2021 was the year of the Great Resignation.
For me, though, it was also a year of great hesitation.
I couldn’t decide whether to leave my job. I knew I wanted to try something new, but I had feelings like guilt and anxiety preventing me from actually doing anything about it.
For over 9 months, I’d diligently weigh up the pros and cons of staying vs leaving. I viewed it like a problem on a math exam that I could solve. And arrive at the “correct” answer.
I was wrong. This was no math exam. There was no right or wrong decision.
It was just fears in my head making it hard to be decisive.
Everybody has their own fears, but the way to tackle them is the same: give them respect and then flip them.
Here’s seven fears I had about leaving my job. And how I flipped them.
Every decision you make will involve some form of pain.
If you decide to stay at a job where you’re coasting, you’ll experience the pain of stagnation and thoughts about wasting your potential.
If you decide to leave, you’ll experience the pain of learning new topics, making new connections, understanding a new industry, and transitioning.
You can’t avoid pain. Instead, embrace it and choose what type you want to endure.
I’d much rather face the pain of growth than the pain of stagnation.
Great, I’ll now be one step closer to finding the type of work that I do want to do by process of elimination. My brain will have more data to work off.
If you fail because the work at your new job is too challenging, the company messed up in assessing your skills.
If you fail because you didn’t work hard enough or lost interest, you now know that this isn’t the type of work you want to be doing.
In both cases, it’s either something out of my control or something I can learn from.
There’s no such thing as the perfect job.
I can do my research and ask the right questions when interviewing. I can negotiate for a salary number I’m happy with. I can even ask to speak to more people on the team (I did this).
But outside of that, there’s no way to find out with 100% accuracy what the new job will be like.
Plus, I know that my brain is prone to biases like loss aversion and hates the prospect of change even when the facts point to it being a great move.
After 9 months of indecision, I called bullshit on needing more time and realized that there wasn’t a right or wrong decision.
Whatever I choose, I get to make that the right decision. I do that by having my own back and giving it my best shot.
Not by trying to manufacture more time.
I was telling my coworker why I felt like I wanted to stay in my job.
The first reason I mentioned was “Everybody is so nice here! I really like my coworkers..” and then he immediately cut me off:
“But that’s pretty much the case at every job..”
For whatever reason, I kept reading workplace horror stories. And it freaked me out.
But no one who actually has normal and reasonable coworkers is screaming their lungs out on the internet.
A job is a two-way street: I provide concrete, measurable value and get rewarded for it. I can be grateful for the opportunity, but that doesn’t mean I’m indebted to it in any way.
Also, staying at a job you no longer like is more “greedy” than leaving. Since you’re clearly not invested anymore, the only reason you’re there is to collect your paycheck and stop growing. Would a company want someone like that to stay?
Try to make your counter arguments as strong as possible:
You can tell how effective your arguments are by the emotion they generate. If you feel fired up, you’re doing it right. If not, keep digging.
Maybe your new job turns out to be terrible. Maybe it doesn’t work out. Maybe your new team is a disaster.
But that’s all out of your control.
What is in your control is the ability to redecide, the ability to use that new information to plan your next step, and the ability to ask for help.
Don’t let a fear of what you can’t control stop you from taking action.
Over and out –
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