I’m quitting tomorrow… maybe.
As a teenager you were told you could have it all – the world was your oyster. But now, your work ranges from mind-numbing to super-stressful, your boss doesn’t seem to know the phrase ‘thank you’, and your paycheque? Let’s just say it’s not what you expected when you took your first excited step out into the real world. The whole thing makes you want to laugh… to try to keep from crying.
An awesome former boss once mumbled “Nothing is ever perfect,” after an inspiring brainstorming session when we realized that what we’d thought was a savvy code solution wouldn’t actually work. He had two young children and was going through a divorce… it didn’t seem like he was talking specifically about Visual Basic.
The daily grind is hard. You battle to get out the door, rush a tearful goodbye that leaves you second-guessing during your entire commute, slave doing work that’s not satisfying enough to make up for missing this “only-young-once” time, race eagerly back to be greeted dismissively because they’re not ready to leave fun-city, hustle to throw a meal together for your most challenging critics, try to tidy up the disaster zone, power through the nighttime routine, and then crash. Weekends are reserved for grocery shopping, laundry, chores, and their activities; one blink and it’s Monday morning again.
And on the flip side, if you’re home taking care of your mini-me every day, you’re stuck performing mundane task after mundane task without even a salary to make up for the lack of head-pats. Your grind starts the dreaded moment you say goodbye to your partner every morning because after that, the day is open. Wide open. Not in a good way. Keeping one child fed/rested/happy for ten hours is challenging – so it’s even trickier when there’s more than one sib in the family portrait. You daydream about a non-PB&J-smeared cubicle, the freedom to go to the bathroom when you want to, and having a conversation that doesn’t revolve around General Grievous, Pinkalicious, or Caillou. Freakin’ Caillou.
It’s not called a grind for nothing. Faced with such a struggle, it’s no wonder you’re tempted to switch your current gig for the exact opposite. In an ideal world, you’d control your schedule and have enough hours in the day to get everything done. Um, yeah, that’d be nice. But back to reality, and another ‘should I stay or should I go’ dilemma. Ever heard of the two out of three rule? There are three factors that determine job-satisfaction: the work, the people, the money. If you have a job that’s satisfying for all three, think of yourself as Joe Carter circa 1992. Or ’93. If only one factor is working out, another team would be happy to have you. Start looking yesterday. If you’re batting two out of three, well, that’s better than any baseball player ever. In other words, you’ve got a good thing going.
Before you make a rash decision, re-think your day-job to decide if you’re happy enough. If you’re relatively happy, it’s time to simplify. If you can swing it, and sometimes especially if you can’t, outsource ev-er-y-thing. It might feel lousy to pay someone to clean your house, buy your groceries, make your meals, or take care of your kids while you work out, but what you’re really paying for is quality family time with your sanity intact. To spin it a little more real: you’re paying to save your family from the brunt of your burn-out. And that’s priceless.
If your reassessment confirms your sneaking suspicion, figure out your gameplan so you can quit asap. If you’re a SAHP this means lining up childcare as well as getting your name out there to land an offer. Childcare is a whole other headache, but don’t let that stop you. Baby steps. If you’re non-SAH and decide you’re ready to trade in your power suits for yoga pants, think about how you’d like to steer the conversation with your boss. Would you be interested in part-time/flex-time/a leave of absence? Quitting cold turkey may not be your only option. And if it is, so be it. You can always find another job if the next one doesn’t work out.
Working all the time is exhausting no matter where your “office” is. But the question of whether you can have it all really depends on how YOU define ‘it’. In the words of a witty Hall of Famer, “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.”
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