Quitting Your Job Isn’t the Goal. Finding Meaningful Work Is
It’s been three months since I’d quit my nursing job.
A year ago, I was dreaming of this life, one of waking up, working my own hours, and doing anything else I felt like.
I admit I didn’t want to quit my job. I was forced to due to certain circumstances. I felt extremely burnt out as an Emergency nurse caring for patients who didn’t care about themselves. So in the past couple of months, I’ve been contemplating why I quit my job. Was it because I hated the job? Or was it because I wanted to do something else? Or was it both?
Or maybe I was influenced by what I saw on social media. On every platform you go to, someone is telling us how they quit their job, and it’s been the best decision they’ve ever had in their lives. There’s a whole subreddit (/antiwork) on it.
But for me, it was different. I loved caring for my patients. And it made me think, maybe the goal of the great resignation or antiwork isn’t to quit your job.
Maybe it’s to find or create meaningful work for yourself.
Defining meaningful work
Being an Emergency nurse was meaningful for me.
Even though 80% of my tasks weren’t related to caring for a true Emergency (think: the person’s airway, breathing, or circulation is compromised), 20% of what I did as a nurse was meaningful.
For instance, giving someone a pain medication was meaningful for me. While I don’t know what others’ pain feels like, I know what pain feels. And having the power to remove or reduce their feeling of someone’s pain feels rewarding.
And when there’s a true emergency, resuscitating someone is even more meaningful.
What’s not meaningful is the B.S. that comes with the job. There are some patients who feel entitled and abuse the workers and the system. And to add insult to the injury, governments cap the nurses’ pay both in U.S. and Canada.
So even though part of your work is meaningful, the 80% that causes stress, anxiety, and depression causes you to leave.