I quit

August 15, 2016

I quit my job.

This was not an easy decision to make. My job was in a comfortable office, my co-workers were nice enough and of course, I enjoyed earning money.

But I hadn’t been happy at work for a long time. I was tired of hearing myself complain. I’ll bet that everyone else was tired of my complaining too. I just did not like my job. The work was not hard, only tedious.

The truth is it was time to go. I’d lost all interest in my job. And my lack of engagement was evident. I was late almost daily; my work ethic was dying a slow death.

But I was resistant to making the change.

Until now.

I was in despair. I was tortured with negative thoughts daily. Sometimes I thought maybe this is the best I can do for myself career wise? Maybe I should accept that I don’t get to be happy at work. Somehow I realized that it was me telling myself these things, and I managed to find a small amount of optimism deep inside, and I made my exit.

So here I am in “no man’s land” hanging between the period between ending and beginning.

I am here by choice this time, but I have been here before by accident.

If, like me, you are here by choice, use this time to get clear on what you want. If you are here by circumstance, this time can still be productive and beneficial to your future self.

No matter how you got here, this can be a dangerous time. No one is monitoring you. You will not have to set an early alarm anymore.

No one will tell you not to do things.

Having all this freedom is terrifying. I got my wish to have my time back and am now responsible for my days, and I am afraid that I will not use my time efficiently, and I will find myself in the exact same situation at my next job.

Summer is the best time of year to be free from a job. I’m excited about the opportunity to enjoy it. And although I am planning on having fun I know that I cannot party nonstop.

So I have some rules. I know rules don’t sound fun, but these rules are more like a firm pat on the back from a best friend and less like authoritative rules that you can’t control. Now that you have the time you can reflect on what steps to take to create a life that is more like what you imagine. Here is how I am staying focused while giving myself the freedom to do some soul searching.

1. Revisit your new year’s resolutions.

Remember those goals you set for 2016 back in January? I know you wrote them down. When I made my new year’s resolutions earlier this year, I wrote them down, and I chose a word for the year. Now that I have my time back, I am going to take some time to review my new year’s resolutions. Given the way my situation has changed, it’s time to establish some new goals. As of today, there are 140 days until January 1, 2017. So there is still enough time to revise and tackle your goals for 2016.

2. Establish a routine.

One of the best things about consistent work is having a routine. But that can also be the worst thing if you are preoccupied with all the things you could be doing if work didn’t take up such a huge chunk of your day. Now that we have all our time to ourselves, we can do things like daily sun salutations. This could be an excellent time to establish a meditation practice. Or we can get into the habit of cooking a decent dinner daily. A great use of all this free time would be to create routines we enjoy or embark on a personal challenge that might be harder to achieve if we didn’t have this much free time.

3. Now is not the time to party too much or worry too much.

Just because we are no longer working, it doesn’t mean that it’s after work all day every day! You know what I’m saying. You’re reading this, so you are probably a little bit like me. So that means you have something fun and festive that you like to do when you get home after work. Maybe you are in the middle of a Game of Thrones marathon, and you let yourself watch one (or four) episodes every night after work. Or I don’t know; maybe you like to watch loads of reality television. Maybe after work you just like to drink wine. Whatever it is, you will probably feel like you are allowed to do it all day, and technically you can, but it wouldn’t be the best idea. Not only would it prevent you from following rule number 2, but you will feel terrible after a day or two. Negative feelings about how you are spending your time will just lead to worrying. When we are in a negative frame of mind, it’s more of a challenge to do the things that we need to prevent this from happening again.

The real point of these rules is that this free time between the old job and the new job is not the time to develop bad habits. This is a time when you can take steps toward creating the lifestyle you actually want.

If you’re not in this place on purpose, reach out to your personal network and let them know you’re job hunting. Update your resume and highlight what you learned and accomplished in your last position. Figure out how you will answer the question “Why did you leave your last job?” Start taking action to create possibilities for yourself.

If you are here by choice like me, you probably left a job that was wrong for you and you’ve been preparing for this moment.

So plan your next move. Spend your time figuring out what sort of work will stimulate and fulfill you. Think about what kind of contribution you want to make to the world.

No matter how you’ve ended up here, being between jobs can be just the push you need to find out what you really want.

Have you ever been in this situation? What rules and goals did you set for yourself?  What challenges did you face? Leave a comment and let me know.

Ilea Eckhardt

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