Knowing when to leave…

One of the most difficult workplace decisions is choosing to leave a job you love.

This past week, Chris Borland, an American football player with the San Francisco 49ers announced his decision to leave the sport he loves after his first year in the NFL. This was probably the most public resignation from a dream job in recent memory. It reminds us that even if we love what we do, we need to constantly monitor workplace reality to maintain ownership of our career.

In an interview with CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ program on Sunday, Mr. Borland said, “The decision was simple after I had done a lot of research and it was personal. I was concerned about neurological diseases down the road if I continued to play football, so I did a lot of research and gathered a lot of information and to me the decision made sense.”

For some of us, dangers in the workplace to both our health and our well being are the catalyst for change.

Former QVC host, Lisa Robertson, appearing on Good Morning America, shared her history at the shopping network and her decision to leave after 20 years. Her visibility and celebrity resulted in multiple stalkers threatening her life outside her workplace. “I would just lock myself in my house and then go to work.” There was no quality of life outside work.

For most of us, it starts as a doubt, an observation, a sense that something is not quite right.

Financial guru, Suze Orman in a Linkedin ‘Pulse’ interview described her decision:

“About a year ago, something started to change. I woke up one morning, and I knew that it was time to end the Suze Orman Show. There was no external trigger; just a feeling that I had shifted, not the workplace.

Could I have ignored that feeling and just keep on keeping on? Sure. But that would have been so disrespectful. To myself, and most of all to the viewers. I never wanted to give less than 100 percent. And let’s face it, if you stay on for the wrong reasons, your eventual exit will likely not be on your own terms. I wasn’t going to fall into that trap.”

Something had ‘shifted’. As we mature along our career paths, we are changing as the workplace changes. We revise our definition of success and dream fulfillment over time. If we are true to ourselves and ‘respect’ our calling, we have to know when to leave.

External realities can erode the dream until you arrive on a Monday and find you are living in a career nightmare. For Chris Borland and Lisa Robertson the consequences of pursuing their dream jobs far outweighed the benefits. For Ms. Orman, her experience reflects a process of transition that resonates with many. It was just time to go.

Her advice to trust your gut and let go offers the promise of transition.

“I can think of no more important career advice than to listen to your gut and to own the power to control your future.”

I am so excited to see what the future brings — I almost cannot wait to go to sleep at night just so I can wake up the next morning to see what gifts lie ahead.”

You may love your job. You may love what’s next even more.

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