Knowing when to quit

Quitting can often have negative connotations.  Calling someone a quitter is usually intended as an insult.  I don’t see it that way.  Sometimes leaving or quitting something that is no longer serving your purpose can be a life-saver.

As a child, I was taught to persevere and never quit, at anything.  Even if the thing I was doing was making me miserable.  Completing a task was more important than the enjoyment of it.   I think this has changed with my generation.  Many parents of my generation are all to quick to allow their children to quit things when their children say they don’t like doing something.

I have experienced this with the father of my children.  He would all too happily allow the children to quit things that I signed them up for at either their insistence or my suggestion.  I learned very early that children will want to quit when what they are doing becomes challenging or difficult.  The problem with letting them quit meant that they would never learn how to overcome challenges or obstacles and take pride in accomplishments.  I always took the view of my parents in not allowing my children to quit.  You want to learn Karate?  Ok, but you have to do it for the term I pay for and you can’t stop in the middle of it unless you are actually physically unable to.  So the belts got accumulated and then it started to get hard.  Sorry, you have to wait until the term is finished.  My daughter wanted to stop the violin when it got challenging and I said no.  There were tears from her and arguments with her father, but I stuck to my decision.  Once she got over her hump, she was fine.  Same thing happened when she was learning how to ride horses.  I can’t tell you about the arguments with the boys when doing sport.  So yeah, the mean mother that I was, I made my kids do things and when they didn’t like it anymore and only after I got my money’s worth, I let them stop doing the things they didn’t want to do.  At least they learned what they liked and what they were capable of.  I never forced my daughter to play the violin once she got over her hump and she could have stopped having lessons in high school when ever she wanted to, but she didn’t.  When my children went to a new school, the deal was that they would all take advantage of some of the sports that were available.  My eldest tried out for soccer, knowing that he wouldn’t make the team, but I also made him try out for volleyball which was the only sport left to try out for.  He actually enjoyed it to his surprise.  Sometimes children won’t try things or will want to quit because of their self-esteem.  If you don’t try things, how will you know if you will like it or not?

Only by trying new things, overcoming obstacles and learning what we are capable of can we make effective decisions in our lives. We need to know how to proceed when things are no longer working for us.  Do we stay or do we go?  This can be used for relationships of any kind and for our working lives.

Because I was brought up with a work ethic which meant carrying on regardless, because it was important to have a job and earn money, I wasted a lot of time in jobs that I should never have stayed in.  Ditto for relationships.  Although I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, I do know what things work for me and what I need to be happy in my work.  Although I do not know how my current relationship is going to end up, I do know what I need and what works for me.  Hopefully it will turn out great.  So far so good.

I no longer feel that I have to stick at something which is making me unhappy or serving me no purpose.  I have had to re-learn the skill of trusting my instincts.  If something doesn’t feel right, then it most likely isn’t and no matter what you do isn’t going to make it right.  So rather than dragging things out and trying to ‘manage’ hoping things will get better, I have come to the conclusion that it is better to quit before things get worse, because they usually do.  I used to be the one who worked at the relationship and would do everything to make things work not realising that it was supposed to be a two-way street.  When I couldn’t do anymore, I had to quit.  Why wait so long?  Because there was something ingrained in me to keep going, to keep trying, even though I was dying inside and until there was nothing left.  Quitting was my last resort.

I believe that each situation we encounter teaches us something.  Sometimes we learn new skills or we learn things about ourselves and what we are capable of.  Sometimes we need to learn to say no.

This time last year I started temping.  I didn’t (and still don’t!) know what I wanted to do except that I wanted to earn money and see what was available.  I started doing data-entry for an insurance company.  The pay was good.  The job was dull and exhausting.  It was supposed to be for a month, but got extended.  I could have said no and that would have been ok, but I was flattered and the money was good.  I was still exhausted and there were issues between two colleagues that I had to distance myself from.  However, there was some benefit to me even though the job was mind-numbingly dull and exhausting.  I did it for three months.  They wanted to keep me on, but instead of just saying no, I told them I would only do part-time at my current rate.  So they said no instead.  I was so happy to have some time off and vowed that I wouldn’t stick a job out if it didn’t serve my purpose.  I loved working at a Nursing Home, but the journey and work involved didn’t balance against the really poor pay, so I didn’t apply for that job which was mine for the taking.  My last job was at another nursing home, within walking distance and the money was great.  It was a three-month contract, but I left after less than five weeks.  I dithered about staying three weeks longer than I should have.  I kept asking The Universe what the lesson was and I think the answer was to follow my gut and to cut my losses and run.  Things were not working for me.  It reminded me of a negative work situation I had been in years ago and it was not a situation I wanted to re-visit.

The relief I felt when I handed in my notice was enormous.  There was no way I could have stayed the whole three months.  If I had, I wouldn’t be temping where I am now.  I had handed in my notice, went on holiday for two weeks, and came back to start another assignment, as I knew I would.  What I didn’t know is that The Universe would reward me with a calm environment, with really lovely people, where I can learn new things, and be of service to others.

So, yes, I am a quitter, and much happier for it.  I want to point out that I would never quit my work because the job was a challenge.   I thrive on being able to prove myself at work and love the sense of accomplishment that comes with doing something different and getting out of my comfort zone.  I quit because the situation or environment was not conducive to my productivity or emotional well-being.  I want to be happy at work and to enjoy what I do.  It is also nice being around pleasant people when you spend about eight hours a day with them.  I don’t have to be best buddies with my colleagues, but a team environment with mutual respect and consideration is vital for productivity.  I haven’t been able to do much in my first week except to answer the telephone, which was unusually quiet, but I was told on several occasions how much my presence was appreciated as it took the pressure off the rest of the team.  I have been able to use the down time to read up on procedures and at the end of the week I was finally able to start some on-line training.  I have five weeks left to go and anything can happen.

Leaving a job or relationship that is making you miserable is not something to be taken lightly.  In this economic climate, it might not be possible to quit a job, especially not without something else to take its place.  That could be irresponsible if there are others to look after and living expenses to cover.  However, if something is making you unhappy, and you have done everything you possibly can to improve matters without success, it might be time to work out an exit plan.

Quitting doesn’t make you a loser.  It can make you a winner in the long run.

On Being Grateful for my Life!

I have been working pretty much non-stop since mid-March, sort of.  OK, I have had two weeks off in total since then.  I had a week off in-between jobs and recently had a week off for my Birthday.

I am working in areas I have never worked before.  I have done some work for social services, and I am currently working in a Nursing Home.  Although different, there are many similarities.  What they do have in common is extremely low pay.  However, I am not complaining as it means I don’t have to tap into my savings as much.  I am really enjoying my current assignment.  I really wanted to leave the first day.  There was no-one to hand over and I didn’t have a clue where to start or what to do.  But then I stared into space for about 5 minutes and ping, I had a brain wave and called the head office.  Within 3 weeks I was down with all of the financial stuff.  Each day got better.  It was one step at a time.

I was actually offered the post that I am in, but it really isn’t financially viable long-term.  I make marginally more than what they are actually paying and one days wages out of five pays for my petrol.  I wouldn’t mind this job if it was nearer to home as it takes me a long time to drive to work.  In the meantime, I have owned the job and am getting everything ready for when the new lady starts.

My colleagues are also amazing women, and men (but there are mostly women).  I am going to miss them when I leave.  However, I feel that I have made some nice friends, and that is always a good thing.  I also have some very good references!

Since I have worked for the Nursing Home, a couple of the residents have passed away.  The main part of my job is administration, so I very rarely have anything to do with the residents.   I have only spoken to a handful.  Most of the residents are not very mobile or they are confined to their rooms.  Saying that, it is still very sad when someone passes on.  It is the family that really suffers afterwardes.  Unfortunately, there is only one way that the residents are going to leave.  In the time until then, the staff try to make things as nice as possible for them.  The chef makes lovely food. Who cares about calories at this stage of life?  It might be the only nice thing to experience before they go.  I was worried about what type of Nursing Home I was going to be working in, but this place is really lovely.

Working in a place like this makes you think and puts many things into perspective.  I have huge admiration for the nurses and carers.  They work long hours and do a sometimes thankless job.  The managers are doing their best to make sure that everything is running smoothly without losing focus on customer care.  My job is to make sure that all the finances and administration processes are up to speed.  I am afraid that there is still a lot of catching up to do in this area, but we are getting there.

If there are some down sides, I try not to think about them, after all, I am only temporary and am working on being grateful for what I have, which is a lot.  Hopefully, something better will come after this.  It usually does.  This job does put things into perspective and I am grateful that I still have my health and don’t have to rely on others to look after me.

I just have to tell my kids to start saving up as it isn’t cheap to put your parent into a home. 🙂

Working for Money

I don’t mind working, I have plenty to do.  Unfortunately, the work I need to do doesn’t pay the bills and I am required to actually go out of the house to work for money.

I decided to temp until I found something I really want to do.  Last September, I took on a temp job for a few months that paid reasonably well for down here, but was exhausting and mind-numbingly dull.  I was too tired for anything after work.  I had a few months off and did stuff around the house and went on holiday.  After the holiday, I started another temp job.

Although this job was a no-brainer admin post (meaning that my experience meant that I could jump right in), the pay was terrible.  People expect a lot for nothing.  There were a few upsides in spite of the crappy pay and that was:  it was local, the people were pleasant, and the environment was interesting.  I was working at an Adult Care Centre run by the council.  I can’t tell you much about it because I signed a confidentiality form.  I had never worked in a place like that before.  It was a real eye-opener.  I have huge respect for anyone that works in that environment.  Their pay is terrible too.  The only people who I think enjoy their jobs at the centre are the care workers, even though they complain about pay and no relief.  My observation tells me that the supervisors are too busy with damage control and risk assessments and filling in mountains of paperwork to really enjoy themselves at work.  They used to be care workers, but now have become paper-pushers.  I don’t see any fun in that.

Even though my pay was poo, it was money, and that meant that I didn’t have to tap into my savings too much.  Going on the premise that gratitude gives you more of what you want, I was trying to be grateful for a job while so many have none.

Working as a temp can be a real eye-opener.  Sometimes you can find your dream job, or you end up knowing what you don’t want to do.  I learned that I would prefer to work in the private sector.  The public sector has too many micro-managers.  I do not need to be micro-managed.  Some people do, but I don’t.  It isn’t very nice having someone looking over your shoulder all of the time.  It stresses people out.

After that contract finished, I had a week off to do some painting and getting things done around the house.  Then I started another job.

This time I am doing admin at a Nursing Home.  I did a test drive last weekend to work out my route.  At first I was a little bit concerned as I went through an area that was a little bit dodgy.  However, when I found the place, I was relieved to see that the place was fairly new looking.  There was no way that I was going to work in a place that was yukky.  This place isn’t.  There are renovations being done and it is quite nice for a nursing home.  The people who manage the place are very nice.  The problem was that there wasn’t anyone to tell me what to do or how to go about it.  They were left without an admin.  Hmmm.  This did not look promising.  By 10:30 am, I was ready to leave as I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.  I felt useless.  Feeling useless is not something I feel very often, if at all.  I pride myself on being organised and efficient.  My agency should have warned me.

After staring into space for about 10 minutes wondering what I was supposed to do, I finally called Head Office and asked someone in HR to put me into contact with another administrator from another home to talk me through some things.  My role would normally involve payroll, but my manager was going to deal with that until I could get up to speed with the finances.  She spent all day learning how to do it as it was her first time.

I managed to speak to another admin to help me get through the invoicing.  Then I spoke to Head Office and got onto someone in accounts.  It may have taken 2 days, but I have now mastered this aspect of the role.  It is straightforward, but time-consuming if not kept up to speed.  I had to do the same for reconciling the petty cash and banking.  I ended up with phone training as it isn’t straight forward.  It took me a whole day to do it.  I still haven’t reconciled the resident’s money, but I made a start by Friday.  By the end of the week, I feel I have made some headway.  In between dealing with all the finances, there are the phones which can be busy, and dealing with other admin duties.  The list seems endless.  I am meant to stay on until they find someone new.

After what started out as a disaster, things are moving along into some semblance of order.  I wouldn’t mind working there permanently even though it is a bit of a journey.  Unfortunately, the pay is poo.  I worked 5 days and one of those days paid for my petrol.  It hardly seems worth it.  I discovered that before the Nursing Home was taken over, the lady who used to work there actually got a decent wage.  Now it has been taken over by a very large charity and the pay band in this area is the lowest for the rest of the country considering that we pay London prices for a lot of things.  There are procedures and documents for everything.  There are deadlines for everything.  This big company likes to micro-manage.  It is unfortunate as it stops people from getting on with their jobs.  The ladies who manage the home are fairly new too.   They want to run a nice home and care for people.  Unfortunately, a lot of their time is dealing with paperwork.  That should ease off once they get to grip with new procedures.

Paperwork is an irritating aspect of most jobs.  If you are not used to dealing with it, or you leave it too long, it can bog you down.  I usually don’t mind it as long as I know what I am supposed to do.  If I know what to do, I just get on with it.  That is just the way I am.  I get on with things.  Every company does things differently.  I don’t mind learning new things.  However, when running a business, there are also a lot of similarities.  Therefore, I can go into any type of business and just get on with my work as long as I know how they want me to do it.  I am always learning something new.

While writing this post, I realised that I am going to have to put aside the fact that I am getting crap pay and working 5 days with one day going for petrol and focus on the good things instead.  I actually like what I am doing .  I am being useful and people are grateful that I am there.  I am creating order out of chaos.  I can only do my best with what I am given.  I realised that the only person putting any pressure on me at the moment is me.  Everyone is aware of the situation and we are all doing the best we can under the circumstances.  I shouldn’t complain about anything.

I was telling my sweetie what it was like on the first day.  I also got an e-mail from ‘The Secret Scrolls’ telling me I shouldn’t complain as it will stop me from getting what I want and to offer gratitude instead to get more of what I want.  Talk about serendipity!  So, I no longer complain.  I merely make observations.  I don’t get frustrated.  I get paid to do a job.  I chose to do it.  If by doing a job I learn what I want instead, I can focus on that instead of focusing on problems.  I have been asked if I would like the job.  I said yes, but only on certain pay conditions.  One can only ask.  I would love a job like this closer to home.  Who knows what The Universe will bring now that I am putting this out there?

I have been feeling better about work knowing there is an end in sight, and that I will make it easier for the next person to take over.  They won’t have to go in cold like I did.  If I do my best, regardless of the pay and circumstances, chances are that I will get a very good reputation as a worker and will be put forward for more work.  A good reputation can be priceless.