I was sitting in my car alone, furious and angry. The car was like a shark cage protecting me. I had just come out of a heated discussion with my CEO, and I felt I could no longer work there anymore.
I wanted to go back into the office and say, “I quit”, and go back home with a sense of satisfaction. But at that moment in my life, I felt that I didn’t have that option yet.
Let’s go back a few years to understand why I felt so much anger.
I joined that company as an early employee, built most of the backbone of the product, and grown a pretty strong team. I had spent nights and weekends working here, without even spending enough time for my family.
I know startups are hard, and I hoped all my efforts would get rewarded in the end. I failed to look at the changes that were happening around me and how they are affecting me.
When I had that heated conversation with my CEO, I wanted to quit on the spot. I was told that I didn’t show enough dedication to my work.
But I didn’t quit. I had a family to take care of, and I thought if I leave without a backup plan, I would be risking a lot.
But the reality was, I had a decent amount of “Fuck You Money” saved up, and I could have quit on that day and not worried about getting a job for a good 2-3 years.
I could have left and spend a few months de-stressing and then started looking for the next opportunity. I had no pressure.
Even though I had the option to do it, I didn’t know I had that choice.
A lot of us are in a similar boat. We think we don’t have any other choice, so we fail to get out of a situation or place that harms us. Be it a workplace or a demanding customer, or even a bad relationship.
That incident taught me to always look for all possible options that I have. To always prepare for the worst case.
Sometimes when I think about these options, I do feel like a pessimist, but having these choices give you enormous confidence in your life. Whatever happens, you can deal with it.
If you have a terrible manager, ask your higher-up to switch to a different project or work under someone else.
If that doesn’t work, can you get a job in another company? Or maybe you can start something on your own.
As a consultant or freelancer, if you have a bad client, can you be clear with the expectations, writing down in detail about each deliverable? Or do you have other clients so that the loss of this one client doesn’t matter? Or can you fire this client and, worst case, spend a month without any work while you search for a good one? Have you saved up enough?
At every stage in your life, know your choices, track them, update them, and be ready to take the option if things go wrong.
Coming back to my story, I did quit after a month from having that conversation. I am now in a much better position – both for my family and for my mental peace.