I get it, quitting a job can be hard sometimes.
It’s easy if the workplace is toxic, or you have a terrible boss or super low pay, but sometimes those external factors aren’t there.
You could be working a job that is perfectly fine. It pays the bills. It’s not perfect, but it has its benefits. The people are nice enough, and most of all, you’re comfortable.
But deep down inside, you know this isn’t the right fit.
Whether it’s because of a lack of growth or lack of passion, no matter how great a job is, it may not be for you.
So you consider a career change.
I’ve done this many times. And while the idea of a career change can be exciting at first, that feeling can quickly fade and transform into worry, self-doubt and paralyzing fear of discomfort.
I’ve moved between jobs like you wouldn’t believe, I’ve worked in travel, various governments, facilities maintenance, and for security services. At every stage, there was an opportunity to stay longer. They were all jobs that gave me decent pay and the jobs were fine. But they weren’t the right fit.
So these are the 8 mantras I use every time I’m considering a career change or embarking on a new job.
1. I will always be good enough for this job.
While I’m not the best with awkward conversations when I finally leave a job, I’ve always been good at reconciling my present-self with my future-self. Every time I’ve been scared to leave a job, I remind myself that I will always be qualified for this job. If I was able to land this job, with my current credentials, I can definitely get this or a similar job with the same credentials.
2. I can always go back.
It’s easy to get sucked into the mentality of “but this job is fine and I don’t want to leave a good thing.”
But here’s a secret, you can always go back.
And it may not be to the exact same job at the same company, but it’s going to be probably something darn similar.
So if you’re struggling to leave your job always remind yourself that you can go back.
One thing that I like to do is to write out a plan and create scenarios of what would happen if I lept out into another job or decided to pursue entrepreneurship. What would happen if I failed? Well, I would look for a new job. And just like the first point, because I already have the credentials to fill this job, I could probably go back or find something similar.
I actually have gone back to jobs that I’ve quit before. There was a time in my life where travel and challenging myself with new opportunities took a big priority in my life. And when I was done, or I realized things weren’t for me, I went back to my old jobs temporarily to keep a steady income. You can always go back.
And I’ll go into a bit more strategy on that in point number 8!
3. The curves are what give the texture, which gives you the grit to be able to grow. – Christina Tosi
This quote is from my favourite episode of The Second Life Podcast that is all about career change. I talk more in detail about in a previous article, but when I was writing it, the Second Life Podcast was a little more new to me. I’ve since then, become obsessed with it.
However, my favourite episode is by far Christina Tosi’s episode and this particular growth resonated with me. In her interview, she described how she moved from different jobs and career paths and how she really appreciates every learning experience along the way. She credits all of her education and her career changes to her success and explained that couldn’t have gotten to where she did without them.
I think it’s important especially if you (like me) have kind of held a lot of random jobs throughout the years. Sometimes I doubt if I’m ever going to be “successful” in any career when I keep bouncing through different jobs and experiences. But then I remember to try to take advantage of every job and learning experience seriously. Because as long as I’m learning it will get me to where I need to be.
4. Anyone who stops learning is old, whether he’s twenty or eighty. – Henry Ford
Sometimes you work at a good job, but the growth is just not there.
Have you ever worked for a great team, had a great boss, and really enjoyed your work, but there was something missing?
That thing could be growth.
I’ve definitely worked for wonderful teams, loved the work, and got along great with the people – but I would hit a ceiling. My work would become routine and I would stop experiencing challenges or growth.
I believe in being a forever-student and forever learning. One of my biggest fears in life is that I will reach a point where I think I know everything. I hope I never reach that point because that’s when I know I’ve stopped growing. And stopped really living. There’s always more to learn and if you’re not in that kind of environment, there’s nothing wrong with walking away.
5. The discomfort is growth.
It can be really hard to leave a job.
You’ve got to go through this terrible phase of narrowing down what you want to do and then having to participate in the oh-so-fun adult task of applying for jobs. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. And it’s frustrating.
Trying to change your career is uncomfortable and it will bring up a lot of fear, plenty of self-doubt and a whole lot of insecurity.
But just remind yourself that the discomfort you feel is growth. It feels uncomfortable to try something new but trying something new is the only way you learn.
And it may feel vulnerable to try something new but that’s how you grow.
6. The time will pass either way.
It can be easy to make plans in your head or even on paper about a career change, but dreams are only that. Dreams.
And there’s nothing fundamentally wrong about that (I still dream that I’m going to meet Taylor Swift one day), but if you are seriously looking to seek a career change, you have to take the action to make it happen. And it can be easy to think that this will be a 2 year plan, or a 5 year plan, or a 10 year plan but remember that the time will pass anyway. If you are looking to make a change in your life, start working on it now. Yes, you could start in 2, 5, or 10 years, but think about all the progress you could make in 2, 5 or 10 years. Time is ticking every single day and the more you make use of it, the further you will get.
7. The best time is now.
One of the biggest secrets I’ve learned about adulthood is that everyone is faking it and that no is every really “prepared” for any career or job they take on, they just do it.
If you ask anyone who is successful in their career (and I’ve been on a lot of informational interviews), no one will say that they could have predicted every twist, turn, challenge, and opportunity that came their way.
There will be obstacles when it comes to changing a career. The obstacles will always be there, it’s just a matter of when you will encounter them. That’s why I’m a big believer of “the best time is now.”
Even if I take on something and I crash, burn and it fails horribly. I would rather know sooner, than waiting 2, 5, or 10 years to finally change careers and learn later. Fail and fail fast. Then move on.
8. If you can be anything, be kind.
Lastly, when you come to the decision of leaving a job, I tell myself that the thing I want to be remembered for is being kind.
With every job that I’ve left, I’ve always left on good terms. I know this might not be realistic for everyone and is based on circumstance, but I really try my absolute hardest to be kind (even if other people aren’t).
I’ve always maintained great working relationships with my old co-workers, managers, and companies. I’ve even gone back to work for them on temporary contracts. I’m even friends with them and have kept in touch many years later. The obvious professional advantage of this is that it’s great for references and also for your own mental health, but the reason I try to be kind is really that I don’t want to screw over the people that helped me get to where I am.
I’m a person that’s really appreciative of the help that I receive. And no matter what happens in a job, what the circumstances are, I try my best not to leave my team high and dry.
And yes, even if I don’t like someone in the office like a supervisor, manager, or director, I still try not to leave them high and dry.
Because in my experience, the types of managers that I don’t like aren’t really great at their job. And if I leave in a huff and puff, I’m not really screwing them over, I’m screwing over my team. Because they won’t be the ones doing my workload, they will be delegating the workload to my team members who have to take on this additional workload and may not be familiar with my projects and assignments.
And anyone who has worked with me knows that if we are teammates, we are soldiers together. I know it seems dramatic but I think of the people I work with like the people I go to war with. Because really, sometimes it feels that way. I’ve had clients make me cry before. I’ve been under so much stress and anxiety that I felt paralyzed and had trouble getting out of bed. But I’ve had co-workers really be there for me. To help me when I was down. And to help me in really difficult clients and stressful situations. I don’t take that lightly. And even if I want to leave and move on to something else, I don’t ever want my personal decision to be a burden on the people who saw me through the hard times, who trained me, who answered my million questions, and who helped me get to the point in my career that I did.
The same goes for any manager I know took a chance on hiring me. There were plenty of times when I know I was jumping in my work, and I appreciate the people who believed in me and support in my search for something else.
So where ever a career change leads in my life, I try to remind myself to be kind. Being kind is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.
Changing your career can be scary. It’s easy to walk away from something that toxic, stressful and frustrating, but sometimes it’s even harder to walk away from something comfortable. When there’s no push to change your career other than that little voice inside saying this isn’t the right fit for you anymore it can be difficult. I hope you’ll remind yourself of these small mantras to make the change that’s right for you.