Last week, I did something I never thought I’d do. I quit my job.
Let me explain why.
To say that my job didn’t contribute to my mental health issues would be a lie. Why? Because for the last 10 years, I have seen nothing but some of the worst humanity has to offer. After a while, it starts to take its toll on you. Not only that, I started to realize I could no longer function in such a rigid environment as a government job demands. It’s just not for me, and it was starting to bleed over into other parts of my life. Which really is not good.
So, despite the fact that not every aspect of the job was horrible, I did what I needed to do and let it go.
Before I made the decision, I analyzed every single possible consequence. After waffling back and forth for weeks, engaging in ridiculously long conversations with my husband and therapist, and staying awake many nights stressing about whether or not this was the right thing to do, I came to 4 conclusions that led to my decision. These conclusions solidified that I was making the right choice, and I bit the bullet and resigned my position.
I’ll admit that everyone has a different thought process and what I used to make my decision might not be what someone else would use. But it worked for me, and I thought I’d let you in on what goes through my head in times of big, life altering decisions. These were my guiding principles:
This where I was most stressed. After years of paying down debt, my husband and I were finally in a position to start catching up, getting ahead, and having a bit of fun with our money. Losing my salary would mean going back to living on a tight budget, watching our frivolous expenditures, and perhaps putting off or readjusting our goals for certain things (like buying a new house). But there were two elements we were overlooking: we had enough to meet all of our necessities just with his salary and in the long run, happiness means more than money (provided our basic needs were met). Yes, it’s going to be a tough adjustment but one that we were both willing to make. It helps that I have a stable part time job that will fill in a lot of the gaps.
We also realized, probably for the first time, just what having no consumer debt means. It means options. And options? Are nice.
I’m not really one who cares what strangers think of me and my choices. However, I do care deeply about what my family and friends think. It’s not so much that I want them to agree with me; I just want them to support me, even if they believe what I’m doing is horribly stupid. In this respect, I am so fortunate. I have an amazing support system. Everyone I talked to encouraged me to do what I thought was best for me and my family, and many of them even believe I have the ability to make a living doing what I want to do (and have wanted to do my entire life). I would not have had the courage to go through with leaving my nice, secure job if I didn’t have a virtual army of friends and family in my corner. These are the people I know I can cry to, brag to, and lay out all of my rampant insecurities and they’ll be there, picking me up, cheering for me, and celebrating along with me.
This is just as important as having your finances in order.
Short and long term goals
I couldn’t start this new part of my life without any goals. I didn’t want to spend the next few years floundering about, trying to figure out what to do next. Fortunately, I left my job with a purpose. And that purpose is to try to make a living as…a writer. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, and in order to make it happen, I had to set both short and long term goals. So I did that. I mapped out exactly what I want to see happen in the next month, six months, year, and three years. Not only that, but I have been conducting painstaking research on getting a book published (you know, since I’m writing a book), setting metrics goals for DMS, establishing a writing schedule, and pretty much organizing myself as much as possible so that I can begin working on my goals.
Goals are crucial to me. They give me a something to work towards and since I hate failing, they push me to work even harder. That is not to say my goals are set in stone. They evolve as I evolve and sometimes, I even change my mind. But I always have goals.
In my 35 years, there are only a handful of choices that I regret. And while I try not to focus on that regret and instead try to focus on what I’ve gained by not making those choices, I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like if I had made those other choices (kind of like the whole Sliding Doors concept). I didn’t want a career as a writer to fall into the “what if” category. I need to know if I can do it. And if I can’t, and it needs to remain a hobby, at least I know. But at least I can say that I tried. And I’d rather have tried and failed than spend the rest of my life regretting that I never bothered to try.
I’m terrified of this next phase of my life. Like really, really terrified. I’m not good at self-promotion and I get writer’s block. I’m scared that we’re not going to be able to pay our bills. I’m petrified that I’ll never find a job or make a dime as a writer. I have insomnia from worrying that people hate my writing and will never want to read a word I write, which really makes this whole venture pretty futile. But I know that my fears are normal (well, most of them). I know, and hope, that they’re temporary. It’s never easy doing what you feel called to do and trying to live the life you believe you’re meant to instead of the life you’re told is the right one.
But I’ve never been good at being normal. Why start now?