August 31st, 2018 was my last day of work at the SaaS company where I spent the last six and a half years of my life. It wasn’t a messy breakup. In fact, I gave eight weeks’ notice and helped hire and train the manager who replaced me. Was I scared? Sure. But I still firmly believe it was the best decision I could have made. Let’s look at how I decided this was the right move for me and why it might be the right move for you, too.
Everyone’s doing it
In July 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that people are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate since 2001. This excellent Inc. article attempts to explain why. Here’s the short version: Unemployment is so low that people feel more comfortable taking the risk of quitting a job before they have a new one lined up. I read the Inc. article a few weeks after I’d given notice to my company and, I have to admit, it only solidified my resolve that I’d made the right decision.
No risk, no reward (reward = MONEY)
Slow wage gains are all over the news recently. For whatever reason, employers just aren’t boosting pay, despite the tight job market. But, there’s an interesting exception to this trend. People who quit their jobs are seeing a 48%(!!) increase in pay when they accept a new position.
The fact is, once you’ve been with a company for two years or more, you’re probably earning less than you’re worth. Ouch.
Burnout is real
I loved my job as a Customer Support Manager. I even wrote a blog post about why I found the work at my company so deeply satisfying. They’re changing the world, and I got to be a part of it. At the same time, I found myself crying over articles about “Self Care”, eating too much, and just generally neglecting myself, my family, and my home. My health, my relationships, and the quality of my work were all suffering.
My first idea was to find a new job. I looked around discreetly and had conversations with recruiters and contacts in the industry. There were a couple of problems with this approach.
- I waited too long to start looking. My best friend who runs her family-owned recruiting company warned me months prior that I should work on finding a new position before I was completely burned out. I didn’t listen (sorry Kristin). It turns out that it’s very, very difficult to talk to recruiters and hiring managers about why they should hire you when you are burned out. Self-doubt drags you down into the Swamp of Sadness and you wonder why anyone would ever want to hire you, anyway. It’s a terrible feeling.
- I couldn’t effectively hunt for a new job when I was already working 50 – 60 hours a week. Some people can do that, but at that time, I couldn’t manage it. Layer on the burnout and what was (in hindsight) probably some depression symptoms and all I could do when I got home was stare at the TV, Ben and Jerry’s in hand.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Mr. SaaSyBroad had been urging me to quit my job for months, but I never took it seriously. I was raised with the belief that no one should ever, ever quit a job without a new one lined up. I was taught that this would irrevocably damage my career, and personal experience on the other side had already proved this point. As a hiring manager, I have passed over many, many resumes with gaps in employment without a second thought.
So, what changed?
I had a talk with myself in the Ladies’ room at my office. I wasn’t doing well. Stress and sleep deprivation had worked their evil magic and I was in the bathroom crying, again. Looking back, was that day worth crying over? No, not really. But I was worn down, wrung out, and my usual resilience was at an all-time low. And at that moment, I had a realization.
Would finding a new job with a months-long gap on my resume be harder than this – this moment right here?
And just like that…all the weight lifted off my shoulders and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew, finally, that even though it would be hard to find a new job while I was not working, it was worth it. It was time.
I have feelings about work
Was I scared? Sure. Do I blame my employer for my burnout? No, I didn’t then and I don’t now. They’re not responsible for me. I’m responsible for me. Were there things I didn’t like about working there? Sure, everyone has gripes about where they work. But it wasn’t really about that stuff. I simply stayed too long and said “Yes” to too many projects and initiatives. I learned a lot of important lessons, the most important of which is this: Close the computer and go home. There will always be more work tomorrow.
Close the computer and go home. There will always be more work tomorrow. Tweet this!
Burning the midnight oil only works for a little while. Sure, you get caught up or even get ahead at first, but eventually your brain and your body rebel and your productivity tanks. After that? You have to work late just to stay caught up, and it’s all downhill from there. Don’t do that to yourself.
Over the next few weeks, I will be focusing on what I need to do to improve my health, increase my happiness, and find that awesome new job! I’m sure I will have some new things to share as I figure out the way forward.
Major life changes can be incredibly stressful and I recognize that not everyone has the ability to just quit their job. I acknowledge and accept that my privilege as a married white woman allows me the increased flexibility that many, many other people simply do not have. At the same time, I hope that by documenting my experiences I am able to give even one person the courage they need to take that leap – any leap – to improve their health and happiness.
Be well, my friends.