Last week was one year anniversary of quitting my job. I would not really have noticed the date but only for a recent conversation with a fellow mom revolving around job after motherhood. And I noticed that it has already been a year since I quit! I have been bloody busy and hardly had any time these last few months to think or to take notice of the distance between me and my ex-job much.
But now, as I look back and try to remember that past life, there is not much remorse whatsoever, except perhaps the knowledge that I should have done this a couple of years earlier and saved myself some heartache! And all I can feel is an amazing sense of liberation.
Don’t get me wrong, I did not hate my job. In fact, I loved it and loved it a lot. Had there been a way to balance it with my motherhood, I would have done so and continued in the corporate world. But it just did not fit well with my changed circumstances. And so, from being an integral part of my identity, my IT job became dispensable.
And in becoming so, it imparted some valuable life lessons to me, which I am sharing with you in the hopes that it will help you take the plunge if you are sitting on the fence 🙂
So, here goes my list of 10 interesting life lessons I learned from quitting my job:
1. There is no right or wrong time:
If you are waiting for the stars to line up just right before calling it quits, all you are doing is procrastinating. There is never going to be a perfect moment to do it. You have to JUST DO IT, Nike style 😉
Before I quit my job, there were a thousand worries about it not being the right time. We had only recently bought a second house with a hefty mortgage and had a running car loan and a thousand such big and small worries about how it will all work out. Turns out quitting my job was not the end of the world for us. We learned to live and live well and in fact, thrive much better than before once I bid adieu to my job!
2. You are who you are:
One of the biggest worries for anyone quitting a job is the loss of identity. We are groomed from early on to define ourselves by our vocations, our educational qualifications etc.
“Who you are” is always seen as a synonym for “What you do”. But a job and a resume is only a tiny part of your life and is not the be-all and end-all of your existence. You are who you are. A sum total of all the things you were, you are and you ever will be, both tangible and abstract. Quitting a job definitely brings this identity crisis to the forefront and in time, resolves it for good.
3. Discipline and self-drive are paramount…always:
You may think that discipline and self-drive/motivation go out the window when you decide to quit your day job and stay home with the kids. But it is not true. Unless you want to be in a slump for the rest of your life, you will need to harness that inner drive, even more so, now that you are your own boss and there is no one to breathe down your neck to get the job done! Of course, being in PJs all day long and the casual work atmosphere is a perk 😉 but like before, you will need to stick to a schedule. The reason and the goals for quitting your job in the first place are still very much there and the purpose of your life is still incomplete, so must you continue to strive to fulfill them.
4. Starting over is strangely liberating:
It may seem like you have hit rock bottom when you quit your lucrative job, but surprisingly enough, starting over can be strangely liberating too. There are no preconceived notions of success, no benchmarks to surpass and no targets to meet. You set your own pace and goals. Just being creative and productive makes your day! Of course, over time, facts and figures do resurface, but by that time the fear of failure is gone (more or less) and starting over no longer seems like a big deal even if you have to do it over and over again.
5. Building something new takes time, tons of patience and plenty of missteps:
Starting over may be liberating, but building something new from ground zero takes time and tons of patience and is laden with loads of missteps on the way. If you are expecting that you will reach the level of success you had attained in your past life overnight, you are in for a disappointment. Your professional success was not built in a day. Likewise, it will take you time to establish yourself in your new life. The key is to be patient and forgive the mistakes on the way.
6. There will always be some bait to reel you back in:
That promotion which was only a couple of months away when you quit, that promised extended vacation time which is supposed to help you think straight, that part-time job which promises you the work-life balance you crave for (but which you know in your heart of hearts is too good to be true anyway!), the kid who seems to be growing up oh-so-fast……there will always be some bait to reel you back into the corporate world you left behind. The lure will always be there, but you have to take a long hard, honest look at your life and answer yourself whether the concerns that led you to quit in the first place are really over or whether they are just getting buried deep down under the plethora of promising offers. Only then can you decide on whether and when (if ever) you would want to go back.
7. There will always be a door left ajar to a new possibility:
It may not always seem like it, but there will always be some door left ajar for you to find towards a new possibility. End of one career is not the end of your life. If you look closely, you will always find the next best thing to do and perhaps, just perhaps, maybe it will end up being the best thing to happen to you! All you need is to keep trying all the doors to find that one door hiding in plain sight which leads you to be a better version of yourself.
8. Time, not money is today’s precious commodity:
We are programmed to measure success in terms of bank balance and other material things. But in today’s world, time, not money is the most precious commodity. When time is spent doing things you love, it is time well spent and it can never be deemed a waste. But if you are always running from one thing to the other and not have the time to smell the roses ever, then all that bank balance is not really going to make up for the lost time.
9. Amplifying the positive and silencing the negative is the key:
No matter what you do in life, some people will always criticize while others will always motivate you. Likewise, there will always be good things and there will always be bad things happening in your life. Stressful situations will always be there. Quitting a job is not going to end that cycle. The key is to keep amplifying the positive while toning down the negative. Staying away from negative people, reacting to bad news with an open mind and not sweating the small stuff is all there is to be happy, because if you really think about it, happiness is a very simple equation:
Happiness = Positive Events/Things/People – Negative Events/Things/People
And you are the one responsible for making the positives outweigh the negatives. So, yes, in the frenzied rush to “succeed” (whatever that means to you), don’t forget to live the small everyday moments.
10. Don’t forget your safety net:
It is all great to say JUST DO IT, but it does not mean do it without thinking and planning. Be it some savings stashed away for the rainy days or supportive spouse and family, just don’t forget your safety net. You cannot quit your job, no matter how unhappy it is making you without planning it properly. As tempting as it may be, jumping off the ledge without the safety net below or a parachute on your back is just daring fate to mess with you. Risks are worth taking only when they are calculated ones, all others are reckless endangerment. So, go ahead and quit, but only after you have thought it through!
Phew! There you have it….slightly preachy, sure, but definitely one hell of a list of life lessons I have experienced since quitting my job. So, here’s to all future quitters…don’t you worry, just check your safety net one last time and jump! What are you waiting for?