Why it took me 3 years to quit my job

Why it took me 3 years to quit my job

Desi Jagger's Blog

Why it took me 3 years to quit my job

It took me 3 years to quit my safe, well-paid job. These were the years of internal dilemmas ripping me apart, spontaneous outbursts of self-pity tears and brining home the unhappiness I had suppressed all day… whilst avoiding at all costs the dreadful question “How’s work?”. It wasn’t all bad of course, there were momentary glimmers of excitement and some amazing people who kept me going. But the overriding feeling was that of being out of place. So why did it take me so long to leave? And what was the tipping point?

I doubted my abilities

I was living a paradox. I was working for Procter & Gamble, the school of marketing, yet my self-esteem was low. People outside would rightly say this doesn’t make any sense– yet many millennials working in large prestigious companies will tell you they feel the same. I have uncovered two main reasons for this. Firstly, these companies attract insecure perfectionists – straight A students and club captains whose self-esteem hinges on external recognition and managerial approval. It only takes an “employee of the month” award to keep the insecure perfectionists working through the night for no extra money. Secondly, these over-achievers are shocked when they transition from university where they are surrounded by people of all abilities to an office full of top performers. Suddenly they are a small fish in a much larger pond.

I was afraid I would never find a better company

Working in a big company had lulled me into a false sense of security inside the office walls and a false fear of the unknown outside. Since the company promotes from within, most people around me had never worked in other companies. Human beings prefer the familiar, so naturally most thought it was better to stay than to embark on an unproven path. My own fear was feeding on the fears of my colleagues and I found a strange comfort in that consensus reality.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do next – and I invested zero time in figuring it out.

It took me a long time to admit to myself that I didn’t want my next role to be in FMCG marketing. I would apply for jobs and politely pull out before the inevitable “Why do you want to work for us?”. I dreaded this question because the true answer was “I don’t” and I am a terrible liar.

Since I hadn’t come to terms with the idea that I wanted a career change, I had never actually asked myself what I wanted to do. I limited myself to the menu of local and regional marketing roles. Sometimes I would do what I thought was “out of the box” and apply for a creative agency, but this was just doing the same thing on the other side of the fence. I did nothing to explore different industries and functions: I didn’t leverage my network and friends, I didn’t reach out to new recruiters, I didn’t ask my mentors for help and didn’t even consider getting a career coach. This was partially due to pride – I was working in one of the best companies in the world and any move would be a step down…

I was afraid of what people would say about me

Most training and coaching work is delivered by small companies or freelancers. After seven years in a large prestigious organization like P&G, I was ashamed to admit I would be moving to a much smaller and less known company, let alone be a freelancer. How would I explain this “downgrade” on my CV? What would people say about me, especially my former colleagues who stayed at P&G? Senior people who I had worked so hard to impress would dismiss me at once, forever shutting the door to future opportunities. My peers would look down on me and I would fall from grace.

I allowed myself to be held back by the fears of my parents

My parents grew up in a world where career success equaled a stable job in a big company for life. The millennial dream – trading salary and stability for a meaningful and exhilarating job – was their worst nightmare. Like all parents, they wanted to protect me from what they considered crazy – and what safer place than a large multinational? Unconsciously, I adopted their fears. I let them feel at home in my head. Even when I had overcome my own fears, I was still clinging on to those of my parents because I valued their opinion:

“You work in a big prestigious company and you earn good money – how bad can it be?”

“If you wait, things may get better.”

“Why don’t you find another full time job first and then quit?”

Sometimes the force that holds us back disguises as the people who love us most.


So who could I talk to? In my first coaching session, my coach asked me one very simple question “what will you give up in order to do your dream job full time”? I began calculating the hours – I still needed to sleep and eat… I could reduce the time with my family and friends, but that was already very little… I could work less hard in my current job, but I am diligent and hadn’t managed to pull that off for the past three years, so it wasn’t realistic…. And then I said it out loud for the first time “I will give up my job”. Three years of tension, fear and paradox melted away. I quit my job that same week and I haven’t looked back since.

It doesn’t need to take you 3 years to get clarity and move forward with your life. I am by no means saying quit your job now, or ever – you have a unique story and need to do what’s right for you. I urge you to get clarity on what makes you happy and what is stopping you from getting there. I urge you to get help from someone independent. If you want to try coaching, the thing that brought about my tipping point, book your free consultation now.

Photo credit: Jerry Huddleston

Why it took me 3 years to quit my job

Why I quit my safe, well-paid job at P&G

Desi Jagger's Blog

Why I quit my safe, well-paid job at P&G

Why would you ever consider leaving your secure, well-paid job in one of the best companies in the world? How could you detach yourself from a strong corporate culture and a network of intelligent, motivated people, many of who have also become your friends?

There comes a tipping point when the burning need for life-long fulfilment overcomes the promise of short-term promotions and pay rises. At precisely this point, I left my Procter & Gamble marketing job to pursue my passion for learning and development. Here is why:

I wanted my passion to be my full-time job, not just part of it

Brand management can be great fun and I did enjoy it. I learnt to work in cross-functional teams and to understand what makes people tick. Over time, however, I found my favourite days at work were when I had delivered formal training or just taught a colleague something new. I used to come home and my partner Mark would say:

“You have delivered training today. I can tell because your face is glowing.”

I received very positive feedback from the participants who were impressed by the time and energy I dedicated on developing others since it was only part of my job.

I was hungry – actually starving – to learn more

Working on the same brand in two very distinct regions – the UK and Arabian Peninsula – helped me understand the purely cultural differences in a business. I learned invaluable lessons on interpreting implicit messages and navigating ambiguity. As my business grew double digits for two consecutive years, it was time for a new challenge, which the company could not provide here and now.

No longer enjoying my day job, I began to focus on training and development in my spare time. I was both following my passion and learning new things. My evenings and weekends were filling up with reading, networking and designing training programs. Eventually this “double life” became tiresome and unhealthy as it ate into my time with family and friends. Training and development had grown enough to be my full-time job, not just my hobby.

I needed to be fully honest with myself again

Some people can come into the office, deliver a project and leave without the slightest emotion or attachment. I am not one of these people. I envision an incredible future and get excited about it. I energize my time around it. I tell the whole world about it because I believe it’s going to make a genuine difference.

But what happened when I stopped believe in the vision? I was less excited about it, I tried to rally my team but my energy was stifled, I was ashamed of telling the world about it because let’s be honest, it wasn’t really going to make a big difference. Although I learnt to persevere, continuing to work hard and grow the business – I was no longer having fun and wasn’t proud of my achievements. I felt untrue to myself as my mind wandered back to training and development, constantly looking for opportunities to teach and help others in the office and outside. I was asking my team to work on brand plans that I was no longer so passionate about and that just didn’t feel right.

When I finally resigned, a huge rock fell off my shoulders. I envisioned an incredible future in training and development and got excited about it. I am now telling the whole world about my passion because I believe it’s going to make a genuine difference to people’s lives.

Be honest – are you passionate about you job? Are you learning something new every day? If you are one of the many people re-evaluating their life and work, then coaching can help you. Take the first step now by booking your free consultation.

Photo credit: FreeImages.com/CristinaNichitus