Advice I can no longer ignore

Today I was told to quit my job.

It’s not the first time I’ve been told. Over the years I’ve heard the same advice from family, friends, even the occasional boss. (I should point out the bosses all had my best interests at heart—it was never an order, or even a threat.)

They usually tell me after I’ve ranted about how much I hate my job, and that I’m this close to quitting. (And yes, I am holding my thumb and index finger about a centimetre apart when I say it.) They’ll listen patiently, nod in all the right places, and then tell me it’s time to get out of there and do something different.

And they’re right, of course. It’s not that the job is bad. It just isn’t the job for me any more. We’ve both changed, and it’s time to go our separate ways.

And yet I’m still there.

Oh I can give you a million reasons why. It’s a relatively secure job. The money isn’t bad. I can’t afford to just give it up when I’ve got a family and a mortgage to support. All good reasons to stay where I am.

But it seems they’re no longer good enough.

Today’s advice to quit my job came from a counsellor. We spoke for about an hour, and a lot of the truth I haven’t been admitting to myself finally came out. And once it was out, the solution seemed pretty clear.

Now I could ignore her advice, just as I seem to have ignored everyone else’s advice over the years. (Sorry, everyone!) But there’s one person whose advice I can no longer ignore.

Me.

I told you that yesterday that I went to see the doctor. What I didn’t tell you is that I was diagnosed with depression, though some of you may have guessed. (Now you know why there were so many long pauses in our conversation.) The good feeling I told you about only lasted a couple of weeks before it was gone again, shattered in a single meeting with one of my bosses. And instead of just falling back down to earth I kept going.

According to the counsellor, work got me down here. And it’s now the key to me getting back up to the surface, and maybe even back to where I was for those two glorious weeks.

I mentioned in an earlier post that freelancing will be my escape plan. I just didn’t think I’d need it quite so quickly.

From Thursday I’ll be on leave for a week or so, and I guess it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ll be catching up with friends I haven’t seen for far too long, and I’m sure we’ll have a ball. But it will also be a chance for me to “pause and reflect” on what’s going on, and what I can change, at least in the short term.

I have a few ideas already. Cut down the number of projects I’m spread across (I’ve never been much of a multi-tasker). Do more of the work I enjoy, even if it means other people ending up doing less of it. Maybe even move to another area that looks after people rather than technology.

And if none of that works, then I guess I’ll have to look elsewhere. Because I no longer want to be where I am.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Chris April 1, 2010, 5:49 am

    Antidepressants have kept me at my job for way too long. I’m reminded of the woman in this (rather fascinating) nytimes article — http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/magazine/28depression-t.html — who asked to lower her dosage because the medications made her awful boyfriend more tolerable. My advice is to quit now before the meds kick in!! (or just avoid them entirely)

    Reply
  • Nathan Bush April 1, 2010, 8:38 am

    Good luck Bill – I hope you’re week off helps you work some of it out. Enjoy!

    Reply
  • Lorena April 7, 2010, 10:19 am

    Am just reading this entry now, but I wanted to say that you’ve already made a huge leap towards maintaining your depression just by getting it diagnosed, and an even bigger thrust by coming up with a plan to help get you to a mentally positive plateau. I very much applaud you for these efforts, and I know from experience nothing about it is easy. Keep on keepin’ on, Bill.

    Reply
  • Rose April 14, 2010, 11:32 pm

    Wow, great stuff! Must be pretty hard to be going through, but such a fantastic opportunity. Getting help is a good start, but with the whole career direction thing, and being happy with life – only you know what the answer is. Trust your instincts. You’ve got fantastic people skills, as well as other skills, and charisma and confidence. You will go far if you take a bet on your own abilities and try something else that you’re passionately interested in. Try not to be influenced by the other people in the office. From my experience, that arena is very stale, and doesn’t have much to offer in terms of personal development or learning. It’s a place to kill time. There’s better things you could be doing.

    Reply

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