March 15, 2011

How to Quit a Job You Love. ~ Katie Desmond

Photo: lululemon athletica

…with Grace.

For every loss there is an equal gain, for every gain there is an equal loss. ~ (wisdom from a Yogi Tea bag..!)

I have practiced yoga for 13 years. But for at least the past 15 I have fantasized about leaving the 9-5 world and doing something off the “normal” path. When I left my corporate job two years ago, I seized the opportunity to travel to foreign and exotic locations, launch a hoop business, and complete a yoga teacher training program. I eagerly sought out my first yoga job, and then was offered a couple of corporate lunch time classes, and then a few kids’ classes.  The next thing I knew, I was teaching about 10 classes a week.

For the past year, I have been a “successful” yoga teacher. Sort of.

And I’ve loved it. Mostly.

One day last December, I looked in the mirror and realized that it was time to dry clean my business suits, buy a new pair of shoes, dust off my resume, and start pounding the pavement for a new job.

Last week I accepted an offer for a full-time job with benefits and paid vacation. Start playing the music, drop the confetti and toast the champagne! (Cue record skipping as an awkward silence fills the room).


I have to give up all of my classes, and it turns out I am much more emotional about that than I expected. It turns out my students are also much more emotional than I would have expected. Who knew? I have students. People who have come to my class once a week for the last year and a half have apparently looked forward to seeing me.

Photo: Mike Nelson

Have you ever struggled with how to leave a job gracefully for another? Well, try quitting 10 at once.  Here is how I did it.

1. Allow an appropriate time to transition:

When I received the first offer from this organization, they wanted me to start immediately. I pushed back on the timing so that I could provide adequate notice to my clients and they rescinded the offer.

I felt conflicted because the job was a good opportunity, but it would have been unprofessional to leave my clients and students in the lurch. I owe it to them to have an uninterrupted practice. The job offer came back a couple of weeks later, and they gave me a couple of weeks to transition.

2. Refer amazing teachers to the positions:

I got my first classes from a yoga teacher going on maternity leave who completed the same training as me, but whom I didn’t actually know, and so it was time to “pay it back.” I thought carefully about the teachers that I loved and respected who might be interested, as well as offering the opportunities to fabulous newer teachers who were building their schedules.

Like any business, teaching yoga is largely a relationship building business. Our business grows by the quality of relationships we maintain with our clients, students and fellow teachers. The clients appreciate the referrals to make their lives easier for hiring and the teachers appreciate the business lead.

3. Tell students at end of class:

I delivered a well-planned and amazing class experience for my students this week and then I made the announcement about the new job at the very end of class, after savasana. I didn’t want them thinking about it during class. I tried to keep it positive, but I also allowed myself to authentically share my sadness. It is bittersweet.

4. Stay in touch:

I gave out my businesses cards and encouraged my students to find me on Facebook and Twitter. I meant it when I told them to stay in touch. I really hope that they do.

5. Offer alternatives:

I let all of my clients know that I was interested in taking on some weekend and evening classes, and asked if I could stay on their substitute lists. I am taking on a new job, but I am still a yoga teacher, and I know that I am only just starting down the teaching path. I hope to keep positive relationships with my employers and keep the door open for future opportunities.

I start my new job next Monday, so the transition is really a work in progress. We should check back in 6 months to see how it turns out.


Katie Desmond, RYT-200, is a California native currently based in Washington, DC. She loves sharing the gift of movement with students of all ages. With a diverse resume that includes titles like entrepreneur, lobbyist, and internet strategist, Katie views the process of finding “right work” an ongoing experiment. She can’t wait to find out how she is going to share her passion and love for making an impact next. You can view her website here.

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