Declaring Your Independence

First of all, I hope you & yours had a safe and healthy 4th of July! The holiday is frequently fraught with a lot of anxiety for many people and animals whose nerves get frayed because of the noise generally associated with the day’s celebrations. It’s one thing to attend a formal fireworks display, where you more or less know what to expect. But it’s something entirely different when your otherwise normal, relatively quiet environment gets shattered by the unexpected bombast of small explosions in the hands of your neighbors. Sure, anyone can light a fuse and (hopefully) move a safe distance away from whatever is being set off. However, in untrained hands, fireworks cause millions of dollars in damages to homes and property, along with thousands of personal injuries, damage to natural animal habitats, and the emotional repercussions to those with PTSD, the elderly, and timid, as well as frightening our domesticated furry friends and other creatures.

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate our independence from the tyranny of our oppressors. Yes, it was the English from whom we gained that independence, but over the years, for many the holiday has come to symbolize the breaking free from all oppression, regardless of its source or origin.

Many continue to seek independence in other aspects of their lives; particularly from work. Have you exerted your independence from a job? Did you do it to take a job with another company? Did you start your own business? Did you leave for better pay, more or fewer hours, or because the work no longer stimulated you creatively? Did you feel your best skills weren’t getting utilized, felt ignored, underappreciated, disrespected, or wanted more/better/different challenges?


Whatever the reason folks exerted their independence from their jobs, it wasn’t because they stayed too long (even though to some it might have felt like that!). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average length of stay on a job these days is less than four years. Around 15 to 20 years ago, that length of stay averaged closer to 7 to 8 years. And if you go back 30 years, the average worker stayed on the same job for 15 to 20 years, maybe longer.

Do we have less patience than we did years ago? Probably! But it seems the primary reason people don’t stay on a job for a long time any more is a lack of personal satisfaction. Whether it’s from a lack of recognition, being underpaid, or the environment is thoroughly unstimulating, if they are miserable, they find another job.

In the past, we worked because we had to make money to support ourselves and our families. That was the simple and basic motivation. It was a job and we didn’t expect it to be a particularly enjoyable or personally fulfilling experience.


But then we learned that we can have a job, enjoy what we do and get paid for our efforts. And more so today than ever before, we want and expect our work to have meaning, not just for ourselves but for humanity, the planet, the environment, and we want it to be emotionally sustaining. We also expect that our work efforts will be life affirming and enable us to afford a decent place to live and put food on the table for ourselves and our families. It is not too much to ask, albeit that it is sometimes difficult to achieve.

There are those who feel unsatisfied in their work, whatever kind of work they do, and do not want to be where they are. Underpaid, underutilized, underappreciated, mistreated, unrecognized, whatever the reason, they should exert their independence for something that allows them to feel properly credited, compensated, appreciated and engaged. Without these things, work is just work.
Indeed, there are people who still take jobs because they need to work and aren’t as concerned with the type of work or emotional fulfillment. Yet they are just as likely to exert their independence, for many of the same reasons.

The last thing any employee wants to hear from a boss or manager is, “if you don’t like it, you are welcome to leave.” But if you do hear that, call them on their bluff! There is plenty of work out there if you’re willing to look for it, and get trained to do it, if that is what’s necessary. If you are not happy in that job, do something about it. If you don’t, your motivation will erode and your physical, emotional and mental health will all suffer.

If you do plan to exert your independence from a job, try to do it in a civil manner. Leave the old job on the best possible terms, demonstrating respect and propriety to those you leave behind, even the ones you don’t like. Make certain to give appropriate notice to HR and/or supervisors and managers of your planned departure. If the company policy is for employees to give 2 weeks notice prior to departure, then that should be the minimum notice you give.

And most importantly, unless you are retiring or have a business plan waiting to be executed, I encourage people to have a new job lined up and confirmed before exiting. And when you finally do declare your independence, I hope it’s fulfilling and rewarding on all fronts.


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