This post is intended for my friends who hold “straight” jobs, though I appreciate that many of you don’t. This post also assumes that you would like to quit your job, but not to move on to a different, similar job. This post assumes you’re considering a step into the unknown. If that’s your story:
Wait, Don’t Jump
Freeze for a second. It’s never, ever a bad bet to slow down. Slowing down gives you time to process a line of thought, get over a grudge, or revise a conclusion. Slowing down is not the same as procrastinating if you use your time wisely. Impulsiveness is not wisdom.
In the middle of your slow-down, try these handy steps I’ve learned by doing:
1. Give reality a second look.
Because it’s usually “reality”, not reality. It’s normal, we all roll that way, but once in a while you have to get off the ride for a minute. In my case, “reality” told me I couldn’t quit my job, because if I did, “reality” would bite me in the ass. But what if that’s not true? Here’s a bit of real reality: Not one of us gets out of this alive. Sometimes the people pushing “reality” are the very ones who will never look reality in the face. If you’re required to follow a path that you don’t want to be on only to bite it in the end anyway, what’s the fucking point? You don’t have to defy the laws of space and time just yet. But just look at it from another angle, and don’t assume everything you thought was true actually is.
2. Don’t “quit”.
You’re not quitting, because it’s not an escape. If you’re looking for an escape, I can’t help you. Ask yourself this: What are you getting deeper into that requires you to let go of this role? If it’s nothing, then consider staying put. But if you’ve somehow fallen out of alignment with yourself, if you have something you could contribute if only you had the time and energy, then it might really be time — not to quit, but to move — all the way up to your neck, so get ready.
3. Consider staying put.
Your job has been good to you. You’ve made an investment there. Hopefully, you’ve learned and grown. Pay that back by moving on only for a good and honest reason. Because no one owes you anything. Grass is only green if you water it. It’s all on you. But also consider this: If you’re willing to devote enormous chunks of time, constant mental focus and emotional fortitude to this role you occupy, think about what else you might be willing to devote all that time and energy to.
4. Assess your values, intelligence, creativity and resourcefulness.
Because you’re going to need all four. Without values, you will lack direction. And if you have someone willing to write a paycheck for your limited intelligence, creativity and resourcefulness, sweet deal. Revert to step 3 and consider staying put.
But if you can write at least 250 words about each of the above relative to yourself, then maybe you really can take that path. Do the personal inventory. Analyze your track record. It’s worth it.
5. Review your finances, situation and responsibilities.
We all have to eat and keep roofs over our heads. Most of us have other people we are responsible to consider. Here’s your chance to make an awesome spreadsheet or fill a comp book full of notes: What do you need? What can you live without? What are you accountable for? What can you risk? Make lists of lists. Track everything. Look hard and long at every nut and bolt. In my experience, staring at the puzzle pieces actually works. Out of thin air, the puzzle starts to put itself together.
6. Make a game plan.
Now that you’ve become such an expert note-taker and list-maker, just start plugging all that important information into a plan of action. Assuming you will actually quit, how soon will it be? Do you need to line up some alternative employment? Or can you give yourself a little blank space? Do you need to save money? Who do you need to confide in? Do you need to reorganize all your shit? Make a list of every step you need to take, and keep your steps small and actionable so that you can really do them. Put off “making the world safe for democracy” and instead organize your closet and open a savings account.
This is a big chunk of stuff, and maybe you’ll tell yourself “eh”, and stay put. Good! In that case, slowing down worked for you. But if you’re resolved to continue this path, then stay tuned for Part 2: