How To Quit Comfortably

Bidding farewell to something that doesn’t work for you should be an opportunity to affirm what is good in your life, and to celebrate moving forward.

For that to happen, though, you need to approach exits in a positive, productive way. It’s easy to find plus points to giving up cigarettes or getting out of a moribund relationship. Leaving a job, however, especially a decent job, can be tricky.

You may have mixed emotions. Change is daunting, giving up the security of a familiar situation can be stressful, people may question your choice. (Ignore them. They don’t understand and it isn’t your duty to explain.) For your own sake, think through your transition before you write that letter. Plan how you’re going to make the process of quitting work for you.

How to Quit Comfortably:

1. Check Your Contract – Be sure you know what your notice period is, rules about using holiday, confidentiality policy, gardening leave, etc

2. Write your resignation letter then wait – Take at least 24 between writing your letter and submitting it. Ensure it is clear, professional, error-free and neutral. This is not the place to rant about your colleagues or complain about your pay.

3. Stay productive – It’s tempting to slack off but frankly, staring at Facebook doesn’t make the day go any faster. Be professional, do your work well, if only for your sake.

4. Be present – Once you’ve made the decision to quit it is natural to focus on the future. By all means start laying the groundwork for your next step, whether it’s researching a new industry or planning a DIY project, but don’t try to micro-manage a future that isn’t here yet.

5. Decide what to take with you – Not your favourite mug, or the contents of the stationary cupboard, but the intangibles. Every job, even (or especially) the bad ones can teach you something if you’re willing to learn. Identify and write down 10 positive things you can take from the role.

6. …And what to leave – Jobs are like relationships: bad ones condition you to accept being unhappy and set you up for more dissatisfaction. Figure out what frustrated you and use this awareness to avoid repeating negative patterns.

7. Detach from other peoples’ emotions – If your boss and colleagues are supportive, fantastic; if not, so what? This isn’t about them. Same goes for friends, partner, family, and acquaintances. You can acknowledge their views without getting emotionally invested.

8. Surround yourself with good things – Quitting can be tough so make the rest of your life easy. Socialise more (or less); exercise; go away for a weekend; do more of what you love.

9. Give feedback– As a quitter you have the privilege of speaking truth to “power” without repercussions. An honest exit interview is closure for you and an opportunity for your employer to make things better for your replacement.

10. Celebrate!

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Job Satisfaction – Yes You Can


Morrissey nailed the British attitude towards work when he sang:


I was looking for a job, and then I found a job
And heaven knows I’m miserable now

A handful of Londoners I know are passionate about their work (all of them self-employed). A minority of content, sensible people treat their jobs as a means to an end. Mostly, though, people complain. In shops, on buses, at the gym, they moan about the commute, the politics, the gossip, the tea-round, the reports, the boss, the admin, the atmosphere, the expectations, the air conditioning, the meetings, the colleagues, the parties, the salary, the prospects, and the tedium. Yet they get up every morning and go to work.

The most common justification for this self-defeating behaviour? “Because not everyone can have their dream job”.

True. But just because not everyone can have a job they love is no reason for you (and you, and you, and you) to not try. There are people who can’t afford food, but you don’t let that stop you eating, do you? The plain fact is a lot of intelligent, educated, able-bodied, skilled, geographically and socio-economically privileged chose to play the victim-of-circumstance because it is easier than changing.

I’m not talking about conscious compromise of the: “I hate my job but it pays mad money so I do it anyway” sort, but the inexcusable: “I hate my job and want to do something different but I can’t.”

Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time, “can’t” is bullshit. It’s a euphemism for “won’t”, or “I’m scared”, or “I don’t know how”.

Each of those is a legitimate sentiment when honestly held and expressed. Otherwise, it’s a pitiable excuse.

I know because I’ve spent most of my adult life making excuses and mistakes, copping out, compromising, and selling myself short. Until I realised there is no fairy godmother in the wings. Nobody is going to give me permission to live my dreams. If I want job satisfaction I must choose to be satisfied.

I have options – lots of ’em. If I choose to not exercise them, fine, but I cannot pretend they don’t exist. It is dishonest, and disrespectful to people who are genuinely struggling.

People who are working for sheer survival don’t have time for self-pity.

Need some inspiration? Read on…
Meet the Pickleman
Ms Cupcake’s Sweet Success
How To Do What You Really Want

The Value of Mistakes

My friend works for an American company and observed that her Yankee counterparts are “terrified of making mistakes.”

How do you figure? I asked. Shit, look at Iraq. Then I thought about it. The American government is a dog-and-pony show of what not to do when left in charge but ordinary citizens? Different story.

America is, after all, the land where second place is first loser; where nobody remembers the runners-up, etc. As with all rules, these tropes apply disproportionately to the disempowered. Lives of the rich and powerful have second acts but as an average working man or woman you have one (very slender) chance. Drop that brass ring brother, or sister, and you’re off the merry-go-round. Especially in this economy.

Paradoxically, this mitigates against accomplishment. People who are petrified of making mistakes underperform. If you’re afraid of screwing up you play it safe, colour within the lines and even your thoughts turn to a mush of clichés. Fear fosters conservatism, stunts ambition and inhibits action. Wanting to get things right is an admirable impulse but it is more important to be willing to take risks.

Dear Prospective Employer – I’d Kill for a Job

I look as if I’ve just killed someone with my bare hands. It’s only paint but the dark brownish-red dots splotches on my palms and nails ringed in non-cosmetic scarlet are suggestive. Part of me wishes it were true. It would open up a range of new employment opportunities. Bodyguard. Assassin. Ninja. Gun for hire. Cage fighter. Maybe I could get a job as a prison officer. Or work for a private security firm in Iraq or some other high-risk location where wages are inversely proportionate to the value of human life. An unsqueamish woman with lethal fists could have a job for life with the CIA, or star in a Quentin Tarantino film. I could freelance as a butcher; become a safari guide, or a stunt woman, or…

Women too...

Not that I want to kill for a living but in the current economic climate it’s important to pursue every opportunity. In the last 30 days I’ve applied for 66 full-time jobs, 24 freelance posts, and sent 30-something pitches to newspapers or magazines. I haven’t asked to be an astronaut, elephant trainer, sommelier, CEO or pop star. I have soberly and responsibly applied for roles as reporter, web editor, deputy editor, sub-editor, proofreader, copywriter, personal assistant, executive assistant, administrator, online journalist, copy editor, report writer, and research associate. Jobs that all have two things in common: a) they require specific skills, education and experience, and b) I have the requisites. I’m not trying to waste anyone’s time, not trying to blag it; not getting ideas above my station. I have highly respectable undergraduate and graduate degrees and international work experience. At 31 I am young enough to be a good long-term employment prospect but mature enough to be reliable. I am willing to relocate; to consider part-time, contract and temporary work. I am flexible, personable, and well-presented. I speak two languages. I have management experience, recruitment experience, teaching experience and customer service experience.

If you are an employer advertising an editorial job and took the time to read the CV I sent you’ll know I write for national magazines including Mixmag, Real Travel and Mslexia; I write opinion columns and blogs; my essays win awards and my work appears in literary journals. I am a contributor to The Nervous Breakdown and a highly praised ghostwriter. I write about music, travel, media, literature, politics, food, fitness, pop culture, economics and women’s issues. I have worked in consumer and business to business publishing. I have managed websites and commissioned writers. I know InDesign, CMS, SEO, and social media. I can administer budgets, write reports, handle internal communications and external suppliers, deal with celebrities, clients and contractors.

For those employers seeking a proactive, organised, “good at liaising” executive assistant I have highlighted my organisational skills and project management background; they will know that I am good at multi-tasking and never miss a deadline. I have noted that working in different countries has made me flexible, open-minded and adaptable. I mentioned my dedication, drive, loyalty, and ability to get along in a team, and my work for leading brands.

Maybe you are looking for a food server, or someone to stand in a shop and smile when the doorbell jangles. Then you’ll know I have waitressed in casual and upscale restaurants; I have tended bar; run a coffee shop; and done silver-service catering. I have worked in shoe-shops, call centres, estate agents, warehouses, fast-food joints, schools and bakeries. I’ve been a football steward, a pet-minder and a babysitter. I can paint, too: houses, garden gates, and garage doors – that’s how my hands got all bloody-looking. I’m not persnickety. I’ve cleaned toilets and filled out marketing questionnaires for ten bucks a pop.

The one percent doesn’t support shit. Millions of people doing boring, repetitive, unrewarding, disregarded work is keeping this stove-hulled economic ship afloat. All those mediocre jobs that cover the mortgage and credit card minimums, keep food in the fridge and pay for broadband (though maybe not all in the same month) are holding off the deluge. Trouble is there are more hands than there are pumps and water is pouring in. It isn’t that people are too lazy, uneducated, inexperienced, fussy, or inflexible – there just aren’t enough jobs. I know. I’m looking.