This post isn’t about if you like your job. So please don’t write in the comments that you love your job and your boss so you would never burn bridges. Obviously.
People burn bridges when they don’t like their jobs and their bosses. Or work with totally lame people or are completely bored. So you get fired, or laid off, or there comes a time when your job just isn’t what it used to be so you leave.
You shouldn’t just walk out. You should give notice and finish your projects and be polite (if for no other reason than your own sense of pride and accomplishment). But there’s no point in continuing a negative relationship once you’re out the door. The advice to not burn bridges is outdated.
Here’s why it’s okay to cut ties:
1) You’ll change careers too often for it to matter.
Most likely, you’ll change jobs six to eight times before you’re thirty and 40 million people relocate each year, while 15 million make significant moves of more than 50 or 100 miles, reports Richard Florida.
The old rule was that workers would move to another job in the same industry in the same town. This encouraged politics and the necessity of kissing butt. But work is changing, and now you’ll change careers and locations so often it won’t matter.
2) Your old boss won’t help you.
“Healthy relationships, whether personal or professional, are formed on the basis of give and take,” LaTosha Johnson argues. It’s rare that someone will help you if you can’t help them. And besides, you won’t benefit from forcing a relationship with someone that doesn’t share your values. When push comes to shove, these people will not help you. Why would you want to be associated with them anyway?
3) You won’t need a reference.
If you’re leaving your job, you’ll probably be looking for a new job that is more fun and more challenging. Most cool jobs don’t require traditional references. Instead, they require that you know someone to get you in the door and vouch for you. That’s usually never your current employer.
It’s quite easy to prove yourself and your work ethic in other situations like blogging, volunteering or side projects that show your worth and capability. Networking outside of your career and company is a great path towards success and is your best safety net.
4) You can have an enemy (or two).
But probably not more. Caitlin McCabe says that competition is motivation. Having competition and people that remind you of who you don’t want to be is actually healthy.
In a playful but entirely useful article, Chuck Klosterman argues for both a nemesis and an archenemy: “We measure ourselves against our nemeses, and we long to destroy our archenemies. Nemeses and archenemies are the catalysts for everything.”
5) You can start over.
Whenever you start something new, ask yourself, “If the worst happened, would you be okay? Can you accept the worst case scenario? Can you fail and survive?” Because you might just ruin your reputation, bankrupt your organization and turn an entire city against you. It happens to good people every day. Really.
Failure is an option. And it’s your best negotiating tool. That is, the ability to start over gives you unlimited opportunities.
None of these reasons excuse you from doing a superior job or give you an excuse to be a dick or a slacker. But there’s no reason to hold onto baggage that isn’t healthy. Remember, there’s a reason you’re leaving.