Why I’m Leaving My Job

What I Feel Like....

What I Feel Like….

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…..Ecclesiastes 3:1

The rumors are true…..

Actually, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.  It’s taken quite a while to wrap my head around the idea that something I spent my entire life either preparing for or doing is coming to an end.  Finally I decided, and I had my speech all ready.  But when it came time to tell my boss, all I could manage to say was “It’s time, I need to leave.”

And with those words began the unraveling of a 32-year career, 27 of those at my current employer.  An employer I’ve been privileged to work for, that’s helped me grow and contribute to the lives of thousands of our customers.

When I first started working, my young engineer coworkers and I all told ourselves we’d retire as early as we could.  Who wouldn’t want to quit work and just get on with enjoying life?   In the end, I see how simplistic that view was.  Because over the last 32 years, my career and I have become almost inextricably linked.

Bayway (1)

I Spent the First 5 Years of My Career Here at the Bayway Refinery & Chem Plant

My first “real” job was making motor oil additives at a petrochemical company.  For five years I got some of the best experience an engineer fresh out of college could get.  But I began to wonder – was I really making a difference?  The result of my efforts was that car engines didn’t get as much sludge build-up.  Is this what I wanted to look back on at the end of my life?

Drug Active Ingredients are made in equipment like this (NOT MY COMPANY)

Drug Active Ingredients are made in equipment like this (Stock Photo, Not My Company)

And so I completely changed fields to make medicines.  Not stuff like Tylenol or BenGay – we made medicines that treat serious diseases.   I’ve seen many letters from patients, telling us their lives were saved or made so much better because of our products.  I watched as my own critically ill father made an amazing turnaround over just a few hours….right after the hospital started him on one of our products. That made it all worth it.  It’s stories like my father’s that keep you going in a very challenging environment.  What we do matters – often in a very big way.

In 2008, God began to challenge me.  The thought kept coming into my mind “Could you leave all this if I asked you to?”  In my head I said “Yes, I believe I could.”  In my heart, I wondered.  I knew someday God would ask me to make a choice, and I hoped I would have the courage to make the right one.

Assignments came and went.  I had the good fortune to work with our plants and suppliers all over the world. I traveled to South America, Europe, India and China.  My current position is one of most challenging and enjoyable I’ve ever had – as it required us to transform how we do business, and we were navigating major change on many fronts.  I’ve watched my team really step up and learn to do what they needed to – and will need to continue to do long after I’m gone.  They’re a great team, and I’m very proud of them.

And then it came – what I had secretly dreaded.  The “would you be willing to give it all up” moment.  After many discussions with family and select friends over many months, it became clear that it was time to leave.

And I said yes.

I’d like to tell you that I said yes quickly, but in reality it’s been a process over many months.  I’m thankful for a God who is patient with me, who didn’t give up when I started waffling or dragging my feet.   God is patient, but He is also persistent.  Trust me, I know firsthand. So here’s why I’m leaving.

1.  I love my job.  But there are people I love more.

Bottom line – the more years I work, the less time I have for the people I care about – my family, my friends, and the Compassion sponsor children I’ve been blessed to come alongside in many ways around the world. I began to realize that God gave me my job for various reasons – to help others by making medicines available and accessible, to earn a living, to develop skills I’d need to serve Him and others.  But everything has its season.  When I was younger, career was extremely important – because I was young and unskilled, couldn’t make ends meet, and wanted to do something that would make a positive impact on people.  And I’ve done that.

Mom and I (2009)

Mom and I – 2009

But as much as I’d like to stay in my comfortable position, God has taught me that what was obedience in one phase of my life can be disobedience in another. My world at work has changed over the last 32 years, and so has my life outside of work.  My mother has gotten older.  The needs of my family and friends have changed. Just because God put me at my company 27 years ago doesn’t mean God meant for me to stay there forever.  We grow and move on – the only question is when. God has impressed upon me that I need to serve others in ways I can no longer do while working full time.   It’s time for my “employment phase” to come to an end, but that doesn’t mean God is done with me yet.

2.  Life is short

For most of my life, I was looking ahead to what I’d become.  No more.  Now as I look around I’m unable to escape the reality that life is short.  That was indelibly etched on my heart the day my father died.  Friends and colleagues at work have died.  As much as I’d like to say “I’ll just work 5 more years,” I’ve come to realize I may end up regretting that choice.  Because for some, there may not be 5 more years.

As I’ve learned in my career, timing can be everything.  Opportunities pass you by.  God has a plan for me – and His prompting has been clear that now is the time for the next part of His plan to start.  Life is short – I need to get moving before I find the opportunity has passed me by.

3. There’s rarely a “good” time to leave your job

For quite a while I’ve been telling myself this isn’t a good time to leave work.  There’s been massive change for several years, and it would be great to reach a point of stability and then leave.  But it’s clear this rate of change is the “new normal,”  and there will never be a GOOD time to leave.  With enough advance notice, plans can be put in place to smooth the transition.  We’ve done that. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll hear someday my team has done even better than if I’d stayed.  I believe I will!

4.  If someone in my shoes asked my advice, in a heart beat – I’d tell them to go.

One day, after I’d rehashed the pros and cons of leaving for the thousandth time, I asked myself what I’d do if one of my people asked my advice on how to handle the very same situation.   And immediately I knew I’d say “There’s no doubt – you should leave.”  I’d be disappointed to see them go, but I wouldn’t dream of holding them back. And with that, it was settled. I knew what I had to do.

And so……

I still want to make a difference.  But going forward, I’ll be doing that in a different way.  I’m not entirely sure what my life in the next few years is going to look like.  But God does, and that’s all that matters. What about you?  Do you think I’m crazy for doing this?  Have you ever made a major life change – or are you contemplating one?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

  • Sue Fitter Gavin

    I’m glad you wrestled with the decision! You’ve done all that you can to throw the fleece out and see God’s will. And I know you are listening to God’s voice – through your own thoughts and prayers and those of people who love and know you best. I can’t wait to hear what’s next. Do you have that crazy giddy feeling yet?

    • Well,,,not quite giddy yet! This has been a pretty intense week – breaking the news to everyone, transitioning to me replacement, etc. I’m actually pretty wiped out tonight. But I have a hunch that after a good night’s sleep the giddiness begin :-) Looking forward to talking more in person!

  • William Stuart

    All I can say is it has been a privilege to be an extremely small part of your journey. Congratulations on the next exciting phase of your life!

    • Thanks Bill – I loved working with you! You’ve been an inspiration to me as I’ve watched you following your passion for writing. All the time we worked together, I had no idea you had the writer “bug” in you. Who knows what talents lay hidden in our other co-workers, only to emerge after retirement!

  • Linda Gunderson

    At first I thought the post on FB was a joke, just a funny article, but then I saw it was for real. I’m excited and happy for you! You go, girl! You are an inspiration to me as I have gotten to know somewhat of your heart for the Compassion kids you sponsor and for the organization on the whole. I wish you ALL the best! And if you feel like traveling some more, I have family in France in Christian ministries I can hook you up with a place to stay for awhile…LOL! I am glad God impressed on your heart to do this and I am looking forward to some of the adventures that you will experience now laying ahead of you.

    • Thanks Linda. Nope, not a joke for sure. This has been something spinning in my head for quite some time – sometimes I catch people off guard since I don’t talk broadly about things like this until I have them figured out. Would covet your prayers for discernment as I move forward.

  • Becki Johnson

    Wow, Congratulations Diana! I was honored and blessed to know you at Flint River. I’d like to share 2 life changing events in my life. I was the Human Resources Administrative Assistant for the brand new General Motors Delco Remy Plant in Albany, GA in 1978. Maurice began work at UPS that same year. In August 1986, GM wanted to reduce their salaried workforce by 25% by 1990 and they offered you the choice of a buy-out within a one year time frame – 8/86-8/87. Maurice was promoted to Human Resources with UPS and we knew at some point he’d be transferred. We prayed for 3 months for God to show us what I should do. Should I take the buyout and go with Maurice? UPS sent him to Jacksonville, FL for an entire year to hire 1,000 people (interview, fingerprint, background checks, then training) for a brand new HUB that was being built. We decided that I would take the buyout the last day it was offered, 8/1/1987, after 9 years of employment. Delco Remy begged me not to go – to at least stay 10 years so I would be ‘vested.’ My parents and Maurice’s parents were upset that I chose to leave a very good paying job with excellent benefits to be with Maurice in Jacksonville, FL for a year. We wanted to be together. I told many of my coworkers and my manager that I’d rather be with Maurice and eating pork-n-beans out of a can than being without him and eating steak. We both strived to keep God No. 1 in our lives. We were a team and helped each other. We never second guessed our decision and God has blessed us tremendously! Now, fast-forward to 2006…Working at Merck in Albany, GA (HR, Public Affairs, Safety, Environmental, & Operations). Merck announces they are closing the Flint River Plant. My department, Factory 2, would be the first one to leave. Plant Manager asked me to organize a monthly ‘something’ for all employees to keep morale up. Sad times. And, my Sweetheart, Maurice, had fought 5 types of cancer during the last 11 years of his life. I felt like I was going to not only lose my husband, but my job too. God sends us a blessing. The Merck Plant in Elkton, VA in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley wanted me. They wanted me! I was ecstatic! Maurice and I through the years while vacationing had narrowed our retirement State to 3…NC, VA or TN. Virginia it was! I began work in VA in June, 2007. I was so honored and blessed to be able to continue my career with Merck…My goal was always to achieve 25 years, so that meant I would work in VA until the year 2015. But, it was not meant to be. Maurice’s Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Low Grade Follicular, returned with a vengeance. We knew the avg. life span for that type of cancer was 7-9 years. He first contracted it in Sept., 2000. He underwent 57 blood transfusions while we were in VA (the first on his birthday). We loved all our doctors throughout the 11 year span of him fighting 5 types of cancer. We knew he didn’t have much time. Maurice stated at his UPS Retirement Dinner in Jacksonville, FL in January, 2008 that he hoped he could retire and be in VA for at least 2 years. He made it to 2 years, 3 months. He had no “honey-do’s”. It took a year to sell our home in Albany. We had 2 garages stacked full of boxes, boxes and more boxes. He said, “Becki, I’ll try to go through 2 boxes a day while you’re at work.” I sat him down and we prayed to God. UPS careers are high stress and fast paced. He had 30 years of that. I told him, “No, I want you to leave the boxes alone. That can come later. I wanted him to have FUN, relax and enjoy life! When I turned 55 in 2009, we began praying. Should I retire? We prayed for several months and I retired with 19 years in 2009. But, I put Maurice as my top priority after our Almighty God. We wanted to enjoy each other and play as much as we could. I didn’t really care much about our home and lawn as to getting everything in place, etc. That could all come later. We had a feeling he’d probably die in 2010. I thought he’d last until after our anniversary, July 15, but not his birthday in September. Maurice passed away with me by his side on April 16, 2010 at 8:26 am. We were both up at 1:15 am that morning and we talked as we both sat on the edge of our bed. His last words were “I love you.” Coworkers at Merck asked me if we could afford to retire. I replied, “I don’t know and I don’t care. God will take care of us.” I don’t regret retiring when I did. Maurice was my main squeeze and I loved him sooooo much. He died at age 57 and we were married almost 37 years. On July 15, 2014, we would have celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary. Enjoy LIFE and EDDIE! I get up happy each morning and strive to be a blessing to someone every day. My favorite bible verse is Hebrews 13:1 “Let brotherly love continue.” NKJV I also am excited about dying one day. I do not fear death. I will eagerly embrace it, because I’m going HOME…to where my Lord and Savior has prepared a place for me….my eternal home. Glory be to God! And, should I die a horrific death, it will be okay…as it won’t be anything near like they did to Jesus. I just love Him! You take care and God bless. Eddie and you are welcome to come stay and visit with me any time. Love you to the MOON and back!

    • Hi Becki – WOW – what a story – I knew the part from Flint River, but I had only bits and pieces of the rest, especially after you moved to VA. What an inspiration you are! Thanks for your encouragement about keeping first things first. Would love to see you someday in VA. Love you!

  • Ceil

    Hi Diana! Congratulations my friend!! I left my job two years ago, and it was the best thing I ever did. Even though we were facing my husbands unemployment, it was just time.
    I hope your new freedom will be used to serve your friends and family, and yourself too! It will be fun to see what retirement will show you. I bet you can’t wait either!

    • Thanks for the encouragement Ceil! You’re right, I can’t wait – but I’m looking forward to exploring options and finding out where I will be headed :-)