Living A Happy Life: I Quit My Job to Save My Sanity

Photo credit: jeronimo sanz (Flickr)

I've mentioned before that change is scary. And, well, it's happening in full force over here. Big changes are happening.

If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that I mentioned something about life changing events happening over here at the Jess Downey HQ (that should totally be a thing). It's something that I hadn't really talked about because I wanted to get all my ducks in a row and figure out exactly how I should talk about it. You might have also noticed some big changes around here on the blog. Well here's why.

I recently quit my job. A job I had been working at for eight years. A job I was pretty damn good at. And it feels so weird to type that.

I'm actually not sure how many readers actually knew I had a job since I worked from home. I didn't really talk about it much on here or social media because it was important to me to keep those worlds separate. They were two very different worlds that I never wanted to interfere with each other. After all, I once wrote about my personal dating life. And, well, employers kind of frown on that thing.

But as my blog changed and grew (and as I changed and grew along with it) that became increasingly hard. And with the new direction of my blog and (shameless plug alert!) opening my own stationery store I found it increasingly hard to balance everything. Writing about crafts, cooking, and lifestyle type things takes time and work. When I was a dating blogger it was easier because I would go on dates or talk to friends and that's what inspired me to write. I never really felt that I had to go out of my way to do something for the blog.

Crafting and such, however, is very different. I have a whole pile of Darby Smart boxes just waiting for my love. I have lists of projects in Evernote that I haven't even begun to explore. And tons of recipes on Pinterest that are untouched. And let's not even talk about my stationery store. I felt like I couldn't give my blog, my store, my creativity the time it needed and it made me feel overwhelmed on a daily basis. I really want to make my blog and my shop something. I really think it can be. But it's hard to know what it can be if I can't devote time to it. It was kind of a catch 22 -- how do you know if something can be successful enough to be your full time job when you don't have enough time to devote to it, but can't quit your actual full time job?

And let me stress that my job was by no means a horrible job. In fact, I'm well aware that I could have it far worse. It's just that I want more out of life. I want to be able to sit at my workspace and create. I don't want to have to stop on a Monday morning for conference calls and managerial duties. I'm a creative person. Always have been. Always will be. And I never knew how much that meant to me until I felt like I had to give it up for something I was less passionate about. It was making me unhappy, angry, and agitated most of the time. It started to creep its way into my relationships and the rest of my life. I felt uninspired. All I wanted to do was get the work day done and then sit on the couch. It felt pointless to bother with my projects and ideas because I couldn't ever see them out the way I wanted/needed to. And none of that is acceptable to me.

I could have found a new job, but Mr. T and I are planning on moving back to the Midwest in the summer (cat's outta the bag there too and I will definitely touch more on that later) and I don't think that's fair to a new company. And, like I said, I've started big projects that I really think can be successful. I also just don't think I'm built for the corporate world. I need to be creative and do what I'm passionate about. I need to do what feels important to me.

So after a whole lot of long talks with Mr. T and many nights of me crying and feeling like crap was hopeless (sometimes I am a little dramatic) we devised a plan so I would be able to quit and that's what I did. I quit my job to save my sanity.

It's not easy walking away from a job that I've had for so long. I'm leaving something I helped build and people that I genuinely like. I'm also leaving a steady flow of income and a job with benefits. It's terrifying to think about money and what will happen if we run out or if I never make a steady paycheck or if my blog/shop aren't successful (please God, no!). It's also really scary because I'm a planner and no matter how much I plan, we are going to have to figure out a lot of things as we go. But luckily Mr. T is much cooler than I am and he assures me that we will be fine. Thank god for that man. Seriously. There is not enough room in this post or in the world to express how amazing that man is for being so supportive with all of this.

So far I've only melted down once. This is going to take some time. There are a lot of adjustments that I have to make and I need to get used to my "new" life. But it's definitely time to start a new chapter and I am ready.

So here's my advice to anyone who's stuck in between keeping a job that doesn't inspire them and going after what they really want out of life:

1. Don't feel bad and don't listen to people who say "everyone hates their job."

I feel like I am being all whiny about my job. Like I shouldn't complain about it because it's not something awful and terrible. I even feel that while I'm writing this and will definitely give it to Mr. T to proofread for too much whiny-ness. But there is no need to feel bad about it. As you get older and grow, you change and discover new things. Different people and things inspire you. It's not really the job for me or the company, it's that it wasn't working for me. And I don't believe that everyone hates their job. Or maybe they do. But that doesn't mean you have to. I don't believe that people should be stuck in a job that they feel is sucking the life out of them.

2. Fight the fear.

This is scary. Let me repeat - I have no idea where this is going to go or what things will look like in a year. Failure and regret are possibilities. But potential success, opportunities, and being able to live the life I want to live are as well. And, at the end of the day, not having those because I was too afraid would be a much bigger regret (and failure).

3. Explore your options.

I am not trying to encourage everyone to run out and quit their job. I considered and/or tried every single option out there before I made the decision. This was truly the best one for me, but there could be tons of other options for anyone else. But the point is, you don't have to continue to be stuck in something that makes you miserable.

4. Remember this is about you.

Now, when I say this I immediately know how it sounds. I would never (and I mean n-e-v-e-r) quit a job if it wasn't OK with Mr. T. In fact, one of the reasons that I pushed myself to stay was for us. But when he said it was OK and we worked out a plan it was up to me. It wasn't about my coworkers or my boss or what anyone else I know would do.

5. Remember that life is too short.

Corny saying alert! Sorry folks. It's important though. It really is. Life should be fun. Sure, you have to adult sometimes (even when you don't want to). But, ultimately, you should be happy.

6. Mental health is just important as physical health.

I think sometimes we're a little too obsessed with our physical health. Doctors, friends, family, etc. are the first people to remind us to watch what we eat or do something to be sure that we're keeping our bodies healthy so they don't break. But how often does anyone stress about your mental health. Living a life full of pressure and stress isn't healthy. It's not. You need time to relax. Down time. Time for naps. Time for vacations. Time to just sit on the couch and eat junk food while marathoning your favorite show. Time to do whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed. And while there are plenty of jobs far more stressful than mine was, I started to feel things taking a toll on my ability to enjoy life. That's not good for my mental health. And I probably wouldn't stay in a job that makes me physically unhealthy so why should I stay in a job that makes me mentally unhealthy?