“Wow! I hope you have a ‘plan B’!” “Hey, congratulations, but… what’s your ‘plan B’?” “Big news! So, do you have a ‘plan B’?”

In the immediate aftermath of my decision to leave a long time job working for a media company based in Italy, a big move indeed, friends and family have been reacting with a barrage of sometimes incredulous, sometimes appreciatory exclamations, but practically everyone has been overly concerned about my next step, to the point of hurriedly soliciting me into jumping right back into the work force. Something that I should have done, according to them, probably the next day I cleared the desk and said goodbye to my colleagues. “No, I do not have a plan B” has been my unequivocal answer to people here and across the pond. Why should I? Plan B sounds like back-up plan to me, and having taken that terrifying but exhilarating leap of faith that is leaving a full time gig that had become not fulfilling nor challenging, why should one settle for anything less than a newly minted ‘plan A’?

A recent study led by Ohio University scientists, and based on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (an ongoing survey started in 1979), has found that doing a task that doesn’t fulfill you, or that you merely tolerate, let’s say in the name of the paycheck, is bad for your health, especially if you are younger than 40 years old (not my case, but still). And we are talking about increased risks of anxiety, depression, sleepless nights, backaches and colds, all problems that really in return aren’t going to make you like your job more. What is gloomier, again from the analysis of the NLSY, is that in general job satisfaction is not widespread and probably most of the people around us are unhappy cohorts. Two in distress make sorrow less? Uh, not really. Rather, there is the possibility that this chronic dislike for our job could be a true public health issue. And we should do something to right the wrong with the state of the job. The trend seems to be leaning in this direction. At least, in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Some Swedish companies are moving to a 6 hours working day in order to increase productivity and happiness among the workers. Among those employers who already made the change, few already are reporting that employees are getting more things done in less time, are calling in less sick days and least but not last they have time to pick up their kids from school, help them with the homework, or to go out for dinner without looking exhausted. To be honest, I had the privilege to call it quits at work when things got ugly and when I didn’t get to do things that made me choose that job in the first place, and I do not encourage to jump ship recklessly, unless one is prepared for a lot of self doubt (albeit, mixed with a lot of excitement), and unless one is in a financial position, at least for a bit, to say “enough”.

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I knew that my next advancement would not come easily, that it would not materialize just by staring at my Linkedin page, but this is the one step I needed to take, the one that finally made me feel good about waking up in the morning, and (strange enough) about the future. Besides, my career does not define me. Until… it actually does.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Originally published at medium.com