On Quitting

I quit another job last week.

I’m a typical millennial in that aspect – I have quit a job every year since I graduated (2013, 2014 and 2015). People like to paint millennials as non-committal because of how often we quit, but we’re really just trying to speed up the process of finding our place in the world.

I love this piece in the Atlantic about how job-hopping in your 20s can lead to more fulfilling work in your 30s and 40s.

Take a risk, make a change.

Don’t call me a quitter

I’ve heard so often about how important it is to add years of experience to your resume before moving on to the next job. But what if it’s a job, like many millennials face, that’s not worth it?

My first job out of college was at the most soul-sucking company I can imagine. Everyone walked around in a daze and I was known for being the girl who actually laughed at work – it was so quiet, the whole floor could hear me laughing and telling stories. One day, a coworker literally threw his hands up in the air and yelled “THAT’S IT. I hate my job. I hate this. I hate this place. I hate my job.” (He’s still there after almost ten years).

My second job was a little better, but had massive layoffs before, during and after my time there. It became a place where you feared for your job on a daily basis.

My most recent work was tedious, remote work that mainly served as a filler for our move out west. No real complaints there. In this last case, it was just time to move on.

But what I’m saying is that my story is not unique – so many young people are facing underemployment or finding themselves in companies that don’t respect them. There’s such negativity about young people being flaky and quitting jobs after only a year or two, but since when did moving yourself forward become a bad thing?

Maybe you should quit too

Quitting is liberating.

Years ago, I read The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin and quit my first job just a few weeks later. His words about picking yourself and his cautions against flying too low stuck with me. It made me realize that I was in control.

Do you find yourself dreading each workday or stressing out on Sunday evenings because Monday is just around the corner? Is there more than just a paycheck waiting for you at the end of the day, or are you unfulfilled in your work?

I know quitting and changing is not easy. But would you rather dread your work or do put in the work of searching for another job? And what if that next job turns out to be no better? Take charge of your life and be fearless in your pursuit of a job you are excited about doing.

At times like these, I turn to Seth Godin for guidance on what to do – here are some quotes of his that might help you quit:

My next move

I’ve been pretty quiet here on the blog for the last couple of weeks and that’s because I’ve been working on transitioning more time to my other gig as a data management coordinator (a fancy name for “make sure the data is where it needs to be when it needs to be there”).

This means I have a few extra hours and a little more mental energy each week for blogging! But the best news? I get to enjoy work-free weekends with my husband and explore this cool city we’ve called home for almost ten months.

So if you’re feeling stuck, polish up your resume and send it out to a couple new jobs this week. What’s the worst that could happen?

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The Joy of Simple Work

I’m just settling in after a couple of long and wonderful weeks of visiting with friends and family who were in town. It’s so nice to have a taste of home out here on the west coast, but there’s something to be said about getting back into my (still new) routine and actually getting some major work done.

Working from home

Work has been one of the reasons I’ve been in such a funk lately. I do data entry and content quality editing from home, and there is no denying that my work is simple. Sometimes the solitude and low-level of brain power involved in working from home gets to me and I start searching for something better.

But then I realize I’ve got it made, at least for now. There should be no shame in doing simple work, as long as it lets you do what you really love.

As a woman who left a tech/marketing agency last year, I feel like I should be launching myself into other office jobs, leaning in, breaking into the tech scene and climbing that corporate ladder. I should be carrying a bat with me so I can break the hell out of that glass ceiling. Right?

Thoughts on the Corporate Ladder

If you are a professional woman (or man!) who’s kicking butt and taking names when it comes to the corporate ladder, I applaud you. But in the past year I’ve started to wonder if that’s what I really want for my own life. And I know others are thinking it too.

I liked my job, some days I even loved it, but I always knew that I still wasn’t in the right spot. I’d come home drained and I was only interested in watching Netflix until bedtime. I felt no spark.

I was wasting my energy and brainpower on something that didn’t return value to me.

So, I quit and I started doing the “piecework” that I do now. Guess what? My creative energy started coming back. The circles under my eyes disappeared.

Climbing the ladder towards those executive positions is a wonderful aspiration, but it is not and should not be the goal for everyone. Sometimes, it’s more productive to direct your energy towards a passion project and work mindless jobs to pay the bills. Don’t be afraid to take a “lesser” job – we are not defined by how we make money, but by how we choose to use our energy.

The zen of simple work

I couldn’t resist using the word “zen” because there are some days I fall into a productive, calm rhythm. My brain isn’t working too hard, but is still functioning at the right level, and I can work for hours straight. These days are rare, but beautiful.

Simple work helps me connect to simple pleasures. If I need to get up and pet the rabbit sitting by my feet, I can. If I need to get out of the apartment, I can.

Work from home desk

This is my experience working from home, but there’s something to be said for all the different “simple” jobs – one of my favorite jobs was as a minimum-wage barista. I loved serving people at such an important part of their day. If you’re tired of a mindless job, see if you can reallocate some of that negative energy to something more positive and productive like a hobby or side venture.

The future of simple work

I imagine I’ll be doing these things (and maybe some other freelance projects that come my way) for the foreseeable future. I might end up doing these things indefinitely, or I might change my mind.

In a month I could be working a 9 to 5 office job. But here’s the best part of simple work – it can be there for you until something wildly better comes along. I have the freedom to search, interview, and choose a job that’s right for me while the simple stuff pays those nasty bills.

I do know this: I was able to see my friends and family for two weeks and squeeze work in while they were out, or after the 3-hour time change had them in bed by 9PM. I didn’t have to miss a beat, and I still feel rested as if I were on vacation too.

It’s time to take a stand for those of us who find peace outside of the rat race. For the women who choose to lean in in a different way. For the men who don’t feel like suits and ties are suitable workwear. For anyone who’s life has called them into a simpler line of work.

There’s no shame in taking on simple work – it might be the greatest thing you’ll ever do.

I Quit My Day Job

And just like that, the chaos that these past two weeks have felt like has come to an end – they were my last two weeks at the agency I’ve worked at for a year and a half.

If you felt rumblings of that in my recent post about my brother doing what he loves most, you were right to suspect I’d be making this change soon. And what a terrifying, difficult and yet incredible change it’s going to be.

I am once again leaving my comfort zone for something completely new!

CheersSo what’s next?

Good question. I’ve actually picked up some contract work as an editor for Quora and another gig as a data entry assistant. On top of that, I’ll be working as a marketing “consultant” of sorts for a couple of startups in the family (yes, those wooden sunglasses being one of them).

But right now, it’s less about what I’m going to do for money, and more about living the life I want to live. As Millennials, I think it’s hard for us to realize that it’s often more within our grasp than we might think. I could settle into an office job (and settle into saying “someday”), but why wait?

The someday trap

I was working myself into a continuous string of someday’s – I said someday I’d write more on this blog, someday I’d get out of Indiana (more on that in the next post…) and that someday I’d start doing what I love for a living.

The trouble is, I haven’t defined what it is that I most love, and I certainly haven’t run into that mythical day called “someday.”

When we put things off for the future, we’re not just procrastinating. We’re building a comfort zone, creating a bubble, making ourselves a safety blanket – whatever makes the most sense to us, we’re doing it because we don’t want to face any sort of fear, productive or otherwise. We’re becoming more risk averse and, while this isn’t necessarily true across the board, it makes me and many people I know less creative.

I become complacent in an apartment and in a city that doesn’t make me feel the magic of everyday life. I find my routines becoming more dull. I find myself sad, but unwilling to change.

So what is it that you’re putting off for someday? What little changes here and there can you make to bring you one step closer to what you really want to do?

For me, it’s getting onto the same schedule as my husband and introducing more flexibility into my work. And this isn’t the last leap we’re going to take…stay tuned for my next post about where we’re going to live next!

Hint: It’s a big change, and we can’t just coast through this one without some significant planning.

Palm trees

Wooden Sunglasses & Doing What You Love

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver

Last weekend I had the privilege of visiting my younger brother on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, where he lifeguards in the summer. In the winters? He makes wooden sunglasses out of a garage in the Midwest to sell online and on the island in the summer.

And here I am a week after my trip, and I still can’t quite find the words to describe the state in which I found my little brother. I found him doing what he loves most, despite how unconventional it is, despite naysayers, despite what the “normal” professional trajectory is for us Millennials. Even on the hottest days on those beaches, he seemed calm, happy and energized when brainstorming about his burgeoning business.

He’s found a place where he’s surrounded by like-minded, supportive people from all walks of life and from all corners of the world. He’s living an active (and frequently grueling and exhausting) lifestyle where he spends most of his days outside.

He does not have a computer, and rarely accesses Facebook. In fact, he took off for Hilton Head right after my wedding with half of a car full of stuff. Half. (I don’t think he would ever call himself a minimalist, but he is).

The most important things? Surfboard. Sunglasses. Phone. More sunglasses.

If you want to catch a glimpse of the island life, check out Luke’s Instagram here: instagram.com/luke_shades

His story is a page out of some of the most successful people we know about’s book: started college, switched majors, switched colleges, didn’t know what to do. Instead of embarking on an expensive out-of-country internship, he discovered Shore Beach Service in Hilton Head. He went to work, where he got the idea for Luke Shades and is now out of school and fully immersed in entrepreneurship and beach life.

So when I saw him last weekend, my heart was an odd mix of light and heavy – how wonderful for him that he’s found his place and is starting such an exciting journey! And yet, here at home my husband and I aren’t “living for Monday” so to speak – we’re getting by just fine, but we’re not flourishing. We aren’t doing what we love in a place that we love.

Being around Luke and seeing his fearlessness and undeniable passion for what he’s doing made me think again about what it is that drives me, what keeps me up at night. My mind has been racing this week, lists have been made, thrown away, remade, lost, and remade again: what is my equivalent of wooden sunglasses? What is my equivalent of lifeguarding? (Notice “equivalent” – Lord only knows how different Luke and I am).

Everything is easier when you’re doing what you love – even the hours of work, the blisters, the struggles – because you have a grasp on what your purpose is. Your life is precious and you have the choice to either fill it with things, people, places and work that you love or you can fill it with everything else.

What is it that drives you? What is it that you’re dying to do and haven’t yet done?

The Trouble with Storytelling

Storytelling is a huge trend right now in marketing and brand building. I hear about the importance of telling great stories with great content all the time – it’s what makes brands human, what makes them relatable and interesting.

But storytelling can get us into a lot of trouble.

I recently fell into the trap of telling myself a story that while my friend had all the time in the world for her other buddies, she had only one evening every few weeks for me. I told myself she had much better friends to associate with and I ended up feeling bitter and disinclined to meet up with her. When I finally did, it came up: was she really spending all her time hanging out with other people? No. In fact, I was one of the few people she even had time to visit with. Her wedding is close to mine, so she’s been in the throes of planning alongside a high-pressure (yet incredibly rewarding) job. My story was dead wrong.

I told myself a story that seemed to resolve the problem in my head, so I stuck with it. I let it simmer until it boiled over in a great big glob of wasted energy and self-pity.

We do it every day

A fine example of this is what many of us do every day: with every excuse, every complaint, every snarky comment – we’re convincing ourselves of something that we have little to no supporting proof of.

Most often, I notice it when people aren’t in a career that they see themselves doing for the rest of their lives (which is so many of us young vagabonds), or when they’re stuck in a creative rut. Excuses pop up; things like bosses that aren’t receptive, financial or personal situations that are just out of my control. We weave an intricate back story for people we don’t actually take the time to get to know, and situations we don’t actually take the time to control.

I recently read the book Crucial Conversations and found it extraordinarily helpful (especially when I read it alongside my colleagues with a safe space to discuss the issues). The main takeaway for me was identifying when I tell myself stories. It’s surprising – I recommend focusing on what stories you tell yourself daily, and you’ll see you do so more than you would like to. The principle, “master my stories” has been on my mind ever since reading the book:

Master My Stories—A principle that help us control the emotions that drive our actions. We do this by challenging the stories we tell ourselves—we ask questions. One such question is “Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person act this way?” Posing the question is NOT making an assumption that all people are reasonable, rational, and decent; rather, posing the question IS an effort to consider other possibilities. This increases the probability of getting what we really want.

Effort is what matters: it’s easy to construct a whole world of would-be scenarios, but if we don’t make the effort to find out what’s really going on, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. If we can learn to control the emotions behind our behavior, we’ll be able to see more objectively what we want.

You’re not the victim, so stop it

These stories usually are sympathetic towards the teller – we make ourselves the victim or exaggerate the hopelessness of the situation. In the situation above, it turned out I was definitely not the victim. In fact, I was the more of the villain: I added to the stress my dear friend had about distributing her small pieces of spare time evenly and appropriately.

And once we start telling ourselves stories, we tell others those same stories – who wants to hear about how unsupported, unheard, mistreated and miserable I am? No one, and especially since those are all very untrue. These stories become a hindrance to our communications, our relationships and our professional lives.

Here’s my challenge to you this week: keep an eye out for stories you’re telling to yourself, your colleagues and your friends. If you find yourself having 24-straight hours of a pity party, then it’s time to reevaluate. Are you really being oppressed? Or, is it just your inability to assert and motivate yourself that’s holding you back?

I’m going to bet that more often than not, it’s the second. I know it is for me.

What stories are you telling yourself?

Make Art Every Day

Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator. … An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.

Seth Godin, Linchpin

If you’re not an artist, then it’s time to find out what has been holding you back.

Every day we have hundreds of opportunities to create art – each interaction we have opens up the possibility of changing someone. Many of us have fallen into the false security of a paint-by-numbers job and fail to take risks outside of our established duties. Is that really going to equate to long-term security? Or should we navigate away from strict obedience and aim for extraordinary?

No matter what your job, whether you work in an office, a hospital, or a coffee shop, bravery and boldness are open to you. Speaking up at meetings in the face of opposition from the rule-makers, going the extra mile for a customer or patient to have a perfect experience, or simply challenging your typical to-do list are acts of art – however unconventional.

If you aren’t creating art in your work, you run the risk of your efforts turning into commodities – easily teachable and quickly replaceable. Find out what sets you apart, and pursue it.

Challenge the standard, and quash the excuse that there’s no room to be different. There’s always room to be different.

 

How to Like Mondays More

Say Yes to Mondays

I am about to be that person. You know, the one who loudly and cheerfully says “Good morning, sunshine!” to people who have yet to fully awake. The one who tells you it’s a good day even when it’s raining and all you want to do ever is go home and curl up in all the fluffiest, home-madiest blankets that you own.

I’m talking about Mondays. And how they can be–gasp–good?

While I’ve been gloomy and generally lackluster today, I think this post will be a good reminder to me to stop making Mondays so hard on myself.  Because honestly, today could have been better had I just chosen to view it a little differently. And that’s the thing about Mondays. They have such a bad rap that people love to perpetuate amongst friends, family, and coworkers.

How are you today?”

“It’s Monday. What can I say?”

“I feel you there. The weekend was too short. Always is.”

^ This is me. And this is you, too. (Maybe).

So let’s make it a goal next, week and the weeks after, to practice some Monday-improving moves that might just help us out of the gunk-filled rut that we like to call the first day of the week. In addition, these ideas don’t cost a dime. I’ve been reading lists where every other suggestion is akin to “treat yo’self” – they often include unhealthy eating or costly lattes.

While these things would be lovely to do every day, this list may help you and I start small and address the largest problem. And yes. I’m going to tuck these away myself and work on my own Mondays.

Having a Positive – and Happy – Monday

Get good sleep. This one is so simple, but it’s essential. No more of the mindset that we can milk our weekend by staying up super late on Sunday. It’s really only going to end poorly.

Reflect. Before you get to work on Monday, look back at your weekend. Pick a couple of things that you are proud of/excited about that you did over the weekend. Prepare one or two happy accomplishments/memories/events from the weekend and you’ll have a pleasant answer for anyone who asks you “How was your weekend?”

Be prepared. Be sure that you come to work and take some time to outline your priorities for the week. Identify larger projects that you need to make headway on and acknowledge anything that’s not urgent, but still needs attention. Do everything you can from feeling the Monday overwhelm that seems to hit me hard each week.

Call someone you love. I talk to my mother often and find that sharing news about our weekends puts me in a much more positive mindset. If you can’t make a call, grab a coworker and go for a walk or eat lunch together. Share happy vibes.

Coffee and music work, too. Put on your Friday playlist and make room for just one more little cup of coffee and trick your body into thinking it’s Friday. There’s nothing wrong with that! Right?

Ultimately, productivity and positivity are the goals on Monday. And they both start with what you think and what you say – no more “it’s Monday. Nothing good can come from that.” Find a balance, and start your week off a little better.

What do you do to make Mondays a little more bearable?