On the week I resigned, I started telling some people around the office I would be leaving. The unescapable 1st question was “Oh, so where are you moving on to?” It’s a ‘to be expected’ question, but I didn’t like it, so I didn’t answer it.
The only exception was this guy who I now respect even more: “Was it your decision?”, “Yes”, “Good on you, best of lucks and make sure to keep in touch” and that’s that. Only my autonomy in the decision making mattered.
Not one single person asked me what prompted this change, the Why. I take this specific lack of curiosity as tacit confirmation that no one likes their jobs, or maybe they feel they’re being underpaid – Who doesn’t, hey?
I think I know why people ask the Where question first and foremost. It’s one of two reasons, or even both:
1) They are trying to understand where the jobs in this market are – if in a tough environment, I can find a job worth changing, they surely can as well;
2) The other reason it’s to try and assess if there are any professionally profitable opportunities for them. Maybe I’m going to a potential client and they can use our relationship to advance their career.
Not wanting to waste time answering numerous follow up questions and explaining why I don’t have a job lined up yet, played a part on why I wasn’t keen in answering WWW questions. But the main reason was that I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want a very personal and life-changing decision to be scrutinised through interrogation.
Maybe I was too cynical and judgemental of people’s potential reactions to an open and unfiltered answer: “I don’t have a job yet. I am quitting because I’ve been feeling a great dissatisfaction with the work I’ve been doing as an engineer and want to try something else with my life. Maybe as a plumber, farmer, barista, librarian or whatever comes my way.”
On the last day, minutes before I left the building, I sent out an email to all the people I had worked with saying I hadn’t said what my new job was, because I didn’t have one yet. My family and I were moving up to Noosa to start ‘walking the talk’ we’d been having for years.
I wasn’t wrong in holding back any information. Not one of the people that repeatedly asked me Where and What replied to my email. I did however have some pleasantly unexpected surprises with ‘good-on-you-and-see-you-later’ replies.
A conversation with a more tenacious colleague around the coffee machine…
Me: Hey S., how are you mate?
S.: Not too bad. How are you?
Me: Pretty good, enjoying my last days in the office. I’ve resigned.
S.: Oh, where’re you going to?
Me: Somewhere new, but I’d rather not say.
S.: Oh yeah? What company?
Me: I’d rather not say yet.
S.: What kind of work will you be doing?
Me: Oh you know, a bit of this, a bit of that. (I’ll let you know when I do, in the meantime I’ll be living on berries and dreams in my cave).
I’ll miss a few people and surely the coffee machine with all the practice it allowed me over the years, but no regrets whatsoever.