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Old 11-15-2023, 07:08 PM
55 posts, read 64,301 times
Reputation: 106


I am tormented with guilt and I know it's silly, but I just can't snap myself out of it.

Things are not the best at my current employer, so I am looking for another job. Today I was contacted by a place where I've interviewed twice already: they want to set up a final interview. I am one of two candidates left so things are looking good. But as I get closer to that possibility my feelings of guilt well up.

A year ago, we got a new senior manager where I work and while she's a likable person, she's a horrible manager and a disorganized mess when she's there: she's missing in action a lot. It's made my job stressful and miserable. I am burning out from long hours, covering for other people, and just trying to deliver high quality and timely work to customers. On top of this, the company is having financial trouble (the industry is slowly dying). So even if she's replaced, the damage she's done is done. And the company isn't healthy on top of that anyway. I used to love working for my current employer and a year ago I couldn't even imagine leaving, but now I know that I just can't keep working like this. It's not the workplace that it used to be/the one I loved and what it is now is not good for my health mentally or physically.

I don't really feel guilty about leaving the manager or even my coworkers, almost all of whom are new as the manager got rid of older, higher paid staff in favor of new people who make a whole lot less and whose work is definitely worth what they are paid. What I feel guilty about is leaving the customers. I've built strong relationships with them over the years and many rely on me. And so many of them have personally thanked me for sticking around, being there for them, etc, etc. I really like and care about them. I feel awful ever single time someone tells me how nice it is that I am still around and sings my praises. I feel disingenuous as I smile and thank them. But it's really not professional for me to say anything.

If I get this new job, it's a complete different industry. I will be abandoning the old customers completely.

I know I might be putting the cart before the horse here, I don't have the job yet after all. But at some point I will get a new job (this one or another one) and I will still have these same feelings. Part of this might be because I've been at my current company for well over a decade now too. It used to be a great job with great coworkers and clients. Now it's just the clients who are good.

Friends tell me I shouldn't feel guilty or feel bad. They say I shouldn't let it get to me. It's just business. But that's easier said than done and none have any concrete advice. What are some actual techniques for unloading guilt like this?

Last edited by AccidentalVulcan; 11-15-2023 at 07:30 PM..
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Old 11-16-2023, 04:39 AM
13,254 posts, read 8,332,154 times
Reputation: 31427
Its your feelings and they are neither silly or worthy of dismissing.

You are in tune with your well established rapport in client relations. It is natural to go thru the torn phase of "knowing what is right" in your seeking a new career and "letting go" of the foundation you built.

I say follow thru with your current mindset.

You are experiencing the "loss" of these relations and the accolades that came with it. Its absolutely normal, natural to feel guilt since you have not made it public to those in business.

You probably also can dig up some wonderful conversations you had over the years with your clients. Let that be the ointment to bring a smile ....when the guilt reigns in.

Letting go is not a Quick motion, its a slow burn towards the bend in the road.

And yes those that impacted our lives in our careers will indeed understand and dearly wish you well as you change course in job and deed.

Carry the joy that awaits you and slowly put to past the guilt that is there...
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Old 11-16-2023, 08:58 AM
1,082 posts, read 562,485 times
Reputation: 1808
I can relate to this somewhat. I've changed jobs before and intend to do it again at some point, and for me it's hard not to feel bad for those people whose lives will be directly altered by my decisions. What I realized a long time ago is that it's never the people who cause you to leave who end up suffering after you go. In other words, if I leave a job due to horrible management, it's not the horrible managers whose daily existence is turned upside down, but rather my closest co-workers who may have had no role in my decision.

Still, we have to do what's in our best interest, whatever the consequences may be.
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Old 11-16-2023, 11:07 AM
23,519 posts, read 69,925,450 times
Reputation: 48893
Is it guilt, or is it anticipating loss?

Guilt is generally a regret for having harmed a person, group, animal, by an action or a lack of action with foreknowledge of possible outcomes.

Will your absence harm the customers in any real way? Would your suddenly dying harm them in any real way? If not, your label of your feeling as guilt is misplaced.

Will you miss the interactions and positive strokes? Sure. Will life go on? Sure.

Are you willing to harm yourself to meet the self-assessed "needs" of customers? I hope not. There were classmates who cried when we graduated from high school. The loss of the friends they had was somewhat traumatic for them, even though they recognized that to grow there had to be change.

Now, to deflate your bubble a little, I've worked in many places. While customers like certain employees for various reasons, they manage to struggle along if one leaves or gets fired. Those who have developed relationships outside of the business environment MIGHT make an effort to keep contact. More likely, they won't.
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Old 11-16-2023, 09:25 PM
55 posts, read 64,301 times
Reputation: 106
Thank you everyone who answered. You are kind.

Maybe it is anticipating loss more so than guilt. I've never been good with emotions (understanding them, even my own). I am sure the job will gone on without me. It existed before I came along and I am sure someone else can continue. So maybe it's not guilt but loss like other posters so intuitively brought up.

I really like the people I work for and I really care about them. When I leave, they will all be gone won't they? Old coworkers I was friendly who left or were laid off have kept in touch (we still sometimes meet up for lunch together). But clients will be gone. I will miss talking with them, chitchat, asking how their lives are, seeing pictures of their families or hearing their anecdotes. They aren't exactly friends, but they close acquaintances I guess.

I really wish they would stop saying nice things about me to me though, I mean it that it pains me to hear that and know I already have one foot out the door. Like I said, it feels like I am deceptive in some fashion to just thank them and smile. It would almost be better if I though they didn't care.

But I am leaving no matter what. I meant it when I said I just can't do this any longer/I am burnt out/too stressed to continue with it. I made up my mind to leave and once I make up my mind like that, I don't change it. When I saw things getting worse at work I created a deadline and if certain things weren't fixed or better by the deadline, I would start looking for a new job. That deadline came and went last month and things weren't better, they were worse. So I stuck to my decision and started watching job boards for my profession and sending out resumes. I really hope I get this job, but if I don't, it's given me the confidence to keep looking (and I will).
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Old 11-17-2023, 08:40 AM
12,596 posts, read 8,820,605 times
Reputation: 34435
I think you feel guilt because you care -- about the customers, about the product/service, about what you do. If more people felt a little guilt about the quality of their work, we'd all be much better off. There would be much less shoddy work. Fewer companies that screw employees and customers over. Better work environments. Less marketing hype and more honest products.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't move on. From the sounds of things, you'll soon be feeling guilty about representing your company to customers knowing the company doesn't care; essentially putting you in the position of having to lie for them.

My last manager before I retired was like yours. Likeable as a person, but completely unable to manage anything. Way over their head and lost. Do I feel guilty about retiring? Yes and no. Yes because I left behind some fantastic people I'd worked with and some amazing projects that I worked on. No because the management environment had become toxic and wasn't focused on technical quality but image and style.
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Old 11-17-2023, 09:31 AM
Location: In your head
1,014 posts, read 514,886 times
Reputation: 1482
Nothing wrong with caring and feeling like you had a vested interest, because it sounds like you did. Not everyone cares deeply about the quality of their work or their reputation. I'm in a similar situation where I enjoy my job and the clients I support. But my manager's focus on the wrong things, her misuse of our resources, and our inability to grow our careers on the current team has me hankering for something else. I'd feel bad over leaving, too, but at the end of the day I need to look out for #1 because nobody else is.
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Old 11-17-2023, 05:31 PM
Location: Germany
716 posts, read 419,851 times
Reputation: 1884
I think you're focusing a bit too much on the negative side of the emotions. You are in a phase where you are getting yourself ready for a change in your life and this means you are going to lose some of the bad stuff but also some of the good stuff. You could try to reinvent that pain that you say you feel when you hear the good comments. I think that part really is guilt, probably because you feel like you are lying to people who you genuinely like and you normally wouldn't lie too (or omit the truth). These people will be ok without you and I'm sure they wish you the best, so take their compliments at face value and don't feel like you owe them an explanation.
After knowing if you are surely leaving this job you could probably tell a few of them in your last "sessions" that it was a pleasure to work with them and this will partly be closure for you.
I think you're handling it fine and it's good to talk about these feelings. Good luck with the job and if you feel like you're thinking about this too much, try meditating or try affirmations that have to do with being ok with who you are and what you decide in your life.
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Old 11-18-2023, 08:38 AM
7,568 posts, read 4,112,923 times
Reputation: 6925
Your customers are just showing their gratitude to you. There might be a few who hate to lose you, but most would probably make the same decisions as you do. Think the best of your customers that they want the best for you.
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Old 11-18-2023, 09:25 AM
Location: minnesota
15,792 posts, read 6,206,061 times
Reputation: 5033
Originally Posted by elyn02 View Post
Your customers are just showing their gratitude to you. There might be a few who hate to lose you, but most would probably make the same decisions as you do. Think the best of your customers that they want the best for you.

This happened a lot with letter carriers. If someone is any good at their job they become part of people's lives. Then routes get rearranged, or a better route or station opens up and they are replaced by someone new. There is a disconnect on both sides for a while, but we all adjust. I have been on routes where the customers will ask about a carrier they had ten years ago. People ask about me.
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