Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Sunday Night Dreads

I have a rule of thumb that has worked quite well for me when it comes to jobs and careers: When you get the "Sunday Night Dreads," it's time to think about doing something else. What that means is that when on Sunday night you are dreading going to work on Monday, it may be time to start looking for another job. My brother sent me a great quote: "Do what you love, and you'll never work another day in your life." The fact is that life is just too short to waste it on a job that you aren't enjoying and shows no promise of improving in the foreseeable future.

This doesn't mean, however, that you should just up and quit your job the first time you're unhappy at work. First of all, will it improve? Or is there some way you can make it improve (a new task, a talk with your boss/co-workers, etc.)? Work situations tend to be very static, so I do realize that many times there isn't anything you can do about a situation, unless you are Machiavellian enough to find some way to get your boss (or other misery-maker) fired. I don't recommend this approach -- if you can't win while holding the moral high ground, then you can't win at all. You also should never quit until you've got another job in-hand, accepted, and ready to start. In today's world, if you go too long without a job, you may find that people won't hire you for that very reason -- and it becomes a circle that is impossible to break out of. Life, as I've said many times, is about balance. You may be unhappy at work, but you'll be even more unhappy at home if your family is starving!

But if you have reached the level to where you have the Sunday Night Dreads, then at the very least, it's time to start looking for other options. I've had the Dreads for a while now, but until we had some other form of income coming in, there was no way I could leave. Now that my wife is working full time (she makes more than I do now), we've got enough money to live on, even if I don't manage to bring in a dime (which I hope won't be the case!). So while on the surface I've violated my own rule, really I haven't -- I do have a job, I'm just the boss as well as the employee, so we're covered, I think. If something happened to my wife (God forbid), I'd probably have to give up my current plans, but really, anyone in that situation is basically in a disaster area no matter what happened before, so I'm not going to worry too much about that (although I will forever worry just a little).

My mother-in-law today made an off-hand remark about not letting me pay for her lunch since I'm about to be "unemployed." I quickly corrected her: I'm going to be self-employed, not unemployed. The difference, especially from the point of view of my self-esteem, is important. But it also illustrates the fact that who you are in our society is to a very great extent defined by who pays you. If you aren't working specifically for someone, then you aren't employed -- and therefore aren't as valued as someone who is. It's something I think we will always have to struggle against as writers, at least until you've attained the level of Stephen King.

For the first time in a s long time, though, I'm actually looking forward to going to work tomorrow. My boss has committed to meeting with me tomorrow to decide the details of my exit. She may try to put this meeting off, in which case I will simply decide for her -- the letter is already written. Either way, I'll have a definite timetable and outlook for my future by tomorrow afternoon. If I can see her in the morning, I'll post the results at lunchtime tomorrow.

It's nice to be free of the Dreads.

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