On Leaving the Job You (partly) Love

Whoa it’s been a long time since my last post (last year, i guess?). It apparently took a big milestone in life to finally write again. And this part right here is dedicated to my fellow office mates.

Three years ain’t too short, I suppose, to make the decision to leave. I joined the company through a graduate program. Over the time, I learned a lot. The most valuable thing that I learned during my first year is about dealing with people and the work itself, how to structure our thinking every time there is an issue. How we have to clearly understand the whole story, make rooms for possible causes and impacts, analyze the case, and remain calm. I observed how my manager win people and I basically copied what she did over time. The achievement of the year was to gain trust from people I worked with, that I’m capable and I can even do more.

I got a great role model and a job that I love. Exactly on that year, I was thinking of building my career in the company.

Then things change in the second year. My teammates left, my manager left, so I was alone. I got a new manager – but it’s different. Even the organization structure changed. I once felt like sailing alone on the sea with no clear direction and sometimes the storm came. The good news is, I survived. Partly because the lessons I have learned during my first year and partly because I still love my job and partly because I have built a great friendship with my colleagues. Susah senang sama-sama is probably the most suitable phrase. I laughed a lot, even with all the struggles.

It was some sort of a good balance between everything – an ok job, an ok manager, and a good friendship. It was a little bit boring though, an ok job somehow does not spark me joy. But it was comfortable. The common sense told me not to have the intention to leave.

Here comes the third year, where the balance went off. I got great friends. The manager changed (again) and this time was different. No personal issue but I did not feel the ‘click’ with her. We had a very different way of working and solving problems. The ok job had become very mediocre. I often fed up by how often the same issue happened over and over again. And like most people do, I wanted something more. However, I was going nowhere further. Yet the most important thing I finally realized, during this year, was how the company operates is actually bothering me. It does not necessarily bad but it clearly does not suit my value. I believe that a vision of a company and how it is directed really influence the behavior of the employee. I don’t want to be there if things don’t change. Since then, with the combination of all thoughts and feelings, I wanted to leave.

To trace back, the first thought came in the first quarter of 2019. I have started looking for new opportunities ever since. I did interviews with several companies but there were no ‘yes’ answer from them. When I finally slowed down early this year, I got the good news. Good and unexpected, honestly. It’s funny how sometimes God answers our prayer in the most unexpected time. The lesson is don’t lose hope, guys.

This is my own story. I did not say that everyone in the company has the same experience and feeling. Fate has different stories to tell each person. So please don’t compare mine with yours (or them). To me, for now, the better place is out there (and who knows if I will ever come back?). To emphasize my reason to leave the company, it’s because in the end, I need the good little balance between everything. For the sake of my whole career, great friendship alone is not enough. I’m not (yet) settling down, not like this. I still want to move forward and push myself through.

Quick message on leaving a job, everyone has their own personal reason. So if one day you feel like you really need to go, be courageous to explore what’s out there. And don’t ever lose hope. When God knows it’s time for you to have new adventures, He will help you out. If leaving has never come across your mind, that’s totally fine. It means you already got what you want. And what you want is up to you. What’s important is that we always choose the option which serves ourselves best.

Adios, with lots of love..

Atiqah Zulfa Nadia

Work-Life (Not) Balance

I used to believe in work-life balance. Years ago, it was one of the question I asked during an interview, “how’s the work-life balance in this company?” Turns out, it’s not the company that defines the work-life balance. It’s actually mine to choose.

Just several weeks ago I realized that there’s actually no such thing as a perfect balance between work and life. I now believe that we have to choose, to which degree do we want to excel in career, to contribute to the society, to socialize with friends, to manage the household and family, and of course to have a perfect me-time for ourselves. It all can happen in parallel, all at once, but the degree will vary. It depends on the priority of each person and the priority might change over time. Easy example, the level of priority before I got married was 30% career, 10% society, 20% friends, 30% family, and 10% me. Now the combination has changed: 25% career, 10% society, 10% friends, 35% family, and 20% me. I bet this will change again later when I have kids. However, there’s no good or bad combination that applies to all – it’s all relative. The parameter itself might be different from one person to another. I got 5, maybe other people have 8 or 3. Thus, no one should underestimate other people based on their chosen priority level (a full-time housewife thinks she’s better than a career woman or the other way around).

How do I come to this conclusion? First, I read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and she said so. Second, I listened to the lecture from two directors in the company I work at. The first director used the term work-life balance, but she did not mention if she had one. She explained that she tries to make a quality time with her family amidst her busy career and organization life. Often she took her children to company or organization events – just to be able to spend time with them. The second director even said that he’s not the one to give advice regarding work-life balance, he’s just trying to look for the fun in everything he does. The similarity between them is that they have high priority level in career. Thus they try to squeeze in other things with the resources that left. The first director turned down a job that requires her to be out of town because she wants to be close to her family. Her priority level for family could be the second highest. She definitely does it all, in a combination of priority level that she believes is best for her.

What is more interesting is the statement of the second director, which I can’t seem to remember. But that very statement makes me realize, it is actually unfair to seek for a work-life balance, while work itself is actually a part of our life. How could we separate work from life, as if work is the bad guy and life is the good one. I don’t know how it’s like in other industry (like consulting or media or advertising that is famous for the stressful work culture), but to me, work is both sucks and fun. There are times where it gets really stressful and tiring. I hold a different value from the company. However, it drills my brain so it doesn’t stop thinking and learning. I have great friends at work, so it’s fun. To the extent of my current priority level combination, I’m good.

To realize that work-life balance is not about the work itself, I have never asked for it during an interview. I am more keen on knowing the value that the company has or its culture. And to realize that there’s no perfect balance of everything in life, I take things more lightly. Juggling all the little things in life is indeed a challenge, but stay calm and serene does help.

I hope with this new mindset, I can always embrace this life with excited feelings, on and on and on. (I hope you, too)

Love, Atiqah Zulfa Nadia