Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hello Limbo! I Really Haven't Missed You!

Despite holding jobs at 7 different advertising agencies since 1999, I still forget how stressful it can be when you voluntarily leave one for another. I'm not saying that getting fired and/or laid off and subsequently being unemployed for a spell isn't stressful, but it's a different kind of stress. Being laid off or fired is rather immediate. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Resigning from a position and giving two weeks' notice is a different animal. In many instances, particularly when leaving one to take a job with a competitor, it is very common to be dismissed on the day you give your notice. And that's great. Especially if they pay you for your 2 weeks. I just happen to be one of the lucky few who always seems to be kept on for the full 2 weeks.

I had been toying with the idea of leaving agency A for agency B for a couple of months. Leaving agency A just never made much sense though. If you are enjoying your work, and love the people with whom you work, and you make an adequate income and have excellent benefits, including a month of paid vacation each year, why leave?

That is the question I kept asking myself and the answer was always easy: I don't leave. There's no point.

Sometimes it's just not that simple. Sometimes you may feel you are not being adequately challenged. Perhaps there is no perceived growth opportunity, or one is lacking all the tools needed to excel in work. And then there is the mother of all excuses: job insecurity.

On Friday, the 11th of March, I found myself on the receiving end of a verbal employment offer. And this started a frenzied whirlwind of emotions as I analyzed and compared the status quo to the new adventure. I believe I had immediately made the decision to accept, but wanted to give it a night to sink in. Ironically, while I was on the phone discussing the new employment offer, my boss was trying to call me with a proposition involving a change in my work responsibilities which I interpreted as not ideal.

Saturday morning I spoke to my future boss and accepted. Earlier that morning I had already composed my resignation letter. But it really wasn't a relaxing weekend, and those two events kicked off an anxiety storm I haven't experienced in a long while.

I did not resign right away on Monday. I had a hunch there was drama brewing based on the Friday call with my boss. Sure enough, here came the "organizational announcement" email announcing some layoffs. Soon to follow would be some restructuring announcement.

At the end of the day I somehow harnessed the strength within me to call my boss and announce my resignation. She took the news rather hard and tried to convince me to reconsider. In the end I told her to keep the resignation email she was hoping to delete, treat it as real, and I'd call her Tuesday morning and let her know the final decision. I already knew the decision but that did not stop me from waffling again and wrestling with various factors for the 53rd time.

On Tuesday I had the call. That, of course, set off a chain reaction. First, there was the call from HR asking questions about my motivations and whether or not I'd reconsider. Then came the call from the VP with a similar set of questions.

By early afternoon I was mentally exhausted and decided to take a lunch break at 1:45 to go rest on the bed for an hour. Unfortunately, at around the same time, another "organizational announcement" email appeared which informed the staff that I was leaving the company on March 25. And then my phone began to ring. Needless to say, there was no lunch break that day! Nor would there be the typical immediate dismissal which would have provided me a sense of relief!

Wednesday and Thursday were brutally busy as I spent time on the phone with co-workers who would be taking on my responsibilities. Thankfully, by Friday, things began to calm down and I was able to leave the house for a nice relaxing lunch at a restaurant. I got some of my non-essential equipment and office supplies boxed up ready to ship back to the office.

Next week I'll be available for support as needed and I'm hoping it will be a quiet week. However, this limbo is a strange sensation and I now remember why I dislike changing jobs. It is a form of agonizing torture and emotionally disruptive.

March 25 seems so very far away.

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