Once upon a time I had a job that paid very well. Almost from the beginning, I began to see some problems. My boss was often vague and unclear, and I worked hard to protect the writers whom I supervised.
Then, one day, my boss vanished. He was there on Friday, gone on Monday. There was a reorganization, and a new boss appeared. During the first week, she asked me at least a dozen times if I minded that I now had a female boss younger than my oldest child. Each time I said (truthfully) that I was happy for new leadership and clear direction.
All went well for a while. When my boss encouraged me to exercise (I was an early morning gym rat at the time), I thought she was concerned about life/work balance. Turns out she thought I was fat. (I prefer to think of myself as “sturdy.”) She never said it directly to me, I overheard it in the bathroom one day, when she didn’t see me in the last stall.
When she began to set work goals I could not meet, I began to work harder and longer, but as I jumped through one hoop, it would be discounted and the next hoop held up. Some of them seemed to be on fire. My boss wanted me to push out one of my direct reports because she wasn’t bright enough (she was plenty smart) and another one because he didn’t have the right “corporate image,” which translated as “looks geeky and is overweight.”
The last year of my time in that company was torture. I began to believe that I could not do anything right. Some of the people who worked with me began to see the writing on the wall and avoided me. After years of a good relationship with one direct report, she reported me to human resources because the plant in my office had outgrown my title. (Yep, in that company you could have plants only if they were in accord with your station. Big, important plants were for corner offices only.)
I was especially slow on catching on. I worked harder, longer, and desperately. In the end I left because I was going to be pushed out. I took a job at less pay, in a smaller company, and eventually opened my own business doing what I know and what I love: coaching, writing, and leading workshops
Some jobs are not worth the money you get paid, even if it’s good money. There are times you have to save your own life and leave a job that is eating your soul alive.
Jennifer Alvey, a smart woman who left the practice of law when it began to suck her soul out, now helps other attorneys who are unhappy leave their work. Don’t wait until you develop ulcers or serious health problems. And if you are ready to leave the law, drop by Jennifer’s blogsite.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach who helps people in transition, including from one job to the next. (c) 2008. All rights reserved.