I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a conversation I had with an old coworker when I was in London. He was in the process of quitting; I was shocked to learn he’d given 60 days notice. Along the same lines, he was horrified to learn that, should I choose to quit, I would give two weeks notice, required not by law, but simply out of culture and courtesy.
After learning of these drastic differences in our work cultures, he asked me:
“But if you can quit whenever you want, can’t you also get fired anytime they want?”
That’s the thing about at-will employment. Unless you’re part of a union, in America, you have the right to leave your employer at-will. The part that most of us take for granted is that it goes both ways.
When my colleague exhibited some serious anxiety at the mere thought of not having legally required job security, I scoffed.
“My company is stable and I’ve been there forever. They wouldn’t just fire me out of the blue.”
Well guess what happened? They did.
I try really hard to appreciate the little things in life. When I’m feeling stifled by New York City, I deliberately take note of beautiful architecture on the corner; I engage the Dunkin Donuts lady who pours my coffee; I smile at strangers.
Apparently, though, I’ve been falling short at appreciating the big things in life. Having a nice place to live, all of my immediate family members being alive and well, being employed.
Suddenly, I don’t have a paycheck on the horizon. My checking account is what it is; it won’t get replenished at the end of this month.
Suddenly, I don’t have any kind of structure to my day. I can do whatever I want whenever I want to, which maybe sounds appealing to lots of people, but I don’t function well this way. Even self-employed, workers-from-home have deadlines to meet and goals to accomplish. My freedom is endless and it’s suffocating me.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m one of the most adaptable people they know. What they might not realize, however, is that I need prep time. I can take on Life Changes with a vengeance as long as I can convince myself it’s on my own terms.
This? This is not on my own terms.
And I guess that’s the lesson I have to learn here, right? I don’t get prep time for every Life Change. I have to learn to dodge the curve balls, or catch them, or at least not let them smash me in the face.
It’s proving to be a real challenge to prevent this curve ball from smashing me in the face.