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Letter 10: To My Employer

January 23, 2011

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Steve Jobs.

This is probably the reason why I chose to quit my job. Now I know that my resignation letter is addressed to persons that were not on my original list, that they are probably not the ones who would care the most, and that a letter to say “I quit” may not qualify as a proper thank-you letter, but I’ll just say that blogum meus, regulae meae, which in some parallel universe is latin for “my blog, my rules”.

I mentioned in a previous post that my job was not the most enjoyable aspect of my life, but even with Steve Jobs’ wise words in mind it is easy to get stuck in a status quo and not take any action to change the way things are. This was my case for the past few months. On one side there was the safe aspect of a sure job, with promises of a wealthy lifestyle in the near future, no financial stress, a “neat and conventional” life. On the other side though there was many reasons for me to want to quit. This blog being all about showing gratitude and lessons learned, I’ll only cite the main two ones:

  1. Compared to a few months ago, I know what I want out of life and what I want to become. But knowing that and not acting upon it is exactly the same as not knowing what to do.
  2. I’ll never be old and wise if I weren’t young and crazy.

There are times when a change of perspective
is needed at work. Photo by Louids.

1. What I really want out of life

What I want to do is go back to university and do research around microfinance and corporate social responsibility, all the while travelling and taking any opportunity to explore every bit of this awesome planet. There are many pros and cons to this, and I’ll admit that not having this extra-money from my job will sting a little bit when I’ll have to decide between doing a fun activity or being able to buy food, but I reckon I’ll be a happy student now that I know that I’ll be studying with a purpose. I want to make a difference, and my current job will not allow me to do so.

It took over seven months for me to figure this out. I knew something was missing when I was at work. Maybe it was a sense of purpose or a meaning to what I was doing. Then the other day I looked at the CEO, who is one of the happiest persons in Switzerland, enjoys his job, has a lot of fun, and loves his life, and I thought: “Even if I were at the top of this company, at the very place the CEO is in right now, would I enjoy my life as much as he does? Very unlikely”. Suddenly the perspective of a very stable future with this job, a big house in the countryside and a dog seemed much less attractive.

2. Being young and crazy

NOTE: I refer to being young as a feeling rather than an age: I know some 50 something who have younger minds than me for example.

Me being young and crazy

The right thing to do, the thing that most grown ups would have done, was to hold on to the job at least until fall when university starts again. But I know a lot of people, some of whom are sane, and some who are crazy, and I tend to take as role models the latter rather than the former. So I decided to quit and take a working holiday visa to Australia. I’m really excited about this: it has been a dream of mine for quite some time and my former roommate is going to be there too.

I realize that this is not the easiest option, nor the less risky one. I’m going to have to challenge myself more than if I just stuck to the world I know, but I believe that we grow the most when we’re out of our comfort zone and that the more risk we take the greater the rewards. Robin Sharma‘s father used to tell him “Robin, it’s risky out there on a limb, but that’s where all the fruit is”. So I apologize in advance to my future self for the troubles he’ll have to go through but I want him to grow (and I want him to remember this quote from Bear Grylls: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, covered in scars, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming, “Woo Hoo! what a ride!”)

For the record, quitting was the most stressful experience of 2011 so far. I initially wanted to quit on Monday last week, and finally got around to doing it on Friday at 6:15 PM. The letter is straight to the point, but I did include a sentence “thanking my employer and colleagues for the experience and learning opportunity they provided me”. Nothing extraordinary, but that was to respect the spirit of this blog. I will however mention that I will not miss coffee machine talks such as this one:

“- I took a plane from Miami this morning, and since it’s already 9 AM in Shanghai I thought I’d come to the office first. I have slept three hours in the past two days
– Three hours that’s a lot! I usually sleep once a week, in the train”.

On a related note, check out this great article by Waitingforastart: “Show Up For Yourself”. I think it is such an amazing coincidence that we blogged about relatively close topics on the same week.

How about you? Any experiences of changes in professional careers? Going back to school after work? Having the feeling of discovering your “calling”?

PS: I paraphrased sentences from The Big Bang Theory, Mark Twain and Robin Sharma in this post. Just rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.

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9 Comments
  1. Love this post especially it is close to my plan this year, doing the same letter pretty soon. I am on the process of finding the next best company where I love what I do, because the case right now I am doing the effort to love what I do instead of intrinsically.

    Love quotes too so I love quite a lot of lines here:

    – Steve Jobs’
    – My blog, my rules
    – Bear Grylls’

    I love companies who sincerely and seriously doing “Corporate Social Responsibility”.

    Good luck to your new adventure 😉 I am very happy for you!

  2. Thank you so much Yor!

    I love quotes too so I’ll try to include more in the next posts, they are really “a life worth of wisdom in one sentence”.

    Good luck finding your perfect company, I really wish you’ll find a work you’ll love intrinsically 😉

  3. Hey Elchico!

    BADASS picture of you being Young & Crazy!!! 🙂 I once had an opportunity to do that – to jump off a big ass rock 40-50 feet in the sky into a beautify quarry in Virgina. But I’m a little afraid of heights. I guess I need to put that back on my list to conquer that fear!
    (Although i did go swimming in the quarry and got bit by a spider that day and whe I awoke the next day my entire face was a balloon, my eyes were stuck shut, and my lips were the about 2 inches high and 6 inches wide haha. I was not looking sexy, let me tell you! haha)

    I love Bear Grylls! I own the entire series of Man vs. Wild haha. HE IS THE MAN!!! (I love how he says vitamins, and glaciers, and slippy haha)

    On another note, I totally agree with the whole ‘being young and crazy’ as a matter of young at heart. After I wrote my post about it I got a few responses from people saying either that being young and crazy too young is not a good idea, or that when you grow up you cant be so crazy anymore. But it really is about being young at heart, ya know?

    Keep being wild and crazy my friend!
    LAUREN 🙂

    • Awesome comment Lauren!! Yeah you could definitely put jumping off that rock into your list, if only for the satisfaction of crossing it off 🙂 I’m not sure I’d manage the courage to jump off a cliff this high but you never know, we all have things on our list that we fear but want to do at the same time.

      Thanks for your input!!

  4. Hi Elchico,
    I hope you find what you are looking for, and of course have fun while searching. A good post, I loved your pictures, and of course I enjoyed the read.

    • Thanks a lot Magsx2 🙂 A lot of pictures in this blog are to be credited to Louids (link in the blogroll), so if you like the pictures you’ll like her “phlog”

  5. Hi there! I’m so sorry it took me a few days to reply… I unplugged early on Friday, and it flew by!

    Thank you so much for your nice comment regarding my lists, and interest in joining us for our Listography project! Totally not “late to class”… anytime you join is fine by us :). So, as for how it works, see here… http://torriesessions.blogspot.com/2010/12/listography-2011.html.

    And I’m around, and ‘plugged back in’ today, so let me know (by email, or as a comment on my blog) if you have any additional questions! The important thing is to link your post on whichever one of us has the widget that particular week so that we can all read each others lists, and discover new blogs in the process.

    • Great news! No additional questions so far, from this week on I’m going to be participating in your List Wednesdays 😉

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