Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On leaving a job you no longer like

All of us who have held jobs outside the home have at one time or another had doubts about that job. When you first begin a job, I think it is normal to have a can-I-do-this flutter of nerves. If you are starting with a new company, maybe you wonder who among the people you see inhabiting the cubicles around you will become your friends and who will remain just co-workers or even (unfortunately) your enemies. It's an important question considering you may be spending 8+ hours a day with them. But the most important consideration of all, is your future boss.  Will you like her, respect her, envy her, despise her, pity her? Will her attitude toward you and her management style not be an issue or will they begin to grate on your nerves until you want to find a good place for a primal scream?  I suppose most of you reading this and certainly those of you who really know me, can see where this is going.  But before you roll your eyes at what could digress into a rant, I have a story to tell you. A fable, if you will, about listening to your doubts as you interview for a new job.

Once Upon a Time, 15 years ago in the Land of Washington State, a woman replied to an online advertisement for a job that sounded like it was right up her alley. (Now days people say "in your wheelhouse" but I have never cared for that saying although I am not sure why.) She wasn't looking for a new job, she had one that, while not perfect, was pretty good.  But she saw the online ad and emailed her resume to the potential employer, then was pleased when she got a call setting up an interview.  Ok, I am going to stop saying "she" and admit that the story is about me. (Surprising, I know!) I drove over an hour to the interview, understanding that I would have to move when I took the job.  It never occurred to me that I wouldn't be offered the job. I had almost 10 years of experience in the field and was supremely confident of my ability to solicit the job offer. The interview went as they are wont to go, the prospective boss asking pertinent and sometimes obscure questions, while I answered in a reassuring manner and touted my past jobs and how I was sure I would be an asset to her business.  I wasn't distressed by her parting comment about how she needed to talk to one other person before she made her decision.  I knew and she knew she would be calling me by the next day and that when she did, I would accept.  After all, I had gone there to get the job, not be interviewed. And that, my friends, is where I made a huge mistake. I was too focused on the goal, the job offer, and completely missed some warning signs. Don't worry, this story doesn't end with her being a serial killer, just a fairly self centered micromanager with little or no respect for employees for whom I have little liking and even less respect than she has for me. Over the past years, I have looked back on that interview and some of the stories she told about herself and some of the remarks she made about what she expected from an employee, and have realized, I should never have taken that job.

I tried to quit 3 or 4 times within the first couple of years and each time I caved under pressure and the rewards she offered if I would stay.  As my daughter put it, I was distracted by the sparkly things. So yes, I realize I have no one to blame but myself for now being in a job that I have come to dislike working for a person who fails to support me. I have exhausted friends and family with stories and complaints but am proud to say I have finally reached the point where all the incentive in the world will not keep me in this job. And that, to me, is very sad.  I have always been an optimist, preferring to believe that things will surely get better, or at least not any worse, and I have more than my share of stubbornness (by golly, I will make this work!). But sometimes even an optimist has to admit defeat.

There are several reasons to keep this job; the ability to work remotely from home, the expense of moving to an area where jobs are more plentiful and therefore pay better, the uncertainty that I can (at my age) secure a job making close to the same amount of money, the cost of having a work wardrobe when for years I have only had to have a very causal one, gas money, drive time...and only one reason to quit. Happiness. I have the right to be happy, at home, with friends and at work.  I am fully aware that many people work their entire lives never liking what they do or who they do it for.  But I think 15 years doing it is probably 14 years too many. 

I admit I am a little bit scared of what will happen in the next several months, but a little bit excited, too.  Thomas Edison once said, "We will have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with those we have at present."  It is scary at any age to make drastic changes, but at this point in my life I believe it will be infinitely scarier not to.