How to leave a corporation after 25 years of a successful career and have no regrets?

How to leave a corporation after 25 years of a successful career and have no regrets?

If you work in an office, expect Friday night as manna from heaven, and Monday morning causes you terror, and you think that you are doomed to live like this forever, my article will be useful to you.

Because it was written by a man who for 25 years had his corporate career as a substitute for life. And then the man left. And discovered that life had finally just begun.

Perhaps you are going through the same stages now. Perhaps they are already in the past, or, on the contrary, there are suspicions that it might happen to you someday. Either way, I want this experience to be helpful to those who think, as I once thought, that life is a pretty post on a business card.

Prologue. What happens when things are too good and take too long?

I confess that writing this article was terribly difficult. I started it several times, at first it was impossible to even think about it, then it seemed to be personal stuff that no one was interested in. Even now, nine months later, it is hard to write.

However, now I realize that these reflections of mine could be very useful to someone. Recognizing a new self is almost like giving birth to a child, a painful process, but the result is gratifying.

My service record is every headhunter’s dream: experience of work in big international and Russian companies, on top positions, stable and successful career, excellent references and recommendations. It’s like this. Maybe this is true for you, too.

However, at some point you clearly understand that the time has come to leave.

Reasons vary. In my case, I left by mutual agreement – both “high contracting parties” were tired of each other. The employer needed to cut costs and highly skilled, well-paid employees did not fit into the new staffing schedule, and I was tired of shallow work.

And so, having surrendered the office computer, phone and pass, I was completely free. From everything. No need to get up in the early morning and drive half-asleep to the Moscow City tower, where the office was located, to pour out of nothing into nothing at the daily meetings, choke on cafeteria food and wander in a crowded anthill in the morning and evening – to and from the office. Freedom. Freedom from everything!

But what to do with it? This question turned out to be much more difficult than all the others…

Stage One – The acute crisis

For the first week I slept 16 hours a night, ate and cried. From resentment and powerlessness.

I looked at my diplomas and numerous certificates confirming my professional merits in marketing and corporate communications. I feverishly looked up the contacts of all the headhunters I knew, and even sent out an updated resume.

I remembered which of my colleagues I could approach for a recommendation or in search of a job.

The second, third and fourth weeks were similar to each other like twins, only now I was not sleeping, and I was looking at my phone. I was deafened by the silence.

Before, the corporate phone had rung nonstop. Now it was gone, and I realized how much of my time was being eaten up by corporate communication – with contractors, with clients, with colleagues and subordinates.

It turns out that personal calls and texts were very little. And now I wasn’t getting enough of them! More precisely, the calls of friends, concerned about leaving, were not needed at all, only added regret and anger.

I missed the office rush. I wanted to feel needed and in demand as before. There was a day and night thought machine going on in my head.

After one month passed, a terrible crisis, full of despair and resentment against everyone and everything, as it turned out later, an absolutely necessary stage. Later, when I reflected on what had happened, I called it an “acute crisis”.

Then there was a reboot in the form of a family holiday. It was my daughter’s birthday, which we celebrated with ingenuity and fun. We had to shake things up, and it at least stopped the thought-mixer in my head.

The family council decided that for a month or two I would “just rest.” This diplomatic formulation meant that I could do whatever I wanted, and my loved ones would not ask stupid questions like, “Have I had an interview yet, and are there any new job offers?

Stage 2 – full of reflection and doubt

Instead of a month it stretched to three, and it could have lasted longer, if not for the circumstances of life, which restructured the life of the whole family.

My granddaughter was born, and she needed my attention as well as that of my parents. In the troubles about the baby was no free time, and when it suddenly appeared, it was a pity to spend it on offenses, I wanted to think up something sensible.

However, my thoughts still revolve around the corporate sphere, I have not yet had the courage to admit that I am not interested. I evaluated myself only as a functional corporate unit, I measured my own rating according to the demand among headhunters and employers.

25 years is a whole corporate life, with successes and achievements. But it was at this time that the Universe, tired of watching me stomp on the spot, marked my demandability from a very different angle.

More precisely, I finally took a closer look at her calls. I was first approached to help with coaching, and for the first time I treated it as a professional priority rather than an additional “piece of bread and caviar” and professional entertainment.

I know my situation is not unique. Think about it, maybe you too have a cause, an occupation or a “free ambulance” in the form of advice, expertise that you share, mentoring that can become a full-time occupation.

Then I was invited to speak at events about healthy lifestyles. By that time I had three years of serious running and swimming experience, competing in triathlons, writing articles and hosting webinars about healthy living, just for fun, and it was also more like entertainment in addition to my “critically important corporate activities”.

All of a sudden I looked at it all in a completely different way. Here is a direct illustration of the proverb “Man supposes and fate disposes. The accumulated social capital in the form of contacts, friends and interests suddenly began to pay dividends. I will not hide it, at first they were modest.

Not all clients could pay the full coaching fee, but if I knew that a situation required my professional participation and that I could be of use to them, I agreed, regardless of how much it cost me. And there weren’t many clients. But little by little the process began.

Then I was invited to speak at events about healthy lifestyles. By that time I had three years of serious running and swimming experience, competing in triathlons, writing articles and hosting webinars about healthy living, just for fun, and it was also more like entertainment in addition to my “critically important corporate activities”.

Then the magazines themselves asked me to write articles about healthy lifestyles, and well-known business publications began to ask for comments as a business coach. This is how publications appeared in very large and well-known media, which made me popular.

At some point I realized that if after my webinar on anti-procrastination almost 900 people would change their habits and start taking active actions, it would be something. When I started to receive hundreds of likes and admiring comments from total strangers on social networks after the next TV program, my insecurity began to fade away.

Stage 3 – Discovering my theme

I dived headfirst into a new world. Who my target audience was, how to find it, what were their needs and insights, what was the effectiveness of social networks as communication channels, and so on – yes, yes, 15 years of experience in marketing came in handy!

And here we go. Now I work from morning till night, but on my own topic. The topic is personal energy. And if you have never been interested in it, then I envy you. You’re a unique person. Or you live happily on a Bounty Island somewhere.

Because anyone who lives in a metropolis and has to wake up after dark, get home at dusk, spend time in an air-conditioned office, and chow down on chronic stress with burgers and coffee knows what I mean. I’ve lived like this myself for years…

Now I have a ton of plans. Launching my own YouTube channel, developing an online personal energy course, getting published in profile magazines, and queuing up for personal coaching. I work twice as much as I do in a corporation, but the feeling of life is different, too.

How did I achieve that?

Of course, success did not come immediately, and it cost me a lot of effort. If I read an article like that, at this point I would want to yell “I don’t believe it!” and ask the author a dozen or two sobering questions. Now I’m going to do that myself.

I remember my own story all too well, so I want the article to be helpful to those in a similar situation.

1. The rule of time

You will need time before the next leap, or even the first, barely noticeable step. A lot of time. For acute crisis, helplessness and thinking “from nothing to nothing. And it is better to overestimate the length of this period than to underestimate it. Count on six months to a year. That’s fair.

2. The rule of respite

After a layoff, you should always give yourself a break, a “lazy month” or more. A time when you will do absolutely nothing but eat, sleep, and walk. After you’ve been stressed, that’s the best thing you can do for yourself. That’s what I tell you as a personal energy expert.

Throwing yourself into a new job, you will inevitably slow down after three or four months, the body will take its toll.

3. The rule of savings

If you decide to quit your job, you should always have a financial cushion. It is a reserve of savings for at least three months, better for six months. And you have to create it now.

4. The rule of objectivity

It is prudent to assess what stage in life you are at and what your priorities are right now. If you have a mortgage and two young children, it is obvious that there is no time to be idle. So you need to have two plans. One – “A” for urgent action. The other is “B” for a smooth exit.

Realize what your situation is and be honest with yourself. If it’s a disaster – you have to get out of it immediately, including plan “A”. If it’s the beginning of a new life – then build this new life, not the old one, and then you need a plan “B”. And it is not a copy of plan “A”, but a completely different one.

It is good to make these plans in advance, when you are in stable conditions.

5. The rule of personal responsibility for everything

Planning, prioritizing, setting values, and other things that seem like “nothing” while you live in the corporate pro-choice-everybody mode, but become critically important when you start taking charge of your own life.

For the first time in your life, you may have to face the fact that no one will do it for you and you alone are responsible for everything. However, it is this discovery that can give you amazing insights about yourself.

6. The rule of favorable environment

Break up with those who drag you back or are negative about your new choices. Grow your supportive environment. I deleted almost a third of my phone contacts, another third of people stopped calling themselves as soon as they found out I left the corporation.

What do you do if you don’t have the support of your relatives? This is a special subject, difficult and complicated. I was lucky, my relatives supported me in everything, but it is not always like that. I will probably write a separate article about this.

7. The rule of personal brand

Always use your social capital. Grow your personal brand as long as the corporate environment makes it possible. When you cease to be a corporate functional unit when you leave, your own value will remain with you.

8. The rule of professional help

If you leave a job you have had for many years, you should definitely get professional help as soon as possible.

If you need to decide what to do quickly and don’t have time for a smooth exit from the crisis – go to a coach. Together with a career coach, you can build an effective job search plan in five to ten sessions.

If you can afford not to think about making money for six months to a year, go to a psychologist (psychotherapist). I personally regret not going to a psychologist right away.

So, the formula for a successful transition from “corporate screw” to self-employed person would look like this:

Time + Respite + Support + Objectivity + Personal responsibility + Good environment + Personal brand + Professional help = New you.


The most important thing is to honestly answer yourself the question, “Why do you need all this?”.

The answer to this question was very difficult for me. I searched for the right words, constructed what I thought were pithy and profound phrases, scribbled and wrote again. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Write the first version of The New Self and go ahead.

Let it be version 1.0, then write 2.0, 3.0, and so on. As you act and discover new meanings, your #whatyouwill do will be colored and filled with new energy every day.

So what if those meanings are not found? Um…

You can always go back to the corporation. And lose yourself all over again. It’s always your choice.

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