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My wanton act of optimism

Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 in Me

I quit my job. It paid well and the economy is tanking. Why did I do it?

1. We are the stories we tell, aren’t we? The stories we tell others and the stories we tell ourselves. When people asked me how things were at work I was unable to create an honest and interesting story. I was bored with same stories of conflict I had told the year before. They were even the same stories people in the next office were telling. In general stories of conflict are good ones. But not when the plot doesn’t advance. I want the story of my life to be one worth reading. The characters should be bold and at least a little eccentric. And I should be worthy of being the protagonist.

2. Feedback from friends and colleagues I respected. If people are telling you that you aren’t fun any longer you should listen to them. If people are telling you that your job is making you crazy, you should listen to them. If they are telling you that you’re talented and ethical and bright, you should listen to them.

3. Feedback my from subconscious. If you aren’t going to listen to the voices that wake you up at 3 a.m. when no one else is talking, do you know how to listen?

4. Taking an active role in one’s own life is the best kind of change.
I like change. I’ve been a fundamentalist Christian, a radical lesbian feminist, and now I’m married to a soldier boy. Even in the midst of all the apparent change going on in the workplace, there wasn’t any real change.
I just read “most people are not the architects of their own change.” I don’t want that to be true of me.

5. Self-care is sometimes a radical operation. I’m not one who is good at self-care. I’m good at worrying about others. I do the distasteful tasks first and seldom get around to the reward I’m supposed to get for doing so. It’s like writing for me. It feels great, but it’s hell getting started. I tried various way to taking care of myself at work and they didn’t work. I can’t not care about quality. I can’t not care about my clients. I have responsibilities. And one of them is to myself.

I found that lowering your standards, just doing what’s asked of you, and other coping skills don’t just mean that you’ve given up on the job, it means you’ve given up on yourself. To re-word the Sunday School song, if you know you could shine elsewhere, why keep yourself under the bushel?

6. If you don’t act in accordance with your own values, you do injury to yourself. Being authentic is a value. Doing work where I’m encouraged and I can encourage others to be creative and play with new ideas is a value. Personal and professional growth is a value. Being relevant and having an impact is a value. My first clue that I wasn’t acting according to my own values was when I argued with a colleague/friend over the most stupid of disagreements. That was few years ago. I can be a slow learner.

7. Optimism in the face of despair is a visionary act.
I’m an Aquarius. My sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all in Aquarius. I was nurtured by pragmatism, but my nature is more exuberant and risk-taking. It’s more independent and perverse. And it gets more attention.

8. Taking risks is good for the soul.
Soul food is created from what’s at hand–what others might have discarded. It’s about placing value on the these ingredients. Risk is a strong and flavorful spice. It takes practice to use it well. I think it adds to your lifespan. And it makes for a better story.

If this post has you thinking about your own life, you might want to read a better author on some similar themes. See “What Should I Do with My Life, Now?.”

  1. I am utterly wowed by this. My danged printer doesn’t work so I’ll have to wait until Monday at work to print this out and post it on my wall. Which I will.

  2. Yes! You are both pragmatic and a risk-taker. You’ve always been willing to do your own thing. Manifestivus.

  3. An excellent blog post on when it’s time to quit. I missed too many of the clues.
    10 Signs It’s Time to Leave Your Job

    My optimism took a while to be rewarded, but I’m so much happier and healthier now.

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