Throwing in the Towel

I’m seriously considering resigning without a job to go to. I have enough savings to survive for several years. I have a number of projects outside work that I’m not getting on with (writing a biography; renovating the house; I’m on the committee of a motor club). I’m letting people down, people who are far more important to me than my employers. Mainly, though, I feel ground down, without even the energy to make a good job of looking for another job.

I’m a bit obsessed with the work and careers advice column in the Guardian. I find it interesting to read about the specifics of people’s job dissatisfaction and to try and spot trends.

Perhaps most revealing is that the advice-seekers aren’t usually complaining about individual things (power-tripping boss, negligent colleague) but a more general dissatisfaction with their job or the work system at large.

Over the past year or so, there’s been a tendency toward people wanting in various ways to throw in the towel, and so they write in to the newspaper to try and find encouragement or a ‘voice of reason’ that will talk them out of it.

It’s worth poking through the archives if you’re interested in people’s quit-or-stay dilemma or want to see the advice given by the expert and the readers in the comments thread.

I sometimes fancy that these people might be readers of New Escapologist, spurred into action by our silly pages. More likely, however, is that we live in a culture of dissatisfaction: where the kind of work offered by most jobs is not really required by Planet Earth in any real way and are only done to pay the rent. Often, you might as well be peddling on a stationary bike, generating electricity for the grid, than what you’re doing.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

6 Responses to “Throwing in the Towel”

  1. Drew says:

    “Peddling on a stationary bike, generating electricity for the grid”

    Can you actually do that? Sounds like a very worthwhile way to spend my time, actually. Hook up a yard of ale to my handlebars with a straw, and pedal away…

    Did you provide a comment to the Guardian advice-seeker? I hope you gave him/her a good “don’t be such a pussy” scolding.

  2. The stationary bike thing was on a TV show called “Black Mirror”. The episode is a self-contained thing called “Fifteen Million Merits”. First season, second episode according to Wikipedia:

    You’d probably appreciate it actually!

  3. Drew says:

    Maybe if I pedal hard enough I can earn enough credits to compete for a spot on Wraith Babes…

  4. Hah! I’m its biggest fan.

  5. Wade says:

    I could have written this in September. After 18+ years at a big software company I threw in the towel. Just quit as of September 30th. I was only doing it for the money at the end. Every drip of enjoyment and reward was gone. I was working on hopeless IT projects with a bunch of jerks. Life is too short. Fortunately my wife doesn’t want to quit working, so it actually works out ok. I am working on house projects, putting more effort into passive income and just living. In the end I quit because we have no debt, have a goodly amount of savings and can easily survive on one salary. At 42 I just want to live more. I guess I’m an escapologist.

  6. You’re a textbook Escapologist Wade! A sane and wise move, throwing in the towel under such circumstances. I wish you all the best.

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