Travel in Time to Find out Whether You Should Quit Your Job
One method that will give you an instant answer to this burning question: “Should I resign?”
The Why Girl
Already on day one of my new job, the first serious position after graduation, I knew that I wasn’t going to like it. However, like many grads, I bit the bullet and explained to myself that I wasn’t going to be staying there for long.
It wasn’t so much that I was desperate for money; I was desperate for being employed and validating the fact that my parents had spent thousands of pounds (which, with their central European salary, felt like hundreds) on my higher education. I swear, had I stayed jobless one more week, looking at Facebook notifications reminding me of apparent successes of my ex-classmates and constantly being hit by the vibrating echo of silence from recruiters, I would have gone mad. I needed work and work came my way and I accepted it. For the time being.
Every single day was a struggle, like swimming against the current of the river.
Except, the time being stretched and stretched until it became two years: the longest two years of my life. Or rather, the longest nap of my life. Every single day was a struggle, like swimming against the current of the river. And, to be clear, I don’t mean the kind of heroic feeling you get when you rebel against social norms and follow your values despite criticism from the entire world.
I mean the feeling of treading through mud with the weight of awareness on your shoulders that your whole life is played by someone else’s rules in a game you never signed up for.
That’s how the beginning of my working life felt. Not how I had imagined it.
So why didn’t I leave right away? One of the reasons was because everyone wants you to be adaptable when you graduate. The more of a chameleon you can be, the more you are able to change your roles, tasks, teams and personalities — the better.
And there’s nothing wrong with being adaptable. It is a wonderful skill if paired with clarity of values and (at least) a vague awareness of your purpose. Otherwise, like me, you can start adapting to things you don’t agree with, accept routines that unbalance your life, tolerate behaviours you shouldn’t and simply accept the way things are despite knowing that something is very wrong.
How can you know that this ship called “Your Life” is slightly (or majorly) off course and will end up on a completely different island from the one you had dreamt of?
But how are you meant to know this when you’re in the thick of things trying to climb that career ladder? How can you know that this ship called “Your Life” is slightly (or majorly) off course and will end up on a completely different island from the one you had dreamt of?
There is one thing you can do: time travel.
I remember meeting John for the first time — a tired fifty-something project manager who looked like he needed a long holiday and a good health check up. He was travelling to the office an hour and a half one way, doing overtime most nights and seeing his family practically only on weekends.
I also met Anna, Franco, Rebecca and many more whose stories had the same common denominators: they were all chronically stressed, looked unhealthy and unexcited about life and they spent 80% of their time working. They also all told me the same thing “Don’t stay in this industry for too long, you don’t want to end up like this.” It felt surreal to hear these words from my colleagues, as if from heroin addicts warning me of the dangers of their drug. Every conversation like this shook me to the core. If I stayed, was I going to become like them?
I transported myself into the future and imagined myself at the age of 70 looking back at my life. What I saw terrified me.
One evening, when I was in the office after hours having cancelled plans with my friends, I started meditating on this question. I transported myself into the future and imagined myself at the age of 70 looking back at my life. What I saw terrified me.
I first saw my 24-year-old self trying really hard at this job which was not destined for me. I could clearly tell that my young self was longing for a different life but she was justifying why she couldn’t have it. Eventually, she gave up on her grand vision and decided to make the best of what was already there. So, in my imagination, to spice things up, I gave her an early promotion and an employee of the year title.
I also got her to innovate company systems and eventually made her the head of the department. I added a hefty salary, a stylish house in an elegant London suburb and I even allowed her to work flexibly and travel a lot (she loves travelling!) despite her responsible position. I tried hard to make this story as exciting as possible but…I couldn’t help myself feeling sad and regretful at how it turned out.
Because my old self could see right through this outer layer of success, all the way to the bottom of my young soul. It was there that I was hiding the bitter truth about this story: that I felt unhappy and that I had wasted my time to a cause that didn’t inspire me in the slightest.
All of a sudden, I felt with full force two emotions that normally are rather foreign to me: regret and envy. I was regretting that I had let fear design my life, and I was envying those who had chosen to take risks. It was because the story that I visualised, although a great one, simply didn’t belong to me. I didn’t want that kind of life and my older self had enough of a perspective and detachment to see that.
That visualisation made me realise that what I truly wanted was to be that person who follows her intuition and is capable of making difficult choices. I wanted to be like the people I admired and, as lofty as this sounds, I wanted to seek my purpose. I also understood that, in order to become that person, I needed to radically change things.
A few weeks later, I bought my flight ticket and later handed in my resignation letter not really knowing what I was going to do with my life but feeling convinced that I had made the right choice.
Not everything went great from then onwards and I needed to adjust the course of the ship a few more times. However, by trying to do what was right for me, I started building trust, confidence and joy for life. I started living — not a perfect life, but my life.
What I have learnt along the way is this:
1. Visualising your future can be a scary thing and it’s a very powerful tool. Use it.
2. You have all the answers. Sometimes you just need a different perspective to find them. Reach out to your older self whenever you feel stuck. They really are quite knowledgeable and can give you great advice.
3. Conversely, fear is rarely a good advisor, unless you’re running away from a tiger. If you’re delaying making an important decision (like changing your job) because you’re scared, ask yourself how you will feel about this situation 20 years from now. Will feeling scared matter in two decades? Possibly not. Will not pursuing that opportunity matter? Only you know.
Lastly, that very quiet voice at the back of your head telling you that something is off and you should look for another job (/relationship/house/hobby/anything else) is another tool you should use: your intuition.
In my experience, it is always worth listening to this whispering bastard. It is annoying at times but it knows what you should do because it has been programmed to guide you through your life — not someone else’s. And if there is the best way to live your life, it must be something to do with making it truly yours.
This article was originally published by The Why Girl on medium.
The Why Girl
Hopeless idealist who believes that we all can live our ultimate lives. Currently on a mission to design hers & sharing her journey on YouTube as The Why Girl: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGZY18kYHfOkMxg46tt8uIw?view_as=subscriber