I’m a Quitter

As first seen in The Guys Fishing Weekly – Subscribe Here

I don’t want this to come off like you should just rush out and quit your job. In fact I think this takes a lot of deliberate thought and meditations. Quitting a job is no small feat. And even if you do think it will be, it won’t.

You may be telling yourself, “I hate this job, I can’t wait to be done.” or “I am so burnt out, it would be nice to just sit on the beach and do nothing.” Or maybe you have been saving up for years and you are finally ready to pull the plug and live out your days in an RV (”if I just stack one more year of cash, I will be ready!” amirite?!) But I promise, it will be hard.

For me it was a visceral feeling. Comparable with breaking off a long term relationship. Only in my case, I still kind of liked this chick. I wasn’t wholly unhappy. I generally liked what I was doing, with people I genuinely loved and looked up to in a lot of ways. But the river of life kept calling out “is there more than this?”

I made the fateful decision to leave over a long period of time. Not like a week, but more like 18 months. I put in the work and showed up every day, and on most every project I went above and beyond. But as you look down from another work trip airplane, and see the rivers and water below, you have to ask if there is something more? Another way you can help the universe?

The stars aligned for me and my family. My wife came upon a career transition that granted her an extended gap away before starting her next job. We also had been diligent savers and investors, and while retirement is not something either of us want at this time, we are able to afford to sit on the bank and watch the river flow by for a little. All of this, plus we see our daughter sprouting up right before our eyes. No grind is worth missing that.

So I made the decision. It felt rash at the time, even after 18 months of thinking about it. Maybe you really are never ready. The day I decided was no different than any other day. Nothing had set me off. Nothing was really wrong at work. I just decided that stars don’t align every day, and you just have to take chances in life.

I was to see my direct report the following Tuesday on a property visit in New Jersey. We were going to be with each other the entire day, in and out of Ubers and meetings. I didn’t want to screw up our vibe of getting work done and sealing deals for the company’s future, so I decided to wait until we were at dinner together that night. Solid plan if I do say so myself.

But plans are meant to be screwed with.

One of our clients asked us out to dinner at a great restaurant. My colleague and I obliged. And suddenly I realized that giving notice in front of a client would be something you only saw in movies from a disgruntled employee; something I was not. Plan thwarted.

Dinner was like any other we shared over the past 9 years. Comfortable, effortless and tasty. But as it was wrapping up, my panic set in. My moment was coming, and suddenly it felt really real. We said our goodbyes to the host and walked out on to the Manhattan streets.

I can vividly remember not hearing what he was saying as we were walking back to our hotel. It was drowned out by the voice in my head I have listened to a thousand times, coaxing me to overcome my fears with, “now or never man, the train is leaving the station and you are going to miss it if you don’t act.”

When I opened my mouth, I choked up. I didn’t think it would be this emotional. “Am I making an unforced error? Am I leaving right in the middle of my prime? Am I ever going to be hireable again if nothing works out and I have a gap in my resume?” All of the questions I had asked for the 18 months prior came rushing to the surface again. But I answered them all with the fact that I made this decision 72 hours prior with all of the logic humanly possible. We will be ok.

What was really going on was I felt like I was hurting someone I had grown very close with over the years. We had done family holidays together and been on more business trips than I can count. Someone I would consider one of the best mentors I have ever had. And I just changed our relationship forever. You can’t put that genie back. We will always be friends, and will probably regularly talk about the books we read and check in on each other’s family. Heck we might even go fishing together one day. But what we had is now altered.

All of my talking points I had run over in my head, suddenly went out my earholes. I stumbled on my words. I put the wrong Emfasis on the wrong silAHble. It wasn’t what I had planned. But I got my points out.

We grabbed a drink and chatted for an hour at the hotel restaurant. And as the message sank in, so did the pressure. It was hard to argue with my points. They came from a primal place that I think we all yearn for.

Time. Fleeting it is.

As we proceeded through the conversation, the mentor in my colleague I have counted on countless occasions came out. The veil of our business relationship somewhat lifted and we talked like friends (not that we typically don’t). In some ways I saw his eyes glitter with hope for me, and in others we would fall back in to that place of disappointed loss. But we also know that we still have our friendship.

We said our goodbye’s for the evening and he said, “chat with you tomorrow” like we always say at the end of the day, and went our separate ways. Separate ways that felt very different this time.

But with everything in life, nothing is permanent. And just like watching the river from the bank, it is never the same. After my observations and time away, I could go back, or we could work together in a totally different capacity. Heck we could even go fishing sometime (second hint not as subtle?).

After taking this step, to live for today and not let life pass, I can say that it was hard. But hard is not a good reason to put today off for tomorrow. We don’t get to see these things align in our life but a handful of times, if any. And a life well lived is one with a series of memories.

Not of work accomplishments and trophies, but of the backwood brook trout, camping with your loves and your daughter’s giggles.

… he he…

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