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Imagine this, you finally receive a new job offer that you’ve been waiting for. Higher pay, more benefits, better title, and best of all, a great company! Deep down you know that it is time to leave your job and start a new chapter. You’re super excited and ready to celebrate, but then you realize, you have to turn in your notice, and you begin to feel resignation guilt.
You may even tell yourself,
“I feel bad for quitting a job I just started.”
“I feel guilty because I’m leaving my coworkers to fill in and pick up the pieces.”
“This is the wrong time to leave because everything is so busy right now, I’m putting them in a tough situation.”
“My boss and coworkers are going to hate me for leaving this job.”
Have you ever felt like that? If you have, you’ve probably even asked yourself, “should I feel guilty for quitting my job?”
I call it quitting guilt or resignation guilt, and it’s more common than you think. As exciting as accepting a new job is, leaving behind an old job can cause feelings of sadness, guilt, and uneasiness. As you continue to read, you’ll learn what quitting guilt is and how to overcome it so that you can start your new job with excitement and confidence.
Have you ever felt bad or guilty about leaving a job, even though you were so eager to get out of it? Technically, you know why you’re leaving, in fact you were very intentional and often counted down the days, hours, and minutes, sitting by your phone, hoping for a call to freedom. You finally got the call, but there’s something in you that makes you second guess your decision and even rationalize why leaving would be a burden.
Thoughts like this start to creep in,
“I’m leaving everyone with all of this work. My coworkers are going to be furious because they are counting on me for this project.”
“I really like my boss, but I hated the executive leadership. I shouldn’t make my boss suffer for the actions of the executive team.”
“We are currently understaffed; I feel guilty about leaving this job because they will have to start the hiring process all over again.”
“I’m leaving my job at a critical time.”
That’s what I call quitting guilt (aka resignation guilt). We’re human, and it happens. You feel like you’re leaving someone to pick up all the pieces after they’ve trusted you to carry out your position long-term. But here’s the thing, you’re quitting for a reason. Those reasons are one way that you are going to overcome your case of quitting guilt.
Over the years, I have coached hundreds of professionals on overcoming feelings of guilt as they leave their company. Below are my top 3 tips to stop feeling guilty about quitting your job.
Keep track of your “why” by keeping a work journal
The first thing that I always recommend is keeping a journal on the reasons why you no longer want to work for that employer. You should begin keeping notes as soon as the “I want to quit this job” thought comes to mind. I always recommend journaling daily if possible, if not, reflecting weekly can be a tremendous help.
Keep a dedicated journal for your “work reflections.” Remember, you can also write notes in the moment or anytime you run into a sticky situation at work. For example,
Document it all!
Keep in mind, it doesn’t always have to be the “bad stuff.” You can also put your wins in there. For example, whenever you get kudos from a client, customer, or supervisor, write it down! You can use this as you’re updating your resume and LinkedIn profile.
The purpose of this journal is to increase your recall ability. When you begin to reminisce on the good times when people say, “I can’t believe you’re leaving” you can go back and remember all the things that pushed you to making this decision.
Remember Why You Want to Quit
Whether the reason for wanting to quit is low pay, a toxic work environment, or an unrealistic workload, I want you to remember it. I guarantee you once you remember your “why’s” you will be ready to quickly type up that resignation letter. I also want you to remember that you’re not tied to anything outside of a contract.
Of course, employers know that they are always taking a risk on a new employee. Since most states are at-will, employers know that you can (and may!) leave sooner than expected, at any time. In fact, they are banking on it and many have backup plans for when that happens.
If it helps, think about it this way… someone left the role that you’re currently in. That position has been vacant before (probably many times) and they’ve dealt with it, and they made it through. They made it through and hired you. So, it’s okay. You will be okay and they will be ok as well.
Think of Co-Workers as Co-Workers
I know a lot of people think, “my co-workers are going to be so disappointed, and they’re going to miss me, and they’re going to be angry with me.”
Those co-workers aren’t your friends. They are your co-workers. And if you do consider them a friend, you quitting won’t change that. In fact, it will reveal whether or not they were true friends to you. I like to call coworkers “work friends” because that’s what they often are. After you leave an organization, I would say seven times out of ten, you won’t talk to them anymore. Which means, they were never your friend, they were a co-worker.
If you are lucky enough to have a real friend out of a work situation, you better thank your lucky stars, and remember, you will see them outside of work and your new position. More than anything, a true friend will be happy and excited for you. I guarantee you that they are probably wishing that they could write that resignation letter and turn it in themselves.
Don’t feel bad about feeling guilty
Feeling guilting when quitting a job is one of those things that plagues us all. If you take anything away from this article it’s this…
You are about to embark on an incredible and an exciting new chapter. You deserve this and most of all, you earned it. The stars aligned and you are exactly where you are supposed to be right now.
In order to help this process go smoother and overcome quitting guilt, you need to reflect on all the reasons that brought you to applying, interviewing, and ultimately accepting a new role.
You don’t owe your current company anything and I promise, they will move on and be fine without you.
I sincerely hope you found this blog post helpful. If you have other ways that you use to manage and cope with resignation guilt about leaving a job, I want to hear about it in the comment section.
Cheers to your success!