Sometimes it’s good to quit: Top five reasons why I quit my job

It’s been three months since I quit my job and started working on my own. Today, on what would have been my tenth year working for a small NGO, I’m taking the time to reflect on the reasons why I left. Here are the top 5. A caveat, though: don’t take the following as my advice to quit your own job. The job, by the way, was as a “senior education specialist” for a human rights NGO based in Montreal. I basically wrote human rights manuals and trained people about rights. Here goes:

5. I just summed up the last ten years in two lines. That should be reason enough.

4. Flying sucks, as does everything in between flying. I took over 400 planes in over 50 trips, all flights but one were economy. I do not fit in any economy seat on any plane. I spent the equivalent of 24 days waiting in transit lounges that range in tolerance and comfort from the fifth circle of Hell to Purgatory. “Pam Am” the TV show is just that: pure fiction. Maybe it was like that in the 60s, but nowadays you basically have to disrobe in public at every airport and get felt up and down by a stranger who scolds you because you left a goddam quarter in your pocket and set off the machine. On top of that, having my entry into a country depend on some self-aggrandized idiot border guard has tested my patience on too many occasions. By the way, Israeli Defence Forces: you are just plain bad, and not good bad, just bad.

If you’re going to go, go boldly.

3. Doing the same thing for what seems like forever leads to complacency and lack of creativity. Ten years ago I said to friends and family, “I’m going to be in this job for one or two years and that’s it,” having no idea what I would do next, but convinced I would not stay long. Until that point in my life, the longest job I’d had was two years. After nearly ten years, a lot of the work wound up being the same – that makes it hard to be motivated on a daily basis. I needed more challenges, more uncertainty. I needed to see what other skills I had which I hadn’t even explored yet (and I am glad to have found them).

2. Sometimes you just have to jump and not know where the hell you’re going. I left my job knowing I had guaranteed work for three months, and that was all. In the job I quit, I knew with relative certainty that I could keep the job forever, unless I did something really stupid. I worked in human rights – people are violating them everywhere! Business is good! But seriously, every once in a while you need to take a risk and leap into the unknown. I needed to break free from that security. If anything, the anxiety of not knowing what to do fuelled my passion to search for new work. The most I had going for me was a feeling that everything was going to somehow work out. And it has (so far).

1. You need to shake things up to find balance in your life and zoom in on what’s important. I used to spend 2 1/2 hours in transit each day for work, five days a week. I left by 7 AM and came home before 6 PM. Now I take my children to the bus and see them off to school, work on my own schedule and greet them when their day is over at 3:45. Those 2 1/2 hours that used to be spent on the train with strangers are now spent with Boy 1 and Boy 2. I don’t need anything else to convince me that what I did was right.

I’m still flying economy, though. Can’t have it all.

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