A couple of months ago, I quit my job.
There were all kinds of reasons not to do this. It's a bad economy, and mine was a good job: it paid well, the people were nice, it was flexible for my family. Oh -- and I didn't have another one lined up.
It's not that I didn't think about getting another job; I did. I looked around every so often, as one does. I browsed Craig's List. Searched Monster. But nothing in my field really seemed to "fit." Mostly I just wasn't interested. Or I was sure they wouldn't be interested in me. That there were several thousand people more qualified for the position than I.
For a while I considered dropping everything and choosing a new career path altogether. But after all these years of schooling, did I really have it in me to go back to square one, head back to school, start again at the bottom? Wasn't it easier just to stay in a profession where I had already achieved a measure of success? Where I could rest on my laurels, such as they were?
Assuming, then, that no better job awaited me, I pressed on. Yet as the weeks and months passed, it became more and more apparent to me (if not, it seemed, to anyone else), that I was faking it. Phoning it in. I needed a change.
In an 1864 campaign speech, Abraham Lincoln popularized the notion that it is unwise to "swap horses in midstream." He was referring, of course, to the Civil War that was tearing the country apart, and making a case for his continued leadership to see the country through its present crisis.
I recognize that my middle-class job dissatisfaction doesn't meet most people's definition of a "crisis," midlife or otherwise. But I reached a point in the last year or so when I realized: the horse I rode in on doesn't have the chops to take me where I want to go next. The fear that has guided so many of my life decisions up to this point--fear of offending someone, of being wrong, of making a mistake, of not making, doing, or being "enough" ... that fear, like a horse with a bit in its teeth, was running wild. And I was just along for the ride.
So I humbly beg to disagree with Lincoln in this one respect. Sometimes a change of horses is precisely what is called for.
And as luck would have it, I've stumbled upon the perfect job. Sure, I have the typical first-day jitters. It's a new position--there's no manual, no set procedures to follow. I'll probably make more than a few mistakes along the way. On the other hand, there's no supervisor to please, no 3-month probationary period, and no "measurable goals" to meet. And as it turns out, there's not a soul better qualified for the role than me.
It's the job of being myself. Let it begin.