OF TREES AND FORESTS
A phenomenon amplified by the pandemic is the so-called great resignation. It refers to the extraordinary number of employees quitting their jobs starting 2021. While primarily driven by the pandemic, experts noted that its roots can be traced way before Covid-19 hit the globe and upended everything we know about life.
According to the US government data more than 38 million Americans quit their jobs in 2021. Euronews noted that in France, the number of resignations reached “a record peak in the third quarter of 2021.” In the United Kingdom, the rate of people moving from job to job was at an all time high between October and December 2021.
In Southeast Asia, the great resignation seemed to be a bit muted but the signs are everywhere too. According to Robert Walters’ Great Resignation Reality Check survey, 79 percent of professionals surveyed across Southeast Asia had the intention to resign in 2021 with Malaysian professionals on top with 82 percent who have thought of quitting their job in the past year, followed by Singapore (80 percent) and Thailand (80 percent).
But why are workers quitting? The reasons seem very familiar. According to a Pew Research Center survey, majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 pointed to low pay (63 percent), lack of opportunities for advancement (63 percent) and feeling disrespected at work (57 percent) as the main reasons why they quit. A survey by a global education technology company showed that the top reasons why employees quit are as follows — to make more money, feeling burned out and unsupported; lack of advancement, and the desire to follow other passions or a different career path.
I have always said that quitting is not in my DNA; that no matter the odds I never give up. But there are instances when quitting is okay, even necessary. If you are unhappy with your job; if you are the type who absolutely has no more motivation then it is time to let go. When you begin counting down the clock until it ticks to 5 p.m. then it is time to punch out, permanently.
After college and before I became an entrepreneur, I worked as a CPA in two magnificent companies — Sycip, Gorres & Velayo and as a financial analyst at the Private Development Corporation of the Philippines. Don’t get me wrong. These are outstanding organizations. But it was not for me. I had other passions, well, one passion — entrepreneurship.
These organizations are great for professionals but I had my heart somewhere else. I had an itch that goes back to the days when my mother took me to the market so I can help her sell shrimps and fish. So I decided to quit and do what I my heart told me I should be doing — build something from the ground up.
I am not suggesting that putting up your own business after quitting your job is easy. Far from it. I have already discussed in previous essays that building something from the ground up will give you stress, sleepless nights and probably failures, but you will love it. It is not really the level of difficulty and stress in your job that you hate, it is the fact that you don’t like what you are doing.
What the pandemic has done is that it allowed employees to assess the congruence between what they are doing (their jobs) and what they value most in life. In some cases they do not always align but you stay in your job because you need to put food on the table, roof over their heads and a bright future ahead for your children.
But it is important to love what you are doing. If you do not enjoy your job then what is the point? On the other hand, if you're happy in what you're doing, you will like yourself, you will have inner peace and that is good for your health — physical and mental — and good for your family.
It might be another job with a great environment and a supportive management. It could be entrepreneurship where you could be your own boss and the rewards — both financial and personal — can be limitless. Whatever it is, seek your bliss, pursue what makes you happy. “The only way to do great work,” Steve Jobs famously once said, “is to love what you do.”
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