The Terror of Leaving a Seemingly Perfect Job

We're terrified to leave a seemingly perfect job for fear of what other people will think.

“You’re crazy to be giving this up.”

“Why would you ever leave this job, it’s the best there is!”

“People would kill to be at this company.”

I've had so many conversations recently with people who have fancy jobs that look incredible on paper, have a great salary, don't even ask them to work too hard in some cases, and look like success to the outside world... but aren't what the person wants.

Something is missing, whether it's purpose, contribution, flexibility to focus less of their life on work, or something they can't put their finger on yet.

They've all known that it's not the right fit but they worry that they'll appear ungrateful if they leave the job. That they’ll crumble under the backlash they get from other people questioning their decision.

And then the inner voices kick in.

Who am I to leave a job that's so great?

Why can't I just be satisfied in a job that everyone else thinks is awesome?

Do I really think there’s something better out there?

Being able to make a decision that goes against what other people think, and knowing why it’s the right decision for you, is one of the most empowering things you can do.

I think of the book Roadmap and their concept of something they call “The Noise”. They define it as anything that comes at you that doesn’t take your individual personality into account. The advice, pressure, expectations, etc can come from peers, society, family or even self-doubt. Everyone may have the best intentions when giving you advice, but they don’t necessarily know what’s right for you.

I spoke to a woman who experienced the worst time of her life working at Facebook but felt she couldn’t tell her family that she wanted to leave because they were SO proud of her for achieving what looked like the pinnacle to success.

I spoke to a man who worked at a prestigious law firm who was terrified to step away and leave the prestige despite knowing it was a terrible environment that he desperately wanted to escape from.

I am the person who voluntarily left Google and received endless confused stares as to why I would ever leave the number one place in the world to work.

We get trapped in an external version of success and it creates so much dissonance in our lives.

In some ways, the choice is to risk appearing ungrateful and having people judge you or being miserable at a place that doesn’t work for you.

The easiest way to make a decision you feel good about is to know WHY you’re making the decision.

The more clear you are about what’s important to you, what you want out of work, what energizes and drains you, what environment you need in order to thrive, and what your strengths are, the more clearly you’ll be able to articulate that to others.

You’ll know your exact reasons when you’re asked the questions of “why would you ever leave xyz job??” and if you choose to, you can confidently explain why it’s the right decision for you. This value is missing, that strength isn’t being engaged, what’s actually important to me is this, I thrive in this type of environment, etc.

There is courage and leadership and grace in being able to do something that is right for YOU, regardless of what the norm is.

Stepping through the terror and leaving the seemingly perfect job may actually be an inspiration for those around you. We don’t know what kind of external versions of success those around us are trapped in.

So to anyone that feels guilty, ungrateful or crazy for thinking about leaving a seemingly perfect job, I see you as none of those things. I see you as courageous, filled with integrity and on the edge of making one of the most empowering choices of your career.

Thank you for being brave and showing us the way of doing what’s right for you, regardless of what other people think.

If you're analytically minded and feeling uninspired or crushed by an ill-fitting job, check out my group program - Crushed to Confident. Get un-crushed, rigorously evaluate and understand your current role and confidently make career decisions that feel good to you. Join the list here to get first access to the 12 spots.