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Working With Chronic Illness: Leaving a Job

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You’ve been thinking about something — is it time to leave your job?

This is a question that only you can answer, but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the fact that we don’t have to settle for a job that isn’t meeting our needs. That shouldn’t change when you have a chronic illness.

To make sure you’re making the best move, let’s run through deciding when it might be time to move on, along with an exit strategy to follow.

When it’s time to consider leaving your job:

  • You find yourself waking up and dreading going to work
  • You really despise your workload lately
  • You and your boss/coworkers cannot find neutral ground to work together well despite many efforts
  • You don’t find the work challenging or interesting enough anymore
  • You are continuously looked over for promotions or career growth even after it was expressed that you wanted those things
  • You are losing balance to take care of yourself
  • Your workplace is not willing to work with you/your needs
  • You don’t agree with the company’s culture
  • You still wouldn’t want to be there if your team was willing to make every change happen that you need to thrive
  • Changes to your workload/role were implemented but they’re still not helping or making things better for you

Re-evaluate what your employment needs are:

It can be helpful to look back to why you originally applied for your current job and understand why it was so appealing then, but not anymore, and why you want to leave. Perhaps something changed and that impacted you or maybe you need something different that your current employer cannot make happen.

The reason itself doesn’t matter, but if you’re looking to make an employer move, check out this list to prepare: 

  • Re-evaluate what kind of employment you need (less/more hours, short-term, an employer who is more inclusive, a remote environment without any required travel, etc.)
  • Figure out which areas of your job you enjoy and those you don’t
  • Understand what is non-negotiable to you moving forward
  • Determine if you need to find a new role to accept before putting in your notice so you have something lined up for financial or health insurance stability

How to Make a Graceful Exit with Your Employer

Once you’ve made the decision that you want to move on to a new job, it’s time to let your employer know. It can be challenging to leave a position gracefully, especially if this job was awful for whatever reasons. The most professional thing you can do to leave a notable lasting impression.

Here are some best practices for inputting your notice:

Provide a minimum of two weeks’ notice to your employer:

  • The more time you can give them to replace you, the better, and they will greatly appreciate it. 
  • It’s best to leave on a more positive note rather than not showing up at all or quitting on the spot without any advanced notice.

Tell your boss verbally if you’re comfortable with doing so:

  • It’s helpful to learn why an employee is leaving
  • It’s a more personal approach that can leave a better impression despite the circumstances
  • Understand reactions may vary and some people process things fast whereas others do not
  • This approach varies on the type of relationship you have with your boss 

Offer to do what you can to help with this transition:

  • Maybe someone internal will take over and you can train them on some of your responsibilities
  • Find ways to organize key documents/projects/etc. so you have a clean hand-off

Take note of what needs to be turned in and when:

  • Think: Building keys, work equipment, parking passes, any employee-owned assets, etc.

Turn in a formal written notice and include:

  • Thanking them for your time there
  • Any positive skills or takeaways you can share
  • The final date of your employment with that company

Tell them where you’re going next — or don’t:

  • If leaving because you accepted a new role, it’s up to you if you want to disclose where you’re going next
  • If you’re an active LinkedIn user or have any coworkers as friends, chances are higher that this information will be made public at some point
  • If you don’t have a backup plan or job already lined up, you can say you’re exploring some new areas for your career path or want to focus on gaining some more education in your areas of interest for career development 
  • If you’re leaving and going to freelance, consider letting them know as that could open the door to some contract work until they fill your role

Take Time to Recharge Between Jobs

This last step is wonderful for so many reasons but will vary from person to person. If it’s possible to take some time off from leaving your job and before starting a new one — do it if you can swing it.

There are a lot of benefits to giving yourself time to rest from a stressful work transition and jumping into something new once again, even if you’re excited. This time can let you unwind from past work responsibilities and stressors and feel refreshed before starting your new job.

This helps you avoid taking any past bad feelings or worries with you to the next job while letting your body and mind take a break from work in general. Use the break to put yourself first to do what you have to do.

Maybe it’s knock out some overdue health appointments, connect with others, meet with your therapist, rest, read a new book, or recover on your couch. Do what feels right.

If it’s time for you to move on, then move on. Don’t feel guilty about putting your needs first. It is something to be damn proud of and probably doesn’t happen enough. 

We can’t wait to see where your career with a chronic illness takes you and the value you’re going to bring to the workplace — and remember, you are always Mighty! 

This article is part of a series on Working With Chronic Illness. Read more here:

Originally published: September 5, 2022
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