I’ve been without steady work for two years. I’ve had temp jobs to keep me afloat and I just got another that was supposed to last two months, making darn good money at full time. I quit after two weeks. Why? Well, that’s why I’m writing this post. It’s a long story, so I’m putting it in top-ten form because that’s always more entertaining!
Also, I hope my story can help someone. Stories are powerful, and maybe seeing the complex process that led me to this decision can help somebody else in a tricky spot.
First, let me set the scene. Here’s all the stuff I was doing in my life:
- Full-time temp job.
- Paid writing very part-time job.
- Searching daily for full-time, permanent work.
- This blog.
- Numerous other personal writings (novels, etc).
- Teaching a financial course for my church.
- Helping start up a marriage-strengthening non-profit, Lock & Key.
- Being a husband.
- Miscellaneous other duties (dishes, cleaning, fixing things, etc).
- Some semblance of a social life.
I couldn’t keep up with everything. I was losing sleep. My thoughts were constantly scrambled. I was neglecting my wife. My attitude was nowhere near friendly. Finally, once night, everything collided and I was hit with a powerful wave of depression that took me to dark places I hoped I’d never visit again. Clearly, something had to give. Normally, I would have said one of the other things that ISN’T making me money that I need so badly. So why did I quite the full-time work?
10. Maybe “Desperate” Was Too Strong a Word.
I’m not floating in debt or hiding from creditors or one bad check away from starving to death. True, we are very poor, and we’ve already drained our savings (I’m amazed it lasted as long as it did), but we still have cash on hand, so I’m not anxiously counting down the minutes til payday.
Besides, I’m one who believes that God is my source, not my job. I’ve lived on him for two years now since he called me to quit my full-time job and pursue other things for a time. If that “time” is longer than I want it to last, well, I’d rather be on God’s watch than mine. Still, I wrestled with whether this job WAS God’s provision or not. So I examined everything carefully and found…
9. It Was The Only Thing NOT Moving Forward.
The biggest consumer of my time, my job, was also the biggest waste. I’ve had temporary jobs before and I could see them working towards a discernable goal. I was even able to put some shining things on my resume from a 2-week job. This? It was the same thing over and over ad nauseum with no real growth possible. As for everything else…
All my writing jobs are moving towards the goal of being a full-time writer. This is my calling, it is my life, it is my gift. I MUST strive towards this goal or forever condemn myself to a half-life. Any artist out there hears me on this. The finance class was already going so well, and I was the teacher; I couldn’t just quit on them. I couldn’t stop looking for full-time work because, hello, TEMPORARY job! I got into the non-profit because I believe in it and, once again, it’s actually moving forward, even if slowly.
Everything else is impossible to quit. I can’t leave my wife because, duh, I love her more than taffy and I’m a man who enjoys his taffy (5 points for guessing that reference). As for everything else, I can’t exactly stop going to the grocery store or balancing the checkbook or fixing things that break (stupid chair…). As for people, they are refreshing to me, and after everything else I was doing, I needed refreshment. This went double for time with God.
So the job was the only thing that COULD move. But the question was…SHOULD it?
8. Hard Work Vs. Dead Work
Now, some of you may be thinking, “He’s just a wimp, that’s all. He doesn’t know how to work hard like a real man! Why back in my day…” Look, I know how to work hard. I worked outside all last summer. May I remind you that I live in St. Louis, and last year was the hottest summer on record with temperatures over 100 degrees almost every day for two months, even climbing past 110 several days. I was out in that, wrestling with weeds and trees at the Missouri Botanical Garden. I even wrote this post to laugh off my 99 bug bites (at once).
I’ve carried trees in the triple digits and I’ve moved couches in the single digits. Hard work doesn’t scare me. DEAD work scares me. Work where you leave the office wondering what really happened. Eight hours of your life have just vanished and you can’t even say it’s just another brick in the wall. I’m okay with that; keep making bricks and you’ll eventually make a building. But here…what did I have to show for it? What was the point? I’ll take the bricks, please.
So the work wasn’t too hard, in fact it was infinitely easier than working outside in a furnace. I sat in a cushy cubicle with nice air conditioning. And I would rather have been pulling weeds.
7. Physical Limitations
I have had surgery on both of my ears.
I made outbound calls for 8 hours a day.
6. It Was Just Bad Enough.
The job wasn’t terrible. But there was nothing really keeping me there, either. The drive wasn’t too long…but long enough to grate. The job wasn’t too dull…just enough to make me weary towards the end of every day. The work wasn’t completely repetitive…just enough so that I began to space out frequently. My ears weren’t that bad…but the headset would hurt just enough.
The job was making outbound calls. I wasn’t selling anything…technically. I didn’t ask for any money and most people received my calls well, but I was still trying to get them to do something, so yeah, it was a sale. I hate sales. I LOATHE selling things. It wasn’t QUITE telemarketing, but then again, it was. It’s virtually impossible for me to sell something because 99% of the time, I just plain don’t care. Your life will not get better if you buy my knives. Your current cable service is just fine. No, you can NOT afford this car.
Like Mr. Darcy, I abhor pretense in any form. The only time I can ever sell a product, a lifestyle, or an idea is if I truly and fully believe in it. And unfortunately…
5. There Was a Moral Conundrum
I won’t name the company I worked for, but I did not really support them. I’ve heard about a lot of their practices and while they’re somewhat biased, they’re also apparently true. Even working on this side of the fence and hearing all the corporation’s pep talk and policies, I couldn’t fully trust them.
I was on a goodwill venture, telling people about how we would be giving lots of money away. That’s philanthropy, right? Well…not entirely. Even in the good light they shone, the whole project just felt slimy. It wasn’t about goodwill or charity. It was about the company getting in good with the people it needed to buy its stuff.
Now, I have no problem with a business wanting to make money, even big scary corporations. I also have no problem with people giving away lots of money. My problem is when they call it something it’s not. This wasn’t a kind-hearted goodwill decision; it wasn’t about benefiting communities. If the philanthropy didn’t make a profit, they would have stopped the project. That’s not philanthropy at all.
4. The Job Turned Me Into a 13-Year-Old
One of the names in my database had the last name of Titsworth. I’m not supposed to laugh at that kind of stuff anymore…
3. A Commitment To Work
I am not one of those who thinks unemployment is an excuse to play video games and blog about movies (though I totally do both). Finding a job IS the job of the unemployed. I’m not quitting a job to be lazy. Here is the list of things I plan on doing in my off-time:
- Searching for jobs–This one’s obvious. Scour the net, the papers, and people for another job. Polishing my resume and customizing it for every opportunity. Crafting perfect cover letters every single time. Studying the company and/or the job if I’m not familiar. I absolutely HATE job searches, but I’m going to do it anyway because the result will be phenomenal.
- Writing–I said I want to be a writer, didn’t I? Well, a true writer wouldn’t waste all this free time. Rather, he’d fill every cubic inch with words, and I plan on doing just that.
- Working Out–The insanity of the last few weeks did not help a growing sloth trend in me. If I have the time, I’m going to work out and workout hard to kick myself into good shape and fend off lazy habits and bad eating.
- Reading–I am always learning, and with more free time, I can continue to better myself mentally.
- God Time–Some of the best God moments I’ve had are while I’ve been unemployed simply because I have the time to sit and wait in His presence.
- Seeing People–I have a lot of friends I want to see and spend time with, and now I can catch up on commitments.
I really have no excuse for playing Tomb Raider all day. I have many things that need doing, many things that I WANT to do, and if I have the time, I should do them.
2. My Wife Supported Me
Ladies, never underestimate the power of your support for your man. If you stand behind him (or better yet beside him), He can do absolutely anything. If you do not, he will deflate. Gentlemen, never underestimate the importance of including your wife in these big decisions. Her vote is the one you need to heed more than anybody’s except God’s (yes, even more than your kids).
My lovely Di said she supported me either way, but she leaned towards me quitting. She had seen me in a job I hated before and the stress made me into a miserable shell of myself. She doesn’t want to see me like that again. But more than that, she wants the best in me; she wants me to be full of life. She supports me working hard and doing things I don’t like for a time, but if something is killing me, she’s quick to kill it first.
I felt guilty because she has carried us on her own salary for 2 years, which is not something she’s cool with. She wants out, badly. I want to get her out, too. But Di reminded me that God is our source. She does not rely on herself to meet the bills, but on her Lord, and she reminded me to do the same. I’ll do a little broader now: Ladies, never underestimate just how much good you can do in your man.
Besides, all this craziness caused me to neglect her. That is never, EVER okay.
1. God Led Me Out
All the while these things were happening, I was praying. For days, I inquired of God and I believe he answered me in a hundred subtle ways.
When I first heard I could get the job, I prayed about it. And I saw a vision of myself banging my head on a rock. That’s not helpful. But I also saw the potential for growth in me…or thought I did. I thought that was worth it, so I went. Then the madness began and I prayed some more. It came down to this job: should I quit or stay? So I asked. And God began to show me many visions.
One was of me shrinking in my desk chair until I was nothing more than a flea. Another was me looking into a mirror and seeing someone besides myself. Another was my skeleton sitting in the chair. I think the headset was still on me. I doubted every vision as my own psyche trying to play God, but the more I prayed, the more the visions stacked up. I specifically prayed about leaving and I got nothing. No consequences, no benefits, just me leaving. When I prayed about staying, all I could see were negatives.
So I left. I quit the job last Friday, just two weeks after starting. The situation needed changing and the circumstances, my wife, and my God all pointed to leaving my job. I have no regrets, save for some of my coworkers whom I was already starting to like.
And here I am, unemployed again. Having to explain this long and complicated process to everybody who asks why. But it’s okay. I know why I quit and I believe I did the right thing. This isn’t for everybody; I’m not saying we should all quit our jobs to be happy. No, I’m looking for another one, remember? I’m simply saying that there are norms, and there are times to break those norms.