Do I stay or do I go?

Deciding if it's time to go or if you should stick it out rests in your motivations. 

I filled a journal trying to decide whether or not to leave my last job for my current job. Up until that point, most things in my life came to a natural end. But, in the spring of 2018, it was my choice to make, and it was a challenge. I loved the company I worked for, the people I worked with and I was doing the exact thing I went to school for. But, the promise of something new and exciting tugged at my heart and mind. 

When you leave something that you’re invested in, you’re setting it free. You’re releasing your influence and control and you’re hoping that you did enough to make a difference, praying that this expression of yourself exists out in the wild, apart from you. I suppose parenting will feel much the same when the time comes that my children start to leave home. And, I suspect that might be the same feeling an author has when releasing a book to the world; maybe that’s why they call it a “release.”

It can be really challenging to know what to release, and what to hang onto. We live in a culture that weaves a false narrative that you can never quit something, even if it is no longer serving you, even if it’s time to go. Sometimes we call it persistence or perseverance, sometimes we call it grit, but where’s the wisdom in a place or situation that you’ve outgrown? 

Choosing to quit doesn’t inherently mean you’ve failed, it might just mean you’re ready for what’s next. You might need to choose to end something that isn’t working. Or, perhaps you have failed, and it’s time to try something new. But, in my opinion, all of those things are noble, so long as it’s a decision made for the right reasons and you take those lessons with you into the next chapter.

The right choice may, in fact, be to stay. The truth lies in the motivation. Are you choosing to end something because of a conflict you’re avoiding? Are you choosing to end something because of a challenge you’re facing? Or, do you recognize a pattern of frustration that, even after trying to address it, seems unchanged? Do you feel more energized by the promise of something new than you do of the perfectly fine things in front of you? Can you be your whole self in your environment? Where can you make the greatest difference?

Life is complex, and our choices impact others. So, whether you choose to stay or go, you must also consider who you’re impacting when you make your decision. How will your choice impact your immediate family, and how will you adjust to the decision together? Change is not always a negative thing, and you might discover that shaking things up breathes fresh life into your normal rhythms, once you’ve adjusted to the new routine. 

In the end, I made the choice and took the new role, and I’m grateful I made it. Once the decision was made, I did everything I could to leave well, providing closure to projects, handing things off smoothly, and making myself available as much as necessary without hovering or holding on too tight. The next chapter has been transformative and joyful, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on it. 


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Colleen Cook works full-time as the Director of Operations at Vinyl Marketing in Ashland, where she resides with her husband Mike and three young daughters. She's an insatiable extrovert who enjoys finding reasons to gather people.