Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Quit my High-Powered Job... AND THAT'S OK

So, some people seemed to be wondering what the hell was up with my previous post about job hunting in Japan. After all, it wasn't so long ago I announced to the world that I was taking on a fancy new position, right? Was that post just a random thing, or a late compendium of thoughts?


I have actually accepted another job, my second in less than 9 months. I quit my previous company and then spent 2 months soul searching, job hunting and confronting a lot of my prideful demons.

Let me make it crystal clear: I adore my previous company. This is not lip service, I had fantastic colleagues (whom I am still in close contact with), great pay, nice corporate culture, and a lot of support. The product is amazing, and the technology truly top notch. It was because of all of these factors that I stayed on as long as I could, even past the point that was probably mentally healthy.

The only issue was, I hated the job: sales. Towards the Japanese market.

As someone who likes to speak to people and give presentations, I thought sales would be a good fit. I had done something related before, and was excited to dive into the tech world and prove myself.

But pure sales turned out to be a very different experience. Cold calls, pushing clients, constant back and forth over technical issues, pressure and late hours. All this done in Japanese.

I did my best, taking company-sponsored keigo classes, researching competitors, gleaning info from my sempai, calling company after company, mailing list after list. Eventually, I was waking up every morning with a cannonball of dread in my stomache, breaking down in tears of fear and frustration, and waking up at 5:00am in a panic. I ignored it for as long as I could, because I liked the company so much.

I have a huge sense of responsibility, and so whenever I saw my numbers stagnating or not rising as rapidly as predicted (even for reasons outside of my control), I felt horribly guilty that I was letting down the team. My self-worth attached itself to those numbers, and left me in a constant state of anxiety. What made it worse is that my teammates were all so kind and helpful, giving advice on how to resolve technical issues or boost results. It would almost have been preferable if they had been mad at me, thus reflecting how mad I was at myself for not being able to reach the level I thought I should.

Sales people, those who actually love the thrill of the chase and are motivated by bonuses and KPIs, are amazing. Watching my sempai in action was a masterclass, as he took hold of the power balance and brought huge accounts in again and again.

But it isn't for me. And that, I eventually figured out, is ok. No matter how much you may want to, you can't be good at everything, or make yourself like something you truly do not.

Now I have found a position much closer to my interests (travel), that uses my language skills, and that is challenging without making me an anxious mess. It is still IT-related (a must), venture-like and allows me to tell stories, which I love.

I have figured out what I can and cannot live with, although my pride took a giant hit in the process. 

The more you know, right?


  1. Oh man, that cannonball of dread. It's the worst! I'm glad you found something that's more in line with your goals and interests right now! It sounds like it'll be a lot of fun.

  2. Hi Erin! Yes, it is particularly tough in a country like Japan where most people react by telling you to 'tough it out'. But, all's well that ends well :)

  3. Sono certa tu abbia fatto la scelta migliore... il che non significa affatto che sia stata la piu' semplice.
    Credo che l'equilibrio sia fatto, se non di quotidiani, almeno di periodici mutamenti di rotta, aggiustamenti che ci permettono di avvicinarci all'obiettivo che (tanto per complicare le cose) muta anch'esso col tempo.

    Insomma, ritengo la tua scelta un eccellemente mutamento di rotta. Un abbraccio! Laura

    1. Ciao Laura,
      Grazie! In effetti non e' stato una scelta facile, ma mi sento infinitamente piu' rilassata(^_^)

  4. I've had that cannonball of dead every once and a while (probably nowhere near as bad as yours must have gotten, though). I guess sales really isn't for everyone.
    I KNOW it isn't for me...