One of the great pleasures of my job is seeing smart, courageous people leave the jobs that have been sucking at their souls, or that they have simply outgrown, and moving onto something better and more fabulous than they ever anticipated.
There are the Instinctive Leapers who just get this gut feeling and one day walk into my coaching room and say, “I know we were going to do a measured and structured process to transition but… I just walked in last Monday and I just couldn’t take one more day, and so I quit there and then! I just knew it was the right thing! Knew it!” They are beaming from ear to ear, and the next opportunity, sure enough, appears as if by magic. It can seem horribly risky from the outside, and it’s not what I recommend, but from what I have observed the Instinctive Leap fuelled by a screaming gut instinct and some fancy footwork and hustle, pretty much always pays off.
Then there are the Steady Transitioners who work through the process methodically, connecting with their passions, identifying their true strengths and values, testing out all the options, getting all their ducks in a row. They methodically resign with a plan and a timeline and another opportunity already secured. It all rolls out according to plan in a pragmatic and structured way, with much satisfaction in having handled the transition in a really measured manner. It’s wonderful watching this unfold, and the prize of the new life all the more satisfying for the way it’s been handled.
Finally, there is Team Analysis Paralysis, where they are so, so sure they want to leave. And they do all the structured work to identify their passion, and truly connect with it, and seek out opportunities and networks in that area, and it’s all shaping up beautifully… and yet… and yet… they don’t leap. They stall and stall and stall. Not because the new direction doesn’t make sense, or it doesn’t feel right, or they don’t really want to move but because they get paralysed by fear. This fear of getting it wrong or making a mistake, or worrying “what if it’s worse than before?” or, “what if I can’t do it?” keeps them firmly rooted to the status quo. They get in an endless loop of justifying why where they are is so terrible that they absolutely must leave, but it just keeps them more stuck, instead of channelling that energy into finding the courage to make the much-needed change. They desperately want things to change, and yet, they are not willing to actually make that change happen. It’s a very uncomfortable place to be, day in day out.
Here’s the thing. You can’t learn to swim without getting wet. You can do all the preparation in the world, watch YouTube clips on stroke technique, read books, watch others, buy some snazzy togs and top of the range goggles – but at the end of the day – at some point, you have to take a deep breath and get in the water.
At some point, you have to decide to choose in favour of the future and what it offers, back your capability to handle what comes up, and sign the new contract and hand in your resignation.
When you spend more time justifying your need to leave than focusing on actually figuring out some smart and pragmatic strategies to either improve where you are or to make a measured exit for something better – recognise the endless stalling for what is – avoidance and fear.
If you want to leave, then that is going to involve actually leaving at some point. You can’t be in the new good situation without leaving the old awful one. It would be a lot easier, granted, to just magically be in the new thing without the awkwardness, or trickiness, or risk or fear of leaving the old situation – but you can’t actually get to the new without being brave enough to leave the old. You can never know everything about how something will unfold, all you can know is that you are smart and capable enough to handle it, whatever comes up. So, if that’s you, if you have been trying to leave without leaving, maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and jump.