Thursday, November 14, 2013

5 Traits of People Who Get Up and Quit Their Jobs

Act #318:  Is it time?  At least ask yourself.

I have a 31 year-old friend who just quit his college administrator job to uproot his family and move to Colorado to do community organizing and flood relief work.  I have another friend who is seriously contemplating leaving his design business to cold call (and hopefully go work with) Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia CEO and author of "Let My People Go Surfing", which outlines philosophy on balancing work, play, and social responsibility.  And I have yet another friend - an attorney in private practice - who is mindfully and intentionally making plans to spend her remaining professional years devoted to public service. 

I can't tell you how many people I've run into in my lifetime, who have shared with me their discontent with their jobs.  Most don't feel fulfilled -they are underchallenged, bored, restless.  Some  don't feel like they fit into their existing work culture - they long for innovation, impact, change.  And some just can't get rid of that nagging voice deep down inside, telling them that they are meant to do something else, be something else.  Out of all the people who have shared these thoughts with me, NONE have left to find what they were looking for.  Sure, plenty left for better jobs in the same or similar fields.  And others were promoted , recruited, or kind of fell into something else.  But NONE actually listened to that voice..........and made that intentional decision to strategically follow it.  So I began thinking, what kind of person walks away from all that they've ever known, all that they are good at and trained follow that voice?  And I discovered that my three friends had these five things in common.

1.  They are not afraid of their own emotions. Out of my three friends, one had an imaginary friend most her life, one had to complete an anger-management course in college, and one just recovered from a 5-year self-proclaimed "dark period" of his life.  And they will all speak frankly about these things as transformative periods of growth in their lives.

2.  They are already philanthropic. These three are among the most selfless, compassionate people I know.  And they give away more than their money.  They give large chunks of their time to others by volunteering at soup kitchens, mentoring young people, and working to revitalize crumbling neighborhoods.

3.  They are impacted deeply by the world around them. These are the types of folks who don't just re-post controversial memes on their Facebook timelines.  We all do that - that's easy.  Every blue moon my three friends will post a heart-wrenching, painfully authentic reflection on some aspect of society, the state of the world, detailing how they've been impacted, appealing for societal change.

4.  Creative + Pushy = Innovative. They aren't confined to how things are always done. All three were born with that creative gene - expressed in very different ways though: design, logic, communications.  But these are also people who are always pushing boundaries, challenging the status quo, and they can't eat, sleep, or be at peace until they see it through.

5.  They have a great sense of humor. All three of my friends laugh a great deal - at the world, and quite frequently at themselves.  The journey of finding that place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep needs is not an easy one.  You will need humor and plenty of space to laugh at your mistakes and mishaps to make it through.   But it will be oh, so worth it.


  1. I like your list and especially like 1 and 5! Dark phases are growing edges, and humor is something I have seen in all great people I have encountered.