What to do if you’re thinking about leaving your job

A friend called me the other week asking for advice. He'd reached a point where he was considering leaving his job and wasn't sure what the next step was.

He thought of me because I did the very same thing last year - I left my perfectly stable job to leap into the unknown. I knew that my gut was telling me it was time to change, but I didn't know what was next (I talk about what's been going on with me and work in the last year in this blog post if you want to read more).

What advice could I give him? 

We only had a brief chat but I talked him through a few things that have been really helpful for me in the last 12 months. Concepts, exercises, realisations I'd had. Then I sent him a little email with what I'd talked about. 

I thought I'd share the tools and resources I gave him in case they might be useful to you too. So if you're thinking it's time for a change then try these exercises, books and podcasts and see if they give you some clarity on a way forward: 

 

Acknowledge that it will take time

When I left my job last year I thought I'd take a month out and after 30 days I would miraculously have it all sorted and be able to start my 'new life' with my purpose and new role in the world crystal clear in my mind. 

Maybe it works like that for some people. But for me it's taken far longer, and it's still an ongoing process. Especially if you are considering leaving full-time employment to go it alone it's hard to find your identity and it will be something to work through potentially for months and years. You'll always be evolving but that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

 I wrote about this in my blog post about calling myself a 'space holder' if you want to find out more about my experience. 

 

Don't worry about what everyone else is thinking 

You really do need to stop worrying about what other people think

When I was chatting to my friend he said he was worried about what other people would think of him choosing to walk away from his job with nothing to go to. Been there and felt that. I still do feel it a lot of the time - the quote above is one I posted to my Instagram recently to open this very conversation. 

In the last year I read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and I loved the four really simple principles you can apply easily to your life. 

No.2 agreement from the book is 'Don’t Take Anything Personally':

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

For me this has been the perfect thing to remember when I worry about other people's opinions. Firstly people probably aren't thinking what you worry they are anyway. And even if they are thinking the worst of you, what they think or say to you is more a reflection of them, not you. 

 

Identify your motivators

I did a leadership course a few years ago and ten boxes were marked out on the ground. We were asked to read these definitions of motivators (copied below) and stand in the box of the word that best summarised our primary motivator for doing our work.

We were then given the opportunity to choose a secondary motivator, and then finally to stand in the box of the word that described the thing that least motivated us. 

I found the exercise so enlightening it's something I've shared with many people since.

The results might not be terribly comfortable for you to admit - particularly for me as I identified 'power' and 'recognition' as primary motivators which could make me sound like a megalomaniac! But I think these motivators can really help you assess future career options and whether they are going to leave you fulfilled. 

What motivates you

 

What is success to you? 

I wrote about this in a recent blog post, after feeling like the universe was prompting me to do so. It felt like every book I read, every podcast I listened to, every speaker I heard and every conversation I had brought up this issue of what success really is.

Success is not the same for everyone and most importantly it doesn't have to be what society or the media tells you - a big house, fat salary, fancy car, exotic holidays or a wardrobe full of designer clothes. 

Think about writing down what success means to you. 3-5 pointers - have a read of mine in this blog post, and also read coach Wholeheartedly Laura's ideas on this topic too

 

Create and Kickstart Your Life Plan

I love Kerry Lyons' Imperfect Life blog and her well-written and thought provoking content. 

Kerry offers a really neat, free 5 day course to help you identify what you want from life called the Create and Kickstart Your Life Plan. I really enjoyed doing it and got a lot from it. It's a series of exercises that can be repeated as often as you need to help you identify what you want from life, why you want it and 40+ steps for how to start going about getting that dream.

Breaking things down into bite-size, manageable tasks will help you feel like you're constantly moving towards your goals. 

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Read Jen Sincero You Are A Badass

I’ve absolutely loved Jen Sincero's You Are A Badass and have been recommending it to everyone I speak to lately. It's the kind of book you want to start all over again as soon as you finish it.  

When asking me whether it was the right thing to do to leave his job I passed on these words from the book to my friend: 

The only questions we need to ask ourselves when we are making decisions are:
  • Is this something I want to be, do or have? 
  • Is this going to take me in the direction I want to go (not should go)? 
  • Is this going to screw over anybody else in the process?

And by ‘screw’ Jen means actually kill someone or cause them to lose their job or their house or something. Not just make it difficult to replace you. 

 

Accept that life won’t ever be free from fear

As much as I love the Jen Sincero book, there is a lot of talk about taking action, making decisions and a whole host of 'just do it' attitude. Live that life you want! Go for your dreams! 

However there's often one big thing that holds us back from going for it with complete abandon - fear. 

I absolutely loved a recent Hashtag Authentic episode on this topic which was an interview with Kate Swoboda, aka Kate Courageous who is a coach about to publish a book called The Courage Habit

Covering things like perfectionism, comparison-itis, burn-out, overwork, self sabotage, procrastination, cutting off options, taking advice from the wrong people, martyrdom, pessimism, avoidance, ‘what’s the point?’ and '‘I’m not good enough‘ feelings (need I go on!?) - if any of these are issues are for you in your quest for change then the podcast is a great listen.

To be fair Jen Sincero does address fear in How To Be A Badass when she says this:

When you find yourself letting fear push you around, look at it from a different perspective. Start by breaking it down, finding what it is that you are reallyafraid of and then flipping it around to make it work for you, not against you. Show it who’s boss. Feed your fear a suck-it sandwich. 

Break it down so you can really look at and define what it is about a situation that’s scaring you. Fear is all about how you choose to look at things, so by changing your perspective on it you can let the fear of NOT doing the thing you’re scared of fuel your quest to greatness.

 


So there we have it - my top resources if you're thinking about leaving your job. Have you tried any of these?

Do you have any other suggestions for things to consider or resources to try out to get some clarity on your way forward? 

PS. If you want a deep dive into making a change in your life check out my series of retreats The Reset. They’re designed for women like you, by women like you and they're all about giving you the space, time and tools you need to reconnect with your goals. I’m pretty sure you’ll like what you see. Give me a shout if you have any questions.