Day 10,558 – In Which I Quit A Job

I have been out of college and working professionally for over half my life. And it was about half my lifetime ago that I first quit a post-college full time job. At the time, it was one of the hardest things I had ever done.

One of the things I have come to realize is that college prepared me to start work, but I had no idea what could happen later. I developed a good understanding of the fundamentals of mechanical engineering, how mechanical components are designed together into sophisticated machinery, how heat transfers, how electricity flows, and how time studies of work are managed. I know. Exciting stuff, right?

Then I did those things, or things like them, for a couple of years. I learned to understand failure modes and became a problem solver. I learned how to design around failure, and to design things to prevent failure. And I began to realize how much I didn’t know, and that I was surrounded with people who knew more and were willing to share.

In one assignment, I was fortunate to be added to a team of people with the unique task f starting up a new facility and doing so in a completely different work environment. And doing completely different work. I loved it. Everyone I worked with was smart, giving, and willing to learn more. We grew together and created something we were very proud of. What I began to learn is that I was really good at something other than what I went to college for, and that there was a demand for those skills in lots of places.

Which was a good thing, because while I loved my work and the people I worked with, I was in a part of the country that was too far from family and after three years still felt foreign to me. So it was time to move on.

What made it hard is that I was leaving behind the very people who helped me develop the skills that allowed me to leave. Who would I learn from? Who would challenge me the way they did? And can I really make it in a field without the formal degree that usually went with this work?

I went through about 2-3 days of discussion, people asking me to stay and reconsider. But the truth is that I had made the decision when I started looking, and I reminded them that they had valued me for my decisions, so please respect this one.

I moved on to a great opportunity, in another new area of the country, one where I knew I would fit in and find things I could enjoy doing. Two years later, my former company contacted me and invited me to come back to work, in a similar role in one of their facilities that was 7 miles from where I lived. I went back and continued to build on the skills I left them with.

Each day is a new one. Each decision opens new possibilities. I learned in this instance that when life is out of balance, no one is going to fix it for you. You decide and move on.

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