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Great Resignation… and Then What Happened? (Inside Stories of their Great Relief)

Great Resignation… and Then What Happened? (Inside Stories of their Great Relief)

We’ve heard news stories about so many people quitting jobs, as part of the Great Resignation, but then what happened?

For some, quitting was the only option as a caregiver under impossible situations. For others, they felt emboldened (or desperate!) to go for something beyond work as usual, with more meaning, or at least escaping an aggravating work environment.

Many left without knowing what was next. Have they found happiness? Did they get stuck? Did their great resignation turn into a great regret or a great relief?

I’ve been curious so I’ve gathered some stories here and I invite you to share yours in the comments.

Millions of people quit jobs in 2021, and the trend continues. (Perhaps there’s a real shift towards more meaningful work?) Maybe you’ve left a job or you’re considering leaving your job.

The big question that follows leaving your job is “What now?” For years, I’ve been helping people find their answers to that question at a mid-career point, often including the big question, “What is my purpose?” It can be hard to know, at first.

I’ll offer some tips on finding your way, below, but first let’s have a look at what’s happening for some people who have been part of the Great Resignation.

What Happened Next? Inside Stories.

It’s hard to tell from trends and numbers if there was regret, relief, or a wonderful reboot after their Great Resignation. The up-close stories of people who have left their jobs are more revealing. I have three to share, from introverted and/or highly sensitive women specifically.

Each story is unique, and each has something to offer people who have left their jobs and are asking, “What now?”

Cathy: Considering Options, Including Self-employment

Being at an organization that didn’t respect introverts or HSPs, and included long hours, unsatisfying work, lack of recognition, a culture of personality, and empty promises…

Cathy (a pseudonym per her request) felt increasingly alone, exhausted, stressed, and burnt out. On top of working 50+ hours a week, she was caregiving. It was too much, and when her job offered her a lesser role with less pay, she resigned. In her words:

Did I have a plan in place? No, but I felt in my heart and mind that it was the right thing to do and I would figure things out as I went. I no longer felt valued the way that I wanted to be valued.

Now I’m no longer chained to my computer or deadlines. My worth is no longer tied to my productivity or how much revenue I can generate. I’m no longer my job or my title. Leaving that toxic environment has given me the freedom to figure out what I really want in a work situation. I’m taking care of myself: mind, body, and soul.

Yes, it has been hard. The unknown and the lack of a steady paycheck are scary, but I fortunately have a supportive family. Dealing with a sick parent, I know all too well that life is short, and I would rather be spending my time surrounded by people who love me than to be a corporate cog in the wheel.”

Cathy is currently caregiving full-time with hopes of being self-employed. She took my Bridge to Self-Employment Course to help her formulate the possibilities.

Angélica: A New Job with Reduced Income Is Worth It.

Angélica Ribeiro realized it was time for a change, even if it meant a pay cut, and she’s so glad.

Angelica Ribeiro, professor, authorWhen COVID happened, my workload as a curriculum specialist immediately increased tremendously, which negatively impacted my well-being, happiness, and relationships at work. So, I started to rethink my work and reflect on my professional purposes.

My reflection led me to resign from my job and focus on higher education, something that fits me so much more. Since there were only part-time openings in my field, leaving that job meant that I had to sacrifice a higher income.

But it was worth it! I have been working as an adjunct professor as I wait for a full-time opening to come up. I couldn’t have made a better decision as it took me to a more meaningful and happier life at work.”
~ Angélica Ribeiro, PhD, education professor, author

Angélica is now writing another book, about happiness at work! Having known her for many years, I can attest to how happy she is now. She’s passionate about the topic of happiness, and I’d say she’s become an expert on it.

M.M.: Seeking Clarity Before Seeking a New Career

After a long deliberation, M.M. left her nonprofit job in the spring of 2021. In the end, feelings of frustration with the direction of the organization, coupled with her sense of being on the wrong path, outweighed the fear of leaving.

Upon quitting, I felt a tremendous relief coupled with a sense of loss that comes with leaving a workplace I’d dedicated much of myself to for almost six years.

Another layer of complexity that influenced my decision was the fact that I struggle with some chronic pain conditions, which discernibly worsened due to the stress of the job and the pandemic. This was a bit of a wakeup call that instilled in me some fear of working in a traditional workplace in the future.

I realized after a few months of feeling stuck about what to do next that career coaching was the right choice for me. It’s been a true blessing for me in terms of gaining self-awareness, moving past and processing my previous job pain, and so much more.

As a result of the work I’m doing, I now trust that my next path will be more in line with my strengths and values, and I will hopefully be much less prone to burnout as a result.

I’m considering flexible options I never believed were open to me before, such as self-employment, to allow myself to be more in charge of my physical well-being.”

It’s exciting to see M.M. growing in confidence and clarity for her new path, and increasingly trusting that she won’t have to accept something that is harmful to her well-being.

What’s Next for You?

Sometimes people like you, with big hearts, can wonder if they fit in the money-driven, go-go-go world of work. YES, the world needs your heart-centered gifts, especially now. There is a meaningful path for you, without overwhelm. It can be much easier if you have a little support to find that path!

If you’re trying to figure out your next steps, here are a few things that might help:

It doesn’t have to feel so hard.

More resources:

Picture of Val Nelson

Val Nelson

I’ve been a self-employed career/business/purpose coach since 2009. I help introverts and HSPs (like me) who want to make a difference — in a way that fits our practical needs too.
Val Nelson | Coaching | Groups | Courses | Newsletter | LinkedIn

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