I am writing this because I have recently made a significant career change. I decided to step away from a job I have loved for five years.
I am sharing this article on Search Engine Journal because I feel like some of the issues I have dealt with may resonate with others in the marketing industry, and with remote workers, especially.
I made this decision in January.
A few friends thought I was crazy when I told them, because it has been abundantly clear that I love the company I was choosing to leave – Pubcon.
I love the people that run Pubcon like my own family, and I love the work I did there.
So how could I leave?
Let me explain.
Some History First
Pubcon was the “dream job” for me.
The truth is I ran around happy screaming in my driveway (in front of neighbors) when Brett Tabke said he wanted to hire me because I really loved Pubcon and the community before I worked there.
The job has been amazing for more reasons than I can write.
The best part, the people – the Pubcon staff, the community, both speakers and attendees, they are a gift that keeps giving.
I love them all like family.
So Why Would I Make This Decision?
I am going to break down five reasons why and be completely honest.
Reason #1: I Overworked for Too Long
For the last three years, I have worked for Pubcon 25 hours a week and SEMrush 25 hours a week, and I rarely stuck to those hours because I wanted to do the very best for everyone.
My perfectionism didn’t help the situation.
I overworked and forgot about myself.
If my husband, who works with me, didn’t hand me food, I would just work through meals.
Too often, when he wasn’t here, I would just eat cereal with my hand.
I had faced burnout before and knew how to avoid it, but there was always some task I thought I should try harder on – one more thing to check…one more avenue to explore.
There were many days I worked from the second I got up until I went to bed; I wanted everything to be just right.
Reason #2: I Overwork as a Remote Worker
As a remote worker, I have always tried to prove my worth, and how hard I work, so the companies I worked for knew I was doing my best.
I felt like I owed everyone more since I worked from home.
This reason fueled the “overworking,” and this is something many remote workers do.
I think all remoters need to address this feeling at some point because it is not sustainable.
Every remote worker I know overworks, and they take too little time for themselves.
It is easy to get lost in work when you are not interacting with humans like you would in a traditional office.
There are no water cooler chats, lunches with coworkers, or talks in the hall; it is just you and a long list of things to complete.
Regulating yourself is key – it sounds easy, but it isn’t.
- We need to let our teams know how long tasks take, and not take on everything asked.
- We need to be OK with addressing requests tomorrow.
- We need to remember we deserve a life – dinner with the family, time for exercise, time for happiness.
I didn’t do any of those things, but I do now.
Reason #3: Medical Bills
For over a year, we have been spending unbelievable amounts of money (money I used to dream of making a month) on insurance, medical bills, and physical therapy.
The insurance does not pay for the proper physical therapy or the level that my son needs (we tried their way; it failed).
The outgoing medical costs and reason #2 came into play here – I felt I must continue to prove my worth to ensure that money continued to come in to cover costs.
I have the money to cover bills; it was the idea that I might not at some point that fueled me to work more.
Side note: I don’t mind spending this money, so please don’t think I am complaining; whatever this family needs, I will get it for them.
Reason #4: Personal Family Reasons
Originally, I wrote this and explained some deeply personal things about my family and why I had to make this call, but in the end, I realized it would not be fair to my family for me to share.
Perhaps you can just trust me on this one.
Bottom line – I do not want the time I get to be with my family to be the leftover, exhausted me.
I need a reset.
Reason #5: I Finally Broke
In late January, all the things I explained above finally just broke me.
One week, I had worked like mad for four days in a row, 8 a.m. to midnight. Then there are mom tasks that have to be done before I go to sleep, and the alarm goes off at 6:15 a.m.
I cried that Thursday night/Friday morning when I went to bed (I don’t cry often; I was a bit shocked), and I told myself I was going to take the morning off, go outside, and breathe.
I got up Friday morning, looked at my phone, and saw a 9 a.m. meeting had been scheduled and burst into tears.
I seriously just broke right in front of my husband. I didn’t even know why.
He did; he knew it was coming.
He said, “You are taking the morning off, and we are going to figure this out.”
After we dropped my son off at school, my husband took me to breakfast.
We discussed everything that was stressing me out, what had to give, what I wanted, how little I have done for myself for years, and how long I had until I killed myself.
Please know I am not blaming anyone but myself here.
Both Pubcon and SEMrush have been nothing but supportive of me, and so kind whenever I needed anything.
The problem is I just kept going. I often felt like the Energizer Bunny – I told myself to “just keep going” several times a day until I collapsed into bed.
I Know, You Warned Me
Several people in the industry told me I had to slow down, and I had to take care of myself.
I thought I was doing enough, but I made the mistake many of us do – and many of us were raised to do – put everyone before yourself.
I tried to be whatever anyone needed, on the job and off the job.
Someone was looking for a job – I would ask everyone I knew in that niche.
Someone was sad, and I had to listen. I wanted to help anyone in this industry that needed it, and I rarely said no.
I felt like I owed everything I had to an industry that has blessed me so much.
At the same time, I had a lot of work to do.
I was emotionally drained often but didn’t think it was fair to let people down.
Some folks in the industry have told me I wasn’t as present or as helpful as I was before in the second half of 2019. I felt like I had to apologize, but we have had a lot on our plate.
Honestly, from April to December of 2019, there were so many doctor appointments and physical therapy sessions that even with two adults, we could barely keep up.
But how could I let this community down?
This is how I think, which is part of the problem.
I can’t be there for everyone, but I sure do want to be.
So, What Now?
Well, I restructured everything.
That morning I had breakfast with my husband; we broke down priorities – family, paying bills, reducing my stress, and work.
The bottom line: my son, and preparing him for the future, is #1 for me. And I have to be alive to make that happen.
SEMrush has hinted for years that they wanted more of my time.
The opportunity they offered in February would help me restructure my life a bit.
It would mean more me time, less stress, fewer hours of work, and vacation time (I haven’t had a vacation in 12 years which HR was appalled by, BTW).
They are a fantastic group of kind, intelligent, and hilarious people, so I couldn’t say no.
I am going to get back to having dinner with my family, taking morning walks for exercise, watching a 9 p.m. TV show without working at the same time, and I am going to go to bed earlier.
My heart is broken over leaving a job I really loved and the people I work with, but I still plan on still being present.
You can’t miss Pubcon; I will be there.
I just won’t be there for the six days of hard work that the team puts in like 17-20 hours a day.
Give them a pat on the back when you are there; they deserve it.
To This Industry: We Are Only Human
You all work your asses off.
You swim in data, and you monitor everything for more hours than you should.
You work hard while studying everything at the same time, you deal with insane clients, and you deal with amazing clients that require a lot of your emotional storage.
I know that this is all part of the job, but I also know how tired many of you are because you tell me all the time.
Don’t make the mistake I did and work yourself too hard.
Give your brain and your body time to restore.
You are not a machine, and when people tell you that you are, it is a sign to slow down, not a compliment (I used to think it was).
I genuinely believe the people that really excel in this industry are highly intelligent and analytical people that lean toward perfectionism.
Regulating your perfectionism is a must.
Yes, being the best for the client/brand and making money is essential, but one day when we are on our death beds, we will not be thinking about how we killed it for that big client, and they ranked #1 for years… OK, maybe we will, but you get my point.
Balance is important.
Everyone says it, but few understand it until they break.
Avoid it if you can.
Learn from my failures.
I love this industry and thank you for everything every one of you has ever done for me.
You are a joy, and I appreciate each of you and the uniqueness you bring to the table.
To the Pubcon community/family, I am always here if you need me. Keep those messages flowing.
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