It’s a revolutionary time to be a woman: Popular brands are funneling dollars into ads that empower girls like never before. Female entrepreneurs are emerging left and right. The push for equality in the workplace is flourishing.
We are encouraged to cater to our passions and establish ourselves prominently in our respective fields. We hear about overcoming challenges as we advance on our career paths—about how to keep our skills relevant, maintain work/life balance, grow our professional networks through changing jobs to follow our dreams.
But what about the less tangible challenges that come along with pursuing our passion? And what about the guilt? I’ve made several big career moves already, and guilt has been along for the ride each time: I should stick to one thing. Will my team suffer without me? I’ve learned so much here, I owe it to my employer to stay. Am I being selfish?
Why? Where does this guilt stem from, and can we work through it or is it bound to consume us? After much thought, I was able to answer these questions for myself. So now, let me save you some trouble.
Are you considering a career change? Exploring new opportunities? Debating whether to accept an new offer or branch out on your own? No matter your situation, don’t let guilt hold you back.
1. Make peace with why you’re quitting.
Make a list of your reasons for quitting and you’ll have solid proof that you are not doing so out of spite or just to hurt your current team. Perhaps you need greater compensation, different benefits to fit your lifestyle, or a new purpose. Recognize you are leaving because it is what’s best for you, and that is what’s most important.
2. Line up something new.
Quitting without knowing what’s next has the potential to leave you feeling dazed and confused, and could bring along the guilt that generally accompanies periods of low productivity. If possible, have your next opportunity lined up before you quit. At the very least, have a clear direction or series of next steps to pursue. Expanding your focus beyond quitting will help anchor you in the bigger picture.
3. Develop a transition plan.
If you’re like me, you’ll feel guilty about leaving your team behind with an uncertain future—will their workload double? Will they get along well with a new team member? One concrete way to alleviate this guilt is to develop a transition plan. The plan should outline all your responsibilities and explain who will take them over. There are many different ways to set up a transition plan. To help you get started, here are some sample templates.
4. Empower your team.
Departures can be tough on morale. Take time to grab coffee or lunch with those you work with to explain your decision to move on. This is also a great chance to share what new opportunities your departure may open up for them. Maybe your absence will allow them to take on a bigger role with more responsibility, for example.
5. Leave on good terms.
Leaving one opportunity to pursue another is not a time to burn bridges. In fact, it’s a time to strengthen existing relationships. One way to mitigate the guilt of leaving a job is to leave on good terms. Before you go, express appreciation to your employer and colleagues for all you’ve learned from them. Wish everyone well. Say that you will keep in touch, and follow through on this promise. This is how you grow your network.
Whatever the future holds, I hope you progress with confidence rather than guilt.