Let’s just start by saying that until two days ago, I was a long-term tenant of my comfort zone.

I’m one of those people whose work is a pretty big part of their life. I’ve always thrown my whole self into my job – right from my days as a fatigued waitress, to now as a copywriter doing what I love. Wherever I’m working, I get myself pretty attached to my surroundings, which makes it pretty hard to move on to new opportunities.

I’ve been with my current employer for almost four years, give or take a brief break to satisfy a visa requirement. I love the business, I love my boss, I love my colleagues, and my role is like my baby.

So when I resigned on Tuesday through a crumpled face of tears and snot, nobody was more surprised than me.

So Why Am I Leaving a Job I Love?

With work such a mandatory part of life for most of us, we’re conditioned by society to chase every weekend and dread every Sunday night like work is some kind of death sentence. But with this job, I never had that. Sure, my long commute from one side of Melbourne to the other wasn’t my favourite thing in the world, but I never found myself clock watching, dreading the next meeting, or spending my lunch break scrolling through job sites looking for an easy out.

But what I did find was that I’d reached a point where everything I did came naturally to me. I’d allowed myself to become so ensconced in the role that it became as normal to me as making my morning coffee. It had become routine.

In creative industries, you tend to know a few people who do similar things to you. Within your circles you know who’s working where and who’s written for who. Often I’d hear of job openings from friends, or ex-colleagues would beckon me to their new office, telling tales of dream campaigns and trying to woo me with the idea of a Friday afternoon drinks trolley.

But I was never interested.

Until one day in February, that all changed. I got word about a role that, had I spotted it any other day, I’d probably have just kept on scrolling without a second thought. But something about this job scared the crap out of me – and that’s when I knew I wanted it.

So I went through the motions and had the necessary conversations with the people with the power. Soon, a job offer slid into my inbox.

Knowing When to Move On From a Job

It’s important to pay close attention to how you feel when the idea of a new opportunity comes to you. When you’re in a role you love, it’s easy to ignore the cues that it’s time to let go. Whether you see an advert, get lured in by a friend or get poached by a DM-crawling recruiter on LinkedIn, tune into your gut feeling. Take note of how you feel when you read the job description, when a flicker of recognition sparks at the employer’s number on your caller ID, when you find yourself waiting by the phone for an update.

Like a relationship, how you feel in the early stages is an indication of how invested you are in the whole thing.

The fact that this role scared me, made me check myself, and made me reconsider everything – that was the point I knew it was for me.

Of course, I changed my mind a hundred times. I cried, I panicked, I drafted emails withdrawing my acceptance and tried to sleep off the mind fog.

But I kept coming back around to the idea that it was time. That this was the moment I thought would never come.

It was time to step into the next chapter. To be honest with myself and ask myself hard questions. Had I squeezed everything out of my current role that I could have? Yes. I’d tried harder and harder and achieved more and more – I’d squeezed every last drop of it out and lathered it all over my CV. Like an expensive sheet mask, I’d soaked up all the serum.

The Art of Letting Go

I once heard a saying on The Bachelor – the source of all half-baked inspiration, of course – that talked about the importance of ‘how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.’

In the moment of deciding to leave behind my most life-defining role to date, this phrase rang in my head. Everything that had happened in the last few weeks was preparing me for this – preparing me to realise that my current place in the world was no longer meant for me. That the opportunity I had to work with my director, be inspired by her, learn from her and squeeze the proverbial serum from the role was now meant for someone else.

As for me, it’s time now. Time for me to be scared, to feel vulnerable, to make future-focused choices and deal with the regret that could follow.

You don’t always have to stay in a job until the bitter end. Deciding to leave while it’s still mostly sunshine and rainbows feels weird. Really weird. But there’s something quite beautiful about closing the door on something that wasn’t quite over. You forgive yourself the hatred, the dread, the mediocrity and despair, and leave it to sit in a hard-earned place in your heart as the life-altering experience that it was.