(Mic drop) Boom. I’m out. Or the grass is greener over there. There is an appeal to that moment of being done, of leaving, isn’t there. In every project about change I’ve worked on, there has been at least one moment of “I want to leave and get out, I’m done”. Especially projects involving legacies where there is much more to unlearn – both within the project team and the stakeholders.
Change is hard work and it takes its toll – people misunderstand you, people accuse you of all sorts of things, people actively work against you, and change is often slow. When our impatience kicks in, things often get worse, which adds to the frustration. When we connect the change project to our identity, things get super messy internally as our sense of being and worth ride on the outcome of the project, which is never a good thing.
This desire is normal. This desire is human. Perhaps it is time for us to expect it and plan for it. Sometimes the best choice is to give notice and walk away and we must allow ourselves to do this – and not heap shame on ourselves or others this choice is made.
Maybe we should learn something from the investment world where when an investment is made the general best practice is to set targets for selling – targets for both gains and losses – so that in the moment clear criteria are already established and the decisions are not solely emotional decisions.
So perhaps when we start projects, we should do the hard work of thinking about when we leave and pass the reins to another. This criteria is not going to be as simple as a financial value, but it also goes beyond simply asking ‘what does success look like?’ And perhaps by doing this, we change the language from ‘giving up’ which is shame filled, to a more positive, affirming language.