Saturday, December 30, 2017

What To Do When You Realize It's Time To Quit

The thought of quitting a job has crossed everyone's mind at some point in their career, and for many different reasons. With a new year, there is no better time to take inventory of your career and determine if now is the time to, not quit, but rather, embrace new challenges. "Quitting" has a negative connotation, and it can be negative if you resolve to just give up with no real plan in place. Instead, of "quitting", how about let's replace it with "pivoting", to take a new approach to accomplishing your goal.  

Before you take any action, start by candidly and objectively viewing your career to assess 1) if you are meeting the goals you set, and 2) whether you need to make intentional changes. While life can get messy at times, you are the only one who can create the optimum career by engaging in introspection regularly and building the narrative to support your brand.

Let's take a brief look at your career by exploring the following questions:

A. Are you where you want to be? 
B. If not, are you working on a plan to get there?
C. Have you accomplished a win recently?
D. What steps are you taking daily, weekly, or monthly towards your goal?

When the realization sets in that it's time to make a change in your career, what is most important is how much lead time you give yourself for the transition and how you structure your exit plan.

In my article "Questions to Gain More Clarity in Your Career", I talk about the importance of answering the hard questions if you will make the right decisions for yourself. If you are candid about what you need or want, you may realize that where you are is not the right fit. This is good news and should motivate you to move in the direction best for you. Some people who don't take the time to reflect on their career and really understand their talents and career aspirations can find themselves in a job where they don't add value, nor are they fulfilled.

Realizing that you need to make a change, for whatever reason, should give you the motivation to start planning. If you are employed, then you have time to go through a discovery period and create a holistic plan for your new endeavor that includes three parts: learning, transition, and exit.  

Note: Leveraging an exit plan to keep your brand intact and the opportunity to return is integral to career success.

After you have determined you need to make a change, consider the following to get started:

1) Solicit feedback from close colleagues to create a grassroots 360 assessment of your strengths and areas for improvement. 

Note: Depending on how long you have been with your company, you owe it to yourself to explore all your options before leaving. If you are waiting for an opportunity to materialize, "waiting" is not a passive activity. Prepare by taking action for the areas you are in control of.

2) Assess if you have the right skills and experience for where you want to go. If not, determine what you will do to close the gaps.

3) Update your resume and network with purpose (to build relationships).

4) Make an outline for the actions you need to take and due dates to keep you moving forward.

5) Test the waters by applying for jobs you may consider. Sometimes applying for jobs can give you the reality check you need to refine your plan based on the response (or lack of).

This process can be easy or difficult depending on how you approach solving the problem. Give yourself enough time to have choices for where you will go next instead of making an impulse decision. 

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