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Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-19-2007, 06:10 AM   #1
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Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

Looking for some perspective and objective input here. I have a little less than a month to go in my job -- my last day is May 15th. I gave notice unusually early due to a complicated set of circumstances. I still have work I can be doing, but have really been struggling with the emotional outfall of leaving my job the past few days. Complicated situation probably not shared by a lot of people. I work for a non-profit, and in spite of my issues with the organization I still strongly believe in the mission and want to make a contribution to addressing the important issues. Spending half the day in tears at my desk as I look around at the shelves of files I have compiled that represent my intellectual and emotional investment in my work over the past several years. It does not help that most of my colleagues, including my husband, are back at the main office this week and next for important planning meetings -- meetings I was promptly disinvited from once I let them know I was leaving. I still have a lot to contribute, but they don't seem to want it.

I tried to make myself feel better by playing hookey yesterday afternoon, but it didn't help. Drinking way more gin and tonic than I should, too.

I should be happy about this change -- I have a great life to look forward to after I leave this job. I've got a major grant to finance additional language study, and then will see what happens. I don't consider myself fully FI or RE-ing yet, as I may keep working on a freelance basis or even start my own business. But I definitely have enough to take some time off from working for others, and I know deep within me that it is good that I am leaving.

So why is it so painful? Why have I been so miserable the past few days? Anybody been in a similar position and care to weigh in? I really would appreciate some perspective....

lhamo

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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-19-2007, 07:27 AM   #2
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

After spending 32 years of my life working at the same place, with most of the same people how can retirement or the last few days not be emotional. I cried like a baby the day I left because I knew I was never going back. I could have stayed on in various capacities but I had lost the desire to put up with the long hours, stress and political BS.

In retrospect, two years later, it was the best decision of my life. Yea, and I've killed a few bottles of Beefeater along the way too.
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-19-2007, 07:34 AM   #3
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

Quote:
Originally Posted by lhamo
Looking for some perspective and objective input here.
While the circumstances and types of feelings you are experiencing are natural and normal (and common to many "loss" or "grief" scenarios), there is a quality to your post that makes me wonder if your reaction may be a bit more than is healthy. Don't misunderstand - what you are feeling is understandable; it's the degree that has me concerned for you. If you are crying half the day and drinking to excess, I'd guess it's time for some professional help.

My advice: ask your primary doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist or other prescribing mental health provider. Might be what they call an "adjustment reaction" or clinical depression. It can be helped with counselling and/or proper medication. Left untreated, it can spell trouble down the line.

Just me gut reaction to your post. Best of luck.
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-19-2007, 07:59 AM   #4
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa

My advice: ask your primary doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist or other prescribing mental health provider. Might be what they call an "adjustment reaction" or clinical depression. It can be helped with counselling and/or proper medication. Left untreated, it can spell trouble down the line.
lhamo,

In case you aren't aware of it, Rich_in_Tampa is a MD. Although he tacks all sorts of disclaimers to the bottom of his posts, most of us listen closely when he gives advice...especially of the health-related variety.

While I understand your emotions at leaving and choked back a tear or two myself when departing after 27 years at the same company, your reaction does seem a bit intense. I second his advice.

And BTW, I wouldn't go back to work even if you paid me.

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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-19-2007, 08:38 AM   #5
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

Quote:
Originally Posted by lhamo
It does not help that most of my colleagues, including my husband, are back at the main office this week and next for important planning meetings -- meetings I was promptly disinvited from once I let them know I was leaving. I still have a lot to contribute, but they don't seem to want it.
What does your husband have to say about all this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lhamo
Drinking way more gin and tonic than I should, too.
I don't like the sound of that. Feelings of remorse are natural enough, but if, by your own admission, you are drinking to excess, that's another matter. I agree that it would be prudent to seek help from a qualified mental health professional, before things get out of control (I'd suggest a psychologist in preference to a psychiatrist, but that's just my preference)
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-19-2007, 09:05 AM   #6
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

I have had similar thoughts. If I left my current job, I am not sure that I would want to work for other people again. My institution has a toxic work culture. My boss is mean-spirited. When you make intellectual contributions in your work, all this can be very depressing.

It's not uncommon for someone to become marginalized after announcing their departure/retirement. I have seen this happen when other people in my department have given notice. The period between giving notice and departing a job, can be an unsettling emotional time especially if you have ambivalent feelings about leaving.

It might be helpful to focus on the opportunities that lie ahead and congratulate yourself for moving on with your life.
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-19-2007, 09:34 AM   #7
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

I fully understand what you are going thru. I retired two years ago after twenty seven years in the same organization. Although it was very stressfull (law enforcement), I loved the work I did. My husband was ready to retire and all things considered it was the right time for me to leave as well. I have since told everyone that the decision to leave when I did was the hardest decision that I have ever made. After I gave notice, life at work was strange. I was setting on the side lines for the first time in my career and watching others continue on. I cried a few times that last week and I must say that I felt like a fool that I was so emotional .

I remember seeing Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys being interviewed on TV the week after I retired. He was announcing his retirement from the Dallas Cowboys. He cried so hard he couldn't speak to the reporters! I felt so good, watching the big football star shed tears about leaving something he loved and I understood what he was feeling.

I have never regretted my decision to retire. My life is wonderful. I didn't need a doctor to tell me that my tears were a normal part of grieving for what I was letting go and maybe a little fear of the unknown.

You will get thru this emotional time, too. Good luck on your retirement!
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-19-2007, 10:41 AM   #8
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

Thanks for the helpful and supportive replies, everybody. My DH is actively helping me work through this -- we are messaging as I write this (nice way to sabatoge his participation in the meeting! I love new technologies...). He has encouraged me to speak to our HR person about some of the issues that are bothering me, which I will do tomorrow. He has also resigned, by the way, but his timetable is a bit longer than mine and he may continue to work for a few more months if they will let him telecommute. But he is also going to put on the table that they need to resolve some of the outstanding issues I have with them before he will agree to stay on. They need him pretty badly -- I am pushing him to ask for a raise, but not sure he will.

Thanks for your comments about counselling, Rich. I do have depressive tendencies, and that is one of the reasons this strong reaction I am having the past few days has me worried. I am in a much better place than I was a few months ago, however, and I know things will be greatly improved as soon as I can leave those files behind and move on with my life.

I probably should have been more clear about the gin an tonics -- I'm not drinking myself into a stupor, or even a fog. Having 1-2 drinks in the evening, several times a week. But I am putting on weight, which I know I will have to spend a lot of energy getting off this summer. And I want to be able to be lazy once the job is behind me!

I am going through a kind of mourning. More about grieving the loss of the dream of what this job could have been, rather than what it was. It should have been my "dream job" and instead it turned into something of a nightmare. Time to go out and make my dreams into my reality, instead of hoping someone else will do it.

lhamo
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-19-2007, 11:10 AM   #9
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

I am less than a month away from retirement. My initial plan was to retire at the end of 2006 but several key management and other folks left at the end of the year leaving the organization with some critical gaps and 60+ people in the department ready to jump ship because they believed the place was going down the drain and attributed the exiting individuals as evidence of that. So I changed my plans.

Management asked me to (again) hold two key management positions while they looked for replacements. I reluctantly agreed but with some stipulations.

My DW's needs and desires surpassed my desire to help the company through a very difficult time and I made my resignation (no concept of retirement here) public and gave a date. Management was grateful for the 6 weeks notice and my intent of doing so has achieved the desired results...action by them to find a replacement for my previous boss's position. There is little hope they will actually fill it in 4 weeks but at least I woke them up to the fact that I would not be here forever to carry the double load indefinitely.

I have become invisible to many. Some folks seem to be uncomfortable being around me and others seem to forget I am still here and am still running the department. My work load seems to be slowing fading as management is holding back the BS projects because they know I won't be here to do them. My emails are starting to slow down also. My meeting calendar stops on May 18 with the only entry "Exit interview with HR". Corp. accounting cancelled my corporate Credit card yesterday. IT came to retrieve my travel laptop.

If anyone remembers the TV show "Branded" I feel a bit like the opening scene of each episode where he was court-martialed and branded as a traitor. His boss takes his uniform hat, rips off his Captain insignia, rips off his uniform buttons and finally breaks his most significant symbol of officer rank; his sword. I am starting to feel this same way. The feelings of being ostracized and deemed a "traitor" by my peers and subordinates is definitely present. It is much like the Capitan of a sinking ship being the first one off the ship.

I went through some of this before during the much shorter "pre-retirement" period on my last ER. That was only 2 weeks long and I was busy getting files cleaned out and sorting "my stuff" from "their stuff". I left that job, boss and company and never looked back. No tears were shed and no regrets.

This job is different. The size of the company and the site is very small by comparison which allows for much closer working relationships. I will miss many of the people I have worked with over the past 4+ years. I will miss some aspects of my job. But it is time to leave and I do so without regrets for what I have done here. I am leaving a job but not my life. My life is much more than a job or a career and I know I am leaving to go do something different for the rest of my life.

Retirement is not about leaving…it is about going to do something else with all those hours you have spent working.
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-19-2007, 11:50 AM   #10
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveR
I have become invisible to many. Some folks seem to be uncomfortable being around me and others seem to forget I am still here and am still running the department. My work load seems to be slowing fading as management is holding back the BS projects because they know I won't be here to do them. My emails are starting to slow down also. My meeting calendar stops on May 18 with the only entry "Exit interview with HR". Corp. accounting cancelled my corporate Credit card yesterday. IT came to retrieve my travel laptop.
Let me make sure I understand this-- the BS volume is shrinking, people aren't pestering you as much, and your workload is dropping, right? And IT actually came to you?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveR
If anyone remembers the TV show "Branded" I feel a bit like the opening scene of each episode where he was court-martialed and branded as a traitor. His boss takes his uniform hat, rips off his Captain insignia, rips off his uniform buttons and finally breaks his most significant symbol of officer rank; his sword. I am starting to feel this same way. The feelings of being ostracized and deemed a "traitor" by my peers and subordinates is definitely present. It is much like the Capitan of a sinking ship being the first one off the ship.
I think it's their human nature and that it has nothing to do with you. When the parole board singles you out for early release, most of the other prisoners are always envious instead of eager to have you teach them how you did it. My metaphor for your experiences would be a series of heavy chains slipping off your body one by one, with the padlock hasps unlocking and the handcuffs popping free. But that's just me.

Bailing never saved a sinking ship as well as stopping the flooding. And from your other posts it's clear that management is not motivated to use (let alone proficient with) their damage-control tools. There's a very good reason or two that they're having so much trouble finding someone to take your jobs! That "Captain going down with the ship" metaphor is crap, anyway-- it's supposed to remind captains that their job is to save the crew before saving themselves, not to sacrifice all in vain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveR
This job is different. The size of the company and the site is very small by comparison which allows for much closer working relationships. I will miss many of the people I have worked with over the past 4+ years. I will miss some aspects of my job. But it is time to leave and I do so without regrets for what I have done here. I am leaving a job but not my life. My life is much more than a job or a career and I know I am leaving to go do something different for the rest of my life.
I think your retirement will quickly separate your co-workers from your true friends. Although from the way they seem to be treating you now, you may already have enough data to make the distinction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveR
Retirement is not about leaving…it is about going to do something else with all those hours you have spent working.
And that's all that matters.
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-20-2007, 02:28 AM   #11
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

Interesting update to post. I took my DH's advice and had a long conversation with our HR person this morning. Basically let her know how disappointed and hurt I was that things turned out this way -- long story, but I basically had the professional rug pulled out from under me not once, not twice but three times in short succession last year, which left me so demoralized that I found it very difficult to see an kind of long-term future for myself in the organization. Turns out a lot of people, including our founder, are sad that I am leaving. They do recognize and appreciate the work I have done and continue to do. There are other big issues that I think are in the process of being dealt with. Lots going on behind the scenes. Will be interesting to see how it plays out in the next few days, especially how they deal with DH now that they know how we are really feeling.

I feel better having had my say. At least I was able to air my concerns and get some kind of acknowledgement from the top that they are legitimate. Not sure if it will ultimately change anything -- probably won't. But I am feeling immensely better today.

Back to shredding files (only the ones we have duplicates of!)....

lhamo
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-20-2007, 09:57 AM   #12
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

I talked to my boss on Monday and told him I was ready to retire. I really felt relieved to finally get things rolling. He actually said it was great that I was able to do this at my age (49). He actually offered several options for me that will work out better than I planned. And if I change my mind I can always quit.

I'm going to start working part time and I'll help my replacement take over my duties. I hired the young man who is going to be my replacement right out of college years ago, and he has worked hard for me for years. I'm glad he is going to get to move up a notch as he deserves it.

Now I need to work on my golf handicap and get a passport.

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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-20-2007, 07:36 PM   #13
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

Ihamo:
I could have written your exact post when I was getting ready to leave my job last December. I was recruited to head up the non-profit organization five years prior and spent just about every waking hour trying to right a badly listing ship. I am very proud of all the work I did for this organization and left it in a much, much better position than when I arrived.
BUT, like you, I knew that there was so much more to accomplish so even though I stuck to my timetable for my departure, I was tormented by my feelings. And, the situation was made much worse when my replacement essentially marginalized me for the last ninety days.
What I had to do was get to the point where I accepted that I was not indispensable, that the organization was in a better place than I found it, and that it was now up to others to carry on. For those last ninety days, I occupied myself by tieing up evey loose end, cleaning up or shredding every uncritical file, and essentially divorcing myself from the day to day activities. Not easy to do, particularly when the staff is treating you like you're "forgotten but not gone!"
Once I left, I said I would not contact anyone on the staff (many of them my friends) for a minimum of 90 days -- to let them become accustomed to the new leadership...and to in effect give myself time to grieve over the loss of this job (which is strange to me because after all, I elected to leave! No one forced me to do so.) Nonetheless, I needed that 90 day buffer and I find myself feeling much better for it.
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-22-2007, 08:49 PM   #14
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

Wow -- Achiever, thank you for your post! I think the issues of working for/resigning from a non-profit organization are particularly challenging, because for many of us there is no way to see it as "just a job." And of course, it is the rare organization that is so effective that it can actually put itself out of work, even though that is what we are supposed to be striving for.

After I had my conversation with HR last week, I basically was able to start doing what you did -- put it behind me and start pulling away from the organization. I have found shredding to be very theraputic! Taking a break from it to update my post because if I don't the machine is going to catch on fire.

I also had a very good weekend with my kids, which helped a lot. I know there will still be ups and downs as I negotiate this change, but hopefully more ups than downs.

thanks again for all the support!

lhamo
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 04-23-2007, 08:09 AM   #15
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
I'll try to contain my enthusiasm...
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 05-02-2007, 12:45 PM   #16
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

Quote:
Originally Posted by lhamo
Time to go out and make my dreams into my reality, instead of hoping someone else will do it.
What a mature comment. Good for you!
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 05-11-2007, 01:03 PM   #17
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job


Yikes.....I would love to be in a position to retire.....I absolutely love the people I work with and the job that I am in......but I cannot wait to retire and just do whatever I feel like doing.

I would be hard pressed to keep from jumping up and down in absolute glee!
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 05-11-2007, 01:22 PM   #18
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

Citrine,
I hope that you really do find yourself in the position of jumping up and down when the time comes to retire, because I'm finding this new stage of life to be truly extraordinary -- for the first time in my adult life, I am truly the boss of me. And I'm loving every single minute of it!

That said, don't be too surprised if you first must wade thru some emotions that you hadn't anticipated. In many cases, before retiring we've spent more waking hours with our coworkers than we have with our own families -- and like any family, there are some complicated dynamics involved. Combine that with the sense of self-worth that most get from a meaningful career, and you may find yourself having to redefine your role during your transition.

Then, celebrate!
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 05-11-2007, 06:33 PM   #19
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

Leaving a job or saying good-bye to people has always been emotional to me, but the feeling will fade with passage of time.
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job
Old 05-11-2007, 06:43 PM   #20
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Re: Dealing with the emotions of leaving your job

I never had the pleasure of working at a place I didn't despise . Which is too bad I guess sounds like some of you really liked your job.
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