Tag Archives: quitting my job

Resulting Basics

Listening to Annie Duke’s most recent book, Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts, I was intrigued with her discussion on ‘resulting’.

The word (a term that is used in poker meaning “creating too tight a relationship between the quality of the outcome and the quality of the decision”) came up when she was talking about deciding if a non-poker-related decision had been good or not.

I feel like I need a good example here, so I’m going to use my decision to leave my last job. I had a permanent contract and I was guaranteed .5 FT hours, but I regularly got extra hours, bringing me up to .7 FT hours. It gave me a regular (rather modest) income with time left over to pursue other interests (both income producing and non-income producing.) In a lot of ways, it was a pretty nice deal. However, I wasn’t really happy. I didn’t particularly like the pace of the workload or school year, and I had a few other issues with the job. (Not the students. I always loved teaching those kids even when it was a challenging group.) Also, in terms of my money-making prospects, it was a dead end. I decided to leave. Was it a good decision?

I could say, “Yes. As it turns out, I landed on my feet. I got a couple of classes in another department at the same school and I’m making up the rest of the hours teaching Chinese kids online with time left over to do other things.”

However, that’s resulting. That’s putting too much emphasis on the results. The question was about the decision. Was it the right decision?

What if the opposite had happened? I could say, “I haven’t worked much. No one’s hiring English teachers, and my freelancing isn’t working out.”

Again, this is looking too much at the results.

My understanding of resulting is that while the results may weigh in on the question of whether it was the right decision to leave the job, I have to look at the whole situation. I was not happy. I was in a situation where I walked into that building every day and thought, “Why am I still here?” Had a stayed, I would be in a terrible situation mentally and emotionally. I can’t imagine being happy still doing that. I felt so penned in.

Also, leaving made me feel really good. I’m always one for new adventures, new possibilities and new challenges. And the feeling I had when September rolled around and I didn’t have to go back to school was everything. Interestingly, I’ve always loved September. I love a new school year. I love meeting new students. That’s why I’ve always been a sucker for school: new books, clean classrooms, new people to meet. However, I can still feel that elation I had of being at home and not going in to school.

It seems to me that resulting also applies to our students. That was my original point. According to Ms. Duke, we are all born resulters. Outcomes affect us. Notice how I talked about how happy not going back to work made me. That was a result, right? However, if I look at how I made the decision, balancing my work history, my age, what I had to offer to the world against my happiness (or lack thereof) and the cost of spending all that time at school (as well as the travel to and from), I have to say that it was a good decision.

The fact that I was very happy in the end might just be an extra, added bonus.

Tags: , , , ,

How VIPKID was a Game Changer for Me

When I left my ‘secure’ teaching position (I had a permanent half-time contract), I had the goal to replace that income with something else while I worked on the next stage of my career transition. I wanted something either really local (I could walk to it) or online. Really local would probably have meant working at a shop, restaurant or hotel doing something like helping out in a kitchen or cleaning hotel rooms, but I would have been happy to do it.

The kind of job I was looking for was one that would take little to no preparation time and one that would not require me to bring work home. Just let me work some hours and be done. (This is the opposite of my experience with teaching in any capacity.) My goal was to spend the rest of my time working on the next stage in my career change, whatever that was at that moment. (It changes all the time.)

I happened across VIPKID. It sounded sort of perfect. I watched many, many videos on YouTube. I interviewed. I wasn’t nervous because teaching is one of those things that comes very naturally to me. Of course most of my teaching experience has been with college students and adults with a fair amount of mid-adolescence teaching. I had some experience teaching young kids when I was in my twenties, mostly in a church context, camp counseling and the such. Needless to say, I passed the interview with flying colors. They determined my base pay by the certifications I had and the experience. You can find all of that information online if you look. I got mid-range.

Then there was a mock class with a young woman who gave me some tips, and then she suggested they hire me without a second mock class. (Thank you, Brenda, wherever you are.)

And really, after two weeks, I was off to the races. I open time slots and they fill up. I have regular student. The great thing about VIPKID is that you open up hours when you want (depending on when they’re available. I’m in Amsterdam and those kids are in Beijing, so I never have a class start after 2:30 in the afternoon because most kids start going to bed around 9 o’clock, which is three my time because Beijing is six hours ahead.

Here are the things I really love about VIPKID:

  1. There is literally no supervisor. I work when I want. If I need to take the day off, or part of the day, I just don’t make that time available. No one’s banging on my cubicle door nagging me to open more hours. And if I want to work all day on Sunday, I do. (I never do that, but I could.)
  1. There is constant good feedback. Maybe it’s my teaching style and my tendency to accent the positive, but parents tend to really like my classes. And kids tend to like my classes because I’m fun. I’m not crazy perky like a lot of the teachers out there, but I’m happy and ‘up’ and I smile and laugh. It’s a pretty fun job.
  1. I work from home in an orange T-shirt and pajama pants. There’s no ironing. There’s no wondering if I’ve worn this sweater and shirt combo to school recently. I have! It’s just an orange T-shirt and whatever pants I want. It’s very comfortable.
  1. It draws in a skill I have been honing for a while now. Teaching is one of those skills I just have now. I can explain things. I have an unending well of patience. I can always think of a way to break it down to a smaller bit. I’m constantly practicing that in this job.

It’s a good gig if you are a native speaker from North America with a bachelor’s degree. If you’re interested, click the link above (or this one). If you need any help at all, I’ll give you my pro tips.

Tags: , ,

The Only Thing Worse than Being Talked About

One day when I was 14 years old, my mother asked why I looked so down. I muttered that I was upset because some kids at school were talking about me. We were in the car, and she was driving. She glanced at me and then looked back at the road. “You know what the only thing worse than being talked about is?”

“No. What?”

“Not being talked about,” she said. Now, I have no idea if she was just being clever to make me laugh or if she really believed that. I also have no idea if she knew she was paraphrasing Oscar Wilde of all people. But that moment has always stayed with me. At least I’m doing something interesting enough for people to talk about. God forbid I be boring.

This afternoon, I told a couple of ex-colleagues about my book and about my website. I got very tepid responses. “Good luck with your new venture.” I sort of felt bad for a moment. My mind went to them forwarding the website address to other ex-colleagues. I imagined them saying, “Who the hell does he think he is?” and “Oh please!” And then I imagined people talking about starting an entrepreneurial venture and having people hate on it and say negative things.

I’m not concerned about that per se. These are both very nice people. I have no idea what they thought about it. I didn’t expect them to be excited about it when they heard about it. This is just about what was going on in my head. These ex-colleagues have no idea how these things are done. They have no idea what the possibilities are. They have no idea how to go about doing something like this, so of course it’s going to sound impossible to them. It will probably sound ridiculous.

Also, let me stress that this was all happening in my head. I have no idea what they were thinking or what their opinion is. It was a part of my brain speculating.

It should be stated that most of these people (including Fred) are Dutch. I feel like most Dutch people have very little ability to dream really big. Most of my ex-colleagues dreamed for a permanent contract at their job and they stop there. That’s where I’m very American. I believe that if you reach for the stars at least you’ll land on the moon, or how ever that saying goes.

As I was standing in the kitchen drying dishes thinking about this situation this afternoon, the thought popped into my mind that I should imagine my former colleagues smiling and saying, “Good for him!” and “Impressive! I wish him the best.” I was reminded of the word pronoia, which is the suspicion that the whole world is conspiring to shower you with blessings.” I decided to get a big fat case of pronoia.

I called a friend and told her about what my mother had said in the car that day. I said I was going to “cast the burden on the Christ within and go free.” I decided I was going to not worry about it.

Matching my spiritual approach with her own, she said, “Yeah. F*ck them.”

Our approaches are, you know, similar in a way.

Tags: , ,

5 Unexpected Lessons from Quitting My Job

Last Spring, I talked to a Career Coach at school. I was feeling a bit down about my job. It felt very dead end and when I looked around at my colleagues, I thought, “I don’t want to become that.” To me, that’s a problem. I want to look around at people who are a few years further than me in any career path and think, “I want to be like that.” Even at 52.

Long story short, at some point, my Career Coach said to me, “I don’t think you’re going to be here next year. I think you’re going to quit.” She was taking what I was saying and turning it around on me. In truth, I was giving every indication that all I wanted to do was get the heck out of Dodge.

In fact, I knew I wanted to leave. I just didn’t know what I would do in the immediate future. We set a date, and on that date I walked into my manager’s office and quit. It felt very good.

My husband didn’t love the idea, but he wasn’t going to stop me. His only question was “What are you going to do next?” I said I’d figure it out. And a month later, I had an answer. I got a part time job freelancing and using my teaching skills teaching Chinese kids online, and I am also currently teaching two classes in another department at the same school. Quitting was really one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.

Here are five unexpected lessons I got from quitting my job:

  1. People are often surprised when I quit a job. I had a permanent contract. I was a part of the furniture. I had colleagues I liked working with. Students liked me. I was pretty miserable, and to certain people I would say, “I can’t do another year of this,” but most people were oblivious to my misery because I was in the enviable position of having that golden ticket, the permanent contract.
  2. Something always shows up. As I told my husband, I’m not the type of guy to just sit around and read novels on the balcony all day. I am fairly industrious. I kept looking for something I could do that was either local or online and would require only my current skillset, i.e. I was not about to learn technical proofreading.
  3. It felt really good to get out of a work environment that didn’t ‘feed’ me. This is not to disparage my former colleagues. It’s just to say that the whole situation had run its course. I’ve done this with other jobs. It’s like breaking up with someone when the relationship has run its course. It feels good to not be there any more. I wish them well. I’m just happy to be on a new path. And because of me someone else got a job. Everybody wins!
  4. There is support. Since leaving my job, I have reached out to a number of people. Not everyone has responded with help, but a good number of people have mentioned helpful resources, offered to help, offered contacts, etc. There was a part of my monkey brain that thought I’d be out there on my own. I’m not. People are generally good and are happy to help me with my endeavor to make the next step.
  5. People envy the ability to walk away. Any number of people have told me that they wish they could just quit. Yes, I’m in the enviable position in that my husband is the main breadwinner, but even if that were not the case, being willing to walk away from something certain is difficult. The regular income is gone. The resources that the job provided are gone. But the social network is also gone, and that’s something difficult to give up.

Quitting a job is difficult, but I really think it’s like any relationship, friendship or situation. If it’s not satisfying and if I really believe there’s something else (better) out there for me, I should take the chance. Every day I think about how happy I am that I did it.

Tags: , ,