Until seven months ago, I was working for an Innovation Center within a large company as a Computer Engineer.
Our team was focused on special projects, which means I got to pick my own research topics, present frequently to high-level executives, and travel internationally to tour cutting-edge research facilities. And I absolutely hated it. On paper, it was a great job – I could walk to work, I enjoyed my coworkers, we went to dinner and drinks after work, and I had a say in what I was working on. But I was also constantly stressed, I didn’t get along with my boss, the hours were strict, and the traveling was tiring.
I wondered how I had even ended up feeling so miserable, stressed, and stuck.
I was afraid that I would never find a job I liked- I had thought that having a “good” job when I graduated meant everything would just work out. And now that I could see this wasn’t the case, I didn’t know what to do. How was it possible to be this miserable just because of a job? I had a wonderful boyfriend, friends, family, apartment, and so much else going for me. How was it possible to have my job overshadow all of this?
I started to explore other possible careers.
I liked the idea of being a Project Manager, but I didn’t know how to go about entering that field or even if that was really what I wanted. But anything had to be better than this, right?
A few weeks before, I had met a woman who was working in Project Management through Levo League Atlanta. I emailed her a list of questions about becoming a PM- do you need any credentials, what qualities make a good PM, and some other generic topics. In her replies, she mentioned that, although she really enjoyed her job as a PM, it wasn’t her passion. I was surprised. After hearing so many people say “follow your passion” or “do something you love”, could that be wrong? Did that mean I would never find out anything I was passionate about? But I clicked on the link she had sent me, which ended up being a quiz that recommends how your career and passion intersect.
And guess what? According to this quiz, I was a “Thriver”, which meant my career and passion didn’t need to intersect either! What? As I read over my results, I realized that this pdf was describing how I felt better than I ever had been able to. For me, my job has always served as something I did so that I could have the lifestyle I wanted, not something that needs to have an impact on the world. I look forward to work ending and going home to spend time with my friends and family. The more I read, the more I could see I wasn’t the only one who valued freedom and flexibility so strongly- I had always thought this made me lazy or that I just hadn’t found what I was passionate about yet.
Although I still wanted to find a new job that I actually enjoyed, this took so much pressure off finding the “perfect” job.
One night, sitting alone in my hotel room after a long day on a business trip, I was looking around Clarity on Fire, the website that started the quiz, and I made an impulse decision to sign up for one of their courses. The idea of Thrivers fascinated me, and wanted to see how this could help me figure out what I wanted to do in a new job. I ended up staying up until about 3 am working on the go-at-your-own-pace class, and I felt so incredibly inspired.
I learned so much about how I wanted to work, regardless of what my job title was. My values of freedom, flexibility, and connection with others helped me narrow down what I wanted to do. To me, passion in my work is something nice to have but not necessary, which was a huge shift in my thinking from a few weeks before. Creativity also wasn’t that important, even though I had it in my job currently- yet another indicator that my job, though very “cool”, just wasn’t right for me.
That night, I knew for sure that I needed to change jobs, and that I would find something out there that would fit my values.
I talked to my friend from Levo League and several other Project Managers that I knew as well as reviewing some other possible career paths. That week, I began reaching out to old coworkers and friends to find an opportunity that would be right for me.
One day, I had a particularly bad anxiety attack, and I knew I couldn’t wait to leave. Although I don’t recommend quitting your job without a backup for most situations, it was the right decision for me. I was making myself physically ill through stress, including chest pains and frequent anxiety attacks. I was so drained when I got home that I barely had the energy to look for jobs. After reviewing my finances and talking to my family, I put in my two weeks’ notice. Almost immediately, I felt a huge weight removed from my shoulders. I was excited about the future, and I was confident in my abilities.
I learned how to search for jobs that met my values and impress interviewers at the same time.
Being more selective in the jobs I applied for led to much better results. A few days after quitting, I talked to a former coworker who knew someone hiring a junior level Scrum Master. The position was at a large company known for their high employee engagement. Responsibilities would include budgeting, project planning, facilitating and coaching for a software development team. The hours were fairly flexible, and I could work from home occasionally. Most importantly, I knew my new boss’ management style focused on encouraging growth.
After my onsite interview, I went through my checklist of values and was able to see how every single one of them would play into this job- Working closely with my team to provide connection, having the freedom to design my own Personal Development Plan, and the flexibility to work when I chose. I had never been so excited about a potential job before.
The company offered me a position as a Scrum Master two days before I left my old job.
I still got my vacation between the two and was able to recharge after so many months of constant stress. From starting the course, to the day I left, it was only three short weeks of whirlwind activities- crazy, right? And I know that I would not have found a job so quickly if it weren’t for Clarity on Fire. I later went on to take another course from them as well as doing 1-on-1 Coaching.
I just reached my six month anniversary at my new job, and I still live out my values every day.
I’ve gotten over the “honeymoon period” of being excited every day to get to work. It still seems like a miracle to find a job that fits my values and gives me my dream lifestyle.
This journey inspired me to start my own coaching journey. I’m thankful for both the positive and negative experiences I went through. Hating my job turned out to be a blessing in disguise that set me up to achieve things I had never imagined!
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