5 Lessons Learned Leaving the Workplace


A friend of mine called to tell me she had decided to leave her high-level career to spend more time with her kids and pursue her passion as a fitness instructor. She asked me for some insight into the transition out of the workplace.

How/Why I Left My Job

I like working. I loved my job and went back to work after both kids. And when I got transferred, my husband gave up his job and got another one (one he didn’t love) because I had a good opportunity.

A couple of years later, when he found a job he really wanted, it was my turn to follow. So I did. My kids were three and one at the time.

I didn’t completely blow it, but when it was time to leave, I was stressed and overwhelmed by the changes coming my way. If I could go back in time, this is the advice I would give myself – and anyone else who might be in a similar situation.

Lessons Learned Leaving the Workplace (Notes to Self)

I know how hard you have worked and how much that has taken its toll on you – mentally and physically. I know this is a HUGE decision that was not made lightly. As you wind down your career in order to let the pendulum swing the other way, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. The decision to leave feels like permission to vent about exhaustion or workplace issues, but remember there are people you care about who are staying behind. They might be exhausted, too. And some of them might be inheriting your workload (and a closer relationship with your idiot boss).

2. I know you would never intentionally be disrespectful. And I know you are happy and excited about doing something new, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that you are somewhere great, and you got where you are because people helped you. They taught you and mentored you and gave you opportunities that could have gone to someone else.

So out of respect for them, don’t let “fried” be the mantra of your departure. Consider approaching it with gratitude for the support and kindness you received along the way. Pay compliments and say thank you to people. Give supportive advice and encouragement to those who need it. Take time to write a few notes. Don’t let it be all about you.

3. That said, not everyone will be happy for you. Some people will feel deserted. Some will be jealous you are leaving to pursue something else and they are not. This manifests itself in different ways, and may have a nice little crescendo before your notice is up. People get weird when you leave. Really weird. (Note: the longer your notice is, the more time people have to get weird.)

4. Some of your work friends aren’t really your friends. They are just people you bonded with out of the common experience of the workplace. Once that’s removed, you might realize the basis of your friendship is no longer there. And that sucks – especially if you thought otherwise. But, it’ll be okay. New adventures bring new friends.

5. The best thing you can do for yourself is to make your exit as positive and graceful as possible. If you learned anything during your time in public relations, it was “game face.”

Or…there’s this approach. But that’s an altogether different situation.

Have a good day, Friends!

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