questions to ask before leaving your job

When Running Away Is Running Toward

“Hello, How are Y…?” “Carl” interrupted my greeting before I could finish. “Karin, I have to leave my company.” Not your typical Saturday morning phone call. He was fired up. He’s an old friend, and he’d been with his company for nearly two decades.

I figured he was calling to have me talk him off the ledge. I’m familiar with that ledge– I’ve been there, and I’ve talked more than a few off it over the years. So I opened the window, climbed out, sat next to him, and listened.

Running Away or Running Toward?

I’ve always believed that running away is not the answer, much better to be running toward. His urgency had all the signs of a full-out sprint in one direction– away. But then I heard his story:

  •  “I’ve lost all respect for leadership.”
  •  “I fundamentally disagree with the values at play here.”
  •  “The wrong people are losing their jobs.”
  •  “I’m a Christian, and this just feels wrong.”
  • “I was raised better than this.”
  • “At the end of my life, I don’t want to look back and feel like I wasted my years.”

Questions From the Ledge

Oh boy. This was going to be harder than I thought. If even half the stories were as bad as they sounded, the situation was extreme. “Why aren’t more leaving? I asked, already knowing the answer. It’s tough to leave the security of a well paying gig. I continued with my line of questioning.

  • Are you sure you have the whole story?
  • Have you shared your concerns with leadership?
  • Have you talked with HR?
  • Have you done everything in your power to improve the situation?
  • Have you looked seriously at other job prospects?
  • Are you financially prepared to make less?
  • Can you take some time off to think about it?
  • Does your wife think you should go?
  • Will you please wait until you have an offer to resign?

He answered, “yes” to all.

And then he shared, “Karin, it’s almost Spring. I have a sense this is exactly what’s supposed to be happening. New growth, new life.” You write of Seasons. It’s time for a new one.

I realized my role was not to be talking him off the ledge, it was holding his hand while he jumped. I stand corrected.

Sometimes running away is running toward.

Carl was running toward authenticity, wholeness, adventure, integrity, and peace. Amen.

See also a great article on this topic from Jordan, Ever Consider Firing Yourself? 17 Reasons to Leave a Job You Hate 

AND our new Infographic 5 Stages of Manager Soul Loss

The Power of Yes

“Yes-let’s said Tigger, bouncing a little, even though he had no idea what was to be begun. He liked to be asked to do things, and he liked to be asked to do them first, and he always said “yes,” because it is much more interesting when you do.”

-David Benedictus, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood

As leaders (or community members, parents, friends), deciding where to spend our physical and emotional energy can be daunting. So much of the self-help literature seems to be teaching us how to say “no” to the wrong things so we have more time to say “yes” to the “right” things.

That makes sense.

What can be more difficult is knowing the difference. Sometimes the most illogical opportunities can provide the most fascinating experiences. Sometimes the growth comes precisely because the opportunity is out of our comfort zone, or because we have to completely rearrange our lives to make room for it.

Yes can be scary. 

Yes leads to opportunity.

A Story of Yes

I recently got involved in writing and directing a children’s musical for our church. An out of the box “yes” project for me for sure. On the surface, there was absolutely no room in my life for this, but it was an amazing experience. The kids and volunteers were fantastic. I must say, we put on a heck of a show.

But then, came the real “yes” or “no” question. We had performed the show one evening, deconstructed (and thrown away) most of the set, and a few weeks had gone by when I got a call from my minister. “Would we reprise the show for a church service?”

Everyone who knows me well and cares about me had the same reaction, “say no.” They saw how the show consumed me the first time. On the surface it did not make sense, the logistics of pulling this off again, with the kids out of practice, many of the volunteers gone, limited set. Something made me say, “yes.”

What happened next was one of the most magical moments of my year. We found enough of the set to make it look fun, the kids all stepped up to practice like crazy on their own, they managed themselves backstage without a lot of parent volunteers, the congregation was absolutely packed and the kids had a blast and received a standing ovation. As I was standing there after the service, I had tears in my eyes and thought, “I almost said, no.”

Sometimes saying no can prevent us from stretching ourselves or working past the surface difficulties. I will surely still say “no” to many things, but I have learned the value of thinking well and deep before I do.