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  • Writer's pictureEmily Breeden

Why I Decided to Quit Without a Plan

Let me start from the beginning.   In 2008, as a sophomore in college, I got an internship at a huge corporation in Milwaukee.  I was ecstatic, and very shocked that they picked me.  My interview was 3 hours long, involved a “mock” team meeting with the entire marketing department AND the other candidate (who seemed like she really had her sh*t together), and I had homework to do for it (okay, I may have gotten a little help).  It was such an intimidating interview that I was 100% convinced I did not get the job, and had already applied for a waitressing job at Bar Louie. Then one day when I was least expecting it, I got the phone call from HR.  They were not only choosing me for the internship, but they going to pay me $15/hour… I was speechless and almost dropped the phone, I was so excited!!

Now, let’s fast forward almost 7 years.  Here I am, a day after I ended the longest relationship I’ve ever had (with my company of course)… reflecting on where the time went, how I ended up here, and where I am going next?

Some people have said to me, “You flippin’ idiot, why would you leave the security of a well-paying job that you aren’t completely sucking at, before having something else lined up right away?”  My response… “AMURRICA!” (kidding, kind of.)

Actually, the following are a few things that led me to this decision:

  1. Because I tried, I succeeded, but I realized I wasn’t happy. Over two years ago, I took a leap of faith and moved to Minneapolis for a different job in the company that included selling (which I had no experience with) of HVAC/digital building automation systems and services (which I really had no experience with!).  After 2 crazy years of a rollercoaster that consisted of learning a TON, making some great new friends and some decent money, yet constantly being stressed about how I was going to make the plan that was given to me (which was increasing by a confusingly large amount each year), and seeing so much (negative) change internally that I couldn’t keep up… It hit me.  Seriously, it felt like a giant bat knocked me over the head a couple weeks ago.  I had 0 interest in continuing my career there.  I was extremely grateful for my experience there, and the people I had met.  I had even surpassed my sales plan the first two years, which doesn’t look bad on a resume.  However, I knew I didn’t have the desire, nor the motivation to stay there for a third year.  I had worked my butt off and had come a long way, but I was still far from plan according to what the company expected of me, and was afraid I’d start doing things for the wrong reasons just to meet their numbers.  I am not motivated by money/numbers alone.  I realized that at this point in my life, if I am making enough to be comfortable, see some concerts and go on trips every now and then, I am happy.  Am I the money-hungry sales professional that the company seemed to want me to become?  Nope, sorry.  Even Dan Pink and his behavioral economics research findings have found that extrinsic motivators, like money, are NOT enough to motivate people, AND they KILL creativity.  I highly recommend you watch Dan Pink’s TED Talk.   So why is it that companies still think monetary incentives alone will motivate consultative sales professionals to sell more, and structure compensation plans based on that (aside from the worst excuse ever, “it’s what we’ve always done”)?  Research shows that is not a sustainable way to keep employees happy and motivated, and actually narrows their focus.  …Helloooo, corporate America, WAKE UP!  Employees need a PURPOSE, a PASSION for what they are doing and the company they work for, and someone(s) they can trust and believe in to LEAD them.  Numbers, plans, and money alone do NOT motivate most people.  Maybe for a little while, but not for long.

  2. Because yoga reminded me I’m only human. ❤ I can’t emphasize enough how much yoga has been transforming me the last couple of months.  Things started getting crazy at work (turnover, demotions, layoffs, unethical leadership issues…) and I started to consistently have a ton of negative and unhappy thoughts.  One night when I couldn’t sleep –I had a LOT of issues sleeping during this period of unhappiness– I was browsing Groupon, and saw a deal for CorePower Yoga.  I decided to try it, to see if it would help with the stress.  It became such an escape for me, such an addiction… that I started going almost every day.  After briefly trying it in college and liking the physical benefits, I’d always thought of it as an exercise, but had never truly known how to meditate.  However, this time around, I FINALLY learned how to let go, clear my mind, slow down, and just BREATHE.  Learning how to do this has changed my life.  I feel like it opened my eyes to the realization that I am nothing but one human on this planet, and that I have complete control over what I choose to do with my life while I’m here.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve been with the same corporation for almost 7 years, nor what anyone else thinks.  I don’t have to do what everyone is telling me to do.  This is MY life, and no one else’s.           

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  1. Because I have no obligations right now.  Now is probably the only time I can do something like this.  I’m only 26, I’ve saved up, my apartment lease ends in less than 2 months, I have no kids, no house, my car lease even ends soon…. So what is there to be afraid of??  Nothing… That’s what.  I’ve been responsible as hell (well, in most ways) for many years, and I owe myself this.

  2. Because now I have a break to figure out WHAT I WANT TO DO.  “The sky is the limit!” – Thank you, Rebelution.  I can take a little time for myself to research, volunteer, learn something new… all of which will help me gain some clarity as to which direction I want to go with my life.  Not blindly following my passions without common sense, which Mike Rowe reminds us isn’t a good idea, but rather figuring out which job, industry, or business that I want to bring my passion to (since clearly, I had run out of energy and could not bring any to my current situation).  “Why didn’t you just do that soul-searching while you were at work?  Why would you quit?”  Well unfortunately, I do not have it in my blood (thanks, Dad) to half-ass something I am getting paid for.  Why would I stay at a job I’m unhappy with, when my mind and heart have completely become disengaged?  I just couldn’t do it. “Yeah, but the money…” As I said before, I saved up.  Not a ton, but enough.  Any more questions? 🙂


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So, that is what I’m doing right now!!  In summary… I realized I was unhappy and wanted to change the trajectory of my life, and quit my job.  Yay me!!  This is the most energized and excited I’ve felt in a long time.  The energy might also be from the ridiculous amount of vitamins and minerals in my system right now, thanks to the 30 day cleanse I’m doing right now… and the reduction of stress, thanks to CorePower Yoga (which is one of MANY benefits of yoga)… Ahhh, it feels good to be getting healthy and to be eliminating stress and negativity from my life!!

What’s next?  Not exactly sure yet;  it could involve trying out a different job at a smaller (and less-corporationey) company, or it could involve doing some travel and volunteering.  It could even mean taking the 8-week CorePower Yoga instructor training, and waitressing to make some concert money until I decide to get back into the “real world” 😉

It has only been one day of this new freedom.  We will see where this next chapter takes me!!! ❤

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