Knowing when to quit your job without another job is a lesson that I recently learned hard and fast. From a career standpoint, 2018 was the hardest year of my adult life. It led to me making a seemingly irrational decision to quit a job, without actually having any real plan. To many outside of myself, I know I seem to be a job-hopper, but what they don’t see are the internal struggles that I had been dealing with. This is my personal story.
In January 2019, after a grueling 2017-2018, I gave my employer a notice. On paper, I had a great job. I left a great job in rehab marketing to take a six-figure salary in a mid-level leadership position and managed a multi-million dollar budget. Working in a career field that I started nearly 7 years ago. It might appear to some that I had achieved success.
Knowing all that, it’s easy to assume that I should have been happy. But the fact of the matter was that I was more unhappy than I’d ever been in my life. I was struggling.
The Catalyst For Quitting My Job Without Having Another Job
I accepted the job offer in October of 2018, after months of interviews and consideration, leaving behind a job I genuinely loved. At the time, I had the feeling that I was being held down by archaic operations that valued and invested into traditional sales methods, versus the future (or really the present) of digital marketing. I needed to move into something “bigger.” Fortunately, I saw the future of the company and everyone I worked with, eventually got let go and the website I worked on for two years, saw an exponential drop in organic traffic.
I was warned by the director of this new job that this was going to be a tough job, but I felt I was prepared. From the first day, I was thrust into this world of sink or swim, without any formal on-boarding, training, or process handover. Everything from essential things like trying to sign up for health benefits or hiring new employees, to figuring out how to get reimbursed for frequent travel were things I essentially had to figure out on my own. There was no HR, except for a phone number to call and wait for sometimes up to an hour. I was expected to reach out to other managers on my level for answers, but being the only remote manager, it proved difficult to really build a solid relationship with them.
When it came to strategy and planning, there was zero handover when it came to historical documentation or standard operating procedures for my department. The department I managed had been spending millions of dollars a year, without any sort of historical document – this is an SEO nightmare, because there was no way to track what we had in the way of content. There was no real strategy. As if the on-boarding wasn’t already rough, I realized that I had to come up with a new campaign for hundreds of academic clients’ programs, with very little time. Most of the clients seemed unsatisfied and frustrated, as they were on their last leg of 8-year, multi-million dollar contracts… they weren’t happy with the results and I had to answer to that.
I was hired to absorb all of this – I was put in place to be a punching bag.
I had worked in large enterprise environments before. This was my first experience with such organized chaos on such a large scale. Still, I took a deep breath and dove straight in.
I knew pretty quickly that I made a bad decision to sign on with this job. I tried to ignore my intuition. My habit was to tell myself that it will get better and my ego was telling me I had to overcome it. But as time went on, things kept snowballing and becoming more out of control.
As a remote manager, I was having to travel to the home office in Orlando about half of the time. This started taking a strain on my family life. I started losing sleep because I would stay up worrying about constant barrage of meetings next day. I had several weeks where I only had two hours free the entire week to do actual work – the rest was spent in meetings. Leads were down, so instead of doing the work to get leads down, we spent our time in meetings… talking about why leads are down.
To top it off, my own initiatives set by my leadership weren’t aligning with what my employees were doing. Every request I received from the business unit didn’t align with those objectives either. I was stranded and confused, on an island of my own. I asked for help, but the answer I got was that it was just the status quo.
At one point, I injured my neck and missed a week of work, which put me even more behind. My mental health affected, I was in a constant state of depression or anxiety. I felt no joy, even when spending time with my children during the holidays.
That is when I knew then that I needed to quit. This job was too stressful and unfulfilling . The mental strain and long days sitting at my desk lead to a neck injury. I was miserable from the moment I woke up and throughout the day. The holidays didn’t even feel like the holidays.
I decided to quit. No amount of money is worth this kind of pain. The anxiety with a baseline of depression is much worse than stress that comes along with being unemployed. I worked with my significant other to come up with a financial plan that would extend out to three months. It was tight, but it gave me time to make the transition.
Three Weeks After Quitting
Nearly three weeks after quitting my job, I knew I made the right decision. I had several interviews immediately following me quitting. Nothing came of them, but it was great to know I had options.
Financially, we took it a day at a time. There were nights that I did spend time worrying about the future. I worried about not having health insurance for my family. However, I was in more control of my life and able to shut it off. I knew that it would be fine, so I just continually told myself that.
I started taking 3-4 mile walks everyday and changed my eating habits. I also got on a regimen of multivitamins. These all seem to help stabilize my mood.
With the time I had to reflect, I started really thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I was 36 and unfulfilled. I achieved my salary goals that I set nearly 5 years ago, but I wasn’t happy. I knew the next thing I did had to be something I loved to do.
For almost over half a decade, my weekends were all about film-making and video production. I always had a pipe dream to produce a television show, but because of where I grew up, I never thought it was something I could do. Later in life, I never thought it was something I could break into at my age, because most people that start off in this field were in their early twenties. I decided to ignore these paradigms and started looking online and applied for every video production job I could get.
The Silver Lining
A couple months after quitting, I received a call from Cox Media Group – one of the biggest privately owned media companies in the world. Within weeks of receiving the first call, I accepted the job and found myself in the world of news media. Instead of crunching numbers, Google searching, looking at search volume, trends, and queries all day, I found myself editing videos to promote television shows and eventually found myself producing a weekly live show.
I am finally doing what I want. For over 15 years, I ignored my desire to work in TV and now have finally achieved this goal I never thought I could reach. There is stress in this industry, but it’s manageable because at the end of the day, I feel a sense of accomplishment. In SEO, it took months to feel this way.
The point of all this is that I followed my gut and it has paid off. For me, I found that the key to knowing when to quit your job without another job is by following your intuition. I stopped listening to my ego that said I needed a certain social status or salary and started listening to my body. I know I am only going to live for a short amount of time on this Earth and I am finally feeling like myself again. I’m alive.