Saying Goodbye At Work: This Time It’s Personal

That's me trying to look sad...
That’s me trying to look sad…

Remember when I wrote about saying goodbye at work? It was an extension of sorts of another post I wrote about saying goodbye in therapy, and it’s been the most read and searched-for article I’ve written ever since I posted it. I’ve given a lot of thought – every week it seems – to how to continue that article’s conversation, as it seemed to be something people wanted to talk about.

Each time though, I struggled to find inspiration. What did I have to say that I haven’t already? I don’t know about other bloggers out there, but I draw most of my inspiration from the events that are currently happening in my life, and the lives of those closest to me. Much of the time those events aren’t explicitly career-related, but if I can come up with a metaphor to translate them into the language of career development, writing follows naturally and pleasantly (and there have been many metaphors, haven’t there? Music, animals, instruction manuals, landscapes, and of course Batman to name a few).

Of course, the downside of relying to this extent on my personal experience is the unreliability with which experience occurs to draw inspiration from. It’s great to want to write about a topic, but it’s difficult to do without a personal connection to it.

At the time of the aforementioned article, I was reflecting on the fact that a couple of colleagues I had grown fond of had left around the same time, and how “ending” (or at least redefining) those relationships can be a delicate process. This is what I had to say about saying goodbye at work:

Goodbyes are indeed uncomfortable and often distressful events. But they’re also a wonderful opportunity to let a person know what you appreciate about them…. It doesn’t have to be complicated, or even insightful. All appreciation has to be is genuine.

It seems that this time, my inspiration has arrived, as I’ll be leaving my position at SFU Career Services next week, and moving out of the career development field altogether (I have a wonderful opportunity to do counselling work with suicidal youth, which I will no doubt be writing about here as time goes on).

Leaving a position, an organization, and a field – especially one as positive as I’ve been in these last 4 or 5 years – always inspires mixed emotions. With regards to starting a challenging new position, I’m at once inspired, excited, and terrified. On the other hand, now that I’m leaving SFU, it’s a whole lot easier to see all the good things I occasionally took for granted. The supportive supervision and team – both staff and volunteers; the wonderful, inspiring students and alumni I’ve had the fortune to work with; the vibrant, collegial,  intellectually stimulating, post-secondary work environment; even the trails on Burnaby Mountain I became accustomed to running at lunch times!

I’ve been asked a lot about my decision to leave, and the answer can be boiled down to two words: growth and challenge (I could alternatively have framed this post about when to leave a good position. Maybe an article for the near future!). This is by no means suggesting that, as a career advisor, I have not been growing or experiencing challenge. Only, that the direction of that growth began drifting from my career intentions to a significant enough degree that taking action felt authentic. My real passion – if you can call it that – lies in making a difference in people’s lives on a one-on-one basis, and while that’s one of the things I got to do every day as a career advisor, in my new position that’s pretty much all I will be doing. and it will have a direct influence on the potential saving of lives (I know it sounds cliche, but suicide is one of those areas where it’s quite true).

So I’m saying goodbye – in person, certainly, but also via this and next week’s post. I’ll continue to write here on my personal website, of course, and for those readers who have become accustomed to posts about career development, I hope you enjoy whatever I’m inspired to write about going forward! Next week’s post will be a retrospective look at my “Dave’s Diary” series over the years.

Until then!