Shortly after I left Intel, a former colleague sent me a message.
I don’t like it here either, she wrote. I would rather work for a cool startup, but I’m worried I won’t be able to find opportunities outside of my field. What should I do?
I didn’t know her that well. How the hell would I know what she should do? Maybe she had to pay for her mother’s dialysis treatments and needed job security. Maybe her Restricted Stock Units were about to vest. I don’t know. I gave her the advice I would have given myself.
Quit, I replied. Lots of other jobs out there. You’ll be fine.
She didn’t quit.
I’m sure I’m not the only person she asked. Someone else probably told her that she should stay at her job, so she went with that one, because it was in line with what she already wanted to do. She wasn’t looking for life advice so much as seeking confirmation.
When I was miserable at my job, I must have asked over 30 people what I should do. The answers ranged from “Give it more time, you’ll learn to like it” to “Find yourself a rich husband” (thanks Mom!).
I kept asking more people for advice because I wasn’t getting the answer I really wanted, which was “Quit and run like hell.”
People who are unsure of themselves like being told what to do. Major life decisions are easier if it feels like someone else made the choice for you. Then you don’t have to accept responsibility if your life ends up sucking. Blame it on the person who made the decision for you.
6 months later, that same colleague sent me another message. I am really seriously considering leaving, she said. Do you think I should?
Nah, I replied. Stay where you are. Intel gives you a free backpack after 20 years of service. You wouldn’t want to miss that.
The best part of being unemployed… I don’t have to wear pants!!
Back when I had to report to a cubicle for a living, everything I did on weekdays had constraints. I would take my morning dump while blowdrying my hair, and brush my teeth while getting dressed. I had to optimize my precious morning minutes to meet the boundary conditions of arriving to work in presentable order before my boss got in.
On non-working days, entropy prevailed and everything decayed into a natural state of sloth. I would stroll into the bathroom with my iPad and read the news and decide to go back to bed if the world wasn’t to my liking. I usually never got as far as putting on clothes, because no one was gonna see me.
Now, every day can be a non-working day. How am I supposed to optimize my actions to zero boundary conditions? It’s been one day, and already I look something like this:
Some people manage to run their own successful business from home without succumbing to the urge to run off and go on permanent holiday. It’s doable. I’m trying to force myself to be productive by disconnecting the internet during the day. I created a list of tasks that I should be working on, so I know where to direct my attention if I start feeling shiftless.
We’ll see how it goes. I’m leaving for Portland in a few days to visit Jenny, so I guess I already screwed up my plan of not treating unemployment as a long-term vacation.
I received termination papers from my employer on Friday. It made me a little bit sad. Not because I’ll miss the place — I hated my job — but because I had gone in with such high hopes.
For the first month or two, I was the first one in the office every morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I thought that if I pretended hard enough to love my job, it would become reality. I remember the moment my imaginary world came crashing down.
I had been assigned to conduct physical synthesis trials with my coworker Brian. This is a task that involves running a script and squinting at numbers, maybe rerunning parts of the script if the numbers didn’t look right. Brian was walking me through the protocol, but I kept skipping steps and rushing through the output. This frustrated him.
“What’s your hurry??”
“I want to get this sizing stuff done so that we can move on to the FUN stuff!”
“What fun stuff? When we finish this, we’ll just have more cells to do.”
“And after we finish those, then we get to do something more interesting?”
“Then we do this for the rest of the chip until it tapes out next year.”
“What the HELL? When do we get to the fun stuff?”
“There is no fun stuff. It’s a job.”
A job. He sounded like my mother. Jobs aren’t supposed to be fun. Brian is a Chinese immigrant, just like my mom. They came to this country to work hard at soul-sucking jobs so that they could provide their children with the opportunity to — do what?? Grow up and get unfulfilling careers of their own? Pass this misery on for generations?
If I wanted to sell my soul for a six-figure salary, I would have become a prostitute. At least the hours are flexible.
Wow. Warren sent me this link. a tip of the hat!
Who is this guy and how did he get inside my head???
Fire me. I beg you. End my misery right now. This isn’t the right job for me. I don’t want to be doing this right now. This is not what I signed up for. Every day I come to this job I lose a part of my soul. I have been coming to work late for the past 2 months now. Can’t you see that I just don’t care anymore. Can’t you see that? I’m not meant for the corporate life anymore. I want to create something meaningful. I want to create something that others are going to use. I want to do the things that I’m good at. For the love of everything almighty. Fire me. Please.
That’s from this post. Another post details the steps that follow:
Thinking About Quitting Your Job? 10 Unorthodox Steps to Landing Your Dream Job. Step 1: Quit. Seriously — Robbie Abed