It’s okay to admit it. You got caught up in the frenzy of the Great Resignation and quit your job, and now it’s your great regret.
Maybe you had what seemed to be a too-good-to-be-true opportunity magically land in your lap. Or maybe you decided you didn’t need a plan—that you’d earned some time off and that staying was worse than the risk of leaving.
And now, you’re assessing your personal truth and recognizing that what you hoped would happen isn’t happening.
The new job brings the same challenges as the last one, and even more pay doesn’t offset your frustration levels. The new team feels as dysfunctional as the old team.
Or, the time off you thought you’d love has now become boring and repetitive, or worse, is keeping you up nights as bills mount and costs rise.
If this is you, breathe. Your Great Resignation won’t be a Great Regret for long.
You made a decision that felt right for you at the time, and you’ve grown, learned, and you’re now ready to make a new decision. You didn’t make a mistake; you gained experience and self-awareness.
With that new knowledge, here’s what you can do right now to get back on track:
1. Ask yourself, “did I leave too soon?”
Let’s squeeze the lessons out of this recent experience before you move to the next.
Just between you and you, did you leave before trying to make things better?
- For example, did you get clear on what wasn’t working for you and have an honest conversation with your leader about it?
- Did you act on assumptions about what would (or wouldn’t) be possible, instead of asking for what you needed (support, money, both)?
With the world of work changing quickly, much more is possible within our professional environments than we ever realized, but sometimes we don’t see it until we’ve moved on.
Take time now to reflect (not dwell) on what you might have done differently, and capture that lesson to use the next time you hit a hard time at work.
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2. Assess your assumptions.
Without dwelling too much on the past, your current frustration can give you clues as to what you assumed before you left that might not have been true then or may have changed.
For example, perhaps you assumed that because sales have been down for your product that you couldn’t ask for a pay increase; however, now you know that the company is increasing salaries across the board.
Or you may have assumed that there was no further growth for you unless you went back to school, but now see how you could have pitched an opportunity to lead an area with the experience you already had.
It’s human to make assumptions, but they’re an easy place to get stuck.
3. Consider a boomerang path.
It’s not uncommon for companies to hire back people who’ve left the organization, and it’s happening more and more post-Great Resignation. We call these folks “boomerang” employees, and it’s more common than you realize.
In fact, many professional services organizations create “alumni” networks to keep in touch with their old employees, knowing they’re a great source of future opportunities and recruiting.
If you’re now realizing that you were happier than you thought you were—or that the greener grass you chose is actually made of kale—start having conversations with your previous employer.
You don’t have to apologize for leaving (unless, of course, you left like a jerk). Just note that you’re thinking once again about what’s next, and you’re exploring how you might be valuable once again in your former company.
Since you know the organization already, you know where there the pain and problems lie—and you can become the one to solve those faster, whether in your past role or a completely new one.
In today’s talent shortage, many companies are actively recruiting these “boomerang” employees, so don’t count your old place out when you’re looking for what’s ahead.
4. Reframe regret into experience.
We can’t A/B test life’s decisions.
Feeling great regret can be a useful flag in the short term, but hanging onto it for long isn’t useful. Don’t let yourself wallow or wonder—it’s just a signal to take action.
We can only make the best decisions we can in the moment when we make them. If your great resignation turned into a great regret, it’ll still be okay.
You’re a different person than you were when you made that decision, whether it’s a month ago or a year ago. Now’s your moment to translate that experience into learning more about who you are and what you want.
When you get clearer about that, your next decisions will get clearer, too.
Need more help getting clear about what you really want? Dive into our Get Career Clear on-demand class here.
5. Share your story with others.
The world of work can be a confusing place, and none of us make the perfect decision about what’s next for us every single time. Hello humans!
So don’t keep your questions and revelations to yourself. It helps others to hear your courage in deciding to turn things around once you’ve discovered that your past choices aren’t working for your future needs.
Remember, somebody out there needs you, so tell your story often. It’ll inspire others, and keep you on the right track, too.
Read this next:
How to Fight the Great Resignation: What to Say So People Stay
My latest book will help you take back control over your life at work. Get it here.