Zen Assistant: How To Quit Your Job (Part 1 of 5) – Introduction

career, quitting, zen assistant

Once upon a shitty time, my job was watching Youtube videos all day for a Multichannel network. Which sounds awesome, up until the point I realized I signed up for 7 to 8 hours a day watching Pokemon battles and Minecraft videos — with commentary.

(To be fair, some of these channels had more than 42K subscribers. What do I know?)

During this period of my life, crawling out of bed was a Herculean chore. Every minute I spent in that warehouse, armed with enough power strips and Apple charging cables to cause a Chicago brownout, a small piece of my soul spit in my face before it promptly, like a bumblebee sans stinger. I was wasting the best years of my life.

Most importantly, I had no passion for the Youtube space. I didn’t believe in what we were doing.

So I quit.

It’s Not About Passion

One point, before I continue — I don’t believe everyone should do whatever they love to do. I don’t believe that simply following your passion will make you happy and successful…

I believe you need to earn the rightt to create happiness and success from your passion. Earning this right takes hard work. This hard work will be uncomfortable. It’s challenging. You’ll doubt. You’ll get lost along the way.

Fact: no one’s going to make you an executive because you slaved away for the company for a decade.

Fact: no one’s going to give you a shot at the writer’s room because you feel you “paid your dues.”

Fact: no one cares if you hate the work you’re doing.

But if the work serves a higher purpose… if you’re learning along the way… then the work — no matter how shitty, is worthwhile.

What To Do Before You Quit

Before you quit, before giving up on the job, ask yourself: does your work serve the bigger goals in your life?

If the answer is “yes,” think carefully before quitting. If the work can propel you to the next level, the potential reward in the future may be worth the discomfort now.

Maybe you get a lot of creative control.

Or you’re working with a master, someone at the top of their game.

If that’s your situation, and there’s just a few things that make the job untenable, before you turn in your two weeks or start looking for your replacement, please: communicate what your problems are.

Is your schedule unmanageable?

Are your responsibilities unfairly split?

Do you not get along with your peers?

No one can read your mind. No one knows what you’re feeling. You may think people are taking advantage of you, or that someone’s out to get you. Far more likely, however, is they have their own issues they’re dealing with and your boss and peers have absolutely no idea you’re so miserable. So communicate.

When You Know You Have to Quit

But if you’re:

  • Not learning anything new
  • Not working with people who are the best in your particular field
  • Not working in the space you want

Then it’s probably time to get out.

That’s how I knew it was time to leave the Multichannel Network company. The time spent Youtube channel surfing was actually making me dumber, so I definitely wasn’t learning anything new. There was no indication that the people I worked for were the best in the space. Most importantly, I had no desire to be in the Youtube space.

(I bring up this experience because I’m undergoing a similar change in my current role. Looking back and revisiting the heuristics used under similar circumstances shapes my decisions today — but I’ll post about that in due course 🙂 )

So, let’s say you know you should quit your job. How do you go about actually quitting? That’s the topic for this Zen Assistant series. I’m going to cover:

When was the last time you quit your job? What was your thought process for making that decision? I’d love to hear what you went through.


Photo Credit: Sarahnaut

6 comments… add one

  • e

    Love this series topic!

    • Chris Ming

      Thanks! Me too!

  • Hmm

    What if you’re…

    Not learning anything new (there is no room for growth – not for what I want to do – at my job)
    Not working with people who are the best in your particular field

    But it’s an easy job that’s kind of in the space you want. How much should a day job challenge and inspire you? My current gig doesn’t really challenge or stress me out and allows me to work on my own projects off-time. Though sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t be more productive working a day job I love – meaning, it challenges me and pushes me in the right career direction. That way the majority of my hours are working towards my life goal – as opposed to just my off-hours. Optimal time use. Argh.

    • Chris Ming

      I think that’s perfectly good for a little while, ESPECIALLY if you have plenty of time to work on your own thing. Then I start thinking about how much time we spend at work: most of us work 9-10 hour days (sometimes more.) That’s 45-50 hours spent in an office, and if you’re just in a place where you’re complacent, not learning anything new, or learning from people who are rock stars at what they do… that seems like a lot of time wasted.

      Getting ourselves into positions where we’re learning, or where we’re working with great people (notice — this is NOT the same as just getting a job where we can do what we “love”) isn’t easy, nor is it something that happens overnight. I think it’s where we want to be working, however, until those two conditions no longer hold true. Then it’s time to move on again, gaining more and more skills until we’re truly indispensable.

  • Bobby

    What if you are working 80 hours a week as an assistant and you don’t have enough time to pursue you’re own creative endeavors? I’ve tried talking to my boss about less hours but he says he’s unable to lessen the hours. I get paid less than minimum wage and can barely afford rent let alone save money for the equipment I need to buy. Any advice?

    • Chris Ming

      Hi Bobby, this is a really good, tough question. I wish I had some pro-tip that would solve everything, but frankly, no one does.

      It sounds like there are a lot of things at play, and we need to break it down a bit. This is what it sounds like to me (and I’m curious if you agree):

      1. Too much time spent at the day job (“80 hours a week as an asst”)
      2. Day job is not a good job (“boss unable to lessen hours, paid less than min wage”)
      3. Need to free up more $ (“barely afford rent, let alone save for equipment”)

      My general advice (and I’ll try to write up a post that’s more specific) is tackle this one thing at a time. Treat each problem as a separate problem — trying to tackle them all at once is going to leave you frustrated and depressed.

      For example, spending 80 hours a week as an assistant: what is one thing you could do to free up 1 or 2 hours a day? Could you check email less, or schedule your time differently, or work different hours? Without knowing the exact type of assisting work you do, I can’t really get very specific, but that’s the idea. Focus on freeing up 1 or 2 hours a day, that’s 5-10 hours a week. Even if you do nothing else but CHILL for those 5 – 10 hours, that’s very important space your mind needs to rest and recuperate.

      Will try and cover more thoroughly in a post — but feel free to e-mail me if you want to chat some more about this.

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