… a continuation of Frozen, the previous post
So guess what I did on Pi Day (3.14), 2013? One year ago today I gave my notice at my job. I figured, that’s probably the best day to GIVE one’s notice for leaving a job, right? Caribou Coffee, which is based in Minnesota, has a saying on their paper coffee cups that I love: “Life is where ‘What if?’ runs away with ‘Why not?’” What better day than Pi Day, 3.14159265359… the number that continues on into infinity – the day of infinite possibilities – to leave one’s job?
Mark and I had talked about it. He knew I couldn’t stay at that job, that my strengths and what gives me meaning, along with what I really enjoy doing (writing, working with people, helping them see the possibilities and potential in their own lives) were not being utilized there. I had decided that I would leave in May, right before the first immersion week at Kripalu of my Positive Psychology course. I liked the symbolism that would reflect about endings and new beginnings.
Only as I shared yesterday, I started thinking more about it and if I waited until May that meant the search for my replacement would be going on in the summer. This is difficult on a university campus, as many people are vacationing during the summer or off-contract and not around… and my shoulder was still in a great amount of pain. And again, when I thought about making a decision based on a MUG (this still makes me chuckle to think about it!), I thought… why not? So I gave my notice on March 14.
One year ago today I gave my notice that I was leaving my job. Was I sure that things would work out? Not really. Was I sure I was doing the right thing? Nope. The only thing I knew was that how I was spending my days, in spite of enjoying my colleagues as people, was not feeding my soul. It no longer worked for me. It was a great “for now” job when the kids were younger. I had started out working half-time with summers off, and that was perfect for what I needed at that time. But staying in a job because I had 9 weeks off made no sense if I was no longer also enjoying the 43 weeks that I was working…
And because it was so emotionally draining, doing work that didn’t fulfill me, I really believed that I needed to leave so I could have the energy I needed, the energy I wanted, to focus on that which DOES fulfill me. So I was full of fear… and I did it, anyway.
Now, that’s not to say that everyone who is dissatisfied with their jobs should do what I did. I feel extremely fortunate that I have a husband who supports me, both literally and figuratively. And in a weird way, I am grateful to my mom, because when we sold her house after she died, it gave me a tiny bit of financial stability to move into the unknown. She’s helping me build my business, and I am eternally grateful for that.
I just didn’t want this day to go by without acknowledging that this is a day I will always remember. I was terrified to go in and tell my boss, and yet, I know people who stay because they are afraid to quit. I didn’t want to stay for that reason (really! What kind of a reason is that?!). And my boss was in and out of the office all day. Finally, I went in her office (which doubles as a conference/meeting room) to eat my lunch. I figured that if I sat there and physically was there when she returned that I wouldn’t lose my nerve.
I don’t remember exactly what I said, I just remember being extremely calm; like my mind had been made up and I was certain of my decision. And I was. I felt like in order to start living my true, authentic life, I had to do work that was true and authentic to me. And because I wasn’t happy in my work, that wasn’t fair to not only me, but it wasn’t fair to my colleagues and my boss, either.
So after I told my boss, we went together and told my colleagues. It was such a surreal experience, to be so excited to be leaving a job that I was familiar with, in an organization I had been working with for more than 12 years. And yet it felt so right; like it was definitely the right thing to do; the thing I must do. And yet I felt a sadness that I hadn’t expected. I had worked directly with this group of people for the past four years; I had known most of them during my full 12+ years with the organization. I enjoyed them as people and felt badly about leaving them with no one to fill my position. Then I reminded myself that people change jobs all the time, and that my obligation wasn’t to them; my obligation was to me and to creating work that was more meaningful to me. For the first time in my career I was making a choice for what I wanted; not because I needed the money or because the job fit in with my schedule or my family life. What an empowering moment that was!
I gave them a three-week notice; this seemed fair to me. And this solved the problem of not wanting to be there on the anniversary of my mom’s death. And when I looked at the calendar, it had me ending my job on Friday, April 5 and beginning the online portion of my Positive Psychology class on Monday, April 8… which still satisfied the symbolism that I was leaving one area that no longer served me and launching into another that I wanted to become my life’s work.
So back to the story of the frozen mug. After I gave my notice, I texted April and told her I had given my notice. She didn’t believe me. She had heard my unhappiness in how I had been spending my days at work for a very long while, and I don’t think she thought I would really do it. Or maybe she thought I would really do it once the mug became unfrozen, like I told Lauren and her I would! I also texted Lauren who congratulated me and was excited for me… I was excited for me, too!
Over the next three weeks we continued to run and look at that mug. We continued to guess when it would be free so April could take it home. One morning when the two of us were running, April shared that she wanted to make some changes in her work life, take on some different responsibilities and give up some others while staying at the same job. The snow had melted quite a bit by this time, and when we got to the corner where the mug was we could see it very clearly. It still looked frozen. It was still surrounded by ice, and it still clearly had ice inside of it as well. We went over to peer closer at it. April was going to walk away, when I said, “Don’t you want to try?” She responded, “It’s still clearly frozen…” and I asked, “What if it’s already free, just waiting for you to bring it home, and you just can’t see it? How will you know unless you try?”
So she walked over to the mug, bent over, peered inside it, looked at me, looked back at the mug, and then stuck her gloved hand into the mug… and her fingers got soaked. The ice was now water! The mug, although it looked like it was still frozen, was completely thawed and very easy to pick up! We laughed and laughed and April said, “It’s NOT all about you… it’s all about ME!!”
And this was just fine with me. I had made some decisions based not on what was going on with a mug, but based on what I wanted in my life; what I had control over. I knew I was heading in the right direction.