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How to Leave Your Dead-End Job
by Liz Sumner, M.A. CPC
This is for everyone who is sticking with a job that no longer fits. Maybe it was right for a while, for a certain time and place in your life. But not anymore. When was the last time you jumped out of bed with excitement about what the day would bring?
"But I love the people I work with."
"It's so convenient."
"The money's pretty decent, considering..."
I've heard all the excuses. Heck, I've made them. You know that job is sucking your soul and it's time to leave. The only thing left to decide is how.
Above all, you want it to be your decision. Don't let boredom and apathy lead to an attitude that gets you fired or passed over. Who wants to work with a burnout no matter how skilled he or she is?
The No. 1 reason people stay in bad jobs is fear of the unknown. Are you hanging on to something that doesn't fit just because it's familiar? What if the unknown weren't scary? What if it were filled with joy and delightful possibilities? Sure, there's that transition period where you leave what you can do in your sleep and head into new territory. I assure you that the downhill slide of staying too long is far greater than the steepness of a little learning curve. How might you make unknown territory more comfortable?
1. Make It Known
Learn about it. Do research. Talk to people. Do informational interviews. Volunteer. Be a trainee. Find ways to educate yourself. Go to school. Hire a trainer. Shine some light on the scary ignorance, and it's no big deal. If you're drawn to it, you probably have a knack.
2. Make It Up
There are a lot of successful people in the world who just decide that they know what they're doing. I'll never forget my friend Susan, a beautiful and confident woman who discovered her gift for public speaking in Toastmaster's and went on to become a highly paid consultant just because she decided she was worth listening to. I had just finished grad school and was trying to get my nerve up to go pitch companies. She read a book or two, made a presentation, and was suddenly crossing the country getting big fees. There's a lot to be said for chutzpah.
3. Try It On A Small Scale
Part-time or pilot projects work well particularly if you're thinking of venturing out on your own. The hours are long when you don't give up your day job but if you're pursuing your passion you generally can find the energy. Cater a friend's party for the cost of the supplies. Print some business cards on your computer. Do some pro bono work for a civic group for the testimonials. Before long you'll feel ready to go for it.
4. Dive In
This is my favorite. I get enormous energy from leaping off metaphorical cliffs. Instead of screaming "NO," try saying "Wheee!" or "Geronimo." I've crossed the country on three occasions with no job and no place to live. I keep having soft, successful landings so I keep leaping. Sometimes it takes a geographic change to get yourself out of a rut. Try something out there and see if you can fly.
5. Be Prepared
So maybe you're not a leaper. You can plan for contingencies, save that nest egg. Find an answer for all the what-ifs. But be careful not to over prepare. Just how likely are those eventualities that you're covering? There comes a point when it's time to take steps.
Final Thoughts Leaving a Dead-End JobRemember, if you only do what you already know how to do, your world would get pretty stale. Growth is an essential part of life. There comes a time to move on. You can feel when change is due. When that time comes the universe makes it easy for you. The money for graduate school appears, child-care arrangements work out, an article about a new company catches your eye. Pay attention to the signals. Then trust your judgment. If something tells you this new opportunity is right, it probably is.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Liz Sumner of Find Your Way Coaching believes that stepping into the unknown doesn't have to be scary. Growth and self-discovery can be exhilarating, energizing, and easy. She offers a free initial consultation to help people take that first bold step. Visit Find Your Way Coaching, or e-mail her at email@example.com or call her at 603-876-3956.
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