In June 2018 I wrote an article on Medium about my “Milburn moment”. Named after Joshua Fields Milburn, one of the Minimalists, who proposed to his boss that he be let go from his high flying career, my moment was where I took a similar plunge and proposed my boss should “right-size” my job. It didn’t quite work out as planned, so I followed that with a second moment, and committed myself to not be working for the business by Christmas 2018. I even made sure my boss knew the plan. 7 months from that discussion I told him I would not work there, my choice or his, I was going.
That was almost two years ago, and an update is long overdue on how that commitment turned out…..
So where was I?
In 2018 I hated my job.
I hated the company I worked for.
I had no respect for its owners, and even less for my boss.
But they paid me a shitload of money to do something I sort of enjoyed. And that fucked with my values, my anchors, and my mental health. I was miserable. Change was needed.
Well, it turns out that once you understand a problem and its causes and have a clear idea of what is needed for a solution, you can make things happen. You can make them happen quickly. The key for me wasn’t that I hated my job and therefore needed another job. It was that I understood the underlying problems – the conflicts that led to the issues. I didn’t just need a job, I needed a job that aligned with my values. Yes, I needed an income, so I dropped my salary expectation to what I needed, not what I wanted. I don’t need shit, so why do I need extra cash to be able to buy it?
I didn’t care about job titles, so I dropped the ego enhancing need to be a VP or Director. That is not my identity, so why does the job title matter?
The location remained important. I had friends, family, and ties in an area, so I wanted to stay reasonably close to it.
Connection matters, those connections are more valuable than cash or status symbols.
I wanted a job that matched my values. The company had to align with them, had to share them. For 5 years I had worked in complete conflict to almost everything I believed. That had to change. Hard to find, but easy to spot those that miss the mark.
All very well, but I still had to find that job.
Clarity helps, and to be honest, the search went well. I put myself out there on linked in, with recruiters, with my contacts and network (I hate that word, but begrudgingly am starting to see the value). And I got to turn a few things down, interview with a couple of businesses and decide not to progress, explore opportunities in other countries and regions and find a role I wanted. Knowing that you are interviewing a company as well as them interviewing you is a very liberating experience. And after while I found a role where I felt I could add value. With a company that needed me, that had a great use for my skills and pushed me to get me to go there. We both wanted it.
The job was lower salary, lower grade, perceived as lower status than the one I had. But does that matter? I already knew I was a minimalist. I already knew what I valued and what I needed. The salary was more than I needed to both live my life and save for the future. And knowing all that made it easy to say yes.
I gave my notice and a few months later was in and settled in my new job.
Jump forward to late May 2020 and how are things? I am still in that job. As with every job, it isn’t 100% what is advertised, but I enjoy it. It challenges me. I learn new things every week. There are some brilliant, passionate people. It’s varied and often fun.
The result of this?
I am without doubt happier and more fulfilled.
I am more relaxed.
My mental health is better.
I’ve learned a lot.
And I keep learning new things.
Is that the end of the story? Not at all. Being more self-aware led me on many new journeys in the past 2 years. Homes, relationships, hobbies, travel. New and old friends.
I won’t pretend that changing jobs was the panacea that led to this. But it was one of those critical decisions and actions that made a difference in my life. It fits together with my minimalistic beliefs, my environmentalism, my focus on FI:RE, and the work I have done on myself and my career. They all come together to help make my world a better place.
Oddly enough, that’s what this blog is all about, isn’t it?
I believe I am no longer guided by societal standards and expectations, but by my values and anchors. I know what worries me and how to work to (mostly) reduce them. And I know what I love doing, and I do it. Diving, hiking, mountain bikes, and paddleboards. Travel to a glass igloo in the arctic, the Orkney Islands in Scotland, and diving in Malta. Nights out and in. And no pressure to be anything I am not.
All in all, its been a pretty bloody good 2 years. Set a goal.
Make a move. Be the real you.
And live a life on purpose.