Deciding to leave a well-paying, satisfying, and exciting career in favor of motherhood was a crazy decision, right? Many questioned whether I was doing the right thing and, more importantly, how I knew I was doing the right thing. I’ve always believed in going with my gut, leaning on my faith, and doing what felt right.

People quit jobs for various reasons: career advancement, pay considerations, or wanting a more positive work environment. In December, 3.1 million Americans voluntarily parted with their jobs, indicating their confidence in achieving new opportunities. My situation, however, is a little harder to categorize.

My first job out of college was at Alltel Wireless. Because of personnel changes early on, I was left to manage the entire PR department within six months of starting. This job offered great career opportunities and upward mobility for 17 years.

However, the time came when I wanted to move closer to home. I packed up and accepted a position at Walmart after a recruiter sought me out.

Within a short period of time, I was leading national media relations and handling tough issues. I was highly visible, talking with the media daily and answering on behalf of the company. I was at the height of my career.

But something was missing. The pay, benefits, and opportunities weren’t cutting it. I needed more in my life.

The Decision to Leave

What was missing for me was motherhood. I followed my heart and adopted a beautiful, healthy baby boy from Russia.

After a few months at home with little Eli Kennedy Clark, I went back to work and found that something was still missing. A mom always feels guilty — you feel like you’re cheating either your family or your job. I made the decision to walk away from a great-paying, rewarding job at a wonderful company, following my gut instinct all the while.

I had it all from a career perspective, but none of that matters when you’re making the right decision for the right personal reasons. I knew my faith was pointing me to spend more time with my son, but without a job lined up, others were confused and, honestly, a bit worried.

Finding My Way Forward

Leaving my job, while not the best decision for everyone, made sense in my life. If you’re considering making the break, whether it’s from a company you love or a job slowly crushing your soul, the following tips will ensure a smooth process:

1. Lean on financial preparation. From a cash perspective, I had prepared to leave my job. I had been financially smart, working throughout college to remain debt-free. I was equipped to handle the financial burden.

Before you make the jump, take a good look at your financial situation. How long can you live comfortably without income? What expenses do you really need? Are you spending your money wisely? How much do you have in savings? Ask yourself the hard questions, build a reserve, and avoid the financial stress many face when quitting a job.

2. Leverage your reputation. Because of my years at Walmart and Alltel, my reputation was well-established. I had built many great relationships that I knew I could later fall back on if needed.

Take a look at the connections you’ve made over the years, gather the email addresses you may need, let friends and mentors know your plans, and give them a call later if you need help. You’ve spent years building these relationships; they don’t disappear just because you quit your job. Keep in touch, make it meaningful, and allow your connections to help you back into the game when it’s time.

3. Ask for advice. For me, it felt like everything had lined up. I had put so much work and time into my professional life, and this was finally my chance to be a mother. I believed in my heart and myself and knew exactly what to do.

Not everyone has such a connection with his or her heart, so making lists and asking for outside feedback can serve as a guiding voice. Make a list of the things that matter to you, write up your ideal life 10 years from now, and use the people who know and love you to point you in the right direction. Over time, your faith and heart will speak louder, especially when they know you’re listening. Believe in yourself, your intentions, and your ability to make every life situation into a learning experience.

It’s amazing what happens when you take a risk and do what feels right. It’s scary, but when you do the right thing and follow your heart, everything else will fall into place. Follow your gut — it’s never wrong.

Author's Bio: 

Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell, an award-winning public relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses, and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations, and consumer engagement. The agency is headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with offices in Chicago and New York City. Mitchell is part of the Dentsu Aegis Network and has more than 300 offices in 110 countries. Clark is one of the top strategic communications professionals in the country, with more than 25 years of experience in corporate communications and an exceptional track record in protecting corporate reputations and redefining perceptions in key areas of business.