career, order my newest book, here:

Crush Your Career: Ace the Interview, Land the Job and Launch Your Future

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