Quitting your job? Be sure to think happy thoughts.
In February 2015, I decided to quit. I took a few long weekends to think about it, and then had breakfast with my husband Ari, master of short but decisive conversations:
Me: “I don’t think I’m that into my job anymore. But I don’t want to do something new right now. I’m thinking of taking some time off.”
Ari: “You should quit”
Me: “Just quit? Without a new job? Are you ok with that?”
Ari: “Of course. Take the summer off for yourself so that you can figure out what you want to do next. “
Me: “Ok, I’m gonna do it.”
Ari: “Great! Do you want to order some beignets?” (We were at Brenda’s Meat & Three, which has amazing beignets, pictured)
I waited until after the earnings call that week to tell the team about my decision. It took a bunch of conversations to convince them that I really wanted to go, and another six weeks before my last day.
Most people assume that I left because I wanted spend more time with my kids. I don’t bother to correct them. It was easier not to give them the long answer I’m trying to explain now.
The truth about why I quit? I did it for myself.
After I quit, I kept both kids in preschool and daycare. We kept our wonderful au pair Mariana working 45 hours/week. We continued to employ our house cleaner, Carmen. The only thing that changed was that I wasn’t working.
Taking care of myself before my kids is really, really hard. I lose myself in their needs and forget about myself. When I’m on vacation with my kids, I don’t meditate or do yoga (typically a regular practice for me) even though I technically have the time. I have even got sunburned while my kids were wearing the SPF 50+ sunscreen that I put on them.
For the first time in over four years, I had time (usually 4–5 hours per day) for myself, and myself alone. I practiced yoga every day, and caught up on TV series that I missed. I watched documentaries about sordid topics like Scientology and read epic book series. I had lunch and coffee with old friends and colleagues I hadn’t seen in too long. I organized some college friends to have a reunion weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was awesome, and totally worth it.
But, after about 8 weeks off, I got the itch to do something more. But this “something more” was not motivated by external forces that previously mattered to me. This time the momentum was coming from within me.
I mapped out what my “ideal week” looks like — as a healthy person who sleeps and works out, has quality time with kids, and enjoys adventures with my husband…and who also works really hard to make big things happen. Based on that, I started to consider all the different inquiries coming in — for head of marketing roles, strategy roles, and even a CEO role for an education startup.
During one lunch on a Monday with a friend (David Jacoby) who is also a parent at my kid’s preschool, I was inspired. After more conversation, I learned that he too wanted to create a company that was building something people need, and would support me in creating a working life that would fit my “ideal week map”. And here we are, founding a new company together: Hostfully.
Yes, startups are hard, and very time-consuming. But I’ve been able to keep up with the insane San Francisco kindergarten tour schedule, get a few yoga sessions in each week, have one weekly date with Ari, and also be the leader and contributor that Hostfully needs me to be.
At some point, our company needs to make money, so we do have a limited time frame to get this proverbial plane off the ground. But having all those other aspects of my life humming along makes this typically “hard, intense time” a lot easier, and a ton of fun.
In my MBA Negotiations class (taught by Adam Grant) and later at the poker table (mostly taught by Ari Schmorak) I learned that decision making is all about your BATNA — your next-best option. If you’re an optimistic person, you won’t think your BATNA is that bad — but if you’re pessimistic, then you’ll inevitably talk yourself into “making it work” with the current situation.
The short answer to why I quit my job? I’m an optimist.
Originally published at www.linkedin.com.