Laurie Swanson Blog

Can't Let Go of that Job You've Outgrown

“I don’t think that it is the right time to leave my job. I have a vacation planned in December and I am moving in the spring.” 

I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard a version of this in my 20+ years as a recruiter.

This conversation was with a woman I was working with who had just accepted a great job offer that included an increase in her base pay of over 30%!

When she received the offer, she was over the moon. The money, the career opportunity, the role, the company, the team. A chance to advance her career which had been stagnating for several years.  

And then she realized she had to give notice and everything changed.

She, not surprisingly, was feeling afraid.

Afraid of giving notice, of changing her routine, disappointing people she had worked with for years. Starting a new job brought up fears about who would she eat lunch with, all those new systems, building relationships, and proving herself.

Now she is thinking of staying put.

Become a Time Traveler

I am sure we can all relate to her fear of change.

When my son was a senior in high school I remember feeling very sad. Even though it was October, I already was thinking about him leaving for college the following August!

He was ready to be off on his next adventure, which is what his Dad and I had been preparing him for, but that did not mean I was ready.

I found myself acting a bit weird.

After he would leave for school in the morning I would go into his room to sit on his bed and look at what he had up on the walls and what was laying on the floor. Then I would walk downstairs and just stand and listen. It was so quiet.

Without knowing it, I was using something called imaginary hindsight to help me prepare for the upcoming changes. Something positive psychologists say helps to create better outcomes.

Imaginary hindsight is like time travel. You imagine yourself in the future situation and, because it has not occurred yet, you get to decide how the situation will feel and the outcome.

I was experiencing how his room and the house would look and feel with him gone. I felt the sadness in that present moment. I then decided to also experience the joy of him spreading his wings. I thought about shopping for his dorm room which was something I was looking forward to doing. I imagined me watching what I wanted to watch on TV versus Gears of War. I imagined sitting in quiet, drinking tea and reading a good book.

This worked. When August came I was more excited than sad. I could focus more fully on him. And after he was settled into his dorm and I was back at home I made myself a cup of tea and smiled.

Imagine that!

The imaginary hindsight technique can also work wonders if you are in a job search or preparing for a career change.

Perfect for my client who was thinking about staying in her current job because she was afraid.

Giving notice was the trigger. The place she was most focusing her fear.

I suggested that she should imagine handing in her resignation letter and having everything go great.  
  • Where would she turn in her resignation letter?
  • To whom would she give the letter?
  • How would she be feeling?
  • What could she do to feel calm in that moment?
  • How might the person react once she gave notice?
  • What might the person say?
  • How could she respond?
  • If she could write the scene unfolding in the best possible way, how would it go?
Guess what happened?

Her boss wished her well. Sure, he expressed his disappointment but he understood.  They began making plans right away for how she could transfer knowledge and transition out.

She felt a huge weight lifted off her shoulders and the excitement about her next adventure returned.

Laurie’s Career Change Tip of the Week-
Use Imaginary Hindsight to Ease Fears

Have you been afraid to make a career change? Use imaginary hindsight. Put yourself in your future and write your own ending to the story. Fill in these blanks:
  • The biggest thing I am afraid of when I think about making a career change is:
  • If I could write my best possible scenario for this change it would go like this:

EX: You ask for the raise you want and they say yes, you give your notice and they wish you well, you send a LinkedIn message to your favorite CEO and she responds…

Post your story on our Facebook Page (LINK).  We'd love to cheer you on.
Have you thought about working with a career mentor who imagines great things for you? I imagine I am in your future. Give me a call (630-260-7821) or send me an email ( and let’s talk.

Sound Song Advice


John Lennon

Share this Post: