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When To Leave - Part 1


When is the right time to make your graceful or not-so-graceful exit from a professional relationship?

(I would advise to attempt to make every exit as graceful as possible, but there are always exceptions to the rules.)

Are there exit signs we sometimes ignore, staying way longer than ideal and enduring way more suffering than is necessary?

And if it is time to move on, what if I am not ready or can't see how?

In the midst of the Great Resignation, these are questions I hear a lot. Perhaps people are starting to feel hope if they have been in a long-time toxic relationship. Sometimes it isn't even that it's toxic, just not the right fit anymore. As a leadership coach, I have worked with plenty of clients who have wanted to make a transition, sometimes upwards and sometimes outwards. Sometimes, they start with wanting to make the current situation a little better, but eventually find that they have outgrown that situation.

Remember having a pair of shoes or an article of clothing when you were a kid that you just wanted to wear ALL the time, much to your parents' dismay? So much so that your parents may have even tried "losing" them? You would sleep in those sweaty shoes or that worn-out sweatshirt if allowed to! Remember the point when you totally outgrew them? You could try forcing them on but you'd pop right through them if you did. Can you recall the feeling of deep disappointment when you finally had to admit you had just gotten too big for those britches?

Sometimes we outgrow our positions. I have witnessed this - a client is not particularly miserable in their role, they may even be too good at it, having outgrown it some time past, and it produces an unsettling feeling, a sense of stagnation and unrest. Leaders would be wise to look out for these situations because they can lose great talent that otherwise could have been simply nudged up the ladder. This scenario is a little more elusive. It is easy to tell when you're miserable due to a toxic boss or work environment. It's harder to put your finger on the root cause of the annoying sense of malaise that comes with complacency.

Here are some signs that it is time to make a change - be it asking for that promotion or updating your Linked In profile to "Open To Work!"

1- Going to work causes emotional, mental or physical pain.

If you are sobbing while stopped at a red light on your way to work, it is CLEARLY time to go!

That was me some years ago when I worked for a toxic boss who thought that because he paid me a great salary he owned me. I mean it. I had no time to myself. Any days off I had, which were few and far between, could be hijacked with one call demanding I come in and handle some frivolous thing any other one of the managers on duty could have handled. He was so surprised and upset when I gave my notice for a better opportunity. It was that or my mental health, which was already starting to adversely affect my physical health.

Do not linger long in a toxic relationship - personal or professional.

You deserve and CAN do better! Get help. Get guidance. GET OUT!

2- You don't feel like you are supported or winning.

You know the saying, "People don't quit their companies. They quit their bosses" ?

Bad leadership does not always come in the form of a blatant bully. Sometimes it manifests in a boss who is not supportive of his subordinates, does not provide feedback, assistance, training or mentorship, does not keep one-on-one meetings as scheduled, dismisses the work they do -obviously does not care.

I had a client who wanted to leave her company because she constantly felt like she was losing. Then one day, miraculously, her boss got transferred and a new boss who was very supportive and motivating took over. My client's professional life was completely turned around! She started winning and loving her job! The company wasn't the problem. She loved the product she was selling and the overall culture. It was the bad boss!

What to do with a bad boss?

Unfortunately, there is not a ton you can do about this one. You can communicate to your boss or HR what your needs and challenges are. You can try to encourage your superior to offer more feedback and guidance. You can pray for a changing of the guard. But if nothing changes, you may want to look into either a different department or a different company altogether. I know, it sucks! But your happiness and fulfillment is a priority. Don't sell yourself short because life is too short.

3- You are making a LOT of excuses for abuses.

I hear this a lot especially with women in male-dominated industries like construction: "I'm in a man's field so I guess I have to suck it up," or "I know the men are getting paid a lot more than me but if I point it out it can be professional suicide," or "I'm paid well so I guess I just have to grin and bear it." Do you though? Do you really have to spend the majority of your life (which is generally the amount of time we spend working) "grinning and bearing it?"

If work is a bear and you are constantly making excuses for that bear gnawing at your tail, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your worth. I get that work is not meant to always be fun, or easy, or even always pleasant, but whatever your current situation work-wise, it should NOT be demeaning, devaluing or degrading. You are worth more. Demand more.

If you need a coach to give you a strong nudge, call me! I will certainly help you stop making excuses and start making an exit plan.

4- Everything's "fine" but you just don't feel fulfilled - not truly happy.

I have witnessed people falling into an emotional slump because they no longer feel challenged professionally. Like those childhood shoes you outgrew, they have outgrown their role. With no sign of upward mobility, they start to feel like they're in quicksand. If plants are no longer growing, they are dying. When personal growth stops, we start to get a sinking feeling, a hopeless - "What's the point?" kind of thing.

Some people can linger long in such a position and survive. But do you merely want to survive? Is that enough for you? If it is, no judgement here. Do what works for you. However, if you feel a fierce pull in your gut toward something bigger, do not ignore that intuition. It's ok if you are not quite sure how or when to make a transition. You can get with a coach, like me, or a mentor. Get with someone who can help you clarify your vision, guide and inspire you to achieve it.

Sometimes my clients come to me with a vague or unclear vision. That's ok. It can take some time. The important thing, the thing that sparks life back into them, is knowing that at least they are working toward a vision, progressing on that exit plan, whether it take months or years. A strong vision and solid plan is enough motivation to keep doing what they are doing NOW while preparing the way for something bigger and better later.

It took me 3 years to first figure out my vision for my business, do the steps necessary to get certified, educated and prepared enough to launch that business, and an excellent coach to guide and inspire me. And here I am - happy as a clam. Living the dream!

I wish that for all my clients and for YOU.

Recognize the Exit Signs. Plan accordingly. Go out and Live Your Dream!

But HOW, Mitch? (Stay tuned for PART 2 - 5 Steps For Exit Prep.)


Mitch Savoie Hill is a Certified Professional Coach, TEDx Speaker, and author, as well as the CEO of SavHill Consulting LLC. With over 25 years of experience in Sales, Hospitality, Training and Leadership, she delivers engaging and energetic presentations as well as 1:1 coaching to help her clients clarify their vision, map out strategies and Stretch Their Horizons!

Need help achieving a BIG vision despite roadblocks?

Schedule a Consultation today

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