How To Get Out Of A Commitment

The unabridged title of this post is:

How To Get Out Of A Commitment Without Seeming Like A Flaky Actor

Yes, your schedule can be unpredictably unpredictable.  It’s very likely that there will be times when you will agree to do something only to have another opportunity pop up that you need or want to do instead…

…you might sign with one manager and suddenly get an opportunity to sign with a better one.

…you might volunteer for an internship and realize that you will DIE if you spend another hour in that office

…etc.

That’s life – but here’s the deal:

1) Know that you are not a bad person if you want to get out of a situation.

Don’t get me wrong – making a commitment should not be a cavalier choice and honoring your commitments is definitely a sign of character.  That said, remaining in a situation that isn’t beneficial for you or your career just to be “good” is a huge waste of time and energy.  After all, when you made the commitment, you didn’t know this other thing would happen! It’s okay to make an exit, but…

2) DON’T BE FLAKY ABOUT IT.

Sure, some actors truly don’t care how their actions affect other people.

But I believe that many actors who exhibit flaky behavior do so because they don’t know how to handle the situation as a professional business person… so they communicate vaguely (or not at all), or slink away at the last possible minute, or just never show up again.

Here’s what I suggest:

Communicate clearly:

“I so appreciate that you took a chance on me and I have totally enjoyed working with you – however, a completely unexpected opportunity has fallen into my lap that I feel I cannot pass up… so next Tuesday will have to be my last day with you.”

Try to help them:

If appropriate and at all possible, offer to help them find and train a replacement for you.  Or at least do something to make this transition less disruptive.

Don’t worry:

They probably won’t be happy about you leaving because it messes up their agenda and creates extra work.  How they handle it emotionally, however, is their issue, not yours.  And if they ask for details about the “unexpected opportunity,” remember that you never have to answer a question directly. You can demur and say you “don’t want to jinx it by talking about it.”

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