Leaving a job you love isn't easy. You can often confuse the feeling of knowing you'll miss your responsibilities, coworkers, clients, bosses, office culture or even just your commute with perceived regret. So when better or even just different and enticing opportunities arise, taking the leap is a nuanced decision.
But you're not alone in feeling like you might be making a mistake. The fear of the unknown plagues us all, but you'll never know about the opportunities that'll come from walking through opened doors if you don't take those steps.
Take it from these seven women who've left jobs they loved for a gamut of reasons. All of them found fulfillment and happiness in their new jobs, and you can, too, with the right mindset.
1. Follow Your Gut
"I was working for a while in finances — I started at the bottom and had gained some success," says Hayley Ellis, the marketing manager for Maple Holistics. "I liked the job itself just fine, and I loved the people I was working with. As a combo, it was powerful, which is why I stayed as long as I did. But over time, things got too dry and stale for me. I felt this growing need, this craving, to wander into other territories."
The health and wellness field was one that had always intrigued Ellis — ancient traditions and medical practices, the use of old medicine in modern-day situations, chakras, pressure points and pools of energy. She decided to go for it after a good work-friend of hers decided to quit and go back to school for her Master’s. This inspired her in a way that nothing else had, since it showed her just how tangible it is.
"The mixed emotions were there, especially at first, because the moment you want to do something of significance, the chaotic elements in your universe all band together to stop you from facing your dragons and realizing your potential," she says. "That is their job, and it is your job to make a decision, don the armor, smite your enemy and reap the rewards."
The job and the people at the office — while they were a part of what was keeping her there — could not calm the fire that was building inside her. It must have been doing that for a while, or her friend’s announcement wouldn’t have had the effect it did, she explains.
"I am so very happy I decided to follow my gut, not my heart nor my head," she adds. "My head wouldn’t come to a logical decision, and my heartstrings were being pulled at from different sides — worries, concerns, logistics, the future, and what not. My gut, though, was the true savior. When my friend told me she is leaving, my stomach did a short flip; a tiny somersault. I decided to follow its example."
2. Be Open to New Challenges
3. Roll with the Punches
"I left a great job that I loved doing public relations and marketing for a major hospital system in Detroit," says Arielle Endelman, director of communications at the Birmingham Athletic Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. "I had just had my first child and I had every intention of returning to work once my maternity leave came to a close. However, our childcare situation didn't work out as planned, and we were left high and dry until my baby was five months old. I didn't have a choice but to leave my job."
It was hard to tell her boss that she was leaving, but even harder to tell her closest colleague who had just returned from maternity leave herself, she explains. But, fortunately, she was able to find a great job doing public relations for a country club just 10 minutes from her home. Now, her son has outstanding childcare three days a week and she gets to be home with him the other two.
"What felt like a really hard situation at the time worked itself out to be even better than I could have expected," she says. "Now I have the best of both worlds: I get to be a working mom and a stay-at-home mom all at the same time."
4. Accept the Situation and Keep Positive
6. Always Do What's Best for You
"There were times I missed the validation; I missed the closeness of those in the office; I missed asking someone how my work was and what I could do to improve," she says. "I didn't become a virtual assistant because I don't like people; just the opposite. I love people and found new ways, which suited my business to interact with them. I hired a business coach to help me work through the questions I had. I joined networking groups and business associations to build relationships and assist others because it is my nature. I designed a support and professional development community around my lifestyle and business. It was the best decision I have ever made."
"I was a flight attendant for over 30 years when I invented Finders Key Purse," says Sandy Stein, president. "My husband had just lost his job and, at the age of 53, I had a 10-year-old. I knew that my part-time work as a flight attendant would not provide the needed cash to live in Los Angeles, so I decided to see if I could make a business out of this little invention. I loved being a flight attendant. I liked the odd hours, never knowing who you meet and where you will be, no immediate boss looking at what I was doing, traveling, camaraderie with my flight attendant friends, meals out, and a chance to get away from home."
There was nothing that Stein didn’t like about her flight attendant career, except the yearly training. She enjoyed making the passengers smile and be happy, and she enjoyed knowing that that was truly her biggest responsibility. Other than that, it was go up, go down and go home, she says. So she remained a flight attendant for a year after she invented Finders Key Purse, running her business and flying around easily able to do both.
"When my business became successful I realized that I needed to concentrate fully on it," she says. "Regrettably, I retired. I knew I would miss my friends, the fun I had on planes, and my chance to escape from my everyday life on a plane. After 35 years, it is not easy to cut the cord, but I did. Periodically I wish I could be back on my flights instead of shouldering the burdens of running a business but, in the end, I have succeeded in most everything I ever wanted from making the leap, and if asked if I would do it again, the answer would be a giant yes!"
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.