In less than a week it will be 6 months since I decided to quit my job. I thought I would share my experiences and insights here.
Before I left I was convinced that the only thing standing between me and a life filled with productive hours of passion-projects was my job. I was so sure that the exhaustion I felt mentally was caused by the aggregate of minor daily frustrations. This had been my internal mythology ever since I stepped out of the sheltered halls of university and into the glaring fluorescent light of the office cubicle.
I have learned about a psychological condition called provisional living – this is in essence the habit of saying I will do X as soon as Y happens. So for example: I will start jogging in the mornings as soon as the divorce is finalised. Or in my case: I will become super productive doing all the things I have been dreaming about for almost a decade once this job is out of the way.
Let me start by outlining things that a job provided that I did not give it credit for. The first surprising thing is that it forces you to be productive even at some minuscule level. When you go in to work for the day you can be assured that most of the time you will be forced to achieve at least one or more productive tasks. If you don’t then it could be argued that hiding your un-productiveness from management becomes a productive task in its own right. The social aspect also plays an important role. For 5 days out of the week you’re forced to confront and interact with people who you might not interact with otherwise. People with other viewpoints and stories and ways of looking at life.
The first reality I had to face a few weeks in was that I was not some amazing self-firing, industrious fiend. I was so convinced that I was not a procrastinator since I never leave anything to the last minute but this dynamic does not seem to function if I am in control of setting the deadlines. When waking up on any day with nothing in particular to do, it becomes too easy to just defer to tomorrow, or next week even. The aspect I failed to realise was that working on passion projects is still work. There is no self-igniting thing that makes it different from a job except that you get to decide the project and that a bigger part of it will hopefully be enjoyable.
Parkinson’s law states that a task will grow to fill the time allotted to it. This is true along with the caveat that a task will never get done if the deadline is not fixed. So the first lesson was that I was not the person who I thought work was holding me back from.
The second thing I learned is that I, like all other humans, am a creature of habit. The thought that I would suddenly change my habits drastically when my job was removed seems absurd now. What ended up happening is the habits I enjoyed, browsing the internet and reading, just had more time allocated to them.
In conclusion, your job might suck, but be careful about assuming that leaving your job will be panacea. Don’t use your job as an excuse to stop yourself from doing what you really want to do.