To be honest I am usually asked to help people before they make a major career related decision. Often it’s for advice, to help them formulate a strategy, or even just to come up with a list of options.
Then every once in a while someone like Marshall comes along.
He looked me in the eye and said, “Quitting my job was the most liberating experience of my life“.
Now there’s a great opening line for a career development session if I’ve ever heard one.
This was quickly followed by “So now I really need you to help me with my game plan career wise“.
I was up for the challenge …
Some might think of Marshall as careless, irrational, or perhaps even downright stupid.
But the first words that came into my head were courageous, brave, invigorated, and WOW! Clearly he must have reached breaking point to have resigned without another job to go to.
Then Marshall painted the full picture …
“That job was a vampire – it sucked the life right out of me and made me feel numb“, he explained. “I was having anxiety attacks at my desk. I’d been there 8 years and they were treating me like I’d started there last week“.
I let him continue.
“It was poisonous. Toxic. It was making me physically sick. I was even having recurring nightmares of firing a torpedo missile into the office. Clearly a sign that it was time to eliminate the job entirely“.
Apparently he just walked into his boss’s office, sat down and said, “I think the time has come for me to move on“.
It was done.
Marshall had paid of his mortgage with his last commission cheque so he wouldn’t be burdened with financial pressures while planning his next move.
I appreciate that not everyone is as fortunate as Marshall and very few people would feel comfortable even taking the risk of quitting without another offer on the table.
He then said something else which caught my attention.
“I never want to look upon my career choices from an angle of regret“.
When Marshall had felt his work ethic plummeting, he knew there would be no way he’d be able to appear up-beat, positive, motivated, and enthusiastic at interview – all of which can often be more important than various skills or particular experience. He didn’t want to feel sorry for himself any more and it was simply time to try something new.
The one thing I was sure of was that in his newly liberated state, Marshall would be in a far better head space to formulate a strategy and make some pretty major decisions. To have remained there “drained of life“, numb and anxious would only result in long-term regret.
The moral of the story is quite simple. If you start referring to your workplace as poisonous or toxic, or if you liken it to a vampire, then quite simply it’s a signal that the time has come for you to put down your weapons and move on.