YOLO - I Quit My Job

The best job I ever had was working for a man who once, after becoming so enraged about the “bunch of entitled millennials” who worked for him, he walked into the office one morning and delivered a speech along the lines of “I have worked very hard to grow this business and if you want to work here then I expect you to work hard. If not, you should GO AND GET A JOB AT TESCO”. He then waltzed up to the other end of the office and repeated the speech just in case those people hadn’t quite heard it. He got in huge trouble with HR for doing it because some people’s parents worked at Tesco and it had caused offence.

Thing is, it was my favourite job. He was a bit of a tyrant but ultimately a grafter. He paid me well and he knew that if you were good, you would make him look good. He wasn’t threatened by anyone and he let people get on with the job and try things out and if it didn’t work, we moved on. He would often say “throw it at the wall and see if it sticks”. Is this bad advice? The Instagram strategy folk would say oh gosh that’s not a strategy but to some extent, it works, at a certain time in your business. He didn’t care as long as he got results and knew you were committed. It was liberating working in a place like that. It was also chaotic and exhausting but I learnt a lot there.

I have been returning to my job for the last few months - a work from home “admin job” in the public sector. Let’s just just say the culture was rather different!

Yet again, I find myself a total cliche. Surprised that it has happened to me. Just Google “the motherhood penalty” (if you have children you are more likely to return to a lower paid job and to be perceived as less committed and competent - which is an outrage as mothers are so efficient with their time). I was brought up by a career woman who was never around so I wanted something low pressure and flexible so I could pick my children up after school. So, those are the decisions I’ve made and I’m not blaming anyone else.

It hasn’t stopped me feeling completely demoralised about working in a job I felt frankly, was beneath me. Being asked to tidy up someone else’s messy excel files. Literally days of copying and pasting and hour after hour on teams calls with no agenda. It has been on those never ending teams calls that I decided “this is a waste of my time”. I had this panicky feeling that if I kept doing it I would sort of catch the apathy, inefficiency and the pace. I kept thinking how many jumpers I could be making with that time. The pay was low and we really do need the income but I just couldn’t face it any longer. So I handed in my notice and have felt huge relief ever since.

My sister who doesn’t do things on the edge but was trying to make me feel better said “if you are not living on the edge you are taking up too much space”. It feels reckless, but YOLO. So, I am now officially a jumperpreneur and I am going to give it my best shot.

The reason I’m even writing about this is because I think it’s relatable.

Could I have faced a high pressure, highly paid job? Probably not. O is milking cows twice a day (school run and bedtime) and I find it difficult enough getting out of the door to nursery on time and back online for a teams call at 9, as it is. If I did find a decent remote job, it would involve overnight travel and I don’t want to leave the little toe-rags yet. I think back to all those mothers I sat with in board meetings in London at 9am and wonder now quite what they had already been though that morning in order to get there on time and be prepared for the meeting. I had NO idea!

So that leaves me with low pressure, low paid job. Except actually the expectations and pressure are the same - I felt pressured to go back after 9 months, asked repeatedly if I was going to make a flexible working request and was still subjected to the stress of my line manager before a big presentation. Not worth it.

How many women have found themselves in this position after having children? It impacts our pensions and our confidence. I have to work but also I WANT to work. I find is deeply mind numbing, the domestic drudge. I make cup cakes almost every day so I don’t disappoint my son, am frantic about being around to pick him up on time (because my mother didn’t do that for us) and the cooking 🫠. I don’t find it that fulfilling but I do want to be there.

I like learning new things, meeting interesting people running interesting businesses and I can honestly say I have learnt far more in the last year or so, working for myself making jumpers. I’ve met interesting people doing interesting things - lots of them online. Say what you want about Instagram but there is a community on there. The digital marketing side of things has stretched my brain. I’m in my late 30’s and everything about marketing has changed since I started out in my career. The internet makes it possible to update your knowledge and skills from the middle of a field. It’s amazing. Facebook ads, how algorithms work, “content pillars”, how to take a picture. I get some funny looks from O as I sit with my laptop and headphones late at night watching yet another video about SEO. But it has been fascinating and so rewarding.

So, I want to be in a magazine. Lily Gray from My Life in the Wind. And I want to triple my jumper sales next year. I want to be a little one woman micro factory with my own sheep one day. I also want money in my kid’s ISA’s and to buy a car that has less than 200,000 miles on the clock. Oh and I’m writing a book about living on the edge in the wind (motherhood, farming families, home). None of that will happen if I had carried on copying and pasting four days a week.

Of course I have those middle of the night wake ups where I think “WHAT do you think you’re doing, this is delusional” or feeling embarrassed that I’m trying to make this a proper business but I don’t know why I feel like that. I’ve sold plenty of jumpers. I have a lot of repeat orders. This is a business. I am 99% confident that people like my product.

So, if there is anyone out there with an idea who is slogging away in a job they don’t like, just start your idea. It’s excruciating putting yourself out there. I mean just look back at some of my hopeless content. But many people spend 40 years of their lives in those jobs I just quit. Imagine what it does to your brain.