7 Hints to Know When to Quit

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The post over Instagram made me smirk,

“Mondays are not bad, it’s your job that is”

Later at tai chi class, I asked my Shifu for advice over stress management.

“Why do you want to MANAGE stress? Why not eliminate it?”

The question was poignant, yet vague. Stress and jobs inevitably co-existed, and the thought of dispelling such a pervasive element such as stress was clearly impossible. At the end of class, Shifu summoned me and said,

“It’s not about stress, it’s about asking yourself the right question. What is it that prevents you from enjoying what you do?”

Many of us are fraught with a besetting loyalty towards our work places (or atleast pretend to be), and procrastinate a crucial choice between the obstinacy to stay and the reasons for leaving, despite clear and conspicuous hints that point to the latter. In my career spanning more than 10 years, I have now come to realize that many (including myself), keep the faith that events will eventually conjure a positive turn, and until then do not wish to disquiet themselves. However, ‘waiting’ may only perhaps undermine opportunities for betterment elsewhere. Therefore, I have compiled a checklist of 7 must-haves, to know when it’s time to pull the plugs and move on:

  1. Are you progressing? Increased stress, work overtime, or an increase in salary are not indicators for progress. Always pally with professionals in the same field from other companies and make a healthy comparison. Are you given regular training, refresher courses, advanced software workshops, competitive tests? Or are you on the same level of knowledge since you started? If your answer is the latter, then this will dangerously hamper your chances outside the organisation where others with lower salaries than yourself may probably be a lot more productive than you are. This is a primary question, that must determine your reasons for staying.
  2. Has your Income advanced? Life and inflation are two inevitable realities that your management must acknowledge. Human needs increase and so do expenditures. If your organisation has been unable to contend with these realities, it will leave you stifled. But if you seem content with your regular annual appraisal, then its best to stay.
  3. Are you appreciated? Appreciation does not have to always come in a pay package. A good leader must show no diffidence when saying a few warm words of thanks to the employee. Understandably, staff are paid to face vitriolic customers, maintain pressure deadlines, and remain pleasant in the face of delayed productivity, but their steadfast loyalty is priceless, and must be acknowledged. If the CEO needs to value the goodwill of his organisation, staff appreciation must be initiated.
  4. Can you trust your colleagues? Your peers, whether at the noisy cubicle or at the coffee machine, form that social unit that you could be stuck with for a major part of your career or profession. No matter what your supervisor may tell you, the ‘other’ team too gets their paycheck from the same common employer, so ask yourselves are you behaving like united team mates with a common goal, or are you on a battlefield everyday with conniving, back-stabbing and deceptive players waiting to knock you down? Which sounds better: trust or insecurity?
  5. Work to Live: I must admit that while on my previous job, I did not even muster the time to enjoy the view of my next door neighbor’s sprightly bougainvillea, under the false notion that I was a hard worker. Our world is competitive, but if you have forgotten how to live in it, then you will have missed much. Your family, friends and health are what stays with you, during your bad times, and years after your retirement. Not all tracks are meant for running, so slow down.
  6. “Should be able to handle pressure”: This can be tricky. All jobs have their pressure points, that is the ability to reach designated targets within agreed deadlines. With thorough experience over time, you can overcome pressure mayhem by prioritizing the tasks in order of their importance as well as keeping required reports updated. Know when to draw the line over too many responsibilities, and when to ask for assistance or additional time. Remember to keep yourself human, and not an order taking machine.
  7. Do you like what you do? Last but not least, this is an integral question that we must ask ourselves. Did you give up your dreams for this profession, or is it vice versa? Once the initial basic needs have been met – loan paybacks, mortgage, family support, education, etc, you need to appraise your talents and live out what you have been born to do. It could be a path less taken, it could involve risks, you could even end up alone. But the attempt will assuredly be rewarding. Remember, that any dream can be successful, all you need to do is wake up.
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The Quit

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Vague. Sudden. Preposterous.
It took me many days and one failed Christmas cake to discover that I was suffering slowly from anxiety-driven depression. From the numerous days that went by, I could not put my finger on what made me snap so often at home and panic at work. I felt like the punching bag of the office – I was suddenly drawn into events that I never participated and seemed to be responsible for absolutely anything that went wrong, irrelevant to my job. Protesting was futile as nobody wanted the headache of investigating issues. It was safer and convenient to just name somebody. My name. The weekend before Christmas, I could not sleep. In my perturbed state did I imagine things at work, more negative scenarios and further accusations involving me. I was to wake up early next morning for Church and with hardly a wink, I managed to pull myself together and prayed for some inner calm. It was then that the words of my tai chi Shifu came to mind:
“I cannot solve your problems but I can surely make you think of some wise solutions. The key to a wise solution is to ask a wise question.”

What really was my problem? My job.

Why can’t I get rid of the problem? Cos I need the money.

That’s it. I had arrived to a conclusion. Yes, money was my problem, but I did have some savings. Perhaps enough till I found another job, which hopefully would not take up much time. I was on my father’s visa, so why not quit while I still had the privilege? Even the very thought of quitting my job relieved me. All those negative scenarios and accusations disappeared. My mind felt lighter, relaxed. I reached home, proceeded to work, completed the entire day and thought it over at home once again before announcing my decision to my parents. They took it calmly, and agreed that I should proceed to do so. I felt bad for dad, as it was his reference, and upon his request that I got this job of my career. Even at night while I framed the words of the resignation letter in my head, I remembered the times when my boss and my team were supportive. The many times I screwed up and how they collectively came together to set things straight. I did not know why did it have to change lately to bring me to this point. The next morning while having my cornflakes, yet once again I tried to discern if my actions were out of fear or pride, or the right step. The odds were greater. Surely, if I didn’t pull out now, someone in some way would take me out eventually. The decision was then final.

At work, I calmly pieced together the words of the letter that I seemed to have rehearsed all night long and folded the letter into a new envelope, unsealed. I made a call to my acting HR Manager (as the real one was on Christmas vacation) and asked for the procedures. He was a bit shocked, and told me that I may have to put up a fight as they were not going to accept my leave so easily. He was right. At the end of the day I proceeded to my boss’ office, and after hearing another bout of tantrums I calmly handed over my envelope and told her what was in it. Her expression changed for obvious reasons. My team was summoned, and immediate opinions were demanded from them. Where was this team when I needed them for the real professional reasons?, I wondered. Irrelevant statements were flared as usual.

“Think of your marriage! You think your fiancé will accept a non-working woman?”

“You are doing something utterly stupid and careless, yet again!”

“You don’t have a reason to decide this on your own. You talk to your fiancé, let him know of your decision first, and then let us know, and only thereafter we will decide to accept this letter or not”.

Weird. When will these people ever wake up to this century? I pretended to agree and make that call and went back the next day pressing for the same decision. My boss conceded, this time she was nicer, she looked defeated and did not wish to argue. It was Christmas eve, and so she suggested that it was not a good time to accept such letters (inauspicious perhaps), and to wait for New Year for its submission, while handing over the envelope to me. In this way, she explained I would get a whole month’s notice period before moving away. I was happy with her decision, it seemed fair enough, while it gave me ample time to keep looking for other opportunities.

There have been moments at home when I stop to think if I did the right decision. Especially when I get calls for interviews that offer me way lower salary than my current. But the peace of mind still prevails. If this is to be my last Christmas at home, then surely I plan to savor every moment without the thoughts of work hounding my happiness. And I did enjoy every bit of it. The Christmas Mass was lovely and cold. The winter is freezing. The decorations at the malls and hotels are magical. I smile more now. I live more. I know I will find something else, even if the income is a bit less. I let go, I trust myself. I let life happen.

Have a Happy and Joyous New Year 2014!

Moving away or Moving on..?

*sigh*…its been more than a month since I haven’t written a single expression on this blog, but I can explain. My Samsung Note crashed, with its motherboard completely damaged; I lost my contacts and my photographs….yes all of my lovely food pics! Something went terribly wrong on an unsuspecting day at work, resulting in me getting a warning letter, plus a pay cut! (all because no one else in the work team is single and hence can’t afford to be penalised). Year ending is coming up, heaps of things to do, and now with my pay cut I may not be able to afford several things for Christmas.

*sigh* *sigh* *sigh*

Like my mentor told me, it is better to keep many options open, so that in an unforseen circumstance I am less upset. That’s precisely what I decided to work upon before I am given the axe myself. FB friends contacted, Appointment Times screened every morning, online applications etc all in tow, and its been 2 weeks and yet no response or call from anyone :(. So I guess I’m looking at finding something only after the New Year which means I will have a very ‘axe-i-ty ridden’ Christmas season. Till then I try to tell myself that this had to happen, and in no way I could’ve prevented it; so its all for the best. I try hard not to pin my hopes too much, but can’t stop myself from thinking of the relief of not having to explain about my marriage anymore to my colleagues or my boss when I finally work in another place. This seems to be my only consolation for now.

In my 30 years in the UAE, I have never had to think of December 2 as a working day. Whether school or work, it was some day to look forward to its events especially at night. Over the last decade, National Day in Abu Dhabi is remembered more for its fireworks display and Corniche parade. While some drivers do go overboard with their innate displays of enthusiasm, overall it is a loud and engaging display of colors and glitter on the streets. It is recommended to avoid taking your cars on the roads tonight. If you wish to enjoy the evening, travel on foot, wear something warm and take a coffee to go, along with your camera for some candid shots.

As obvious, I am a little broke right now, and a lot on my mind, so I won’t be too regular with my restaurant reviews for the time being. Hopefully with an improved situation, things will go back to normal, and I will restore my restaurant hopping once more. Until then, do pray…and enjoy the lovely Christmas season!