Today a friend told us that she had made a decision to quit her high-powered executive job and return to freelance work. Just making the decision gave her a new surge of life.
We have all been in such a place. Some of us quit and some don’t. And we all have those days when we say “I’m done with this job” but then choose to stay.
Years ago the NY Times did a series on people who for some reason or another resigned their job and moved on. One example was a very senior corporate attorney who resigned his position and moved from a major city to a small town in the country. There he opened a law office and worked an eight hour a day job that gave him ample time for the rest of his life. As a result he had time to go fishing with his son (something he had missed with his own father) as well as regaining his health and sanity.
When we find ourselves with the urge of wanting to quit what do we do?
We don’t quit
After the reality check of a cost/benefit analysis about our work we choose to stay. There are adjustments to one’s job like reaffirming our priorities that can make the job fulfilling once again.
Most people I know, including myself, love the work they do. It is deeply satisfying to make a difference in one’s organization, contribute to the common good, be at the table where innovative strategy is being formulated, and gratifying to be a part of development of the lives and careers of others. Such people say, “You mean they pay me to do this?”
Others don’t quit because they feel trapped by their circumstances.
There is a mortgage to pay, kids to put through college, and it is not easy to pull up roots and move elsewhere. Also short-term pressures do not trump the long-term gains of being part of an organization that can potentially make a big difference to our lives. Also it is not worth resigning over a boss we do not like. The option of winning him/her over or moving to another assignment may be a better course of action.
We do leave
There are a number of sound reasons why a person would move from their present job. These include,
- The pressures of the job are compromising our health. When a person is sleep deprived because of the chronic work crises their efficiency goes down, their lives are shortened, and families are compromised. When such stressors are out of our control leaving the situation may be our best option.
- There really is a glass ceiling. Some organizations really do not accommodate the ambitions of their employees. Women and minorities really do encounter a glass corporate ceiling. And no matter how much they “lean into” their power the political and cultural realities hold them back.
- There are actually better career opportunities elsewhere. We are often warned that the “grass is not greener in another field”. However, this is not necessarily true. I have coached many senior leaders who have found better opportunities elsewhere. Even after they were downsized.
- There is a whole different life calling us. Two people I know had an epiphany one day as they reflected on the downside of their high-pressure job in the high tech industry. They asked themselves, “Why are we living this way?” The action they took resulted in paradigm shift on how they lived their lives. They cashed in their investments and began a spiritual journey that took them all around the world. This action gave them new opportunities to use their gifts and serve others.
Where are you on this quit/stay question?
How can a radical change bring you new opportunities?
What has your journey been and how have the risks you have taken enriched your life?
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