It’s not the pay.
To be honest, it’s the pay that had held me back. For years, I postponed any pursuit of relatable opportunities because of bonuses and pay raise that were at stake. Bills and payables were also powerful grounding forces. Then one day, everything imploded into a thought: kung puro pera at bayarin ang iisipin ko, hanggang dito na lang ako.
It’s not the chronically stressful nature of the job, either. Realistically, there is no perfect job and no perfect organization. Distressful circumstances in professional life such as performing unwanted tasks, working with people you dislike, not getting what you want, or experiencing things that would scar you for eternity, are as constant as aging, sickness, and death. But if you’re doing something perfectly aligned with your principles, aspirations, and personal goals, you would view stressful situations as challenges that can be overcome. If not, it’s time to let go.
I left because I had other dreams. It was like outgrowing my favorite blanket and pair of pajamas when I was a child. What I once needed for peaceful sleep suddenly caused discomfort and restlessness. I needed to give in to growth that was inevitable. And life is too short for ill-fitting jammies, uncomfortable sheets, and for settling with high school and college dreams that were already fulfilled.
It is not easy leaving a job you’ve had for more than a decade. But it is more difficult to resist going after what will make you genuinely happy while you’re still young.
This decision could be a long process. If you find yourself at crossroads rethinking your career, here are some tips I’ve collated from personal experiences and stories of friends who have left what they used to love:
1. Once you entertain the thought of resigning, update your CV, and try drafting letters of motivation and resignation.
Instead of endless rumination that adds to stress, what about taking direct action? Summarizing and enumerating your professional achievements not only boost confidence and self-esteem (especially when you’re at your lowest point and feeling worthless). It helps you clearly assess where your qualifications and skills can take you, and which aspects you will likely fall short in relation to the career shift you have in mind; this gives you time to develop the skills (like taking additional courses or trainings) needed for the new job you are eyeing.
Draft a motivation letter. Application procedures require this apart from a CV. This helps you clarify your motivations and reasons for wanting to pursue another career path.
Writing a resignation letter will put together a sensible story why you are leaving. If you could not write anything that makes sense to you, perhaps you’re just burnt out. Sleep on it for now, or get a vacation, and return to your job with renewed energy and motivation.
2. Still unsure? Start sending out your CV.
You’ll know a bit more about what you really want once you give it a try.
After sending your CV and cover letter, you would find yourself either fervently hoping to be shortlisted or questioning yourself why you even bothered to do that. At this point, you would be more certain on what you want.
3. If you are serious in taking that career shift, spare time for practice interviews.
If you have been on your job for let’s say, more than a decade, chances are, you would be rusty on job applications compared to younger applicants. It would help to brush up on facing job interviews by showing up even when you’re not keen on getting that job. Besides, you can always turn down offers should you unintentionally ace some final interviews. So when the opportunity you really really badly want comes your way, you would be more comfortable and relaxed during the interviews.
While articles on job interview tips abound the web, nothing beats learning through actual experience. For one, cultural nuances are often not taken to account in generic acing- that-interview articles, which are also mostly Western-oriented. Remember that most Filipinos, albeit English-speaking, use a lot of emotion when judging people, and we are likewise not that straightforward.
4. Once you’ve found the opportunity you want and have decided to resign, please don’t go around your workplace trying to convince everyone to leave, too.
Your happiness is your own and yours alone. Your colleagues’ happiness is theirs, and not the same as yours.
However, when the topic of unpleasant experiences at work is brought up while saying goodbye, first, be a trustworthy friend. If the experience is entrusted to you in confidence, don’t tell others or gossip about it. Second, listen.
It is all right and even helpful to talk about similar experiences at work. Having undesirable sentiments about a job is normal. And talking about shared stressful experiences can validate individual experiences, resolve issues, and possibly plan future personal action that would best respond and prepare a person to another possibly stressful experience.
5. Never leave out of hate and resentment.
Resign or retire because you have found a better place where you are sure to achieve further personal and professional growth.
Never leave just because you resented your colleagues, or you hated your boss. You might regret leaving, or miss your former career so bad that you wake up frustrated each day, hating your present job, which was an easy escape that you thought would be temporary and short-term just for the sake of being able to leave that former job.
If you have a job that you really want, fight for it. Your dreams should be greater than the stresses.
I have decided to embark on another meaningful journey as a humanitarian worker; I am now with Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders as Communications Officer.
MSF is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization founded in 1971 in Paris, France by doctors and journalists, to provide life-saving and life-changing emergency medical care to people affected by armed conflict, crises, epidemics, natural disasters, and exclusion from healthcare. It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. It is active in 80 countries, including the Philippines.
My boss tells me I was accepted because of my background in Clinical Psychology; Psychological help is among the emergency healthcare programs that MSF provides.
I am grateful I’ve found a place where my background in Broadcast Journalism and Psychology is appreciated and supported. Finally, I can clearly see a path to fulfilling another dream as a Psychologist.
About the Author:
Tricia Zafra is a humanitarian worker. After 11 years of working as a broadcast journalist, she joined Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) as Communications Officer. She is taking up her Master’s Degree in Psychology in the University of the Phlippines, Diliman. She is a vegetarian, a painter, and a certified open water scuba diver; 2018 OFW Gawad Parangal Outstanding Field Reporter; 2016 OFW Gawad Parangal Favorite Female TV Newscaster; 2016 Certificate of Creative Excellence recipient of the US International Film and Video Festival Awards; 2014 Best Culture-Based TV Reporter of NCCA’s 1st Gawad Sagisag Kultura ng Filipino Awards, and; 2012 Plaque of Recognition recipient of the 4th National Statistics Month Media Awards. BA Broadcast Communication (cum laude) 2007, UP Diliman. Read more of her articles here.