At certain points in your career, whatever your line of work, you’re bound to feel guilty about something. I’m not talking about feeling guilty for doing something immoral or making a mistake, but about the guilt one feels in making tough professional decisions.
This could be any decision really: taking a vacation, searching for a new job, taking a new job, firing an employee or even taking on a new client. Any of these decisions could take a toll on a person’s conciseness for one reason or another.
Take the vacation for example; should you feel bad about taking a long vacation? If you have the days and the vacation’s approved, then you’re certainly not breaking any rules. But what if you’re planned vacation ends up falling in the critical phase of a project? What if you’re the only designer/developer/copy writer/manager/employee? Is it okay to feel guilty then? Would you feel obliged to do something about it? Should you feel obliged to do something about it?
And there’s definitely a difference between a freelancer or a small studio in this situation and someone who is simply an employee of a larger company but both could feel equally guilty for different reasons. Where a freelancer may feel a stronger obligation toward supporting their clients, an employee may feel the same towards their colleagues or manager. And it really all boils down to one thing: loyalty.
The more loyal you feel toward your job, teammates, clients, etc., the more likely you are to feel guilty when you let them down, whether they feel like you are letting then down or not. Should the freelancer feel guilty about taking on an amazing and profitable new client at the risk of having less time to spend on existing clients? Probably not, but how should they handle transitioning the existing client relationship? And what if the employee decides to start searching for a new job? Maybe there’s a reason they want to leave, but they can easily still feel guilty for leaving their team, especially if they’re the only one who does what they do.
So how can we prevent ourselves from being in these sorts of situations? Often these decisions are unavoidable, but there are ways of minimizing the impact:
Open and transparent communication - A truly open channel of communication with your clients, co-workers and managers will fend off many of these bad situations.
Avoid making decisions in a silo - Even if the decision in solely yours, discuss your decision with anyone else who’s involved.
Be confident in what you decide - If you do feel bad about something, it will pass in time and you should learn from the situation how to handle it better in the future.
Guilt is often unavoidable. We often find our selves feeling remorseful over taking important decisions, whether they be good or bad. At the end of the day, what’s important is that you are happy with yourself and your decisions and just know the guilt will pass in time.