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Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Stay at a Job Out of Guilt: Your Company Will Be Fine Without You

By | Abby Wolfe |

A little over two years ago, I was seven months into my first “real job.” Full-time, salaried, benefits—the whole package. But the honeymoon period was over. It took me half a year to realize that, though the amenities at this company were beyond stellar, I just wasn’t happy. And I couldn’t stay solely because of the perks.

I’d made my final decision: As soon as I was offered a new opportunity, I was leaving. But I felt guilty. Really, uncomfortably, guilty.

My manager at the time was a smart, kind, and patient individual, and he made it clear that he valued me and wanted me to be happy. But the reality was, unless he created a completely new position for me—a role that didn’t even exist at the company yet—there wasn’t anything he could do to make me like my role more. Bottom line: It was a bad fit and I needed out.

But because he truly respected me, even though I was an entry-level minion (or at least, that’s how some of my colleagues made me feel), I felt horrible about starting up my job search again. And I was desperately afraid of hurting his feelings. On top of that, I also knew he was wildly busy. If I left, more and more tasks would pile onto his already overflowing plate.

This wasn’t the only source of my guilt, though. Growing up, society had taught me that you choose a career and you stay there—forever. While I knew this wasn’t necessarily the case anymore, I couldn’t help but think, “How can I leave after only seven months?” This company had invested in me, taken a risk on me, and I was going to leave them high and dry, abandoning my commitment and appearing unreliable?

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