Early in my career, one of my mentors told me that the best time to leave a job was when you loved it. He used this sketch to explain why.
After you love a job, it’s all downhill from there. At first the decline is very slow, and then it leads to a precipitous drop-off. In the same way that companies must disrupt themselves, you must disrupt your career.
He told me that if you’re not able to evolve your job at your current employer, it’s time to leave. If you don’t do it when you’re in love with the job, one day you’ll wake up desperate to leave, and that desperation will create unhealthy pressure on you as you navigate the next step on your career journey.
So, ten years ago, I left a job I loved. It was emotional, hard, and scary… and it’s still one of the best things I ever did. And it was because of the challenges I faced in the process that led me to where I am today. The simple act of starting the transition process forced me to do things I was procrastinating on: Building my network, developing my skills, learning about new industries, and most importantly, setting big career goals.
Leaving the job I loved was the spark to examine my life more closely, set goals for my future, and take more ownership over my journey on planet earth. I remember talking through my challenges with a friend when I was going through the process. Her advice is something I still follow today:
You might love what you’re doing, but staying is also deciding to not pursue a higher calling.
In the decade since quitting, I’ve traveled around the world, gotten married, and started my own social good organization I now lead as CEO. Our most popular program, the MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship, helps working professionals identify ways to find more meaning in their work and make a bigger impact with their careers. Time and time again I found myself standing alongside our Fellows who are on the precipice of change. I remind them that magic happens beyond our comfort zone.
As I think about a decade of change since I quit the job I loved, my perspective has evolved: I wasn’t quitting something that I loved. Rather, I made the decision to walk towards a higher purpose.
As the mother of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, shared nearly 100 years ago:
Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.Florence Nightingale