My brother moved to Seattle shortly after me. His girlfriend had moved here too. He was a lawyer working 80 hour weeks for not enough pay, and he was unhappy. He packed up his car from Cleveland, Ohio and drove to Seattle. The change in his personality was instantaneous, from tired and grumpy to happy and satisfied. His lone cross-country drive was transformative. He quickly passed the Washington State bar exam, but could only find work temping since so many lawyers were being laid off. He doesn’t regret a thing. In fact, he makes more money temping than he did working full-time. He controls when he wants to work, and if he works overtime, he is compensated. “Things always have a way of working out” he told me.
Tonight was my team’s holiday party, which was held in the space needle. I was literally handling a queue of coworkers complaining about their jobs and asking my advice on what to do next. One of the individuals told me he has been working on a business on the side, but hasn’t been able to walk away from the safety of his full-time job. When I attended the StartupDay conference in Bellevue, WA earlier this year, the advice across the board was don’t leave your day-job. Instead, they said to work on the startup during spare time and use the salary to live. I tried this, but found my job was draining my creative energy. I also found my performance slipping, and was worried about my reputation. I knew I had to leave if I was going to truly pursue my project.
Asked what to do, I walked him through my thought process. I told him how difficult my decision was. And then I launched into my brother’s story. Midway through, a photographer snapped a photo of us, and we started to chat. She told us that she had been laid off from our company in May, and that it had been one of the most liberating experiences. She had 6 months of severance, and was finally able to pursue her passion for photography. “I had never felt so creative” she said. Now she was photographing parties for the company, probably at a very profitable rate. She told us she even photographed her former organization’s party, and that it was a pleasure because she was now doing what she loved. I turned to my questioner and said “And there you go – things always work out. Consider this a sign.”
I don’t know how things are going to work out for me. But I do know that things are going to work out for me somehow. I know I’m going to end up some place different, some place that is better for me. Ultimately, you know what’s right for you and you shouldn’t fight it. After all, what’s really the worst that can happen?