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Resigned to my destiny



So I guess the question you’re asking is – did I? If this makes no sense to you, then you should know that I had to make a decision on Friday. To resign or not to resign.

At this point I should make an apology.  I know some of my family sometimes read this.  I don’t want you to panic.  And I’m sorry if I haven’t talked some of this through with you……some things are just hard to talk about. Forgive me?

Let’s take a step back.  Do you know sometimes when you have to drive a long way….maybe on a route that you know.  And all of a sudden you kind of come to and wonder how the hell you got where you were?  You know you’ve been driving, you are still in the car, but you don’t remember the turns, the junctions, the miles that you have covered….

I struggle to even remember why I came to work in HR anymore.  Someone recommended it. I trained. It just happened.  I was married, I needed a job. I applied, I applied, I applied again.  And eventually I got a gig at a Hospital where nobody else wanted to work.  Turns out I was pretty good at what I did. Smarter than the average bear….And 14 years later I’m there.  Made it.  Didn’t I?

And on Friday I found myself there sat in my office, the door closed, with a resignation letter in one hand.  It wasn’t a bad day. I mean….it was a bad day, but that wasn’t the reason why.  I was exhausted, I had nothing, nothing more to give.  Sure we’re used to being beaten up in this line of work.  I’ve had the best part of 15 years going head to head, toe to toe every working day.  It wasn’t the result of a day, it was more than that.

The truth is that I fell out of love with “HR” (as we know it) some years ago.  If you’d asked me, I would have told you how great my company was, how great life was and I how I was going to take the world by storm.  But if you could have read my mind, you would have seen a gas meter slowly draining towards empty.

And on Friday, I was driving on fumes.

It wasn’t some kind of spoof or ego trip.  I’m indebted to some lovely people who sent me some very kind messages.  They know who they are.  I came home and I talked to my wife.  It wasn’t an easy conversation… any means.  It didn’t quite go as well as it might have done. It was emotional and bloody painful. I learned that saying you are unhappy is hard. And hearing it is maybe harder.

And then, in the early hours of Saturday morning I remembered this…. a post that I wrote in January.

So no. I didn’t resign.  But something did break….something is broken. It felt like I’d been given a life sentence.  But I’ve realised, maybe I can make it a short stretch.  I’m not there, but maybe, maybe I can keep on driving…..keep on autopilot for the next 10 years.  If I know the exit is just up ahead…..surely I can keep going?

2020… can’t come around soon enough.

I guess sometimes you just a need a storm to clear the air.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. BJH permalink
    06/07/2010 07:36

    It’s good to step back and evaluate from time to time. I was forced into that when I was made redundant last year. I had also fallen out of love with HR, but needed to maintain a level of income, so couldn’t just retrain and start again. I discovered the world of “Operations Management”, where I get to use my HR skills, plus others. But best of all I’m back at the coal face of the business – directly involved in making things happen and I’m learning new stuff. (But still have the safety net of HR.)

    Maybe you could look around for a similar move that would re-engergise you.

  2. 06/07/2010 09:50

    Wow, what an open and honest blog post. We spend so much of our lives at work, and I feel so sad when I know anyone who is in a job that they’ve fallen out of love with. Ok, so I don’t know you and wouldn’t normally comment on such a personal issue, but you’ve published it on a blog so I can’t help myself. Yes, you may be doing the right thing for your family by carrying on, but 10 years is actually a very long time to be working “on autopilot” . My Dad made a similar decision about his work at a similar age. I appreciate the sacrifices he made to have a secure job with a regular income, but as a teenager I grew up knowing that he was unhappy in his work, it had an impact on our homelife. More importantly, in a way, it sent out a signal that work was supposed to be a burden, somewhere you had to spend time to earn money to be able to enjoy yourself in the evenings and at weekends. What a depressing message to give your children.

    Maybe resigning isn’t the answer, but you need to spend some time actively trying to fall back in love with your job/hr, so you can enjoy your working time. If you can’t do that, then maybe it is time to be brave and move on.

    I’d recommend reading Love It, Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work by Beverly L. Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans and Happy Mondays-Putting the pleasure back into work by Richard Reeves.

    Take care


  3. 06/07/2010 10:12

    I wanted to write a response to this – but I couldn’t seem to stop it from sounding patronising, which wasn’t my intention in the slightest.

    So I’ll just say I can empathise with where you are and hope that you find peace with your decision, focussing on what’s within your life to give you happiness – for that’s the fuel that will power you through the next decade.

  4. Abi permalink
    06/07/2010 11:07

    Wow, I’m actually quite surprised. I really thought you would go for it. I really hope it’s the right thing for you.

    I went through a similar thing last year and finally bit the bullet to completely change my lifestyle and go it alone. I have never ever looked back and often wonder why the hell I didn’t do it earlier. Life is just too bloody short to be frustrated, unhappy and out of love with anything.

    Don’t get me wrong, massive changes always bring their own, new challenges. But, compared to the stress and lack of satisfaction I’d previously suffered, those challenges pale into insignificance.

    But, that’s not for everyone and I genuinely hope you get your mojo well and truly back.

  5. Karen (Sayya26) permalink
    06/07/2010 13:03

    Hey HRD,

    It’s not an easy thing to wake up after 14 years and admit to yourself that you’re not happy. It’s even worse given the state of things in the world’s economy to contemplate quitting.

    What I will say- is the same old cliche- that life is short- because it is- and while it’s not easy balancing doing what’s practical and expected, versus doing what makes you happy- you have to make that choice.

    I hope you can manage to open yourself up again to HR and still fight the good fight- but don’t let it eat at your soul and suck you dry- at the end of the day you’re more than just an HR professional so don’t let that be the be all and end all of your happiness.

    Just my thoughts and again I take into account that I’m young and probably don’t have a clue.

  6. Lena M. permalink
    06/07/2010 13:20

    I don’t even know what to say here…

    Ok, how’s this… How about I buy you a drink and we talk for hours? Seems to me you could use it…

  7. ianpbuckingham permalink
    06/07/2010 13:33

    All seems a tad uncharacteristically melodramatic!
    Of course you’re pissed off and feeling cynical…that’s your brand!
    Methinks the time with the kids has reminded you about what’s really important! If you aksed them I suspect they appreciate the roof; clothes; food and other stuff that is sometimes taken for granted.
    Sure…balance is important and there’s a time to make a stand for values etc but it’s easier to change things from the inside and is this really a time to be making changes? It’s tough as rhino skin out there…………………but if you fancy leaping from the pan into the fire…………………….!

  8. Rick permalink
    06/07/2010 14:07

    You know what they say, when a man is tired of HR he is…….oh, wait a minute, that was something else.

    I’d be more worried about you if you’d spent 15 years in HR and didn’t feel a bit jaded.

  9. 06/07/2010 21:38

    I remember being at school and thinking that the last thing I wanted was to look back at my life at the end of it and think ‘I wish I’d done something differently’, or worse still, ‘I wish I’d tried…’

  10. g-dog permalink
    06/08/2010 01:17

    I am sorry you are feeling ‘resigned’ – and I am feeling the same way (in an ‘overworked & underappreciated’ sort of way). Other than during one relocation – I don’t jump ship without another ticket lined up (train, different boat, plane…) – that works for some, but I am not comfortable enough for that uncertainty.
    So – when I am unhappy at work, I try to think about what I can do for my clients (I have one of those kinds of jobs where others in my company are my ‘clients’). Were I higher up in the company – this may be ‘service leadership’ – for me it is ‘service serviceship’. But I find when I focus on the people, and what I can do – I am more satisfied with the SSDD job…

  11. 06/08/2010 07:09

    As with all of the people who have left you comments, I empathize. But,
    You’ve made a decision, and an emotional contract with your wife. In the light of your “resignation” to getting the next ten years over and done with it seems that you need to find a way of delivering on that contract without driving yourself into a downward spiral.
    That could end in more tears and more critical consequences for your life at home. Start by looking at what you have got rather than what you haven’t. Then plan to make it even better.
    In the fourteen years what are the biggest and most important successes you have been able to deliver? What are the areas of HR that you enjoy most? How do they fit into the needs of your organisation today? What can you do that is going to make your job more interesting for you and more beneficial for your employer? (a project in addition to your day job – not to replace it.) What does the organisation need, that it does not have today but which you could develop and implement so that you are leading from the front and not dragging along behind feeling like the sweeper upper?

    You have spoken to your wife. Great. Good move. Now speak to your boss. You feel there is more you want to achieve and you would like his/her backing to do it. You are going to need a sponsor when the naysayers reject your attempts to make a difference. (But make sure the rejection is not because the ideas have not been properly worked out. )
    Best of luck and enjoy the new you 🙂

  12. 06/08/2010 07:51

    As you’ve confined your comments to your worklife, it’s impossible to know … but if you feel this way at home too (not appreciating your wonderful children is the biggest ‘tell’) then you may be feeling down in a more general way.

    If you’ve not felt down before, you may not recognise the signs. I now I didn’t.

    You’re not asking for solutions, but I’m a man so here goes: whatever you decide, chose projects that will make you more employable at the end of the year than at the start. And take up running again.

  13. Corporate Daycare permalink
    06/08/2010 12:17

    I couldn’t offer a solution – even if you were asking for one. This is your life and while it may bear some similarities to what others have or are going through – the circumstance is unique to you. As are the choices that you ahve and will continue to make.

    I wish you moments of clarity and peace of mind. Focus on those aspects of your life that you are sure of. Life may not be easy, but it shouldn’t be painful either.

  14. 06/08/2010 13:30

    First and foremost, thanks everyone for their really helpful comments and support both here on Twitter and by email. As ever, really appreciated.

    @BJH – Interesting. I know another HR pro who is moving into Ops shortly. Is this the start of a trend?

    @Jennie Horchover – You are more than welcome to express your views, if I wanted to keep it private I wouldn’t have put it on here! I’ll take a look at those books. Thanks for the recommendation.

    @Alex Hens – Thanks Alex. I’m hoping that too!

    @Abi – Maybe I’m just too scared…….

    @Karen – You have as much right to express an opinion as anyone else, regardless of age.

    @Lena M – Make mine a double.

    @ianpbuckingham – I’m only human, I’m allowed the odd moment! I take your point though. It is all about balance.

    @Rick – Don’t you think that is a sad reflection on the profession though?

    @fernandomando – Yep, sometimes it’s just about keeping that forefront of mind.

    @g-dog – Good advice. I think sometimes we focus on the things that are not going right and not the difference that we are making.

    @Peter – Thanks for commenting and welcome. That advice should be put on a laminated card and handed out to all employees.

    @Dominic Wake – Thanks for sharing that. And yes, I need to start running again. I think the shoulder is up to it too now.

    @Corporate Daycare – Thanks. No life shouldn’t be painful. Agreed. Now where is that clarity?

  15. 06/11/2010 15:17

    Hello new best friend 🙂 Im on the same journey as you. I don’t care what people say. If you want to make a difference in HR. A real difference. To drive the business forward. To challenge the status quo and make a real impact. It’s bloody exhausting.

    I resigned last week, as you know. I feel reenergised and inspired. Will I make life interesting for my colleagues over the next twelve weeks…. I think I might; because no matter you always hold yourself back a little.

    Both barrels guys. Watch out. GrumpyHRGuy is on the rampage

  16. 06/15/2010 09:16

    @GrumpyHRGuy – Welcome and thanks for taking the time to comment! I look forward to seeing the results of your “feedback” to colleagues!

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