I left my job 100 days ago. If I were President, we'd be talking about what I'd accomplished so far.
I know a lot of people who are thinking about leaving their jobs. A funny thing happens when you quit: people come out of the woodwork and tell you, in hushed tones, that they're unhappy, too. Then there's a certain understanding that passes between us: I get it, I've been there. Sometimes they want a you-can-quit! pep talk. Sometimes they just want to say the words out loud for the first time: I think I might be unhappy at work? The question mark lingering in the way it does when you both know, once the words hit the air, that it really isn't really a question at all.
I've reflected on my first 100 days a lot during the last few weeks and thought, that if I were doing it again, there are a few things I wish I'd known. So to all of you who are debating, vacillating, wondering daily if you should make the jump, this one's for you.
Five Things You Should Know Before You Quit Your Job:
1. Even if you don't love your job, you will grieve elements of it.
By the end, I didn't love my job. I didn't hate it, either. I just knew I wanted to do something else. But, I found myself grieving what my job once was. I found myself reminiscing on the good old days, when I would proclaim: I might stay here for my whole life! Those days haunted me and made me question my decision, wondering if I could have somehow gotten that feeling back.
I also grieved my coworkers, routine and paycheck. And silly things, like office supplies. Gone are the days of unlimited computer paper and pens, my friends.
2. Your worth is not in your work.
I'm going to say it again because this is a tough one: your worth is not in your work. I would have told you, before I quit, that I wasn't getting worth from my work. I was wrong. It's nearly impossible not to when you're spending the majority of your week grinding, achieving and managing a constantly reverberating inbox.
When I'd get home at the end of the day, I typically would have gone to the gym, commuted to work, worked all day and commuted (45 minutes!) home. Then, I'd walk in the door and immediately make preparations to do it again the next day: unpack gym bag, pack gym bag. Unpack lunch box, pack lunch box.
By the time I'd sit down for dinner, I'd feel like I could run the world after accomplishing so much. I cannot imagine how a working mom must feel: like she's barely getting by and, yet, could do anything!
My routine laid years of groundwork that allowed me to believe I had earned my worth by the end of the day. It took time to undo this way of thinking. During the early days, I had to constantly remind myself that, even if I'm not as busy, I am still enough. Even if I don't get as much done in a day, I still deserve dinner, for food need not be earned. Even if I'm not grinding as hard, I still deserve good rest, as rest is a basic human need. We don't have to earn our keep.
3. It takes time to create a new routine.
I've heard a lot of new moms say they struggle on maternity leave. They've said they feel awkward being at home while their coworkers are grinding. They don't know what to do with the limitless day that lacks their usual structure. Many women have told me that they don't really get in to their groove until the end, then it's time to go back to work.
It's funny because, as I hit my own 12-week mark, I noticed I finally felt like I was in the right rhythm. I'd had moments throughout the earlier days where I'd felt like I was in a groove, but it was typically fleeting. The six-week marker felt more routine than the four, and the nine more certain than the seven. But, then I'd relapse and yearn for more structure. These days, I'm in my groove, but it took time. Give yourself grace and time to figure out how you want to structure you day.
4. Sit in the discomfort.
Be still with it. Reflect on it. Think about it. What does it tell you? Perhaps that wine used to taste better when you felt like it had been hard earned. Or, perhaps, the TV show isn't quite as relaxing when you don't feel like you worked for it. Listen to these feelings. They mean something. For me, they told me I still felt like I was hustling for my worth. I had to remind myself that I still deserved life's little pleasures, even if I didn't spend the day hustling for them.
5. You're going to get busy again.
You're quitting your job for a reason. That reason will evolve. It will grow. And, before you know it, you're going to be busy again, wondering why you didn't relax when you had the time. Enjoy the calm before the storm.
Even on the hard days - the lonely ones, when I feel like I'm floundering and am confused - I haven't looked back. I have to constantly remind myself to seek not a life of comfort and ease, but one of fulfillment and passion. Will it be easy? Nope. Will it be worth it? From where I'm sitting, it sure seems like it.