Why I Quit My Day Job

Why I Quit My Day Job

I have six major energy states. What I call an “energy state”, you might refer to as a “state of mind”, but I like to use energy state because it’s not just my mind that’s involved. It’s my mind, my emotions, my physical energy, the whole package!

I have six major energy states. What I call an “energy state”, you might refer to as a “state of mind”, but I like to use energy state because it’s not just my mind that’s involved. It’s my mind, my emotions, my physical energy, the whole package!

So, I have at least six of them that I’ve identified. And based on my energy state, I “spend my time” in different ways. I like to think of spending my time in the same way as spending my money. It is a finite resource and, in the same way as I would like to get the best “bang for my buck”, I’d like to get the most “traction for my time”, generally speaking. Here are some great ways, some not so great ways and the worst way I spend my time:
 

  1. In production (great way) – Firing on all cylinders, maybe breaking through to solution on what has been a difficult problem, organizing, completing, renewing. Very satisfying way to spend time!
     
  2. Satiated rest (great way) – This is the kind of rest where I have worked hard, achieved results with satisfaction and now I’m kicking back for some well-deserved down time. 
     
  3. In creation (great way) – a quiet state where I’m imagining, dreaming, where I can see all sorts of new possibilities. It’s a problem solving state, the state I’m in when I’m coaching and the state from which ideas for writing emerge. Again, one of my favorite ways to spend my time although I have learned that it can lead to overload and stress since there isn’t an off valve for the ideas and trying to bring too many to fruition is definitely a pitfall for me.
     
  4. In anxiety (not so great way) – For me, this is a result of being over extended. Either I just have too manythings to do and I’m burning out or I have a commitment of some kind that I don’t know how to complete. I tell someone I have a great idea, they buy into it, I commit to doing it, then comes the anxiety when I realize how much more there is to it than what I initially envisioned. Inevitably there are challenges involved that I have no experience dealing with. It’s my “I don’t know how to do this” state. 
     
  5. Non satiated rest (not so great way) – also called numbing, this is where I don’t get out of my pajamas all day, eat crap, watch bad TV. It’s where I have been overwhelmed by life and I need to reset.
     
  6. Adrift (the worst way) – adrift means I’m not under pressure, I’m not exhausted by life around me. It also means there are no ideas flowing and nothing on the books. It’s that place where I wonder if I’ve missed something big in my life and if everyone but me knows the secret to happiness. I am in neutral and everything feels flat. It also makes me question whether I will ever be in any of the other states ever again. 


I worked at my last job for 21 years and raised two kids in the same time frame. During most of those years I was actively growing and learning. I certainly spent a lot of time in anxiety (4) and feeling overwhelmed, often because I latched on to too many creative ideas for improvement (3).

There was also big juice for me in production (1) and in satiated rest (2). I was virtually never adrift (6) because there simply wasn’t time. The closest I ever got was my pajama days (5) which were more common than I’d like to admit.

Recently, however, I recognized the energy of being adrift (6) creeping in. It had been several years since I’d experienced that energy state and I was alarmed that it was returning. But my kids are grown, my job had taught me about all it was likely to teach me and, frankly, no one seemed to notice whether I dreamed up and took on new initiatives or not.

I started to become aware that I was immersing myself in work as a way to feel “normal.” I could always generate enough intensity to make the work I was doing appear important and productive. I could always exert enough effort to make the rest I would take after feel like a well-earned break. But the whole pattern was becoming a façade. It had lost its meaning and had become a way of avoiding the truth. I had lost the thread!

When not actively engaged in the work, I was dropping into neutral. What, exactly, was the point of all this effort??? Why even bother? Who even cared if I contributed or I didn’t? Over time the only thread holding me to the job was the (not to be scoffed at) remuneration package. That and the fact that, at my age, it would be foolish not to hang in there until retirement. Once I recognized this as the truth, I HAD to quit.

You see, one of my core beliefs is that this life is a school and once we have learned the skills taught in one class, we move on to the next. At times, it feels like life is stable but only because some of the courses take a long time to complete, such as raising kids. The truth is that every course comes to an end and you need to move on to the next class when the bell rings.

Feeling like life has lost all meaning is definitely a school bell! Pack up your books, it says, and leave this place. There is another class down the hall you need to be attending. You can stay here pretending you’re still in this class but the room is empty, the teacher and all the other students have left. Get up off your butt and move on!!!

I’m moving to my next class by instinct. My creative state is back fairly regularly and I have a bit of side work that helps me feel productive and satiated sometimes. But the truth I am coming to accept is that feeling adrift at least part of the time is my next classroom, at least for now. I need to give myself enough negative space to allow the positive things I want in my life the space they need to emerge.

Where are you at, classroom wise? Have you just started a new class and are you excited to learn? Are you mid-term where life feels productive and stable or are you just beginning to realize that this class isn’t as inspiring as it used to be? What I think I know for sure is this – when a course comes to an end, don’t fight it! Like it or not, you will have to move on when the school bell rings. And that school bell rings for every one of us, again and again, no matter how much we have already learned.

The more willing we are to find our new class, the sooner we will feel happy and stable again.

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