Post written by Colleen Clark
In more ways that I can count, I’ve approached my romantic and professional life in entirely different ways. At work, I carefully plan and communicate, analyze data and modify strategy, and creatively problem solve. In the dating world, I do…well…none of these things. Why does any of this matter? Well, I’m in the middle of a break-up. No, not a sob story about my ex-boyfriend. I’ve just broken up with my job, and in fact, notified them of who my new significant other will be.
The parallels between how we end experiences, whether related to our careers or love, run deep. In both situations, I think that it’s important to first clearly communicate not only why the decision has been made, but why the relationship has been appreciated. Think, it’s not you… it’s me. When I had the break-up talk with my current job, I described the difficulty of the decision, the excitement about the opportunity ahead, and the lessons learned from my time with them. Remember, we don’t always end relationships because the other person sucks…sometimes the timing is off, the relationship doesn’t offer what you need, or you’ve found someone else that is way hotter.
When it’s time to end a romantic relationship and move on, I usually freak out. I think of every possible reason as to why the transition will be a bad one, and I avoid it like the plague. And once that relationship has ended, I usually spend a solid month (or ten) agonizing over why the relationship ended, how I can win the person’s heart again, and what my failures were. Rarely, in my dating life, do I take a break-up as an opportunity to reflect on my growing sense of self or my ability to recognize when change is needed. Rarely do I end relationships on a good note, ensuring that I haven’t burnt any bridges and can count on that person in the future. That’s exactly why I’m using this moment in my professional life as an example of Do’s and Don’ts for love.
After announcing my departure to my immediate supervisor and CEO, I then decided to tell each colleague personally rather than send an AllStaff email. I gave four weeks’ notice to guarantee that my tasks would be completed and that a thorough plan could be handed off to my replacement. (Note: Do NOT give your boyfriend four weeks’ notice that you are going to leave him…that sounds like a miserable month.)
In my final weeks, I am prioritizing several things—first and foremost, my relationships with my colleagues. I want each of them to know how much they have helped me to grow and better understand the nonprofit sector and leadership. Secondly, I am organizing like a mad woman—doing everything in my power to hand off a position that is clear and approachable. Finally, I am cleaning—I’m getting rid of the paperwork (or baggage) that has weighed me down, and is not necessary for the organization.
Ending a job is bittersweet. Through all of the ups and downs in this relationship, I am thankful for the time that I have spent with each of my colleagues and know that I am better off because of them. And now, because I’m responsibly saying goodbye, I feel prepared and excited to start anew. Now let’s just hope it’s not a rebound!
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