Quitting a job is a lot like vomiting.
You are innocently going about your business as usual when suddenly, you start to feel nauseous and the bile starts to build.
There is no outcome from this scenario that seems like a good one.
If you give in to the demonic gurgling noises emanating from your gut, it will taste like a shit that took a U-turn, your eyes will probably turn red and feel as though they are going to pop out of your skull from heaving chunks of lunch out of your nose like one of those 90’s play dough toys.
But at least you won’t feel sick anymore.
Like a man on his deathbed, you bargain liberally with any deity that will listen – God, Buddha, Satan and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, begging for a way to avoid being sick and also reaching a resolve to never again cook falafel yourself.
Defeated, you make your way to the bathroom and kneel before the porcelain throne, like a condemned medieval prisoner before a guillotine, surrendering to the awful fate that awaits you.
It’s the same with working a job that you know that you need to quit. It makes you feel like shit, you know what you need to do about it, regardless of how creative your excuses are for avoiding the solution, and you always feel better after you take the action that you need to.
Sure, I could have picked a less graphic analogy, but where’s the fun in that? Also I wouldn’t have a segue to tell you about what I did recently.
Yes, I tried to cook falafel, and I don’t recommend it. At least, not how I made it.
The other thing I did was finally quit my job.
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As someone once said, a man always has two reasons for doing something – a good reason and a real reason.
My good reason (which I put in my resignation letter) was something about returning to study so that I could further my education in my field. And that is a very good reason – it’s fully truthful as well. After all, this is TruthInjected.
What I didn’t say is that my good reason was my backstop – my absolute last resort in case I ever needed to return to an office.
So, what was my real reason for quitting my job?
Well, there were 4 main points that I could identify that led me to sending that email that had been sitting in my drafts for way too long, so I have conveniently condensed them into an article, in case you would also would prefer to fellate a cactus and then gargle vinegar than remain at your current job.
You have better shit to be doing
Let’s face it. If you are reading this article, chances are that you are not fully satisfied in your current job.
These hands were meant for more than typing meaningless memos. These ears were meant for more than the monotonous drivel of corporate conference calls. These eyes were meant for looking at more than a computer screen that is less than a metre from your face. And every day where you are doing these things, you feel yourself become dulled – like a lion pulled from the Serengeti and locked in a circus cage. Yes, I am now borrowing quotes from corny action movies.
Follow me for a moment to a fantasy world where you could choose to do anything in the world that you want to do, and as long as you are adding value to the lives of others, you will earn a living.
Sounds great, right?
The good news is that if you live in a Western country, chances are, you can already do that. Thanks capitalism!
There is a near infinite number of ways that you can add value to the lives of others, which will play to your strengths and hopefully also be something that you enjoy doing. In fact, I’ve even written an article about it.
[RELATED: How to Make Money Without a Boss]
Your co-workers vomit on you, and you vomit on your co-workers
More vomit talk, I know. But this time, I’m talking about verbal vomit (although if there is literal workplace vomiting going on, I’d probably call that a red flag too).
We have all worked with that one dude who just won’t stop complaining about everything and everyone in the office. If you can’t think of any at your current job, then there either isn’t one (and you are very fortunate) or, like not being able to pick the sucker at a poker table, it’s you.
Some workplaces don’t just have one or two of these wallowing, whiney saps – I have worked at places where it is the culture. If you don’t vocally oppose everything at the company to your co-workers and quietly proclaim over the water cooler your contempt for everyone who works there, you are persona non grata. We can’t have happy people working in this dysfunctional cesspit after all!
Now, I enjoy a good sounding off about my job and co-workers as much as anyone. Hell, I’m writing this article. I think it is healthy – even better if I can sound off to the object of my frustration. That’s what I would consider normal dynamics of a workplace – people or circumstances throw a turd in your punchbowl, and so you vent and move on.
But if you find yourself at the staff room table surrounded by miserable, sleep-deprived faces that are worn with the scars and lines of long-forgotten aspirations who can’t talk about anything except how shitty their co-workers are and are expecting a reciprocal story of victimhood from you, it may be time to begin “pursuing excellence elsewhere”, as the HR gurus so eloquently put it.
You become the average of the 5 people who you most associate with, so unless you also dream of being as miserable as them at some point in the future, it’s time to dust off your resume.
You are overworked, undervalued, and all of the “good people” are bailing
When a ship starts to sink, they say that the rats are the first ones to the jump ship. That may be true, I don’t know. I’m not a damn sailor.
But when companies start to circle the drain, those who caused the crisis are the first to the lifeboats. I’ve seen that first-hand, but these human wrecking balls are definitely not the “good people” that I am referring to.
The good people are the next in line. After all, they have marketable skills – why would they walk the plank on a sinking ship when there are plenty of other crews who want to hire them and are actually digging for buried treasure, rather than constantly trying to keep the waves from swallowing them?
If I was a pirate, I know I’d prefer the former.
The same happened to me at a past job. One really talented dude left out of the blue, and then 4 other really good people left. The first guy’s departure was a red flag to the rest of the team, and then when the next guy quit, it became a scramble for the lifeboats.
People who weren’t qualified for the roles were hired, and they often had personalities that were described as a “great culture fit” by the managers who had created the environment that had made the first competent guy leave. That is, if they replaced leaving people at all, rather than whipping the remaining crew to row harder.
You can see where this is going.
Within months, the team of eight was down to five – buried in backlog and getting yelled at to suck it up. Two of the team were brand-new hires, who had to be trained by the already over-worked team in order to be able to contribute anything.
The transformation was astonishing. A team that at one time had all worked in harmony together like a well-oiled machine was a smouldering train-wreck within months.
Yes, management blamed the remaining people. No way were the tie-wearing bureaucrats taking the fall for this one!
And so, even the most optimistic of sailors had to board the lifeboat and watch the once-majestic paradigm slip beneath the waves.
You have no more fucks to give
There was a major project that I was assigned to shortly before I threw in the towel, and to be honest, I could hardly tell you what it was about. It was like I was stoned for my final weeks (I wasn’t).
I was introduced to the project team and given a brief handover from my colleague who was transitioning off it for no reason anyone could explain, and I read through piles of documents about the project.
None of it stuck.
I didn’t understand the approach, the timelines seemed to move without reason, and none of the project team names or faces stuck in my memory – they were all blurry strangers to me.
I was like a child in a room full of adults trying to understand what the grown-ups were talking about.
To be clear, it wasn’t an issue of competence. I have worked on dozens of projects just like this one in my career – I even won a bunch of meaningless corporate awards for being a good little drone. I couldn’t figure out why my brain rejected everything related to my job at this particular moment.
I thought maybe I had suffered a stroke or passed into an awful parallel dimension where I was a simpleton, doomed to become a cyclist and watch BuzzFeed videos on a loop with drool running from the corners of my mouth, until I realized the reason.
There comes a point where your brain just refuses to work on meaningless shit anymore. You talk about doing something else, you have dreams and aspirations to work on something more meaningful and fulfilling, and your brain will give you its own form of notice period to start doing it.
If you don’t take it, your brain just stop showing up, which is what happened to me.
I had a mountain of a notice period that I had to work. By day two, I gave strong consideration to the idea of lobbing my company phone and laptop in the dumpster and just never returning any calls.
But I slogged it out until my final week, dragging an unwilling brain along for the ride, nodding and saying things like “my thoughts exactly!” in project meetings. I kept this charade up until the final week before I was due to finish. I had already worked 7 days in a row with 3 to go, and that was when I noticed another warning light on my dashboard.
To my alarm, my reservoir of fucks to give had run dry.
Suddenly, I didn’t care if the project was good or not. I didn’t care if I got a reference from my boss, or if my departure made things temporarily inconvenient for them. My brain had already rounded up its cohort of fucks to give, cleared security, and moved to the departure lounge where the final boarding call was sounding for the first flight out of Shitville.
It was liberating and awe-inspiring – like a glimpse into Nirvana itself.
And yes, without any fucks holding me back, I did give my boss a candid insight into this list (albeit with the vomit metaphor omitted).
If the above red flags resonate with you, I encourage you to do the same. Life’s too short to be stuck between stations. Maybe it won’t be today, tomorrow, or next week, but make an exit plan and stick to it.
Before your brain and your fucks forsake you for good.