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Hey, Colleague: Can you remain friends with ex-colleagues?

Hey, Colleague: Practical advice on careers and maintaining a work-life balance.
It's not uncommon to become close friends with your work colleagues as you may spend more time with them than anyone else.

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Hey, Colleague:

I could use your advice. I’ve never left a real job before as an adult, and I’m nervous and unsure of what to do. Is a two-week notice in an email appropriate? Will my boss resent me? Is it appropriate to keep friendships with your work colleagues or even practical? Ah! I feel like I’m making a mistake because I don’t want to disappoint anymore. —anonymous

My first thought: why do you think you are disappointing anyone? Is it because you tend to people-please? I’m not pointing fingers at you but challenging you to ask yourself the hard questions. That’s the quickest way to level up towards personal growth.

People-pleasers tend to be prone to resentment, have difficulty saying no, and be agreeable and conflict-averse. They often place other people’s happiness before their own. Where does this come from? It could be insecurity or a lack of self-esteem.

Don’t worry, I was guilty of the same, and I am sure many are. That’s called growing up—or levelling. I didn’t know I was people-pleasing until I started doing serious inner work. It could be a hard pill to swallow but being aware is the first step to change. The best thing about this? It’s your choice to change. You can’t control many external factors, but you can control your reactions.

Your boss is your boss. Any intelligent leader would know to keep emotions out of professional decisions. If you think your boss would ‘resent’ you for leaving, perhaps that’s your subconscious telling you that this job isn’t for you because that seems like a pretty toxic work environment to me.

And, I don’t see why you cannot be friends with your ex-colleagues. We’re all adults, and we can all be respectful and set boundaries. If they resent you for leaving, that is another sign of toxicity and things you need to leave behind. Listen to your instincts, and I am sure you will make the right decision.

When I left my decade-long career in video games, I felt guilty because I was the lead on a very lucrative department of the company. One piece of advice my art director gave me as I was agonizing over my decision on our 1:1: “no matter what you decide to do, Kate, this company is going to exist with or without you.” 

I never forgot this and reminded myself frequently to stay humble. We are all replaceable; however, I love myself enough not to let it interfere with my self-worth.

Sometimes the truth hurts, but we are all insignificant in this colossal corporate system many of us are consumed in. The sooner you accept this reality, the sooner you can begin to take control of your life. Give your two-week notice if that’s what your inner voice is telling you because there will always be someone in line for your position. As they say: when one door closes, another one opens. The secret is that you have to be open to opportunities. Instead of focusing on what you are leaving behind, focus on your next chapter. Energy flows where attention goes.

Plus, you are also giving someone else an opportunity, whilst acknowledging your own need for change and radical growth.

When you decide to leave a job, your inner voice whispers that you have outgrown that job, you need more opportunities to grow, or you need to go to a toxic environment. Maybe you realized you weren’t learning anymore and felt the urge to get uncomfortable. That’s a great sign. That means you are ready to level up.

To sum it up, it’s time to start doing you. Don’t let anyone get in your way because the world will constantly be spinning no matter what you do. Spin with it.

Kate Pn writes about mastering a healthy work-life balance by focusing on productivity hacking. Write to her at [email protected].

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