He asked me, “When you’re going into your next project in the company, what goals are you looking to achieve?”
I thought about this. I thought long and hard–at least, as long and hard as one can think after a few drinks. And I realised that my answer was, in fact, “Nothing.” Perhaps that seems odd to you. Lazy and unambitious. The thing is, I’m currently working for a large IT consulting firm. The career path there is pretty much limited to getting on bigger projects, managing larger teams, and having more people reporting to you in various capacities as you also report to others higher up in the chain of command.
Some people thrive on this. They’re fantastic at delegating and pulling together clean, easy-to-read reports with all the key information. They love the thrill of big projects, of being in a high-pressure environment where they’re always on the go and there’s always another messy issue to be resolved quick-smart.
Or, they’re in it for the money. Another perfectly valid reason, especially for those with families to support.
I, however, am the kind of person who prefers to dig in and get my hands dirty with the work. Give me a nice, juicy piece of work and let me see it through from start to finish. I’m best suited to being a minion, I’m afraid. A smart, clued-in one who’s well-compensated for my skill, I’d hope, but a minion nonetheless.
My current company had nothing more to offer me, and in all fairness, I had no enthusiasm or passion to offer them. My latest feedback from my manager was that I needed to own my role as manager, ensure I was more visible and showed that I could lead larger teams. It would take a lot of time, effort, and perseverance, especially in this particular company, where 12-hour days are the norm on many projects.
Why would I kill myself to reach a position I didn’t even want? That was the question that didn’t stop nagging me for the rest of my Melbourne trip. When put that way, it sounded like an act of supreme stupidity. Was it for the money? Well, that was part of it, but there were many other jobs out there. It wasn’t as though I was tied to this job. Was it for the people? Not quite–many friends and managers I respected had already moved on, or were considering it. And I assure you it certainly wasn’t for the work.
I realised what stopped me was fear. It was worry that my jack-of-all-trades skills were unusable outside my company, that no one would want to hire me. And there was also a kind of apathy, a resistance to change. Sure, I hated my job, but I knew what to expect there, and it was a steady source of income. Why fix it if it ain’t completely broke?
So about a week later, I returned from Melbourne, determined to do something about it at long last. I searched out all the jobs that could possibly fit my skill set, and sent out about seven or eight applications in the span of a single Tuesday morning. By Friday morning, I’d been offered a new job in a small company ten minutes’ drive from my house, at about the same pay. And, it was for work that I found far more interesting. I signed the contract that afternoon and put in my resignation with four weeks’ notice on the following Monday.
Sure, it’s not always going to be this straightforward or easy. I thank God every day for how this all came about. But if I hadn’t decided to just go for it and do something about it, I’d be sitting here now, counting down the days before I had to return to work and feeling rather miserable about it all.
It was scary handing in my resignation, and I still wonder if I won’t regret it some time in the future. I don’t know what to expect from this new company, or if I’ll enjoy the job as much as I think I will. But that’s all part and parcel of this whole business of change. All I can do is take it as it comes… and even if it doesn’t work out, now I’ll have the courage to do something about it!
Leanne Yong is an aspiring Aussie author who is working on her second young adult novel. Check out her blog at Clouded Memories for more information and a journal chronicling her latest foray into novel writing.