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How to quit a toxic workplace when money problems make you procrastinate

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Watch live confidence coaching as Dan Munro works with Andy on his procrastination around finding a better job. In this video, we explore courage and the difficulty that people pleasers have in giving up comfortable familiar situations even when they are toxic and harmful. Andy’s workplace is clearly toxic. They bully him and generally treat him poorly, and he hates his job. But for some reason he doesn’t leave. This is a common story that affects many people, and in fact it could be said that most people secretly want to leave their job and probably could find a better one but they procrastinate out of fear of change and financial insecurity and money problems.


Full transcript:

Dan Munro 

All right. Next up, we’ve got Andy.

 

Andy W 

So I’m not certain if what I’m going to talk about is actually right, but I’ll do it anyway. Yeah, it’s almost like I’ve got a fear based procrastination going on at the moment. I’m in a job, which I really just got this job because I needed a job. I’ve been in it way longer than I anticipated because of COVID. And I’m in this sort of cycle at the moment where I really want to move on and do something else. But I’m actually petrified to actually break free from this nine to five job and do something where I’m sort of self employed and doing stuff for myself. So what I’m doing is I’m creating obstacles before I even move, which means I’m not really moving.

 

Dan Munro 

Cool. We can do that

 

Andy W 

Yeah really cool. Really cool. Fucking great.

 

Dan Munro 

But you put it well. I got a pretty clear idea of what we’re dealing with here. Again, super common issue, I think, the percentage of people that are in a job that they are fully passionate about, and wouldn’t ever leave for any amount of money. It’s got to be in less than 10, less than 10% of the population. So you’re not alone. And the amount of people I’ve heard say, you know, I’m gonna get a new job when dot dot dot made up excuse, I mean, I wouldn’t need a job if I got paid for every time that somebody said that.

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

So it’s a shit job, you’re procrastinating on leaving, and you clearly believe that leaving and starting our own thing is if not the right move a better move than staying.

 

Andy W 

Yeah, it’s like I’m taking responsibility for myself. Rather than being sort of under the control of other people in an environment which is quite toxic. The place I work at is sort of overrun with Pentecostals and evangelicals, who go to church and talk in tongues and do gay conversion therapy and stuff like that. So it’s quite a radical sort of born again, Christian type environment. And if you’re not part of that, you basically get treated like shit. So yeah, I mean, I need to get out of that environment. I’ve tried to do something about changing it, but just got completely and utterly slammed down by the people in charge of the school I work in, and the Board of Trustees, and the union is pretty fucking impotent to say it mildly. So I’m now in a situation where I’m getting shit most days. And it becomes insurmountable. If you know what I mean.

 

Dan Munro 

I do yeah. OK. First off to frame this, the goal is clearly to be in a more responsible position and a healthy work environment, whether that’s working for yourself or another option that hasn’t yet been considered.

 

Andy W 

Yeah

 

Dan Munro 

And the current situation is eating shit every day, simply because you’re afraid to leave. That a fair submission? I’m gonna process this from a slightly different angle, because I mean, we’ve covered so much with courage in the last thing that would still apply to this situation, to some extent. But there are other you know, there’s a lot of ways to skin a cat kind of thing. I wanna approach this from a different angle. I want to imagine that in some way, you’ve been tricked by your own mind into thinking you want to leave, when actually you want to stay. When I say you want to stay, I don’t mean that it’s best for you or that you enjoy it, or that it’s a good idea to stay. But some part of you prefers staying to the risk of leaving, and has made a decision that eating shit here is worse than whatever other options there are. And so will do everything it can. Tell me, that part of you that’s doing everything it can to keep you here, what does it want? Why is it doing this?

 

Andy W 

Um, I think it’s like it’s the familiar shit isn’t it? It’s like, I have a diet of shit, which I’m used to. So it’s sort of probably to paraphrase, it’s better the shit you know, than the shit you don’t know sort of stuff. So yeah, so it’s a familiar shit that I’m used to. So it’s quantifiable in a way. It’s miserable. It’s, it’s definitely not sort of fulfilling in any sort of way. And I have very little or no autonomy at work, but it’s a familiar shit that I’m actually used to, rather than some unfamiliar shit that could happen somewhere along the line. So when I think of an unfamiliar shit or something unfamiliar, then my familiar sort of way of being in my sort of comfort zone sort of comes up with problems about other things that could arise if I move. So it’s tricking me to stay. It’s amplifying things that don’t even exist at the moment, like problems that don’t even exist, it’s creating obstacles and stuff.

 

Dan Munro 

Right. Very normal human behavior, just so you know/ I want you to notice a couple of things. One is, I want you to notice how you feel about the idea that the only reason you’re staying is because it’s familiar. Second thing I want you to notice, while I’m gonna ask you is, what exactly unfamiliar would be worse than this?

 

Andy W 

It would have to be really fucking bad eh. I guess unfamiliar would be something not working in the slightest. Losing, having no money, probably losing the place I live. Which, to be honest, are pretty unlikely things to actually happen. So very little is actually worse, you know, on a day to day existence than what I’m actually sort of participating at the moment. Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

Tell me, with your skills, your intelligence, whatever your strengths are, are you likely to allow something to get that bad? Or do you find a way out?

 

Andy W 

It’s unlikely to happen eh. I even know that. But then I sort of run back into my little all sorts of familiar sort of existence, if you know what I mean. So I like scuttle back into the environment at the moment. So I think, fuck, if it really gets bad, I can do this, and this, I know that, because people have actually said, Could you come and do this for me or this type of job? And I say, Yeah, cool. So I can, but what I’m doing is like, I’m then thinking, fuck, what happens if they’re not serious about this, and it all falls to pieces. And I don’t get any money, I lose my home. So I scuttle back to actually the familiar environments, I’m working in. Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

Let’s take that little narrative there, because you skipped over like quite a few chapters in the story. You said, you know, you try something that falls apart, doesn’t work out. And then you lose your home. Like, right away. I feel like there might be some steps in between those two.

 

Andy W 

Yeah, just wanted to say, yeah, yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

So what you’re telling me is that if you wetn and tried something new, and it didn’t work out, you would then do absolutely nothing about the unraveling that would follow, you would allow that to go untouched and unchallenged all the way through to losing your house. You wouldn’t go get another nine to five, just in case. You wouldn’t go for the benefit. You wouldn’t ask people for a loan. Nothing. You wouldn’t do anything. You’d just let the world burn if your first thing that you tried didn’t go exactly to plan.

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

Is that true? Is that what you do?

 

Andy W 

Ah, no. But I think what I’m doing is like, because I’m sort of languishing around and procrastinating so much in this sort of state of flux, I’m almost projecting the state of flux I’m in at the moment into other situations, if that makes sense. So because I’ve got this thing where I do need to change my employment and I’m not doing it. it’s like I’m procrastinating in a major sort of way. And I think what I’m doing is I’m projecting that into saying, Well, if this doesn’t work, everything’s gonna fail. So I’m sort of taking my procrastination that I have now and placing it into new environments along the way.

 

Dan Munro 

It’s pretty effective tool to get you to stay the same, isn’t it? That projection.

 

Andy W 

It’s done really well. So yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

So you’ve been this useless person who doesn’t get shit done. Tell me how you survived this long. How is it that we’re having a call from your house? How have you gotten here if you’re this useless?

 

Andy W 

Yeah. Because it’s not true.

 

Dan Munro 

It’s not fucking true.

 

Andy W 

It’s not true. Yeah, it’s definitely not true.

 

Dan Munro 

So the real reason that you’re staying at this job because you believe a lie that you tell yourself

 

Andy W 

yeah, that’s basically what’s happened. Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

Now the foregone conclusion is that you leave this job. There’s no way you retire at this workplace, is there?

 

Andy W 

No

 

Dan Munro 

So how long do you want to leave it?

 

Andy W 

The change has got to happen this year, before the end of the year. There’s one or two things I had to sort out like sorts of things like New Zealand citizenship, redoing my sort of registration for my job so if the shit does hit the fan, I can go back. So which I’ve almost done, and then I had some money stuck in the UK, which has took four years to get, and that’s just about to arrive. But it needs to happen, it needs to be happening, like sort of, yeah, at the end of the year is probably too long to be honest with the way I feel about my work environment. So I would say some time around sort of August, September, I need to, if I haven’t got a definite plan to have actually be leaving in the next few months, I need to be almost like just resigning and actually giving myself the time and the space to look for other jobs and other things to do. If the worst comes to the worst, I can get jobs like sort of just to tide myself over for a period of time, which even though they would be boring, when I finished those jobs, I would have had space to actually do and look for new things. Whereas in this case, at the moment, I definitely bring the job home and the stuff that goes right with the job home with me. So it’s sort of taking away time when I should be actually searching out and doing other things to do. But it needs to be the latest at the end of this year, I would need to have handed in my notice for this job. And not be going back next year.

 

Dan Munro 

I’ll be blunt with you. What you just told me is a story that you believe about why you can’t do it right now.

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

A story that is not true.

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

See fear, it only has to do one thing. And it puts all its resources into doing this one thing: delay. It can put all its resources, all its mental energy, all your resources. That’s why you feel so burnt out. Stress is using half. You know, all your systems being put into coming up with the perfect narrative. Every time you’re concerned about your job, every time you want to leave, your fear goes into overdrive to come up with the perfect story to say “not now”. In fact, the perfect story is “I promise we’ll do it later”. I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that you could walk off this job tomorrow and the rest of your life will be fine.

 

Andy W 

Yeah

 

Dan Munro 

No doubt. And then whatever the complications are from you just walking out like that, whatever difficulties arise, I have no doubt that they would not be as bad as being at the job. More importantly, I have no doubt that you could handle it.

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

What’s really tragic about watching you is seeing – and I’ve met you before and I know a bit more about you than just this call – it’s like watching a strong man talk about how weak he is. It’s like, I know that this is like, walking away from this job and just finding something else even if it’s not your dream but something temporary in the middle to like transition away from the shit and recover and get your shit together, like that’s piss easy for someone like you to do that.

 

Andy W 

Yeah

 

Dan Munro 

Walk in the park. I know your backstory. You’re a survivor. You’re a fuckin ingenuist. That’s not a word. You know what I mean?

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

You’ve turned shit into gold, you’ve been doing it your whole life. And now you’re telling me you can’t do this thing?

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

It’s total crap.

 

Andy W 

Yeah it is. I’m putting it off. I put it off last year. And now I’m putting it off to the end of this year as well. You’re quite right. So I’m sort of telling myself I Hey, about I’ll need to do it. I need to do this, this and this. Because it’s never, nothing’s ever going to be the perfect time apart from the time I do it. So I just need to do it.

 

Dan Munro 

Let me ask you this, this isn’t a hypothetical question. Okay. I don’t know what the answer is, you can just be honest, you don’t have to tell me what I want to hear, you know?

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

The story is that you feel that if you do leave this thing urgently and immediately, as you know you should, that you’re going to panic and stress out and things will be very difficult for you, and it’s going to be very unpleasant. Truthfully, I want you to imagine that moment where you do whatever it is that officially resigns. Maybe it’s you hand them a letter, maybe it’s a phone call, you say a thing and you know that you’ve burned the bridge, it’s over now. It can’t be undone. I want you to imagine that that moment’s just happened. And then you go home and you’re sitting there and you just go, Fuck, I’ve done it, it’s over. What is that going to feel like for you?

 

Andy W 

Definitely a feeling of euphoria. Like when you finish anything that you are not into. But I also feel that I have a lot of energy to actually find something out. So that that thought of putting myself into the situation where I’ve done, I’ve quit, I then feel a huge release. And it’s sort of cleared up my head to to do the things that I need to do. Whereas as long as I stay in that situation, it’s going to be, I’m going to allow it to fill up my head with things. Therefore, I’m not going to spend my time like, trying to look at things but I’m not, I’m kidding myself. As if I’m preparing myself to leave my job and to get a new one but I’m actually not doing that. And I’m actually lying to myself eh? But the thought of actually handing in my notice for this job. I just have a feeling of being free and having a clear head to actually do things properly. Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

So almost literally, you can push a button for a feeling of euphoria and freedom.

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

That’s how easy it is for you to just have this massive uplifting in your life, just like that you can push the button.

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

You know, I want to point something out. You talked about this job like it’s familiar. Yet it’s clearly one of the worst jobs have you ever had, right?

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

So it’s not actually that familiar. It’s unusually bad.

 

Andy W 

Yeah, yeah. I guess if I’d had sort of done a job like this all my life, I’d probably be used to dealing with that. But I’m not.

 

Dan Munro 

This isn’t even familiar for you. This is just horrible.

 

Andy W 

Yeah, yes.

 

Dan Munro 

Let’s get practical. What we need is for you to be at the right time, the right place. And what I mean by that is, if you get the brave moment where you see that it’s time to leave, you need to be able to in that moment. What I want you to do is I want you to type out your resignation letter.

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

Fold it up, sign it, put it in an envelope. And your only job is to keep that envelope on you at all times. In that moment you get that surge, where you go, enough, I want that feeling of euphoria, I want that freedom, I’ve only got one life, I don’t want another second of this, as soon as that moment hits you, you can just whip it out of your pocket and just give it to them and walk away.

 

Andy W 

Yeah, that’s brilliant. Yeah, definitely do that. I’ll do it now when this is finished.

 

Dan Munro 

No better time

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

Let’s just have that letter on you. Be ready to just impulse. Look I’ll be really straight with you. If I thought you were an incapable person – and these people do exist, I work with them, there are certain people who I would say, look, let’s just slowly find a different job and work on bits and pieces because if you just walk out of this, your life’s gonna come crashing down, you’ll be homeless, there are people like that – you’re not even close to that. You’re at the other end of the spectrum. Innovative, resourceful, creative, survivor. You got so many like wisdom, strength safety nets that for you to end up homeless, you’d have to want to.

 

Andy W 

Yeah.

 

Dan Munro 

Right. So I have no fear about you taking this, you could just wildly, you could just not show up, you could ghost this fucking job and you’ll still figure it out.

 

Andy W 

That’s fucking tempting to do that

 

Dan Munro 

You really could get yourself fired!

 

Andy W 

Never show up! Never show up again eh

 

Dan Munro 

It’s not like you need a, you don’t even need a reference from these fuckers you know

 

Andy W 

I wouldn’t get one anyway so it’s alright I don’t need one eh

 

Dan Munro 

Christ you might have a case for constructive dismissal

 

Andy W 

Not in New Zealand with the labor laws and the piss weak unions it’s a waste of fucking energy eh. Probably I think it’s just best that I fucking look at creating something new rather than fighting about the past

 

Dan Munro 

Tell you what, when you get all that effort back, all that effort you’re putting into procrastinating, you get it back to do other shit, it’s gonna be like you have a whole army

 

Andy W 

Yeah, yeah, I can feel it now eh. Just that sort of shift. I’ve been going round in fucking circles for the last two months really quite fucking severely eh, but I feel like I’ve broken out the circle now. And I’ll yeah, I’m going to write my letter of resignation as soon as this is over before I go to work and then I’m going to carry it around with me and put it in an envelope. Yeah, and just leave a place to put a new date on it and then hand it in.

 

Dan Munro 

Then you’re ready.

 

Andy W 

Yeah, thank you.

 

Dan Munro 

Thank you guys. I want to give everybody a little little challenge. The theme today has obviously been courage, taking actions that your body seems to not want to take, you know. Every single consideration of the behavior seems like a good idea you know. I want you to set up some sort of a reminder in your phone, an alarm or something, to go off randomly three times in the next week. Just choose a random time that will hit you in like different situations. Like once at work maybe, once when you’re hanging with your friends, another time when you’re walking around on the weekend, and I want the question to be this: if I just found out the doctors told me I’ve only got 12 months to live, how would I feel about what I’ve been doing today? Do you know what courage really is? It’s about identifying what you really should be afraid of and running away from that. Courage is just smart fear right? Or the fear of being the same when the same is shit. It’s something you should be terrified of, it’s fucking miserable. So you should be scared of that and panicking and going in the other direction which is actually like growth and healthy behavior and valued living and all the shit that makes you proud of yourself. Fearless is apathy fearless is you don’t give a shit. That doesn’t move you. Fear is perfectly motivational. There’s nothing wrong with fear when you’re afraid of the wrong thing that your life goes to shit. Yeah, more afraid of the wrong thing than you are of the right thing or however that’s supposed to be worded. I really need more sleep. So thank you guys so much for showing up. I appreciate that. You know, see you guys all next time.


 

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