Quitting a Dream Job Part 1: Deciding to Leave
In almost all ways, my current job is my dream job. It is challenging, the people are great, I have TONS of room for growth, work / life balance is typically not a big challenge, the work is very engaging, the people are great, and I have a lot of opportunities and support.
In the past year, I have been pushed to think about some sort of rough career path, and to stop being schizophrenic about what I want to do within the company. Understandably so. My problem is that I want to do EVERYTHING. After months (years!) of thinking about it, I have a pretty good idea of the best paths for me at my company.
I’m not going to be taking any of those paths. My job is my dream job, except that it is located in SoCal and my husband was offered his dream job up North. After a lot of discussion (and tears), we decided he’d take his dream job, and I’d look for my next dream. Aside from it being a better opportunity for him, we think we’ll be able to raise a family better there, we think we’ll really like the area, and the only thing tying us here was my job. I’d already logically thought through this, and knew I was willing to do this.
Despite this being completely expected since I knew I was marrying an academic, it still took me by surprise emotionally. I literally went through the 5 stages of grief!
I continued along at work as though I would be there forever and kept thinking about internal career plans. (Denial!) I got really angry that we had to move. We talked extensively about this, because I knew it was irrational and unhelpful, but it was still how I felt. (Anger!) Then we came up with some ideas that would allow me to stay as late as next June. I insisted I wouldn’t move until I got to do some of the things I was most excited about, like going to Dubai for work and managing a new R&D project that was going to be ALL mine. (Bargaining!) Throughout the whole process, there were a LOT of tears and feelings of hopelessness. (Depression) There is a big difference between making a logical decision and emotionally coming to terms with them!
Finally I started to reach acceptance. It didn’t happen until I got an interview for a job I was really excited about. Without a career I am excited about, I’m not going to be excited about moving. I started thinking more about the life we might have, where we might live, what wine club we might join, new mountains to explore, restaurants to try… maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. I still am sad to leave all of the good things in my beachy Southern California life, because my life here is really really great. But it is time for a new adventure.
Since the future is unknown and we can only take one path, it is impossible to know if we made the right decision. We had two good options, and we made a choice, and I guess that is all that matters at this point.
So, I quit my dream job. I only cried at work in front of one person in the process (instead of EVERYONE). It was a bad day! I gave a LOT of notice and my replacement is way more experienced than me, and she’ll do the job much better than I would have (it was a huge stretch role for me).
Deciding to quit and quitting was one of the hardest things I’ve done, which I guess only speaks to the fact that I have had a pretty lucky life.