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5 Suggestions for Leaving With Style

5 Suggestions for Leaving With Style

    There’s something to be said for leaving a former employer with style. We’re in the middle of a time when more than a few employers are having to downsize and plenty of people who would otherwise be assured of a job are getting the axe. Just because a former employer may have directed you to the door, however, you can still walk out with your pride intact. The same holds true if you’re leaving an employer willingly. As long as you stay in the same industry, you’re guaranteed to run into people you’ve worked with in the past over and over. It’s not unheard of to return to the same company, or find a former coworker at a future employer.

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    No matter the reason you’re leaving your employer, do it with a little style and grace. You still need goodwill from your past employers — references, anyone? — and you are likely to have plenty of positive relationships at your old place of employment that are worth preserving. There are a few things you can do to make your transition a little better.

    1. Skip the theatrics

    The fact that you’re moving on to a new employer is not an excuse to engage in theatrics. I worked with one otherwise brilliant man who took the moment of his resignation as an opportunity to explain at length the faults of our employer. Aside from burning a few bridges, he ensured that the two weeks’ notice he gave turned into two weeks of sheer misery. Constructive criticism is not out of line, but there is a time and a place for it — an exit interview is usually the best choice. But theatrics can span a wide variety of actions. It seems like every employee bears some hard feelings towards a supervisor — but all in all, try to leave it at the statement that you and your former employer were not a good fit and move on. At the very least, your resume will be healthier in the long run.

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    2. Write a few thank you notes

    It’s not necessary to write a personal note to every person you worked with, but if you had a coworker or supervisor who particularly acted as a mentor or otherwise helped you along, take the time to thank them. People remember the little touches and if they’re dwelling on the thoughtful note you left, any small problems along the way will become so much water under the bridge.

    3. Tidy up your loose ends

    I’ve seen the greatest argument for leaving things organized for the next person while sitting in a waiting room: a new receptionist was obviously struggling with a mess left by her predecessor. A phone call came for that former employee and the new receptionist mentioned she had left the organization — managing to slip in a comment about how she had left the business in a difficult position. The person who comes after you will have a chance to discuss your abilities to clients, co-workers and anyone else who comes in the door. Even if you never meet your replacement, try to leave a good impression.

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    4. Network with your co-workers

    Before you leave the office for the last time, you should have the contact information of every co-worker you plan to stay in touch with. There’s nothing wrong with making sure you connect with all of those individuals online through LinkedIn or Facebook. Hopefully, you had a good relationship with your peers: these are people who you share a common interest in your industry, who will hear of new developments and job openings and generally can be good friends to have. Personally, I’m always in favor of the farewell party: it’s a clear opportunity to exchange contact information and make sure you stay in touch. And do stay in touch — this isn’t high school, when you promised to be friends forever and didn’t talk after senior year.

    5. Do something memorable on your last day

    Bake cookies. Hand out farewell cards. Do something to remind your co-workers that you will no longer be occupying the next cubicle over. For some people, this sort of action can be a matter of guaranteeing that you have that great business network or reference sealed up. It’s can be just as much a matter of saying goodbye to people who you’ve spent a lot of time with, shared stresses with and connected to. You may need that little bit of closure before moving on to your next job and it can’t hurt to have a little fun on your last day.

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    Your Exit

    The way you leave is likely to be the thing your supervisors and co-workers remember best about you. At the very least, it’s probably the most recent interaction you had with them. Make the effort to leave with a little style and you’ll find that not only do you have a number of unburned bridges in place, but you also have some pretty solid relationships worth maintaining. Don’t make your exit all about your resume, though. References and networks really aren’t everything. It’s equally important to make sure that you’re comfortable and happy about your transition. While making it absolutely clear to your boss what you think of him may feel good while you’re telling him off, but, honestly, it’s probably not a step you’ll be happy about when you finish.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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