I love what I do for work. My career gives me a sense of purpose and I can see the effects in the lives of those with whom I work. I feel lucky that I was able to get a job in my field shortly after I finished the Pacific Crest Trail. I allowed myself a bit of a buffer to re-acclimate to my new home and started my new position in January of this year.
I quit after five months.
I made a conscious decision to give one month of notice before having another job lined up. It’s probably not what most reasonable people would do, but as I reflect on the last few months I have realized a few things.
- I have a low tolerance for misery without meaning. I have no trouble working hard, challenging myself, and being uncomfortable. That is thru-hiking in its essence. But I do need to be working toward something I believe in. I found myself challenged in ways that were inhibiting my ability to effectively do my job. Sure, I can tolerate annoyances and discomfort. That’s how we grow. But I can tell a healthy growth environment from one that will just result in bad habits.
- I cannot just keep my head down. I see the ways that poor and inconsistent management and lack of communication affect morale and the effective delivery of services. They contribute to a toxic work environment. I spent the better part of last year on my own, autonomous. I don’t have the time or patience to be surrounded by bad systems and negative people with no improvement in sight.
- I know my reinforcers. Clinical quality and refining my skills; ways to further my professional development. Learning from others with more experience. Developing positive and functional work relationships with my colleagues and supervisees. Seeing clients progress. I was contacting some of these, but not all. Not enough.
- Yes. I am unemployed, but I will be fine.
I had a hiccup around the same time last year; I didn’t think I would finish the PCT. This situation is different, but not entirely. I was asked in a recent job interview: “What do you think you learned the most from your hike?”
Historically, I take the steps necessary to get where I want to go. I’m stepping back now and re-assessing for my next move.
I learned this: I will be fine.