I’VE quit my day job. Actually it doesn’t make much sense to say that, given that my “other” job has become my day job now. But the day job I quit has been my principal place of employment for over 15 years, and you don’t just quit it without a bit of thought.
Some people around my age have had the misfortune to be pushed out of their job, or to find themselves unable to keep doing it. Not in my case. I was still physically and mentally capable of keeping up with the work, and I enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere created by the new young owner of the business. There was no pressure to make way for younger staff, and no technological changes I couldn’t keep up with.
And if I quit I would be burdening my boss with the task of covering my hours and training someone else to take on what she used to happily leave to me so that she was free to do what she needed to do. She’d already been so generous in accommodating my numerous schedule changes that it seemed churlish to hand her another millstone.
And most of all, I still needed the income, even though my hours had reduced (my choice) and my other job was now the one I claimed the tax-free threshold from. I was sure I must be an idiot, choosing to let go of a small but stable cash flow … and paid leave.
So why even consider quitting? The fact is that my focus had shifted. My work as a group exercise instructor had grown. I was now teaching three different programs over four different locations and on most days of the week, plus preparation, research and practice time. Honestly, I had started to see working at the shop as a bit of a rest. No preparation required, and after so many years there, not so much mental effort either.
But it wasn’t really a rest, no retail work can be. The doors are open, you want customers coming in, and when they do you have to bring your best game. And I was failing at times to bring my best game; extra holiday crowds, extra orders to process on top of serving out the front, a call from the gym to cover an extra class the next day, and suddenly I was not so nice to be around.
Time for a reassessment of priorities, including a frank appraisal of my actual value to the workplace versus my own perception, and conversely, a frank confession about the value I was placing on being at that workplace.
Priorities reassessed, appraisal complete, confession done: the outcome was pretty clear.
Yet that niggling doubt about how the bills would be covered hung around like a black cloud. Particularly when the work I would now depend on in turn depends on me being physically able to do it. Group exercise leading means just that: if my body gives out and I can’t lead, I’m sunk.
I used to have a book on my shelf entitled “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. I never read the book; I just liked the title. I hoped by having it there in front of me the message would eventually sink in. It’s worked: there have been many times when I’ve faced paralysing anxiety about some issue or other, and ended up taking a breath and plunging in. Mostly things have turned out ok, and sometimes spectacularly well. Post readers may recall my piece about leaving the city and moving here as a good example.
I reminded myself that I’ve been in this situation before, a few times actually. Between Pauline and myself and our various employment adventures, things have sometimes looked bleak at first, but sooner or later something has filled the void, and usually sooner. Maybe something really exciting is just around the corner and if I don’t allow a void to appear, I’ll miss it.
My boss and I had our discussion and sorted out an exit plan, sincere good will on both sides. Excellent replacement person in place, I’ve handed in the keys and received my final pay. Job done, literally.
It’s only been a few weeks, but the extra time and energy I can now put into planning and prep for my classes means I’m enjoying them even more … and getting good feedback. Fingers crossed.