I know a lot of you millennials have made job transitions like me and even the baby-boomers did this form of job hopping in their 20s according to the bureau of labor and statistics. So please do not judge. These are the things I have learned about myself as I looked for the “exit door” or as I sit “in between”. Let me explain.

You know that period when you are thinking about finding a new job, you might start looking, fantasise about it, and go on interviews. We will call this period of time “looking for the exit door”. While the “in between” is when you have officially resigned and the time gap between stopping and starting your new job. This period can also start when you have decided to leave your current job because you are talking to the new employer, negotiating the contract, and creating the new job while exiting the old.

I have learned so much about myself as I was looking for the “exit door” and during my period of “in between”. These are four things to remember during these times.

  1. Stand up tall and be confident in your abilities and your worth. You know you might feel lost as you walk towards the exit door because you are leaving something you were a part of and something perhaps even you created, but please girl hold your head up tall and know all of your worth. During this walk towards the exit door some will be happy for you, some will be supportive, and some will hope you fall flat on your face or have something terribly wrong with you as you are approaching the exit. There will be plenty of surprises. Someone you least expect might show you where the door is and open it for you while others will stand in front of it hoping you do not leave. But do not pay attention to any of that. The supportive stuff is nice and you need that stuff to walk through and towards the exit, but really it can all be distracting and confusing and cause you to not think clearly. What you really need is to talk to your tribe of people with objective ears and process your nonnegotiable and needs so you can stand tall in your worth as you exit from what is and enter what is next. Exiting your comfort zone is hard, even if you have been having the most amazing streak of your career or you are miserably comfortable. Going out into the fresh air can seem scary from either places until you finally get out and breathe it in.
  2. Nothing is worth your mental health. As a behavioral health and addiction counseling provider and researcher, I have come to have strong convictions that nothing is worth your own mental health. I know there are times when we just have to absorb or ignore things that are toxic for us or do not fit in order to get to where we are going, we may call this “weathering a storm”. Maybe some of you might say this is everywhere. I finally got to a place in my life where I no longer had to do that with my career. Toxic work environments exist and you know it when you are in it. It might be a coworker(s), culture, or system, but you feel it and it is not nurturing you anymore. You either need to change it or leave it. If you cannot function in your other life roles because of the work toxicity just remember nothing is worth your mental health. It might be time to start looking for your exit door. There is nothing wrong with looking for the exit door and then deciding if you want to walk through it or not but essentially knowing where it is at can be stress relieving.
  3. Wherever you go there you are-Jon Kabit-Zinn. I have truly come to believe this. Please stop your thinking error that makes you believe that you are who you are because of a company or organisation. You are who you are because of what you bring to the table, your passion, and your unique perspective on the world and your work and having a place in the world to carry those things out. If you are passionate about what you do, believe me people will always offer you a seat at the table because passion is palable. You will be and continue to be at the status you were and maybe better if nurtured in different ways. Yeah, maybe a title or job description may change, but believe me when I say that the same things and qualities that one company saw in you will transfer to the other. But this time when you arrive, please know your worth (point #1).
  4. Know your time “in between” is fleeting. This time should not all be about work-it is okay to take a break. In the US we are workaholics and feel that in order to be important or to not be judged we have to be the perfect wife, mother, academic, community member. The go, go, go, go from morning to night is like a badge of honour for Americans. This “in between” time is about down time, vacation, and getting back in touch with the person you are when the emails and to-do lists are dialed down. There is no need to feel guilty or worry about what others are thinking about you-because their thoughts are none of your business. Enjoy your in between time. Take time to breathe and reflect and move forward with different boundaries.

I like to think that starting a new job is similar to moving into a new home. I bring all of my chosen belongings. I typically get rid of things that are not longer serving me and rekindle relationships with things that I found when packing. I will slowly put up my decorations around the new house. I hope the house has “good bones” and it can sustain me in the ways that I need to be nurtured, it is just the right size for me, and it does not need to many big repairs along the ways. I hope all my new neighbours and family will all be welcoming and it will be a good fit.

To all those people looking for your “exit door” or enjoying your “in between” time, remember who you are, what you are worth, and that you are badass!