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So I'm resigning from my current employer.
By the way, it isn't public with my coworkers yet, so if you read this shortly after publication, please keep it quiet. Nerd code.
For some, resigning isn't a big deal, as they change jobs more often than I do. I feel like I'm in the minority, actually, in how long I tend to stay at a job. Sure, I left a couple of jobs in about two years, but my longest stint was over eleven years, and this one nearly reached eight. I'm a bit "loyal" in that way.
What makes this more difficult for me is that I don't really *want* to leave. This has been the best job I ever had. But, I know that I need to leave it behind, regardless. The problem is that I am burned out.
Now, I've been burned out before. I find that I need to be objective about it, though, before I can conclude that I am, in fact, burned out. I don't trust my emotional, in-the-moment self. So, like a good analytical nerd, I look for lists of burnout signs, and pit myself against them. Here's a list from the Mayo Clinic.
Have you become cynical or critical at work? Yes.
Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started? A bit.
Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients? Yes.
Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive? Somewhat.
Do you find it hard to concentrate? Not really.
Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements? Yes.
Do you feel disillusioned about your job? Yes.
Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel? Somewhat.
Have your sleep habits changed? Yes.
Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints? Probably not.
So, out of a possible burnout score of 10 here, I'm at around 6. And the article says, "If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be experiencing job burnout." So, yeah, I think I qualify.
Leaving a job could be considered a more extreme way to cope with burnout. Resources I've read tend to stop short of recommending you quit. The alternative there is to voice concerns and drive change so that your job doesn't, well, burn as much. I claim that I've done that ... often ... and my situation has only worsened. Not through retaliation or anything - positive change simply does not happen, and I have given up hoping for it; meanwhile, the environment decays.
I believe that many of the root problems are not with my immediate team, either, so simply "transfering to another department" won't cut it, for me. Like I said, I've been there almost eight years. I can predict how likely improvements will be, and my prediction is: not very.
The clearest signal for me that I am burned out - more to the point, that I need to leave - is that I no longer care about what I'm doing, or what my employer is doing. It's happened before, once. This is the second occurrence. Once that happens, once that drive and energy within you finally dies, it won't come back. It doesn't help yourself, or your employer, to stick around afterwards.
I bet this is what many people really mean when they say "It was just time for a change", when asked why. That sounds much nicer than "I no longer give two shits what is happening here".
I am a highly self-critical person, so experiencing these negative, moreover, antisocial attitudes gets me really down on myself. We all know that we "should" be those ideal employees, full of energy and positivity and drive to change the world and make all things awesome. I feel very distant from that ideal, and regardless of how unrealistic and subversive the ideal truly is, how I feel upsets me.
So, I reflect back (often a bad thing!) and ask myself: Is this really the right thing to do? Think about all the benefits you'll lose! Shouldn't you stick around and fix what's wrong? What should you have done differently, and couldn't you do that now? Why don't you just try harder to make things work out better and get them to change? You're supposed to "be the change", right? This is just giving up, isn't it? How much of this is actually your fault or your problem, not them? Haven't you considered your part in all this?
My wife adroitly pointed out that this is what people in an abusive relationship say.
Now, I am not about to equate job dissatisfaction with domestic abuse. (Um, domestic abuse is much worse, by the way. Just to be clear.) A domestic abuser is actively harming another person in a variety of targeted, malicious ways, while most employers don't actively try to harm their employees. It's a mistake to think of a company as a single conscious entity, anyway; it's an emergent conglomeration of individuals, so its effects are largely unintentional, lacking skilled leadership.
No, the abuse originates from myself, directed at myself. There is a connection to abusive relationships here in the way that abusers sow doubt and insecurity. Here, though, I guess I'm the abuser, not my employer. There's a weakness, a malfunction in me, that pits me against myself.
That is one reason why I'm not confident that simply switching jobs will help. I'm bringing all that abuse with me. Why won't I end up this way in a few years again? If so, why leave what is arguably a pretty sweet employment deal now? (Strictly salary-wise and ignoring "equity", I will earn less at my new position.)
Like they say, the one thing common to all of your failed relationships is you.
This is where, in the flow of a good writing piece, the author transitions into the positive and optimistic part, where the story takes a turn and hope glimmers in the distance. I don't have that to provide now. Maybe later, but not yet. (Like, share, and subscribe to find out!!!)
I am confident that it is a correct move for me to resign, and one of the best things for my own mental health and general happiness. Sometimes, you don't know whether a decision will be "right" in the long term, and you simply have to do what you think is best at the time. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but really that's what most of us do anyway. Heh.
In recent decades the ideas of self-care and maintaining mental health have become much more acceptable. Someone who fully buys into these ideas would be much more at ease with my decision. For whatever reason, though, I can't buy into them ... but purely when it applies to me. I grant everyone else these latitudes and whole-heartedly endorse them, but not for myself. I should be stronger, better. I know that's a dumb attitude, at least, but it's still there.
Will the grass be greener on the other side? I mean, sometimes it actually is. I believe you can't let pessimism prevent you from taking a chance. Additionally, you can't let the discomfort of change stop you from making a change. Change is not really scary, it's just uncomfortable, but discomfort is not enough for you to stay in a bad place. If the next place is also bad, well, you can change again. Maybe, just due to raw probability, you'll end up at a good place. (If so, I wish it weren't taking this long for me.)
Oops, I'm lapsing into optimism, subverting my subversion. Plot twist.
I think back to when I began working for my soon-to-be-former employer, and I can say it was, without reservation, amazing and awesome. It stayed that way for a good while, and then descended into something that I essentially can't bear anymore. Regardless of the ending, it's still true, as I wrote in the beginning of this piece, that this was the best job I've ever had. I have some trepidation that I'll never recapture that initial state again ... but I know that can't happen with them. Maybe it's them, maybe it's me (my wife is sure it's them), but that truth remains.
I'm sure I'll write again, once I've started with my new employer, WHOEVER THAT MIGHT BE. (I guess watch my LinkedIn or whatever if you care. You shouldn't care.) At that point, will I have gained some wisdom? Possibly. That'd be better than chaining myself to a wheel of disillusionment.
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