You’ve probably heard about The Great Resignation. The pandemic has shown many people where they have been simply existing. Many had been waiting for someone or something to give them the great lives they want. Some realized they were in jobs incompatible with their values and life goals. These circumstances have fueled the resignations.
But maybe quitting isn’t the only option. When one of my clients feels conflicted about their work, I often ask them to define the conflict(s) succinctly in the following format:
“I became a [job title] so I could [describe].”
Then, we start looking more deeply at the personal interests underlying this conflict:
- When you accepted this job or chose this career, what did you think it would be like?
- What did you believe about this employer or industry?
- What did you expect in exchange for your work?
- Have you been meeting your employer’s expectations?
- What has changed?
- What do you need now?
- What do you really want?
I ask them to say the first things that come to mind, without editing themselves, although I limit the amount of explanation for the answers. They need not apologize for what they think or feel. In fact, it could be this self-monitoring that got them into an incompatible work situation.
Of course, the desire to resign could also be a result of the many changes at work, in their lives, or in the world. Changes are going to occur. Intellectually, we seem to know this. But emotionally, we are often underprepared.
Regardless, the goal of exploring the personal interests more deeply is to briefly reflect on how they got where they are. This helps them recognize ineffective techniques they need to avoid in the future. With those in mind, we can create a specific, measurable action plan toward their ideal outcome. In planning these actions, I usually ask:
“If you could have this situation resolve in any way possible, what would happen?”
We don’t get into discussions of blame or what “should have” happened. We can’t change the past, and action is the only thing that will move them somewhere else.
Instead, we look at how the ideal outcome might still be achieved, whether with the current employer or a new one. Answers that might come from healthcare and death care workers (who are a large part of my practice) include:
- “I could sleep for two straight days.”
- “I’d be able to take a vacation, knowing my patients [or families] are cared for.”
- “Enough people would get the vaccine for us to defeat the virus.”
- “I would get more help with [my kids, housework, my workload, etc.].”
- “I’d be able to take better care of myself.”
- “I wouldn’t feel so exhausted and overwhelmed.”
- “I could think straight again.”
Mental and physical exhaustion are the most often-cited reasons for workers’ resignation since the pandemic. Fortunately, there are immediate solutions for these.
Like personal protective equipment and other supplies in early 2020, we just need to organize our supply chains to get the resources where they are most needed. Additionally, we need to normalize compassion in the workplace–not just for the patients, customers, clients, or consumers. We need to remember our employees and supervisors are human, too, and have been affected by the pandemic. Everyone in the world has.
Still thinking of resigning?
NOTE: I am an affiliate of Dan Miller, a certified 48 Days Coach, and a member of the 48 Days Eagles community. If you purchase any of his offerings, I might get a commission.