About two years ago, I decided to leave my-then job for another opportunity. One, I was unhappy where I was and two, I wanted to try something else. Making the decision to quit my job was easy, actually doing it was the hard part. I had the worst anxiety in the days leading up to it. It was my first job after college and so it was my first time ever quitting a job. While I knew it was the absolute right decision for me to go, something about actually doing it felt so wrong. Here is what I learned:
1. Everyone is Replaceable - I had a enormous sense of loyalty to my boss. She gave me a great opportunity right out of college and I considered her to be a mentor of sorts. I didn't want to put her in a tough position. I kept thinking what is she going to do without me? Well, she did just fine. It's sad to say but everyone is replaceable. Yes, it might take some time for them to find someone new and train them but it'll work out just fine.
2. It's Not Personal, It's Business - I had built genuine friendships with people outside of work and so it was difficult for me to separate work from life. I didn't want anyone to take my decision leaving personally because I genuinely liked everyone. But at the end of the day, you're there to work and earn a paycheck - it's business. I'm still great friends with many of my old co-workers.
3. Bosses Are People Too - We forget this sometimes but bosses are people too. They too have dreams, goals, ambitions...oh and a life outside of work. Chances are, they've been in your shoes before. They'll understand.
4. You Have To Take Risks - This is one thing I still have to remind myself everyday. Don't be afraid to take risks. I was scared to leave because I was so comfortable where I was. But I knew if I stayed there, I wouldn't get to where I wanted to be. Take chances. If it doesn't work out, then you move on to the next thing.
5. Plan Ahead - Luckily for me, I had landed a job offer before I quit and I also saved up a sizable amount. Yes, follow your dreams but be smart about it. Make sure that you'll be able to financially support your self post-job.
6. Nothing is Permanent - I was also afraid I wouldn't be happy at my new job. But then I realized, so what? I can move on. You're not tied to anything.
I read a interesting article not too long ago (I wish I could find it) about how Gen Y-ers have approximately 7 different jobs in there 20s. Compare that to Baby Boomers or Gen X-ers, who typically held the same job for 10+ years. Some people see this as an alarming example of how fickle or even irresponsible young adults are today. I think it's a positive sign. As long as you are smart about it, don't settle. For most of us, we're not going to land our dream job right out of college. It's not a bad thing to go out and test the waters. You never know until you try.
Going back to my quitting story, I eventually mustered up enough courage to tell my boss. She was actually very supportive of my decision (like I said, bosses are people too). It turned out that my next opportunity wasn't what I had thought it would be and I left that job too (quitting the second time around was much easier). I'm happier where I am now but I think my dream job is still out there. To be continued...