One of the hardest things I have ever done in my career is handing in my resignation to DellEMC. I didn’t leave for another position but rather to hike the Appalachian Trail. I departed work on April 6, 2018 to pursue an item on my bucket list. I left behind a team that I adored. They were vibrant, smart, motivated, and kind – best of all, they put up with me! Saying goodbye on that team call was very emotional and heartfelt. But, truly, I would do it all again.
I have been working for nearly 20 years in IT and have held positions with only two different companies. I suppose it is four if you count being acquired – Genzyme by Sanofi and EMC by Dell. In my experience, staying for long periods of time within organizations is rare in the technology industry. Folks seem to move around a lot. I stay put because I like to cultivate relationships. The bonds of a team don’t form in a year or two and I believe that as a leader, you need to be in it for the long haul. These relationships are what made leaving so difficult. But it was something I needed to do. I felt burnt out, stressed, and wasn’t able to give my best to the job anymore. For a lot of reasons, a simple vacation wasn’t the answer. I had tried that and couldn’t get the fire back. I owed better to my team. A change was needed and a drastic one at that. I needed to take a break from working, a break without worrying about returning to a job. I tried to get a Leave of Absence / Sabbatical but that didn’t work out. At that point, I decided to resign. For why I chose to hike the AT, you can check out this post on midlifehiker.com. Suffice to say, for the first time in my professional life, I was unemployed.
And now I am back. I cut my hike short because being away from my family proved to be more painful than the joy hiking brought me. I hiked the southern half of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to the West Virginia / Maryland border. I learned a lot about myself in those 1000+ miles. I believe I have returned a better father, husband, and person. Being free from the responsibilities of daily life, focusing only on one foot in front of the other, was amazing. It is easy to get caught up in the frenetic energy that surrounds us – be it work, home, or whatever. We are generally busy people and slowing down brings that chaos into focus. It allowed me to put everything aside for 10 weeks and just walk. All I had to worry about was food, water, and where I was going to pitch my tent that night. I certainly found a lot of other things to worry about, but the simple essentials were what centered me. I also learned to be grateful for what I had, for others lending me a hand, and for my family and friends for their support. I didn’t realize the network of care that surrounded me until I had to rely completely upon it. I learned to be extremely thankful. All of this has made me more intentional about the balance in my life.
As I return to the workforce, I would like a role working toward an end that I believe in – helping people, solving problems, making a difference in a true and meaningful way. A company churning out generic widgets to make a buck isn’t for me. I need an employer that values a balance between work and home. My family is hugely important to me and I am a devoted father. I am also a loyal and passionate team member. I want to bring my rediscovered energy back into my work. I will run through walls for my team. I’m hoping to find a role leading a smart group of people doing exciting work in technology. I am confident in my abilities and know that I will make a positive impact on any organization that I join. If you believe I might be a fit for a role you have, I would love to speak with you.
One thought on “Back From My Career Break”
Chris – this was a great read. Truly inspiring! As an avid hiker myself, I hope to complete the AT and disconnect from the hectic world we live in. My longest hike thus far was the JMT, which was an incredible experience. I can only imagine how this 10 week adventure impacted your life.
Thanks for sharing!