Moving On: 3 Lessons I Learned After Leaving My Full-Time Job


I recently left a full-time job to work for myself.

The job I had was one of those safe, secure jobs with the really good benefits. The kind most people don't leave and one I truly enjoyed. But regardless of how comfortable I was, I knew there would come a time when I would want to and would need to leave and that moment came when my family and I decided to move to a new city.

As I reflect on this big change in my career I want to share three lessons that should help you take the next big step in your career.

Lesson 1. Proactive Change Is Better Than Reactive Change

I always knew I wanted to eventually work for myself as an executive career coach. That meant I had to build my skills, network, and coaching business on the side on nights and weekends while I worked full-time. When the opportunity for me to leave my job came up I didn't need to look for a new job. Instead I had a stable roster of clients and new business coming in so that I could take the leap into self-employment without it being a huge risk.

I built my business before I needed it so that when I did need it, it was ready for me to step into full-time.

Most people make the mistake of looking for their next opportunity when they need it, not before they need it. They stay in a job until they are either pushed out or things have gotten so bad that they have to leave.

If you want to find your next great career opportunity then you need to start preparing for that now. The lesson here is to be proactive, figure out what you are interested in doing next and start to build your skills and network so that you can eventually land the job you want. If you fail to prepare and you only start looking after you need a job then you will end up settling for whatever you can get.

Lesson 2. You Have To Let Go Of The Old To Make Room For The New

As I sit here writing this from my industrial style co-working space in Philadelphia I couldn't have imagined what my life would look like before I got here. Yes, I was excited about my move but I was also sad to leave my job, co-workers, family, friends, network and the life I built in Boston to step into an unknown future. Staying in your comfort zone feels cozy and safe even when you have outgrown it. And stepping into the unknown feels risky and scary. But because I prepared to make the jump I was able to minimize my risks and have been able to experience a totally new lifestyle.

While I did leave my life in Boston, I'm building a new one in Philadelphia. Now, I don't rush out the door to battle 45 minutes of traffic, worrying that I'm going to be late for work. Instead, I play with my kids in the morning, walk my daughter to her babysitter's house and then I drive a whole five minutes to my office. Some days are short while others are long and I work weekends too but I'm in total control of my schedule with no one watching over me. I really enjoy working for myself and building this business.

Of course it is not all roses for me either. I am responsible for everything in my work from bringing in new business, to delivering great coaching, to finding health insurance, and making sure I pay my rent every month. I have no sick time, PTO, or 401K matching to enjoy or rely on. And it is really hard to balance building a business while raising two little children and making time for family, friends, and everything else life throws at you.

The lesson here is that you will absolutely feel a sense of loss and sadness when you step into a new opportunity but that shouldn't stop you from taking the next step. You will only gain the benefits of change when you go through the process. Trust that you will figure it out and make the best of whatever challenges will come up. Because the alternative is to stay comfortable where you are until external circumstances force you to move on. And when that happens it is like being tossed out of the boat without a life jacket. You don't want to be caught in such a vulnerable position in today's fast moving job market. Change is a constant and you want to be ahead of that change, not behind it.

Which do you want: the pain of staying where you are, or the pain of growth? - Unknown

Lesson 3. Change Is Difficult No Matter How Prepared You Are

I want to be clear that this isn't one of those "quit your job and follow your dream" posts. I was able to create my ideal career situation by being patient, intentional, and proactive. And while I love where I'm at right now my new life comes with its own set of challenges. So don't expect unicorns and rainbows when you find your dream job. Expect new challenges and difficulties. The only difference is that when you love what you do the stress motivates you to keep going.

"Working hard for something you don't care about is stress. Working hard for something you do care about is called passion." - Simon Sinek

What big changes do you want to make this year? How are you preparing to make that change now? Share your comments below!



  1. Join the Career Design LinkedIn Group and get access to more great articles and resources to help you design a more fulfilling career.

  2. If you are interested in working with me to create a more fulfilling career then schedule a free consultation at MGC Coaching.


If you found this post helpful, give it a thumbs up and share it with your network. 

If you have any thoughts or questions leave a comment below.


Mo Chanmugham, Esq., CPCC is a former entertainment lawyer turned career coach and the founder of MGC Coaching. He helps ambitious professionals who are feeling stuck gain the clarity and confidence they need to create more fulfilling careers.

#careercoach #careeradvice #jobearch #careerchange #networking #careerdesign #linkedin #personalbranding #personaldevelopment #leadership