Avoid Burning Bridges, and Life’s Decisions Become Ctrl-Z-able

Avoid burning bridgesAfter last week’s incredible response to my Contribution to Society post (thank you very much to all who shared!), I had to think long and hard about how to follow up with another good one to keep peoples’ interest piqued.

And so this post is about addressing what I believe to be the fundamental factor inhibiting most people from living the life they dream about: the fear of change. Conquering this fear is absolutely critical, which is why this post gets the honor of being the follow-up to last week’s.

The following statement has been more or less one of my mantras for many years now and it goes something like this: have confidence that if you are sufficiently easy to be around, nearly everything you do in life can be undone. Avoid burning bridges at all costs. This rule applies most importantly to your job, especially because that seems to be what most people are so scared to change, but can also apply to other things in your life too.

As you may or may not know, I’ve been a computer programmer for many years now. In my industry as you advance, you tend to go one of two ways: either you get very specialized and technical about stuff (usually the more introverted type), or you get good at the process, and dealing with the line between management and machine (usually the more extraverted type). I’ve definitely never been particularly technical about much (well, compared to others I know at least), enough to get by though of course, and in my opinion I also wouldn’t say I’ve ever come close to mastering the other role just described either.

But what I have come to learn is I am good at being nice to people, being easy to be around, and making people feel at ease, even when the so-called shit has hit the fan. And in my opinion that goes a lot further in maintaining your job than any job-related skill you can master.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, I’m easy to be around at the office! But my job is different than yours were – I can’t just move to the woods like you did and expect to have my job back when I want!”. If you really are as nice to people as you tell yourself you are, I would be willing to bet that is not the case.

Now all of that said, do note that the key part of the statement isn’t so much about being easy to be around, it is much more about the first part – being sufficiently confident that you are one of these people, to the point where you might actually quit, knowing you’d get hired back if you did so desire. Never forget the old saying good people are hard to find – companies understand that very well, and if you’ve proved to your company that you are one of these good people, there is no reason why they wouldn’t hire you back if given the chance.

Personal Case Study Numero Uno

Back in 2007 I had been working very hard at a company for just over 6 years when we decided we were going to take a year off and travel Africa. I walked into my manager’s office and told him where and when I was leaving, and asked if he wanted to give me a year’s Leave of Absence or if he’d rather I quit. He decided to give me the LOA, we went to Africa, and upon returning just two weeks before I was supposed to be back at the job, I quit!

The point of the story? Three months into my next job, my old boss’s boss contacted me and asked if I wanted to work for him at the new studio he was managing.

Personal Case Study Numero Dos

After five good years at the next company I worked for, I quit in the summer of 2012 to change things up and try my hand at a different area of my field. I ended up only lasting around 8 months at the new job, and three days after word had got out that I was available once again, I was offered a contract back at my old company. How easy was that!

I very much appreciated the offer, but the Noble Anarchist had other plans in store :)

Do note that in both cases, I wasn’t on my own – my girlfriend who worked at the University did basically the same thing and got basically the same treatment as I.

Avoid Burning Bridges, Then Do What Needs Doing

It literally is that simple. Make friends with people, and then make the decision that you are going to change course towards what you actually want out of life. If for some reason it doesn’t work out and you need to go back to your old life, know that it will be there waiting for you. I promise!

Hey, many thanks again to all for spreading the word of the Noble Anarchist – please continue to do so if you see something you like!

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2 Responses to Avoid Burning Bridges, and Life’s Decisions Become Ctrl-Z-able

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