I’ve been talking to a number of people lately about the emotions that come along with a job transition, and I can’t help but compare it to a break up. No, they aren’t always bad and painful things. And they can be necessary to grow yourself and your career. But even on amicable terms, they can often hurt. Here are some of the ways they are similar:
Stay together for the kids. Ok, not literally. But it seems that most people I’ve spoken to were trying to hang in there for something. Maybe it’s vesting options. Or a co-worker or team they really adored. Or clinging to hopes that the good ole days would return, or that horrible boss would be fired. If you get to a point where the work isn’t getting you out of bed in the morning and exciting you – it’s probably time to consider moving on or figuring out if there’s a way to reinvigorate things before your partner (aka your employer) ends the relationship for you.
Sometimes it hurts so much to lose the one you love. Boom. I worked in a 90’s reference. Bonus points if anyone recognizes it. I’ve talked to very few people who didn’t feel some sense of loss when leaving a job. Maybe it’s for one of the reasons above, but it’s not uncommon for people to feel a loss of some part of their identity. This is magnified 10x if someone isn’t ready to leave a company. There’s some research that indicates death, divorce and job loss are the most stressful things people have to endure.
Moving on takes a while. I still say “we” when talking about my last company, and I need to be very cognizant of not saying the wrong name when I’m talking with others about where I work. It’s not that I’m not excited about my current role, it’s really as simple as breaking a 4.5 year habit and ritual. It’s easier when you know the landscape and your company. It’s harder when you are feeling something new out, and it can really magnify reminiscing about the last role.
You look back either too fondly or too negatively. There are break ups where you look back and you miss everything, conveniently forgetting there was a reason you left. There are break ups where you look back so angry about everything that you forget there was a lot good (at one point) about the relationship. The same can be true when you leave a company, particularly in the short-term.
What’s the worst break-up with a company you’ve had?
I was on the “being acquired” side of an acquisition. My boss gave the best advice: “You now work for a team that has other ways and new colors. Wear the new colors, and pay attention to how things are done. If they ASK you how you used to do it, great. If not, don’t try and push your ways on them.” It was a challenge, and 5 years after I still heard employees complaining about the changes and not realizing the importance of saying goodbye to “how we used to do it”. Almost all your points are true in that situation as well.