“In years past it was admirable to have worked at the same company for three decades and get the gold watch,” says psychologist and career-change counsellor Meredith Fuller. “But these days it can signal lack of experience, and the plum jobs often go to people who move around and are willing to take risks.”
And then, of course, there’s the job you have to leave because you have no choice. About 75% of respondents say they’ve been victims of bullying at least at once in their working lives. “This can include not just yelling and screaming but being excluded from meetings or having emails ignored, being given meaningless tasks or being forced to work unacceptable hours,” says Fuller. Whatever your reason for leaving, there are things to think about when it’s time to say adieu:
Start looking around on employment websites. If you’re worried about confidentiality, simply ask for your details to be kept private and send your résumé and application from a home email address.
Check your contract carefully for the amount of notice you need to give. If you don’t need to give any, find out from your HR department what would be an appropriate amount, or ask your boss if you can work something else out.
If you believe you’ve been unjustly fired or forced to resign, speak to a lawyer – because if you do resign, you may lose your long service leave benefits. “While you can take legal action, the reality for many people is that the stress and cost of doing so is simply too taxing on their mental health,” says Fuller. “In which case, it may be simply better to leave.”
Keep your resignation letter short, frank and respectful. Simply say that you are leaving on a specific date to pursue a new endeavour. Briefly mention how grateful you are for your company’s, boss’ or colleagues’ input. Also offer to help in the handover to any new people.
Ask for a reference and send a brief but casual (rather than official) farewell letter to your workmates, including your contact details.
TOP TIP: Never leave on a disparaging note – no matter how you feel. “You never know when you may meet them again down the road, and they will still be in the industry you are working in,” says Fuller.
If constant do-or-die warring, the silent treatment or lack of respect makes you feel as though your relationship is on the rocks, try the following tips.
Make a time for an honest, calm discussion about whether or not you’re committed to staying together, and try to be creative with solutions.
“While many relationships fizzle out, quite often couples give in too early,” says Sydney clinical psychologist Grant Brecht. “Instead, they need to treat a relationship just as they would a business plan or work problem.”
Own your emotions. This means making a conscious effort not to fingerpoint and lay blame. Instead of saying, “You never do this’’, try saying, “I feel upset when…”, or “I think the best way to get around the problem would be to…”.
Get help. “Often having an external perspective through counselling can help couples feel they’ve made an informed, objective decision, rather than one they may regret down track,” says Brecht.
TOP TIP: Is your house like The War of the Roses? If you think staying together for the kids is a better idea, think again. Research shows that it’s conflict, not separation, that is most damaging to children.
Tearing yourself away from a crying child can be heartbreaking, but not if you’re goodbye-savvy. “Be honest. Tell them you’re going to work, but will be back later after ‘sleep time’ to play or read their favourite story,” says psychologist Grant Brecht. “Establish a routine such as high-fi ve goodbyes, goodbye elbow, goodbye hands, goodbye knees (and kiss each body part). Never skulk out without them noticing as this can make anxiety worse.”
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