When you leave a toxic job, the next steps can seem overwhelming. By taking time to process what happened and move forward thoughtfully, you can transform that experience into expertise about healthy work environments. This new knowledge helps you start your job search and begin your next position with a fresh perspective. In this article, we look at ways to heal after you’ve left a toxic work environment and recover your professional confidence.
Why should you take time to heal after leaving a toxic job?
Leaving a job that is harmful can be a traumatic experience, and it’s important to process that carefully so that you can move forward to better opportunities. Keep things in perspective as you move forward, and be gentle with yourself, remembering that your job does not determine your value as a person.
You can learn a lot by analyzing what made your workplace unhealthy, like what you want and need from an employer and where you want to set personal boundaries to avoid similar situations. You’ll be practicing coping mechanisms through this process, so you’ll become more resilient. And in future workplaces, you can better understand your role as an employee or manager to maintain an encouraging work environment.
1. Take time to recover
Leaving a job often takes courage and strength, so you’ve already accomplished a lot. Give yourself time to recover by doing some activities that release tension and help your mind and body feel better. If you felt undervalued or overworked, look for activities that remind you of your worth—intentionally relaxing or working towards your own priorities. If your job was physically strenuous or dangerous, be gentle with your body for a few days and seek medical help if you have any injuries or concerns.
To heal from a job that was emotionally exhausting, look for things that can bring comfort, like spending time with a pet or a loved one. Try exercising or art to let out frustration if you found your job stressful or controlling. Once you’ve gotten a little distance from the emotional cost of your former job, you can be in a better mindset to think about the next steps.
2. Find positive influences and mentors
Look for positive leadership to take you forward into the next steps of your career. Consider finding a professional mentor in your industry, particularly one who has a leadership role within a healthy company. Let even the details of your job search encourage you, by listening to positive podcasts and following leaders in your industry who have a good outlook.
At your new job, build yourself a system of support by intentionally connecting with coworkers. Find those who are happy and successful, who encourage others and do not gossip. Be a good friend and friendly coworker to those you meet, and do what you can to maintain and improve your work culture.
3. Review what you learned
This step lets you gain knowledge from negative experiences. Think back on exactly why the workplace you left felt harmful. Consider whether it was a temporary situation caused by one project, contract or coworker. If so, think about how you can avoid that environment in the future, maybe asking better questions in the interview, or talking to a prospective coworker before taking a job.
If it was a systemically negative environment, try to understand whether it was a certain company policy or office culture norm. Noticing these trends can help you know what to look for at your next job, but it can also guide you later if you are in a position to influence or control these aspects at another company.
4. Make a plan
The next step is to find a new job, but you want to go about it intentionally so that you find a better job environment. Prioritize companies with healthy office cultures and a willingness to listen to their employees. Reading online reviews of companies or reaching out to current employees there can give you a realistic impression of the company. If the work itself made the job untenable, consider searching for a different position in the same industry, or a similar position in a new industry. Even a new geographic area could bring new challenges.
These precautions won’t guarantee that your new company is welcoming or your new job is perfect, so set personal boundaries. Decide what is important to you in a workplace, and what you find unacceptable. Writing down these boundaries can help you follow through on them and prioritize your own health and security.
A second step to your next workplace plan should involve evaluating your own professional behavior. Some dynamics of a workplace are set by the company policies and demographics of management and employees, but norms around social interactions and office culture might be more flexible. Try to think objectively about what you have the power to influence and how you want to use that power.
5. Decide on a good attitude
To move forward with a fresh perspective, it’s important to have a positive attitude. You can develop this habit through practice, reminding yourself of the opportunities in front of you and the achievements in your past. Habitual positivity can also help you as you meet new connections and interview with other companies. Your optimism and unwillingness to gossip show others that you are trustworthy and have a good attitude. If you still feel bitterness or resentment, process those on your own before reaching out to old coworkers or making new connections in the same industry.
This article was culled from Indeed.com