About 8 years ago I decided to quit my corporate job. I had been working for 13 years and it was a big decision to make. I am an arts graduate and had started my career as a customer service agent with a telecom giant. Through the years, I worked hard and handled many job portfolios. Each one offered me great learning opportunities and helped me grow as a professional. The hunger to try something new led me to explore career options with another start-up telecom company after 8 years. This gave me an opportunity to work with different departments and understand aspects of the business in detail like I never was able to before. Helping set up the critical processes for departments was a new high. Things were looking good and soon it was 5 years in my new company. I was due for a promotion as well. Then why did I decide to quit?
They say that one doesn’t decide to quit a job for any one single reason. The same was true with me. I was starting to near a state of burn-out. The honeymoon period was over and there was unnecessary stress due to unrealistic expectations. I lived approximately 20 km away from the office and so I was traveling a total of 40 km every day, which was taking away a big chunk of my time. Even after coming home, because of the nature of my job, I sometimes needed to be on call to handle work crises. I also was able to spend time with my parents only on weekends. I am an only child and attached to my parents…so, one-day visits were not my thing. Being creative by nature, my earlier communications profile was very interesting. I had recently moved to an operations role relevant to my promotion, which I didn’t quite enjoy as much. Also, there were some recent restructuring in the organization which meant job insecurity was high amongst colleagues. So where earlier where everyone was working to showcase their own worth, now many were working to prove that the other was wrong in the hope that their job would be secure. All this contributed as building blocks to the potential burnout that I could see on the horizon. Where earlier I would be energized even after 10-12 hours at work, now I was mentally exhausted by the end of the day. Obviously, this started taking a toll on my emotional and physical health.
And finally, my husband who ran an event management company wanted to reinvent it and take it to the next level. So he asked me to join him as a partner and look after the creative side while he handled the operations part. So after much deliberation, sorting out finances and the complete support of my husband, I quit after 13 years in corporate life.
It was not an easy decision to say no to an assured fat salary every month, especially when one had loans to repay. Many people told me I was foolish to quit now when I was tipped for the next big promotion. Often the time never seems right – a promotion is around the corner, or it is appraisal time which will result in a salary hike, or it is bonus time – so one has to draw the line somewhere. Ultimately the choice was mine to make and I took the leap.
In my new life as an entrepreneur, I started a new event management company as a creative partner. We also sold our house and moved closer to where my parents lived. Since I was now the mistress of my own time and could set my own hours, I explored my creative side as well. I learnt photography, sketching, dancing, knitting and also started a community library. Here I read stories to kids and also taught them craftwork. My husband and I traveled quite a bit and satiated our wanderlust. Being the eternal learner, I also upgraded my work-related skills by joining new courses. This helped me formally put together my content creation company and led me to explore a new field of teaching at a college to equip young women with vocational skills. And of course, I also share my experiences and thoughts through my blog.
This journey of 20 years has taught me many things. I would like to share some work-life tips that worked for me.
- Try to find a role that you really enjoy and are interested in. Chances of it becoming mundane or a chore are much lesser.
- If your job doesn’t feed your interests, consciously make some free time and look for activities to indulge your interest. It could be helping others, learning, teaching, or creating.
- Where possible, explore other job opportunities that suit you. If not, rethink the way you look at work. Maybe take some time off or look at a sabbatical.
- Make a conscious effort to engage and build a relationship with your co-workers. Having work-friends helps handle the stress and makes your work-life more enjoyable.
- Learn to identify work-fatigue before it turns out to a full-blown burnout. Look for ways to de-stress yourself, including asking for help from family and friends. This will ensure there is no emotional breakdown.
- Set some time every day for meditation, yoga, or exercise, and make time for any activity that brings you joy.
Have you had a complete change in the line of work you do? Have you had experiences of work-related anxiety or burnout? I would love to hear about it. Do connect with me through the comments below.