It’s Quitting Time, by Andrew Heaton

One thing we all yearn for in life is safety: safety in numbers, safe travels, an actual safe etc. With safety comes a feeling of ease, of less stress. When we’re safe, a weight is lifted. This sentiment seemingly carries over into the working world. With a safe, reliable job that offers a steady, secure income, we can relax a bit knowing that we have that aspect of out lives worked out.

But when it comes to work, it often feels that safety has less to do with comfort and more to do with lack of determination. Now, safety can be a great thing. Seatbelts in cars are safe, the safety setting of a gun can prevent accidents. But if we’re constantly at ease in our job (even if we hate them), are we ever going to make a leap into something that’s scary, into something potentially unsafe?

This is why, at some point in the near future, I will be quitting my job. Not moving to a new job. Not retiring (a word that I fear is going to become defunct over the next few decades). Not starting a business with a great idea. Nope. I am straight up walking out of that air-conditioned office and into the street never to look back again.

My reasons are simple: I’m tired.

I’m tired of putting hours into a series of tasks that don’t stoke any fires in me at all. I’m tired of having someone I barely interact with (if I even meet them) decide my worth in time. I’m tired of expelling effort – manual or mental – for someone else’s benefit. I’m tired of jobs that just plain suck. I’m tired of putting on shirts, ties, uniforms or name badges.

I’m just tired of it all.

So I’m off.

I honestly don’t know when, but I know that within the next few months, I’ll be handing that sweet, sweet resignation letter in like it’s Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. I’ve told my girlfriend about this, and I’ve told my colleagues and my supervisor.

Now I’m telling you.

What’s great about this is how liberating it all feels. It’s made me stop caring about my job in the most freeing way. I’m no longer threatened by the mistakes I make, the boss walking past my desk (every day I pray he’ll approach and ask to have a word in his office) or the threat of redundancy because company profits are too low.

I still hate going in of course, but every day is one more 24-hour period closer to that personal victory. Every paycheck I get is another opportunity to put money aside for my job-free days. Okay, so this is one safety measure I’ve put into place. But just because I’m voluntarily making myself unemployed, doesn’t mean I have to make things hard. Dropping out of work is not the same as dropping out of society. And at least this way, I put control back into my life.

And that’s the point really. That’s the point of all this. I’m aiming to govern my own life again. I’m choosing to walk away from a job and that choice has already set me free in my own mind. I’m aware of the potential risks of it. I know only too well how difficult it is (and how difficult it will be) to land a job.

Naysayers will state that I’m stupid for leaving a full-time job with no alternatives in sight. Thwarters will insist that I should not be turning my back on the safety of a position in an established company.

My response to that is to insist that these people look towards the likes of Woolworths, Toys R Us, Poundworld and a slew of other companies that have gone under or are otherwise struggling financially. How safe were the jobs of thousands of people who lost their vocations in such a short time? How safe is any job when CEOs and board members have the power to close branches and remove people from their books, no matter how loyal they’ve been over the years?

Jobs come and go. Companies rise and fall. Industries are created and then collapse. This is not scary to me. I try and look at it from a philosophical standpoint. If no job is safe from annihilation, then I see no point in lamenting when we lose them, voluntarily or not. This is why I’m moving on.

Look, maybe there will be a point where I’ll have to find a job again in the future.

The idea for now is to give myself breathing space. I want to take a deep breath and break away from the work-a-day world of Excel spreadsheets, data entry, customer service, telephone etiquette and work that doesn’t mean anything on a personal level. I want out of all that even if it’s just for a little while.

So what will I do with this extra time? I’ll seek new ideas, probably. I’ll have gained at least forty hours of my life back a week. There’s a lot I can do with that time. Yes, I’ll have down days where I just want to sit around and just…be.

But there are other ventures I want to explore.

Maybe I’ll learn a new skill. Learning is something I’m very passionate about, so my days could be filled with all manner of new endeavors. I’ll certainly be catching up on some reading. Literature is another love of mine and I have so much I’d like to dig into. I could get into shape. I walk to work, but that exercise comes to a stand-still as soon as I sit on my wheelie chair.

I might even take up freelancing again. Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed and while people are cautious about turning hobby’s into work, it would at least be something that’s of interest to me, twists that creative screw in my head, and offers me the freedom to do something I enjoy where and when I want that only a freelancing position can offer.

It’s a choice now. My choice. I’m taking hold of the reins again and I don’t know if I’ll ever want to let go of them. In the (somewhat ironic) words of Trainspotting‘s Mark Renton: “Choose life.”

Andy has never enjoyed any of the jobs he’s ever had. Probably never will. But at least he’s good at referring to himself in the third person. You can see more of his writings here or follow him on Twitter here.

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