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Everything Has a Life: Knowing When to Leave What was Once Good

Waterbeds. These were pretty “far out” in the ‘70s. By the late 1980s, one in every four or five mattresses sold in the United States was a waterbed. But almost as fast you could say “Tempur-Pedic,” waterbeds in the ‘90s floated out of sight, man.

And this is why your dream job may eventually keep you up at night.

Everything has a life. If you think of yourself as a product, let’s say a fax machine, it’s easy to understand why your first week, month, even years on the job were amazing. You were clever, efficient, innovative, helpful and usually uncomplicated. As co-workers discovered your value, you probably felt pretty good about yourself and the office was a great place for you to be.

But then, change snuck in, or so it seemed. The funny thing about change is we often don’t see it coming, even though change might be driving right through the middle of our office in a bright yellow submarine blaring In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

Change can roll in with a new CEO, a different group dynamic on a board of directors, an economic downturn, a health concern or even a change of heart. I’ve witnessed what looked like a whole community having a change of heart during local elections.

Change can feel like you’re not a starting player anymore. Maybe you’re not involved in strategic team meetings all of a sudden, and may not even be included in the email to wear the jersey on game nights.

Change can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be, especially if you remember that everything has a life. That’s a beginning, a middle and an end.

Industrialist John D. Rockefeller said, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go after the great.” The wise business professional understands this concept and recognizes when he or she is receiving strong signals that a job, product or relationship is reaching its expiration date. And, that’s an excellent time for you to be in charge of change.

Now hold on, I can hear you saying, “Things aren’t that painful. Not every day. And anyway, it’s hard to find a good-paying job with benefits, for someone my age, with my responsibilities, in this field, in this town, in this lifetime, on this planet, with allergies to fluorescent lights…”

And while I’m sure all of these statements feel real and true, I’m reminded of a friend in the oil and gas business who left an $800,000 a year job with AMAZING benefits because of a concern about the leadership’s integrity. Some core values just didn’t match up and it made him feel sick to represent the company to clients who trusted him. And, guess what? Shortly after leaving, he landed a million-dollar-a-year job, also with amazing benefits.

Motivational books are full of stories like this. The worse your circumstances, the higher the stakes, the better the story. And then you can write a motivational book!

I know many very successful, balanced, intelligent professionals, just like you, who have made the hard decision to leave a “good” job and take a risk for something better for them, and not necessarily for more money or even the same amount of money. It could be more time with family, less stress, a completely different career, being around positive people, going back to school, surfing, baking bread, rescuing prairie dogs, becoming a Pilates instructor…there must be a million better things to do!

What I don’t remember hearing are regrets. Not one.

We all have that parallel fantasy life we visit sometimes where we’re doing exactly what we really want to do, working with incredibly talented and kind people, can hardly sleep because we are so excited about every minute of the day, being treated like the rock stars we are and getting rewarded handsomely for it.

Make the decision now. Leave good enough in the same place you left your waterbed, and chase down that latest dream.

If change is pushing, the universe is calling, and it’s probably an important line to answer, unless it’s a fax. FBN

By Bonnie Stevens

Bonnie Stevens is a public relations consultant. She can be reached at bonnie.stevens@gmail.com.

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