Tough Decisions Ahead Road Sign

Three hard questions to answer before leaving

Every opportunity comes at the cost of your personal status-quo, and the comfort or discomfort attached to it.

If you’re a risk-taker or a natural adventurer, you are going to be more impulsive than a more conservative colleague, but even you may wonder if the next move – whether for a better job opportunity or to go into a bigger (or smaller) town, or to explore a new relationship – is “worth it”.

To help you come to your best conclusion, let’s explore three questions to ask if considering a different job to see what is really motivating you to change your present situation.

  1. What’s missing in my present situation? A career path, respectful boss, sufficient salary, collegiality with co-workers, travel opportunities, or intellectual challenge? Once you identify what is motivating you to consider the new proposition, make sure that job offer could provide at least more of what is most important to you. There is always a trade-off; not every job can provide everything for you, and your old position must have satisfied some needs, too. Is this a trade up, everything considered?
  2. Am I wanting to move forward or to retreat? Am I building on a dream or am I trying to untangle myself from an increasingly difficult situation? Is my desire to move a combination of both? If you’re risk-tolerant of what a new opportunity will cost you, jump or you’ll always second-guess what “could have been”. If you’re leaving a bad situation, what contributions did you willingly or unwittingly make to the situation, and can you leave that experience behind? There is a story of a wise elder who was walking between two towns. A stranger approached from the other direction and asked what sort of people lived in the town just ahead. “What were the sort of people you met in the last town?” the old man asked, and he was told that they were evil-doers who took advantage of others. “You will find the same waiting before you,” the elder sighed. Again he was approached by a stranger from the other direction, this time by a woman wondering if she would find friendly people at the end of her journey. Asked the same question about the conditions in her last village, she replied, “Oh, Sir, they were all kind-hearted, with a neighborly spirit. I hated to leave them.” The older man replied, “And you will find that same spirit in the town ahead.” Opportunities are, in part, defined by our own outlooks and overlays.
  3. Am I psychologically ready to divorce the present to marry the future? Who else is impacted and what ties will be severed in the transition? True story: A passionate union steward, extremely invested in the welfare of her constituents, nonetheless left to pursue a much better opportunity for her and her family. However, she found it nearly impossible to abandon her union post, calling members after hours and advising them of what they should demand from the next contract signing. This behavior drove a wedge between “her” members and the newer, more moderate steward. This human frailty for psychological divorce is why, in some churches when a pastor leaves, there is to be absolutely no contact between that pastor and former congregants (many of whom may now be the pastor’s friends) for a period of one year decisionso that the new pastor may assume their post without interference. If you leave, do the company and your friends the courtesy of actually leaving the job and the workplace, both physically and psychologically. Are you ready and willing to do that? If not, maybe you’re not ready to leave.

Life is about making choices. If you’ve given your decision even this much thought, while reading this blog, you’re moving toward your best answer. Whether you stay or go, commit to it with all your focus, energy, enthusiasm and optimism. Shake off any negative worries or reservations, any residual hard feelings or disappointments. “It’s your thing, do what you wanna do,” as a golden oldie song suggested, and I wish you well with your decision.

About Jody Glynn Patrick

Jody is President of Glynn Patrick & Associates, which provides management consulting, executive coaching and strategic planning services. She is Publisher Emeritus of In Business magazine, which she published for 17 years. Selected as the “U.S. Business Journalist of the Year” in 2007 in Washington, DC, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Jody has been a business reporter, editor, radio talk show host , and has won other state and national journalism awards. At the same time, she has helped corporate clients grow their businesses -- the basis for her practical coaching advice here. She also was the 2005 Athena Award recipient for her leadership role in mentoring other professional women. Jody will be talking with you weekly on TDS’ blog to share her insights and tips from the C-Suite perspective. Follow on G+.

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