Be a Quitter

Jul 10, 2013 by

“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

– Mary Pickford


Happy Quit-iversary to me!  P.S. If you are a peanut butter addict, like I am, you must go to Dairy Cream on Lakeshore to order a Cheesecake Delight Deluxe Sundae with peanut butter sauce instead of strawberry sauce. It would be against the laws of the Peanut Butter Gods to not do so.

Happy Quit-iversary to me!

P.S. If you are a peanut butter addict, like I am, you must go to Dairy Cream on Lakeshore to order a Cheesecake Delight Deluxe Sundae with peanut butter sauce instead of strawberry sauce. It would be against the laws of the Peanut Butter Gods to not do so.

          Everyday, in a past work life, this quote stared at me from my desk. It’s my favourite. Since moving out of my parents’ house at 17, I’ve always found comfort in knowing that I have complete control over my life. (Note: Having this awareness is not equal to actually taking control. That came much later.) As adults, we can do whatever we choose. Think about it: You don’t report to anyone – or I hope that you don’t – so you can opt to take any steps you need to do what you want. If you’re already listing reasons in your head for why you can’t, stop and re-evaluate those reasons. Are they truly keeping you from attaining your goals or are you letting them? I’m willing to bet your answer is the latter. For example, your job is likely high on the list of reasons for why you can’t *insert your dream here.* Don’t let it be. Don’t let anything be. Life is a series of choices. You can prioritize your dreams, goals, and ambitions or you can prioritize your reasons for not achieving them (work, relationships, fear, etc). You are in control of your life. You can quit your roadblocks. You can leave your job or drop whatever it is that’s holding you back. A year ago today, I did just that.          

          On paper, my old job sounds like a dream. My resume still tricks me into being amazed, and I lived the daily hell. I began working for my past employer during the summer following my first year of university. I started as a Brand Ambassador, which was a role that required me to interact with consumers at retail stores, outdoor events, and populous areas of the downtown core to promote various brands. Within two years, I was offered a position as a Program Coordinator. (I later found out that I am the only candidate for the role who has ever achieved a perfect interview score. I was what Talent Acquisition would refer to as a “must hire.”) Only 20 years old and still a year away from graduating university, I was suddenly a manager to 30 people, some of whom were older than I was. I was executing retail marketing programs for two of the company’s largest clients, coaching my team to engage consumers and close sales on products of world-renowned brands. Excusing a less-than-one-year break from experiential marketing in another department, I moved from coordinating local retail programs to coordinating major events and managing brand ambassadors from across the country. I planned and executed large scale initiatives, one being an event at Yonge-Dundas Square, which produced the highest mass impressions my client had ever seen. By implementing marketing programs on a national level, I had the exciting opportunities to travel to Montreal and Vancouver. In addition to travel, perks included free alcohol (I haven’t made an LCBO purchase since 2010, because I still have some of my stash), afternoons of wine and cheese, and dinners and parties at chic downtown locations. Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?

          It wasn’t. By unknowingly agreeing to dedicate my entire existence to a company that I hated, I had unofficially sold my soul to the devil. My job was my life, and I was burning out. I considered it a short work day when I got to leave the office by 9:00 pm, only to continue working when I got home or to head to an execution. I was tired of being expected to drop everything for my clients without notice. I was exhausted from the late night phone calls from direct reports living in different time zones. I was bitter that I was expected to be accessible at all times. By last summer, I had had enough. I looked to the quote above, posted on my desk for years, to remind me that I was choosing to be there and that I could choose to end it. It was finally time to follow the wisdom of those empowering words.

          Upon announcing my resignation, one of the company’s VPs, who I didn’t even know knew my name, requested to meet with me. In a professional manner, I gave it to him. I told him everything that I hated about my job, and used the fact that I was quitting without another job offer to emphasize the extremity of my contempt. In an effort to sway my decision, he offered me a program that could not have been more of a perfect fit for me. It was for a brand new client, the company’s first in the restaurant industry. I would have been managing teams of brand ambassadors working in food trucks (as in the mobile eateries that I follow on Twitter without even having a Twitter account) as they drove throughout the Ontario and Atlantic regions for the summer. While the Atlantic could be 100 percent managed remotely, he offered to fly me out East for a week simply because he had heard that I enjoy travel. (Damn my enthusiasm for business travel. I had made my weakness too apparent.)

          I took the bait – right before quitting again. I, a foodie with an incurable case of wanderlust, walked out on the optimal program for a food and travel enthusiast. I didn’t want an “amazing” job that people were wowed by anymore. I wanted an amazing life. My company couldn’t deliver. The client would always come first, making employees disposable. I knew I could do better. I deserved work-life balance.

          On Tuesday, July 10, 2012, with my body shaking in excitement and nervousness, I walked out of the office I grew up in for the last time. I hesitated on my way toward the door, worried that I was making the wrong decision. As I stopped, I noticed this posted on someone’s desk: “If you don’t like your job, quit.” I smiled and continued on out with a delightful pep in my step. Six months of unemployment would follow. I survived them without ever missing a rent or bill payment, and without accruing debt. Quitting was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my entire life.

          Even when I had drained the last of my savings, I never regretted my choice. Had I stayed, I would have failed myself. It would have been my equivalent of “staying down;” whereas, quitting was me getting up. It made me brave. It meant that I had the courage to live by my standards, which were firmly against an employer that didn’t value its employees’ personal commitments and needs for work-life balance. I preferred to have no job than one that did not meet my expectations.

          In case you’re wondering about the life of the newly unemployed, a year ago tomorrow, I was shooting tequila, chasing it with amaretto sours, and draining a half pitcher of sangria. #CopingMechanisms.

Happiness Tip: If you don’t like your job, quit.

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