Where Logic Meets Love

Starting from Scratch

Friday, February 15, 2013

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Starting from Scratch | Faith Permeating Life

An interesting thing happens when you set up a clear vision for your life. You suddenly have an image against which to compare your current life. Like a Spot the Difference picture, the things that are wrong inevitably begin to jump out at you.

In my own Spot the Difference picture, there was one glaring blemish separating the two pictures, my life-as-it-is from my life-as-it-should-be. And that was my job.

I mentioned that the reason I'd chosen "Peace" as my word of the year initially was because of the anxiety, anger, and dread caused by my job being very, very different from what I thought it was going to be. But suddenly it wasn't just a small problem to be dealt with, but The Thing standing between me and peace. As I started looking for other jobs, it became clear just what a beating my self-esteem had taken in this job when I was having trouble coming up with good things to say about myself for my applications.

So yesterday, I quit. Just like that. Today's my last day of work.

Is it worth going into why? I try to avoid discussing work on here unless it's positive, thus the vast absence of references to my work in the past few months. But I know people are going to want answers, especially when I made this out to be OMG the best job ever and then didn't talk about it for months.

The short answer is that I was given very little work to do, and the work that I did do, most of the time one of my bosses would partially or completely redo it, either out of a need for control or the apparent ego boost of telling me all the ways my work was inferior. Not only was my work unappreciated (when it was acknowledged at all), but it was not even clear what purpose I served being there, if they had nothing for me to do and were just going to redo what I did anyway.

And as much as I tried to tell myself to be grateful for having a job and a paycheck at all, I couldn't deny that 1) I'd taken a pay cut to take this job because I thought it would be so great, and I knew I could find something better and better-paying, 2) all my happiness and self-esteem were being sucked away by this job, and 3) I wasn't able to do a lot of things I wanted to because most of my time was spent commuting, working, or sleeping. As I said in my love vs. money post, what's most important to me is how I spend my time, and I don't want to spend the vast majority of my time doing something I don't enjoy.

So I'm starting from scratch and asking myself what things I want to make room for in my life.

Sleep. Exercise. Prayer. Time with Mike. Choir.

These are what nourish me. And so I need to find a job that fits around these. Maybe something on campus, if I'm lucky. Maybe a telecommuting job. Maybe a part-time job. Something that doesn't require me to be gone 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. Even something I love doesn't necessarily deserve that much of my life.

And you can bet that I'm making phone calls to former employees of every place I apply to get an honest perspective on what it's like there. No way do I want to repeat this experience.

Boy, what is it with Lent and quitting jobs in our family? I guess God knows how to get our attention and remind us to trust.

I know this was the right decision, and I'm happier than I've been in a while. I'm looking forward to seeing what God has in store for my future.

Have you ever quit a job without having another one lined up? How did it feel?

20 comments:

  1. Good for you! On my way out, but will say more later. And I'm around alllll day if you ever want to bounce around ideas or are bored and want to chat :)

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  2. I really admire you for having the guts to quit like that. It's something I've often considered doing in my own job, but as I would have NO way to pay for rent, bills, etc. since I'm not married, it's really not a feasible option to do unless I have another job lined up. But seriously, I think it shows incredibly bravery to do that, so kudos there! I'll be praying that the right thing shows up for you soon. And you're right, you should never have to sacrifice the things that you care about the most for a job, ESPECIALLY if it isn't something that you absolutely love.

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    1. Thanks! I recognize I'm very fortunate that we're able to live on Mike's salary in his current job, and also that he has such good job security (it's to everyone's benefit that a hall director not leave mid-year!). We also have a solid emergency fund built up just in case, and could dip into our adoption savings if absolutely necessary. Recognizing how blessed I am, I've had to kind of get in this "eating all your dinner doesn't actually help starving kids" mentality, that just because not everyone is able to quit their job at a moment's notice, doesn't mean I shouldn't if I'm able to.

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    2. Whoa, I was trying to type something very similar to Jessica's reply but the iPad ate it. Anyway, not all couples can do this--be it one parent stays home and the other parent is sole provider, or one partner has a disability preventing them from working and the working partner carries the insurance. Additionally, I've known a few single people who worked jobs they hated, but made a plan to live as cheaply as possible, saving up all of their money until they had a set amount to live off of, then quit...then devoting that time to figuring out their next step in life.

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    3. I was going to say about the same thing Sarah did. Good luck! I'm trying to find a new job right now, but quitting my current one just isn't practical.

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  3. Not gonna lie... a little jealous of you right now. I'm in the process of figuring my life out at the moment. I think it's awesome that you quit and are filling your time with things you actually WANT to do. I think Lent is actually a good time for that sort of thing. Over and over again the last couple of days I've been having the idea of having a change of heart. God wanting us to change our hearts. Lent in a way is about getting rid of what brings us down and focusing on what is good. (Or having a change of heart.) So, yeah... in a way, quitting your job and Lent works.

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    1. One of the great things about living on a Catholic campus is lots of Lent-related activities! I picked up a campus "Lent calendar" the other night and want to try to participate in a lot of the Masses, prayer services, and other activities, since 1) I'll have the time and 2) I hope it will help me re-focus and figure out where I'm meant to be right now.

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  4. I think you're right to leave a place that is making you less able to pursue your calling. DOB has done that twice as the sole income. The first time was actually kind of similar to your story--in that he thought it was going to be a great chance to do the back-office stuff he was better at (financial industry) while the senior partner did the sales. Instead it turned out he was hired to be the punching bag/spy between two ex-friends who now hated each others' guts. The senior partner just plain didn't like to work, so DOB's small percentage kept trailing off, and when he got chewed out for "leaving abruptly" the day I was taken by ambulance for an emergency c-section, he decided to ask for a percentage that matched the work he did, or he'd quit. Senior partner refused and DOB quit--the week our second was born. He did manage, within a couple of months, to find the opportunity that he had thought that was, only this time with someone who would actually pay him AND appreciated his work. (So you are not the only one to complete misread a work situation. And it's a comfort to know he wasn't, either.)

    Then a few years later we decided we really wanted to move back to the west coast and pursue law practice--that meant a cross-country move, a bar exam for him and possibly me (I had an inactive license) and a complete change of industries. We considered different possible ways to stagger those, but finally decided to just take the plunge, sell as much as we could, move into my stepmother's basement, and make it work. It did, eventually, though it was definitely a high-cost and high-risk move. But it was the right move for us . . . we don't do things by halves.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing your stories. It is definitely a comfort to hear that I'm not the first to end up in a job that was way different than advertised, and that it's possible to learn from it and not have the same thing happen again. (Which is really my biggest fear right now -- I can justify leaving one job after a few months, but twice in a row and future employers will see it as something wrong with me.)

      Good for you for just taking the plunge to create the life you wanted. I do believe "fortune favors the bold"!

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  5. Sounds like you made the right move! I hope you find something wonderful for your next job...and get to do a lot of great non-work things in the meantime.

    I have never quit a job without having arranged another, but I was fired from a job that had been very much not as advertised, and by the time my two-week notice was up I understood what was really going on there and was grateful to get out of it! I had been hired to conduct developmental cognition research with children at elementary schools; since I did not own a car, my offer of employment stated that it was contingent on my purchasing a car. I wiped out my savings to buy the car. Then, on the day I started, they informed me I would be running a study on toddlers on the university campus--a mile from my house, on the bus line, so I didn't need the car!! The professor had two other research assistants running other studies, whom he hadn't mentioned in the interview although I had to share an office with them. He also hadn't mentioned that one of these RAs brought her dog to work every day; I am allergic to dogs, and the dog repeatedly distracted toddlers so that they did poorly in the experiment, but my complaints were seen as evidence of my lack of competence. They also considered me difficult and snobbish because I insisted on identifying research participants by numbers--as described in the consent letter parents signed--rather than by first name and last initial, as they'd always done in that lab! But the real problem, which I didn't know about until I'd already been notified of my dismissal and was in the final two weeks, was that one of the RAs had taken an instant dislike to me and had been emailing the professor daily torrents of exaggerations and outright lies about me since my second day on the job. I was lucky to get out of there!! but it still was scary to be jobless, with a dismissal for "insubordination" on record and a car to maintain.... I took a temp job where they loved me, and that good reference helped get me my current job, just 6 months after I was fired, so it all worked out.

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    1. Wow, that sounds like a terrible situation! Yikes! That would be a scary situation to be in, even if you knew it would have been terrible to stay. It's amazing to me that some places are able to stay in business, with the way they run things. On the research thing, that's also been one of my issues here; in order to keep money flowing in, they apparently take on any client, even if the program is a mess or doing a program evaluation doesn't make any sense. And one of my bosses, who doesn't have any background in survey design, tried to overhaul an entire survey I wrote to make every question a Likert scale, even though he couldn't explain why that made any sense when I challenged him and explained to him how it would make the analysis of results difficult or impossible.

      I'm glad it all worked out for you in the end, and I'm hoping the same will be true for me!

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    2. What?!?! You were given a two week notice when you were fired???? That's amazing. I was fired just after Thanksgiving and I was out within the hour. I don't know what I'd have done had I any notice that they were going to get rid of me. And I also have in scarlet "I" even though what I was being asked to do was absurd and not in any documentation, like oh, my JOB DESCRIPTION. All I was doing was asking for more information, an explanation...not being insubordinate. As my husband says, my old boss just didn't like that I had a brain and thoughts and didn't want any sort of refusal or problems with the workload. He wanted a "yessir" but did it in a super passive aggressive way.

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    3. Well, it was a fairly classy university job...and they wanted me to finish conducting and coding the study! It may also have been a compromise between the professor who was in charge of the lab (the one receiving all those complaints about me) and the doctoral student whose dissertation depended on my work (who thought I was doing an adequate job). It was the doctoral student who told me how the other RA was stabbing me in the back. I was astounded--she'd always seemed so nice--so I went in at night and looked in her Sent Messages folder, since I'd noticed she always left herself logged in. Her diatribes were worse even than I'd imagined. I thought about printing them and bringing a wrongful dismissal case. But I really didn't want to keep working there anymore!

      What I did do, just after my last day, was call the Institutional Review Board and leave an anonymous phone message describing confidentiality violations in that lab. It's unclear whether that had any direct result, but a year or so later, I saw another prof's RA on campus, and she told me the lab had kind of imploded due to mysterious (to her) grant problems coupled with the prof's extramarital affair. So I feel it all worked out there, as well as working out for me--the research study where I work now is quite scrupulous about confidentiality.

      Anyway, Jen, I can sympathize with being treated like you're defiant when you're only asking reasonable questions! I hope you find a great new job!

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  6. Would love to quit my job. I have actually had a different job every year since college graduation, however, and I feel like that looks really bad on a resume. But I get into it, find it isn't what I want, and leave. I feel like I need to stop quitting just because I don't necessarily like it because I worry about my chances of getting a job I really want with that kind of track record. But I couldn't quit right now if I wanted to anyway because my hubby is in school. I'm thinking about getting a functional resume professionally written, because I have worked many jobs, but in two main areas: social services and customer service. I think this would help my situation and take the emphasis off the actual dates worked. The hubby is applying to Ph.D. programs so we might be moving this year, which means I have to quit my job anyway!

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    1. Wow, it's interesting to me how many people want to quit their job. I wonder if that's something of a reflection of the way the hiring process works, where it's hard to tell from an interview or two whether a person and a company/position are going to be a good match. A course I took last year on job searching emphasized doing as much research as possible upfront, including talking to current and past employees of the company, not only to help you land the position but also to be sure ahead of time that it's what you want. That's something I didn't do enough of with this position I just left, but it's something I'm doing now and would definitely recommend to anyone.

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  7. If it helps you affirm your choices, I too quit my "awesome on paper, great opportunity, super high hopes for" job fairly shortly after getting it (uh, two months? Yikes).

    I had the security blanket of being able to go back to full time at the bartending gig with no problem, so the decision to quit was more of an inner, identity struggle than a "can we still pay rent" struggle. I worried that it would look bad on my resume (not aware I could, you know, just leave it off). I worried that the guy who recruited/hired me would hate me (my bosses were not my reason for leaving). I worried that if people knew I quit, they would think of me as, well, a quitter. I worried that my feelings of dread and my stress levels and my sheer hating of life was temporary and I was giving up too early. I, too, spent a fair amount of time angsting and suffering and second-guessing whether or not quitting was the right decision.

    It was. Best of luck to you in finding meaningful (if not gainful) employment.

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    1. High-five!

      Around the time I started thinking about quitting my job, it seemed like every article and podcast I encountered was pointing me toward quitting, including a Freakonomics podcast specifically talking about quitting and saying how quitting is usually the best choice. It sounds like you had a similar experience to mine, in that all the anxiety about quitting came beforehand -- as soon as I handed in my resignation, my anxiety went away and I knew I'd made the right choice.

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  8. Good luck! I hope quitting your job is an improvement in your life, and you can have that peace and time to spend on the things you love. :)

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    1. Thanks! Things are already looking good -- I met with the Provost (of the school where we live) this morning and he is very interested in hiring me to do what I did in Chicago, if he can find the funds to create a position. So that would be awesome :)

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