Should I stay or should I go?

Happy September. It’s gorgeous here on the south coast today: still and sunny.

‘Should I stay or should I go’ was a constant question for me when working in the not-for-profit sector. There were plus points and negative points about working in the roles I did, and I was regularly engaged in a mental struggle about what the next best course of action should be.

I know I’m not alone in having had these thoughts.

So let’s look at both sides.

What if I stay?

If there are challenges at work that you’re finding particularly hard, it may be that there is in fact, some key life lesson to learn here. It may be a situation inviting you to ask for what you really want, or an opportunity to learn how to say no. Such life lessons are hard to navigate in the workplace, it can feel intense and scary, and can invite a lot of negative self-talk – ‘what if I start asking for what I want and I get sacked? What if I say no to a situation and someone else gets promoted over me?’ It is a challenge to learn the lesson, it takes courage and an ability to navigate uncertainty about the outcome.

But, if you are staying, and learning, there are key things that will help you in the process. And they all relate to self-care. Ensuring you have a great support system (friends in or out of work/ support from HR or a manager/ a coach or a counsellor) you can talk to when things get really hard is key. Ways to switch off from work when you’re not there – ideally through creativity or self-care practices like yoga or meditation are important too. And thirdly, a regular self-compassion practice can be super helpful. So when you’re in those moments of challenge, you have an internal narrative you can turn to that is supportive. DrKristin Neff’s guidance is ideal for creating such self-compassion practices.

What if I go?

Sometimes, we’re just not in the right place in our lives to learn the lessons. Sometimes it’s too hard. We have other things going on outside of work that make it impossible to be with the emotional rollercoaster happening in work.

Sometimes it’s actually best to leave, to re-group, to start a-fresh elsewhere.

What’s important to remember, however, is that the lesson will come up again in a different way. I left a previous job with a manager who triggered me immeasurably and whose actions made me feel like an awkward 14 year old with no confidence, only to come across a similar dynamic in a different space in my life a few years down the line. However, the second time, I was able to verbalise how I was feeling more easily, and able to change the dynamic to something more productive. I know there is still some learning in there for me, and the lesson will come around again, but I do not regret walking away from that job, and that manager, it was the right thing for me to do at that time. Looking after my emotional wellbeing was more important than learning the lesson at that time in my life.

Do I stay or do I go is a big question, but overall, down either path, the key thing is to practice self-care. To look after yourself with support and practices that allow you to process the situation and make decisions from clarity and peace rather than resentment is key. If you’d like to talk further you know where we are. 

Sending love, Hannah

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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