Leave Your Bad Job Baggage Behind

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Posted August 3, 2012 by Marcy Farrey in Career Moves

Leaving a job, even if you hated it, can be emotionally challenging.  You spent months or years getting accustomed to the environment and learning the ins and outs of survival.  If you worked in a toxic environment, you might even walk away with a few invisible scars.

Even if you are on to bigger and better things now, how do you rid yourself of the old, bad baggage of your last job?  You don’t want to walk into a new job still thinking about the past.

Vicki Salemi’s article on ForbesWoman offers some tips on how to detox from your old job, and compares the experience to detoxing from a failed relationship.  While you may not have been dating your company, the experience is similar: you had a working relationship with that employer, it didn’t work out for either of you, and now it’s time to let go and move on.

When I made the decision to leave my last job, the one I had before graduate school, I had a lot of trouble mentally letting go.  I wondered if I made the right decision, and I beat myself up for not having reached my full potential in that environment.  This is why Salemi’s third piece of advice, “Be Kind to Yourself,” is so important:

Give yourself time to think through and recover from your old job, and don’t be afraid to vent to supportive friends, talk to an old boss or mentor, or even consult a therapist to navigate the murky residue.”

Telling yourself to not think about your worries or fears, as we all know, is useless.  The thoughts are there and they are hard to ignore.  So let yourself just get it out — to family, to friends, to a therapist.  But as I learned, don’t go back and analyze what could have been.  Instead, take what you didn’t like about that last job to help you find out what you really want out of your next work experience.

In moving on from any failed relationship, it can help to remember some of the positives.  We all have a tendency to look back and blame ourselves: “Why did I ignore all the signs and stick around as long as I did?”  Well, chances are there was something good about that experience:

There have to be at least one or two good things about your old company, right?  Try to remember and focus on something you learned and enjoyed–like honing skills for a specific computer program, forging friendships with one or two amazing people, or even just having a prestigious place to put on your resume.”

Think about what you learned on your last job that can help you in your next one.  Maybe you learned a new program or technical skill.  Maybe you learned how to better deal with difficult coworkers or a disorganized boss.  Regardless of how bad it was, you learned something from the experience that has made you wiser today.

Whether you are in the process of leaving a job or have already left, remind yourself that it is much, much better to find the job that’s right for you.  There is a job out there that can give you the kind of experience you want.  And above all, don’t be embarrassed or upset about the fact that it didn’t work out.  Instead, be proud of yourself for having the courage to leave and move on to your next great adventure.

Read the rest of Salemi’s detox tips here.


About the Author

Marcy Farrey

Marcy Farrey is a videographer, writer, and editor. In her previous life, she worked as a broadcast news reporter and producer in Lincoln, Nebraska and as a writer and producer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University. Learn more about Marcy on her website www.marcyfarrey.com.

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