Last week I sat down with a neighbor who was feeling torn. On one hand, she had an amazing opportunity to work at her dream job. On the other, the guilt and responsibility of a position that not only violated rules and laws, but also her core values. She just couldn’t seem to close the door on her past to open the door to her future.
You may be thinking, “This should be a slam dunk decision. Leave the job and work your dream job.”
But an easy decision it wasn’t. She battled with the weight of obligation to take care of her co-workers and members from a toxic situation. If she wasn’t there, what would happen to them? What would happen to the organization is she left?
I can totally relate. I overstayed my last two jobs for the same reasons. My concern for others’ wellbeing always outweighed my own sanity and health. Even after months of crying and stress related health issues, I stayed. I thought I could make it better for everyone else. I thought I could protect my staff and clients. But I was one person and it wasn’t my company.
It wasn’t until, I stopped and put myself first. “Who’s going to take care of me?” That realization that no one was fighting for my best interest was the wake-up call I needed. Those long hours at the office and lost hours from my pillow, no one else cared about.
I needed to answer the following questions:
Why was my interpretation of what other people needed more important than my own actual needs?
What did I really want to do?
What was I preventing by staying?
What was I adding by staying?
What could life be like if I started something new?
What do I deserve?
The last question stuck with me: What do I deserve? It was at the core of my tolerance for people and situations that didn’t work. Relationships, living situations, and financial decisions, all felt out of my control. It was a complete contradiction to the tough girl persona I put on for all of those years. By loving myself and realizing I deserved to be taken care of, first by me, gave me the strength I needed to move on. I made the decision with focused intention, not irrational fear. I was scared for change, but was more afraid of what would happen to me if I stayed any longer. I knew it was my time to move on.
Neighbor Update: I saw my neighbor this morning, a week after our talk. Her face was bright and life had returned to her eyes. “I resigned!” she proclaimed. I gave her a high-five.