Ever daydreamed of strolling into the boss’s office and delivering those two little words? Have you rehearsed a breakup conversation with a romantic partner? Do you shake it off and decide, today’s not the day, only to find the desire creeping back in? Be it a job, a relationship, the never-ending novel Robinson Crusoe, considering quitting can be a overwhelming process.
For the last couple years I toiled over the prospect of quitting my full time job. My pros and cons list was at a stalemate yet I couldn’t shake a deep desire to flee. I spent months ruminating on the “what ifs,” “what abouts” and “yeah buts” of leaving. The tension between logic and emotion became physically and emotionally paralyzing. I was anxious, depressed, and my creative energy* and full presence with my family were held hostage. I’m not a personal fan of “just accepting” my fate, so something had to give.
Although my wife and therapist were invaluably supportive, two wise statements changed my fate. The first was from Michael Bird, an inspiring Native American leader and social and public health worker. He remarked, to an audience of nurses after the 2016 presidential election, “We are either motivated by love or by fear.” The succinct, powerful and timely words moved me. I immediately realized my decision-making process was largely fueled by fear. “I should do this.” and “I should do that.” stemmed from fear of how I thought others my judge my decisions. Though I was no stranger to “shoulding on myself,” this outlook was reinforced by a workplace culture arguably more driven by fear than love. The second statement by another inspiring leader was, “When you are working harder TO do your job than you are AT doing your job, it might be time to quit.” Yup, the scales had tipped.
My revelations revealed my pros and cons list was biased. Fear gave more weight to the cons. Money, benefits, autonomy, self-worth, quality of life, etc. were all-consuming fear-influenced thought-fodder distracting me from living and loving. Further, I realized I was putting in mad overtime trying to figure out if I could even do the job that I was already doing though not nearly as well as I could or should be doing it. The choice was clear…
So what did I do? Well, I set up a meeting with my boss and quit as soon as I mustered the courage. Was it scary? Hell yes! Did I have second thoughts? Up till the very last moment. Was it the right thing to do? Absolutely! Ridding myself of the burden of obsessive ambivalence was ransom for my creativity, personal wellbeing and presence with my family. Further, cutting the old ball and chain afforded me the energy and space to explore my true passions. With each day that passes I feel increasingly validated by my decision to choose love rather than fear and I think my family would agree.
* I attribute the impressive time span between blog posts to the involuntary captivity of my creative juices.