Monday, February 13, 2012

Making a Graceful Career Exit

It was 9:30pm and the party-which began 12 hours previous-was heating up. Their kids under the watchful eye of babysitters, the crowd I was hanging out with were free to cut loose and enjoy themselves. As I looked at my watch and surveyed the scene, one thing became clear to me:

It was time to leave.

I have no kids, I had a place to sleep that night, and I had nothing to do the next day. So what was my problem? I intently thought about this on my drive home, and it surprised me how closely the answers I came up with correlated with one's career. Sometimes-despite what logic may dictate-it's time to make a graceful career exit.

Values: Values are at the core of who you are, guiding your thoughts and actions. When I thought about staying longer at the party, I literally did a value check: how would staying later resonate with my values? While I had a blast up until that point, I noticed my values of peace and rest were winning over my value of socializing. They won, so I left. When it comes to your career, your values are an essential barometer of your feelings. You could be very successful in a career field but feel it conflict with other values: family, recreation. money, responsibility. Action To Do: Assess your current job with your values and see where it is meeting and not meeting them.

Time: Coinciding with values, time was another factor I considered. When I was at the party, I had a lot of fun! I was eating, singing karaoke, and socializing with old friends. As the night went on, though, the return that I was getting on my time was lessening. I had caught up with my friends. I was full. I didn't need to sing any more songs. If I had stayed longer than I had, the good time I had would have been colored by how much I didn't want to be there anymore. In your job, what could have been an enriching opportunity in the beginning may have run its course. Action To Do: Assess the time you have put in to your current position: have you received the benefit from it that you feel you need to receive?

Social Pressure: This is the factor that I struggled with the most, as I'm sensitive to-for better or for worse-what others think about me. When deciding whether to leave I had an internal dialogue, debating how my departure my be perceived? "Is he mad at us?" "Why is he being a jerk?" Social forces are powerful and need to be overcome to make a decision that resonates with you and your career? Action To Do: Assess the social forces that are keeping you in your career. Are they playing a bigger role than they should be?

Your career is the party, but there are other parties out there. Connect with yourself to make the best choices for you.

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