Why It’s So Hard to Leave a Job (Even the Ones We Secretly Hate)

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Photo Credit: Jacqueline Zaccor/ @jakeezaccor

Most of us experience moments where we struggle to move forward. We may have detected that something vital had shifted — yet we hang on to a role (or a freelance gig or a team membership) that doesn’t really suit us.

In many cases, the signals to explore alternatives are completely missed. Often overwritten by our dismissive inner monologue.

So we remain.

Long after it is time to say goodbye.

After years of hearing stories of jobs that do not fit (and even worse bosses & organizations), I now hold a strong view that career moves are an inevitable (and can be a positive) occurrence. Not unlike the coming of the sunrise or sunset, we can count on these changes. If we could learn to accept their presence as something new and positive — not unlike new technology  — we might learn strategies to capitalize on the destabilization. (Of course, life, family and finances must be considered carefully. I am not advocating reckless behavior!) The payoff is well worth the journey: an endpoint that is adaptive, aligned and affirming.

Ultimately, when we find the energy to move on to seek a better fit — it is often for the best.

These are transitions, not sentences after all.

If we can accept changes in styles, markets and devices — why can’t we embrace the evolution of an individual?

There are beliefs that convince us to acquiesce our power to move on. I’d like to challenge a few of these in this forum.

  1. We are conditioned to “hang on” and forgo risk. Yes, a miraculous improvement is possible (a bad boss might move on, for example). However, in many cases, forgoing risk in the short-term, is a hand ill-played. This is what we fail to acknowledge: In many cases, the psychological contract which serves as the baseline for a healthy employee-employer relationship, has already been irrevocably broken. When we fail to recognize this and remain, we ultimately risk being physically present at work — yet mentally absent.
  2. We secretly hope that everything in our lives (including ourselves) will remain static. Of course, this predisposes us to be unhappily surprised at each and every turn — as change is going to happen. To complicate things further, we are notoriously inaccurate about how we might personally evolve over time. How often do we stop to envision our “future self”?  Truth: The roles that fulfill us now, may not be the same roles that might excite us five years on. As Daniel Gilbert has shared: Your history does not end today (Learn more about the “End of History Illusion” in the video below.)
  3. We feel that seeking a role which better aligns with our needs/strengths is frivolous.  Oh wow. Don’t get me started. On some level, many of us think this quest is a “pie in the sky” mantra. So, we avoid the entire conversation — and with that neglect, any hope of a better option in our current organization. (Yes, we have to be mindful of our responsibilities. Yes, the culture of an organization can also stand in the way.) When we are early in our careers, we might feel that we are glued to our college major or first role. Ultimately, much is left unsaid. As the gap widens between who we are and what we do — everyone loses.

We should be ready and willing to embrace how we change. Moreover, organizations should encourage and facilitate its exploration. This can be accomplished through heightened manager and employee awareness.

If we do not prepare, I fear we will not be ready for what inevitably arrives.

When was the last time you reflected on how you have evolved? Share your observations here.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk writes about life and career as an Influencer at LinkedIn. Her posts have also appeared at various outlets worldwide including US News & World Report, Forbes, Quartz and The World Economic Forum.

Live.Work.Think.Play shares observations concerning a wide array of topics from running a company — to the perfect fragrance. It is designed to share lessons learned from a variety of perspectives.

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6 thoughts on “Why It’s So Hard to Leave a Job (Even the Ones We Secretly Hate)

  1. I am amazed of how much I changed over the last year but also thankful because I have also acquired new skills and developed a hunger for knowledge. I just hope I can keep this up for years to come.

    Like

  2. I absolutely loved this article.. helped me understand more again of why I had to leave my job. Employers have no right belittling their employees. But I found I got stuck . Hoping for a change that would never
    Happen. Now I’m moving on with a different perspective and clearer mind.
    Thank you,
    This helped

    Like

  3. This is one of the best articles I have read. I was raised to believe I was suppose to stay at a job NO MATTER WHAT. When my personality could no longer take it I lashed out in ineffective and unhelathy ways. In other words, I let outside things and poor behavior do my work for me. Today, I look forward to each new challenge and am exited about my future INSPITE OF THE INTERNAL FEARS. That I you for this article. I am sharing with everyone I know.

    Like

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