It was 11:30 AM on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. I was sitting in my usual lunch spot; perched by the wall of windows overlooking the expansive sculpture garden a few blocks away.
My mind was moving 10,000 miles per minute, as were my feet in a nervous patter against the table pole. I didn’t want to be here. I never wanted to be here.
Opening my laptop I began to type, “Quitting your job without a backup plan.”
To my surprise, 27,500,000 results came up—the majority of them positive. Each woven with narratives describing the perks of freeing yourself from the grips of a toxic work environment and finally aligning your energy output with your authentic self.
Sounds great. But what happens when you find yourself taking the leap, but instead of gracefully landing into your “next big thing,” you plunge swiftly and deeply into a dark hole where paychecks and benefits don’t exist?
Those thoughts radiated through my head and pulsated violently through my veins, causing me to physically shake. Or maybe it was the 3 cups of caffeine? Not sure.
Either way, I was shaking. And sweating. Oh, the sweat was the worst part; pooling behind my knees and making my feet slip around inside my flats.
I was nervous. Because I knew—for the first time in the 10 months I had been consistently pondering quitting my job—that I was going to do it: sans plan.
Why I couldn’t stay: If your energy output isn’t aligning with your values—walk away.
I worked for a Fortune 500 company in the asset management landscape. I collaborated with incredibly intelligent thought leaders and learned terms I didn’t even know I didn’t know.
My co-workers were angels disguised as everyday humans. That sounds silly, and I know everyone always says, “I love the people I work with!” But I’m serious, without my co-workers keeping me sane by agreeing to daily coffee runs and far-too-long kitchenette blab sessions, I would’ve lost my marbles far earlier.
The people weren’t the problem. The tasks weren’t either. I created marketing collateral for sales and helped shape our investment story through thought pieces. In much less pretty terms: I made PDFs and webpages, and spent way too much time corresponding with compliance.
The problem was two-fold.
One: The leadership’s vision was that of a mountain, with the peak being a sharp point made up entirely of success—money and power. Us lower-level employees (anyone not in their tight circle of bffs) were merely stepping stones used in reaching the top. And if upon stepping on certain stones a landslide were to occur, sending said stones tumbling down the mountain, it didn’t matter—the peak didn’t change.
Relationships were of least importance. And that bothered me, a lot. I build my life around relationships. I believe that without strong, sturdy relationships, life is cold and lonely. Which is a lot how that office felt.
What good is success if you’ve burned all your bridges along the way? It’s lonely at the top when you’re the only one up there.
Two: I wasn’t living out my “why.”
My “why” was boldly pasted to my computer screen, etched in black pen atop a bright orange sticky note. Impossible to miss. Every morning when I sat at my desk, before I even flipped on my computer, I read my “why.”
It read, “To help others reach their full potentials and feel strong, healthy, and beautiful. To explore the world, meeting as many people and seeing as many places as I can. To continuously learn, grow, and challenge myself, having fun along the way. To leave each space I enter better and brighter.”
Each time I read this vibrant orange sticky I was instantly hit with the same thought: You aren’t doing any of this.
To be continued…