We all leave our employer one day. In certain countries, like the US, you can get away with a 2-week-long notice period. It’s so short that it’s not even worth talking about it. On the other hand, there are countries like France and Sweden where the notice period is as long as three months.
Three months is a long time and it’s important that it’s spent useful both for us - employees - and for the employers too.
In fact, the period of leave is often even longer than your notice period. Mentally you’re already at least partially out by the time you made up your mind to apply for other companies and go through with their heavy interview processes. You’re not yet on your notice period, but you know exactly that it’s just a matter of time to get out.
But how to stay motivated when you are leaving the company?
This might be a tough question because you want to leave. More often than not it’s because of something that made you unhappy on the job.
Not necessarily tough. It happens that you will leave your job simply because of family reasons. To follow your spouse on her new endeavour in another geographical area, to move closer to your parents, or even to your kids. Still, it might not be obvious how to stay motivated. Even if you like your job, there is nothing to work towards at that point. No recognition, no future promotions…
Let’s discuss 3 ways to stay motivated even in such circumstances.
Think about the good stuff you can still do
If you are on the leave, you might be a little bit sorrowful, and disappointed by your job. Maybe it’s about how you got along with your boss, maybe it’s about money. Still, you probably spent a considerable time at your job. Maybe not close to 10 years like I did before I decided to look for my next job, but even if you just spent there a year or two, there must have been good things you did.
Maybe an interesting project you participated in. Maybe you learnt about some new features of your language of preference, an interesting design pattern, something that helped you grow as an engineer.
If you don’t feel like working and you just want to be out, think about these good things and think about what other good opportunities you might stumble upon by doing your best during the rest of the time with your employer. Is there some refactoring technique you wanted to try? Is there a design pattern you wanted to learn? Or maybe you always wanted to try features like having multiple destructors with concepts. That’s maybe the time for it!
I’m not suggesting that your last few months should be l’art pour l’art, but probably you can have a bit bigger freedom. Make sure you communicate clearly that you want to try this and that and support your wishes with some valid reasons.
Think about your professional network
You can also approach the question of motivation from a more pragmatic point of view. On average we change jobs every 2-3 years. That means that throughout our careers we’ll have on average around 15-20 jobs.
The job market is a big merry-go-round.
Even if you leave a boss, a team, or a company, there is a fair chance that you’ll run into the same people later in your career. It’s in your best interest that they remember you as a fair, reliable professional.
If you just throw your feet on the desk once you’re on the go and leave your colleagues in the mud, that’s not exactly how they will remember you.
Don’t burn bridges. Burn one or two, if you really cannot resist and you want to share an honest but maybe a little bit rude opinion. Still, I don’t think it will make you feel great in the long run. Just think about how awkward it will be to meet again with the same person on the next job. Don’t overreact, it’s only about business anyways.
You can give constructive feedback, but why would you wait with it until you leave? That’s something you should have given earlier.
Use these last times to improve your connections, to still grow your network. You never know when it will come in handy!
Stay professional and don’t care about the bad things
How to stay motivated on the leave? That’s probably a bad question to ask. Who cares about motivation? You signed up for a job, you sold your
soul time for money and you’d better respect the contract. Not because your employer can punish your behaviour, but because you’re a professional person.
While punishment in theory could be possible in some cases, it’s not really worth the time and money of the employer. Although I’ve seen cases where the quitters simply didn’t show up and when they were called on the phone, they reported that they are on their way to the beach. They were simply let go - as they wanted to be.
I understand them somehow, months of notice period doesn’t make that much sense to me either, but it’s also not a professional way to end your work relationship.
Think about it! If you start rationalizing your behaviour, it simply means that professionalism is not a must value to you. If you do such a thing once, you might do it twice, you might actually catch yourself in a downward spiral of unprofessional behaviour.
Just stay professional and do your best during the final period of your contract.
Leaving a workplace often sparks many emotions. Sometimes positive ones, but more often than not you’ll - also - have some negative feelings. Don’t let those negative feelings overtake your professionalism. Think about what you learned and what you still can. Think about your professional connections and above all, your professionalism.
How do you approach long notice periods?
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