Reconciling the End. Leaving your job gracefully
Endings are a process of emotional reconciliation.
Resigning from a job is like breaking up with your partner. There are lots of spoken and unspoken feelings. It feels intense and scary walking into the unknown while dealing with an emotional tornado of where you still are.
Wait….isn’t it “just a job”? No, it’s not.
Work is a place where you grow as a person — professionally AND personally.
Work is a place where you devote your full mental energy and your most valuable resource=your time.
Work is a place where you make friends and partners and allies.
Work is a place that sometimes you resent.
Work is a place that creates all the emotions — excitement, disappointment, frustration, and happiness.
Work is a place that defines your professional sense of self and your work identity.
Work is a place that conveys a sense of your personal value.
When I was studying to be a marriage and family therapist one of the things that I remember the most is this: How someone chooses to “end” is important. It is ultimately a reflection of character and strength. Endings happen, but it is the “HOW” that is character defining and is often reflected in other parts of someone’s life. Yet, leaving gracefully is still challenging no matter how hard you try to do it. It is hard because resigning is simply “calling an end”. Endings hurt.
Endings involve a process of intense reconciliation. Reconciling choices. Reconciling trajectory. Reconciling defeat. Reconciling anticipation. Reconciling worry. Reconciling regret. Reconciling dreams. Reconciling alignment. Reconciling values. Reconciling ideas. Reconciling all the things.
The process of reconciliation is not easy. When you really care about something, the reconciliation is even harder. It is tempting to get sucked into the easy feelings: feelings of victimization, feelings of villainization, feelings of inadequacy, feelings of worry, feelings of paranoia. They are the easy feelings we default to as we are trying to work the process through.
Part of reconciliation is working through the process of resentment. We don’t always get the recognition we deserve in the way we think we should. We don’t always get a perfect transition. We don’t always like the things we see or hear once we have made our choice. We make assumptions because we feel threatened and vulnerable. We forget that when we leave, we are not the only ones that are forced to reconcile. The people that remain have to reconcile the ending too. Sometimes parallel reconciliation processes collide. When this happens we have to simply assume the best intentions and trust in that.
The true root of our pain? We all want to have a legacy. We all want to be remembered for doing something great. We want our name to go down in the history books for the amazing contributions we made. Sometimes we just want our work history to be recorded and validated. We want to be acknowledged for the value we brought to the table and to our peers. We want to be recognized for our influence, time and effort. We want to be remembered and to know our time spent meant something.
The “grace” goal is not to let our ending overshadow our legacy.
We must hold strong in the idea that YES, our contributions matter, even if the recognition is lacking. Sometimes it takes a minute for your work to feel the contributions you made. Sometimes it takes a few months to the feel the void you left. Sometimes it takes years for people to see the big picture. Sometimes we have to trust in the process.
Until then, move strongly with the choice that you have reconciled with. Go strongly into the next unknown chapter. Don’t forget to assume the best intentions along the way.
Don’t forget to call and tell your work how you are doing. They may not admit it, but they miss you already.
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