Quit Your Job Save Your Life
Quitting your job can save your life and not just in the physical sense. That statement may sound like hyperbole if you have never endured a job so soul-wrenching that you dreaded waking up every day. I am not saying jobs are bad but if you are not performing work that you enjoy and serves a purpose you find important, then what are you doing, If you love your job, congratulations. You have found what many of us are looking for a life that not only contributes to something we care about but serves a greater purpose. If you don’t find any meaning in your work, you definitely need saving.
When to Quit Your Job
Some people need to quit their job today. If your work environment is so toxic that you are suffering from physical or psychological health issues you need to consider the consequences. A health scare was my wake call. I started having these bad headaches and eventually landed in an urgent care facility, my blood pressure through the roof. I had a well paying but stressful job in the financial sector. The environment was very competitive and so was my approach. I was working 12 to 14 hour days and going in on Saturdays just to get a leg up on my colleagues. The relentless pace took a toll.
I enjoyed working in banking, it aligned with my interest and my education, what was the problem? The environment did not support any sort of work/life balance. The management philosophy was to operate like a financial factory. I had blinders on and went full speed ahead. When I would look up from my cubical and notice a colleague had been out a few days and would later find out they would be out a few months on medical leave. I didn’t realize at the time most of the medical leaves were stress related. They just couldn’t handle it, I thought. Once every 6 months, there would either be mass resignations or mass firings of “low performers.”
What Is Job Stress?
The Center for Disease Control provides the following definition, “Job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury.”
So there I was in the urgent care triage room, the medical staff had stated that I probably would need to get admitted to the hospital for observation and medical intervention to get my blood pressure normalize. I had a decision to make. The money or your life. I was miserable with my job despite the financial rewards, I felt like I was trading my life for a paycheck. The chart below is from www.Stress.org. Work is a major contributor to stress and health-related stress issues. Please see your medical doctor or other healthcare professional as soon as you see any symptoms.
When to Quit Your Job
I couldn’t just quit immediately, I had entrapped myself with “rewards” for my hard work. Prior to this job, I had earned a decent living. I made twice the annual income in banking as I did as a teacher or marketing. I had to change my finances and values. It was almost 2 1/2 years later when I was able to quit. I had to unwind, I traded the luxury car and paid down my debts and started saving more aggressively. I refinanced the mortgage switch cable providers and started eating at home more often. You may be able or need to act more quickly.
Job Security?…LOL 🙂
There is job security in certain sectors like healthcare, science and information technology. But for most of us….No. In March 2017 of my last year working as an analyst, my employer announced layoffs. We had about 450 people in our division. Everyone was worried, we had seen the declining volume in our workload for a few months. The lady beside me was crying…”Mary” what’s wrong? “I can’t afford to get laid off, I just got my new Subaru. I don’t know what I am going to do if I get laid off.” That day half of our division was laid off. There was the “promise” that some of the people laid off would be eligible for other jobs in the company. That didn’t materialize for most of the people laid off that day.
“Mary” and I escaped the layoff that day. We were top performers on the top performing team. The remaining employees received the work of our laid-off colleagues. A meeting was called, of course, the kind of meeting where they go through the reasons the layoffs occurred. They just wanted to take the time to “reassure” the remaining employees “you have nothing to work about.” What happened two months later…more layoffs.
“Mary” was crying again. Management had lied. They needed to keep morale up to work through the remaining pipeline of loans. If they had been honest, the remaining people would have been looking for other jobs. Beyond the politically correct lip service, most employers don’t care about their employees. It’s about the bottom line. A lot of people from the prior layoff were still out of work. Now, there is even more competition for the jobs in our sector.
Something About Mary
Mary and I survived that layoff and was moved to another project that promised to be stable. Shortly after being assigned to the new project, Mary went out on medical leave for 6 weeks over the Summer. Mary was exhausted mentally and beaten down. She had lost a previous job and really struggled financially. That scared her. She often talked the good health insurance coverage. Mary didn’t want much, she wanted the security of a good paying job. She worked hard. That’s not enough anymore. Work yourself to death and they will just bring in the next person.
Mary returned to work late July. She looked refreshed. The time off had done her well. Her energy lasted for a few weeks. Mary was scared because of what she had been through previously. She wanted to close her eyes and hope, hide behind her hard work. Hope and hard work are not enough. I turned in my resignation notice in early August. I am grateful, I was able to leave on my own terms.
Horrible Bosses and Others
I am surprised at how cruelly people treat each other. I know that’s naive. We have all had the boss who barely knew anything about our tasks and challenges. Worse, they knew even less about their own job. Maybe they had an MBA from some business school, or more likely just knew the right person. I think any good company should only employee managers who have had actual experience performing the work. It would improve the employee/ manager dynamic. When I had positions supervising or managing the work of others, it was always important for me to collaborate and get feedback. It has been my experience, that management struggles to understand how negatively they impact production from both a technical and employee morale standpoint. All you need to know these days to be in management is to be able to pull reports in Excel. Seriously, master Excel and there is management position for you somewhere. No people skills required.
If you are dealing with workplace bullies, sexist or racist behavior, document the incidents and report them to the appropriate parties. It may be necessary to obtain legal advice. Unfortunately, workplace discrimination is rampant. You may not even notice that you are being paid less than your counterparts despite having the same or superior credentials. It’s in the data, read the 2016 report about the racial income gap by the Economic Policy Institute here.
The graph below from AAUW. Org indicates the gender pay gap will close in about a 100 years if the 2001-16 trend continues.
Coping with Stress on the Job
If you aren’t able to quit at this moment, you have to begin taking steps to manage the stress. The first step for me was physical exercise. I started getting up from my desk and taking 15-minute walks in the morning and afternoon. I would literally sit at my desk all day only getting up to go to the bathroom and the occasional lunch. I started going to lunch and eating better. Most importantly, I started going home at a decent time. Getting the proper rest is very important. I would still go in on most Saturdays but that was to prepare for the upcoming week and to get some uninterrupted time to focus. Developing a plan to pursue what’s important to you will relieve stress. The job will transform from an albatross that is weighing you down to a springboard propelling you forward. Set a date for your exit and stick to it. You can find more tips to manage stress on the American Psychological Association website.
Your life…Please Save it
What are you going to do? What do you want to do? Fear…I understand bills and other responsibilities. You need to develop a plan even if that plan is to find another job with a better environment. The answer for me was pursuing my goal of starting a business. I documented my steps in this post. For someone else, it might mean going back to school to learn skills needed to start a new career. Guess what, there is no guarantee that our plans are going to work out. The joy is in the trip in the process, in taking action. We are all headed to the same place eventually. What road do you want to take? The one you choose or the one chosen for you. My only advice is to take one of your own choosing. You don’t need validation or approval. Just do it.
I heard from Mary recently. She was starting her new job and was really excited. She finally had the courage to leave. There was just a handful of people left on our former team, she reported. As for me, I am feeling a thousand times better and living life on my terms. I get to put my 7-year-old on the bus every day and pursue getting my business off the ground. Nothing worth having is every easy, but when you working hard towards your best version of your life, that is all one can ask for.
Jef Scot provides website design & hosting, and marketing services to small businesses. Solutions that don’t compromise. Please contact me at info@Jefscot.com to obtain a quote or to just say hello.