Looking back over the past year
A journey of writing and healing.
I published the first issue of Remote Musings on October 2, 2021. This newsletter was born as a response to a LinkedIn post I wrote about The Great Resignation. Turns out, it was a conversation that people wanted to have: why work sucks, why it should be better, and why work-life integration matters.
On the exact date that I sent my first issue, I was in between jobs. I had taken a new role in early 2021 and quit at the end of September. My new job started on October 4th. You might say that I got a double dose of The Great Resignation (triple dose, if you include my husband’s job change).
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A lot of other things have changed in the past year. The job market took a sharp turn, with many tech companies laying off employees. Russia invaded Ukraine and Uvalde happened. Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter and we got a new term for productivity panic (“quiet quitting”).
Through it all, I’ve been working and writing. I’ve entered an entirely new world since I quit fintech in early 2021. Now my days are spent with content marketers, journalists, and other creatives. I’ve spoken at a few conferences, appeared on podcasts, and written a few eBooks. I’m launching a second newsletter. My story of leaving an executive job to pursue more fulfilling work is certainly not unique, yet I find myself telling it over and over.
I’ve also had moments of self-doubt. Actually a lot of moments of self-doubt. Starting over in one’s career is hard. I went from being the person with all the answers to being the person with all the questions. If I’d stayed in banking/fintech, my days would have been a lot easier, because I had decades of knowledge to propel my work.
But. It wasn’t worth the toll on my mental health. I’d been burned out for years and never realized it. I thought a toxic work culture was normal. I buried myself in my work, thinking I could make things better. Which only made things worse, because I couldn’t “fix” bad management, asshole colleagues, and terrible policies.
What I’ve found in writing about work culture and remote work is that a lot of people are still new to work-life integration. Working remotely comes naturally to me because I’ve been doing it for sixteen years. Other people are still figuring it out. I’ve gotten more comfortable sharing stories about my work experiences and saying “It doesn’t have to be this way.” And it’s required some introspection on my part, including my own role in perpetuating a toxic environment. Sometimes my silence was the most damaging.
And fear is what likely prevents many people from speaking out. They need job security, so they don’t push back on unrealistic policies or terrible managers. When pushed to their limit, they quit or “quiet quit” — both of which are totally valid. But it doesn’t make the work experience better.
Even though I’m now surrounded by lovely people during the workday, I find the most satisfaction comes from my own projects, like this newsletter or creating resources for freelancers/solopreneurs. I never had the bandwidth before. Part of that was due to the ages of my kids (at the start of the pandemic my youngest was 3). Part of that was due to the mental taxation of my job. I’d get done at the end of the day and was drained.
Work doesn’t have to suck. Nor does it have to be all-consuming. It’s ok to want meaningful work. And it’s ok to do the job, as expected and nothing more, and focus your energy elsewhere.
A roundup of stuff from around The Interwebs. Some to make you smile, some to make you roll your eyes. And some stuff that I wrote on other platforms.
Fear, Courage, and Willingness | Dan Shipper, Every
How to Avoid Burnout as a Creator | Tamilore Oladipo (a friend of mine!), Buffer
Quiet Quitting is Hustle Culture’s Reckoning | Ed Zitron
You can also follow me on LinkedIn for more insights about work, or on Twitter for spicier takes, and Medium where I write about fun stuff like productivity and creativity. Or catch up on the personal side of my life on my blog.
This publication is free because I love sharing ideas and connecting with others about the future of work. If you want to support me as a writer, you can buy me a coffee.