I've had a client for over 2.5 years, and the relationship has had its ups and downs. While I've learned a lot, I'm looking for new challenges and importantly, I feel I'm not being utilized to the fullest (or even 50%) extent.
I'm not going to quit overnight, but I am looking for an exit strategy that will work, without closing any doors or damning me amongst her network. The pay is good and in the future, I wouldn't mind for signing on to something again (perhaps a shorter contract!)
I had already started an MSc (last September), because the project was supposed to gear down, and then it didn't, and now I'm double shifting. I don't mean to sound rude, but I think she's purposefully extending it, perhaps because she enjoys the thrill of rushed deadlines, stress, etc. I don't. By ~May, I'll be done my course req's and will be moving on to research and writing - staying will be slowing me down considerably and costing me significant money (an extra semester could ding me for a couple month's wages easily, for instance). To make things more complicated, I'm worried that if I leave, most of the key staff will follow shortly thereafter (this has been mentioned to me a few times, and I think it's realistic). If this happens, my client is basically toast.
If I wanted out by say, May or September, what are the key steps I should take to exit gracefully and without malice? I should also be considering the team and the project itself, and how to plan for secession (there is no clear successor on the team).