Friday, September 06, 2013


In 1975 I got a paper route and I've had a job ever since. That streak was broken today as I said goodbye to a job that I've had for over 16 years. I bid my co-workers farewell with tears in my eyes because I was so lucky to work with really great people and I will miss them dearly.

I quit my job and I'm not going to another company. Why? Burn out is a real thing. I had a very difficult time working -- I'd feel almost physically ill some days. Sunday nights were dampened with a dread that I had to go to work again Monday. Slowly that dread would creep in earlier and earlier into the weekend until Saturday nights were now deadened with pain of returning to the office.

Not only did I feel dread, but I was slowly turning into a creature that my wife barely recognized. Sour, depressed, angry at everything. I felt that there was nothing worth doing, no activity would bring me joy, no happiness was possible. I would drift into dark mental places that scared me.

I had to leave.

I started saving my money and paying off any debts I had outstanding so that when the time came, I could count on the ability to live on Mrs Yam's salary. When a surprise windfall showed up, I was able to pay off our car, the last of the debts except for the mortgage. With that out of the way, I started the long, dark trek of convincing myself it was possible to leave.

It's odd what a hold a job or career has on a person. Our culture is all about work; the question "What do you do?" is not about hobbies, but your job. We define people by their occupations, how much someone earns, their title and position. I have always worked and to convince myself that it isn't necessary to always work was depressingly difficult.

What would I do if I quit? Would I be able to live the life to which I'd become accustomed? Perhaps that lifestyle and its attendent costs chained me to a job I was no longer willing to do? What if I changed how I lived? Could I live differently and be happier? I intend to find out. I'll not be working, but I'll be busy. I have bikes to ride, camping to do, cooking and baking to perfect, gardens to put to bed and a house to clean. After all of that, there's a couple of Robin Hood bikes that need renovating, sewing to learn, and volunteering to do.

I'll eventually get back to working for money, but there's no guarantee that I'll be back in IT. I'll put my resume out there, but I'm not going to look real hard. Maybe I'll get my computer mojo back and maybe I won't. Not sure what will happen, but I want to wander and see where life leads me. I feel good about this, and I'm scared and excited to see what the future holds.


WheelDancer said...

Awesome! Around our house we have been having that same discussion for quite some time and are about to embark on different set of changes, but ones that ultimately lead to the same place. We are pondering the significance that living off half our income means we can retire in half the time; can we live on a quarter of our income?

We are cutting back on everything, but refuse to eliminate our beer budget because, well, would it be a life worth living with out it?

Hoist a frosty one and charge forward brother Yam!

Pete Saunders said...

No job, living off the wife's salary? You're living my dream!

Tim Smith said...

Man's gotta do...

ATTW said...

so how goes the life now Brother Yam?

rlove2bike said...

I hope things are going well!! I read this when you first posted, but neglected to comment. I too quit/retired from my job almost three years ago now. I had the same burnout you were speaking of. GOOD for you!