I quit my six-figure job I worked my whole life to get.
And I’m so much happier.
Here’s a look at how and why I did it..
IN 2014, I SET A GOAL TO GET A HIGHER PAYING JOB.
In May 2011, I graduated law school.
In November 2011, I found out I passed the Ohio Bar Exam.
I started working at a law firm, at an entry-level attorney job. So, in 2014, I set a goal to get a high-paying job — another job as an attorney.
I achieved this goal in December 2014 and officially started my new job in January 2015. I was so excited. I mean I really was happy and thought this was it – I had made it.
I was an associate corporate attorney, making six figures a year. My plan was to pay off my student loans in five years or less.
I couldn’t wait to get started.
I started my job and instantly hated it.
I worked non-stop around the clock. Leaving by six was the best-case scenario. Worst case was midnight. And the events after work or during lunch left very little time for anything outside of work at all. Working weekends was the norm. I’m not kidding when I say this – the office had donuts on Saturdays. And if you had work to do in the evening but had to go to a work event, you had to do both. Meaning, after the event you had to go back to the office to finish your work. In April, I worked a month straight late into the night. When asked how many hours I was billing, partners were thrilled at my reply. The more you worked, the better. It’s actually hard to explain how hard I was working and how stressful it was because it’s sort of unbelievable.
I cried a lot. I was exhausted. It was awful. I know that some people work well in this type of setting – some people are cut out to be deal lawyers and work in private equity. A lot of my coworkers thrived in this setting. I did not. I literally would think about crashing my car so I could just wake up in a hospital and not have to work. It was a horrible time.
At the same time, I started a blog.
I TALKED TO A LOT OF ATTORNEYS AND MOST OF THEM WERE MISERABLE.
Before making a decision, I asked my attorney friends at other firms if they were happy. Out of every attorney I asked, only one attorney who worked at a private firm said he was happy (and he said he leaves work at 5:30pm every day, which is unheard of at many firms, and I think explains his happiness).
One group of attorneys who I asked actually was happy – government attorneys. The government attorneys all seemed to be relaxed and happy, despite making less money. From my very non-scientific research, I decided that this stress and workload was not short-term. In fact, it would most likely continue if I stayed in the private sector. It’s just what is expected of you as a lawyer at a private firm.
I REFLECTED ON MY LIFE AND WHAT I WANTED FOR IT.
I reflected and thought about my life. I thought about what I wanted. I decided that I didn’t want this life – it wasn’t worth the money. I needed a better life.
I needed to not have to cancel plans with friends on short notice. I needed time to exercise. I needed time for myself. I didn’t know this before taking the job. If you ask anyone who knows me, I bet you that they say I am one of the hardest workers they know. It wasn’t about working hard.
It was about life. I wasn’t living. I was barely surviving.
I didn’t know what it was like to work until 9pm-12am for a month straight (getting in at 7:30am). This experience reminds me of the Mike Tyson quote “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” I thought I was going to work as a corporate attorney and pay off my student loans in five years or less. I thought this new job was it – I was so excited about it. And just when you think you have a good plan, you get punched in the mouth and your plan goes to shit.
I DECIDED I WAS SO UNHAPPY AND HAD TO LEAVE.
I decided being unhappy wasn’t worth a six-figure salary — even with six-figure student loan debt. Had I been just “blah” about the job, I don’t know that I would’ve quit.
I think I had to be pushed to my breaking point in order to quit because I want to pay off my student loan debt SO bad. I thought I wanted to pay it off more than anything else in the world. But through this experience, I learned that I care more about my emotional health and wellbeing than I do about my debt. I figured that if I’m considering crashing my car into a building, then I should just live with my debt instead of trying to put myself in the hospital.
To come to my decision, I intentionally did not ask for other people’s advice.
I had such strong feelings about this job and my career change that I didn’t want people to sway me into a decision that wasn’t right for me. I did, however, seek advice on how to move forward from people who I respect and look up to, including Shannon Ryan from The Heavy Purse, who does what I want to do as a financial planner. I also talked to people who I know have my best interest in mind and who are wise and have a good record of making really good career choices and life choices.
I CREATED A NEW CAREER PLAN — ONE WHERE I PURSUE MY PASSION.
From this decision point forward, I never looked back. I took action.
I knew I wanted to be a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) because that was the next logical step for me to take after writing about personal finance on my blog so much.
I have grown to have a deep passion for personal finance. Becoming a financial planner will only hone my skills as a blogger and enable me to help people with their money.
It was much easier leaving my career as an attorney knowing that something was pulling me in another direction. I don’t know what I would’ve done had I now know where I wanted to go next in my career.
I PUT MY PLAN INTO ACTION AND QUIT.
After a few interviews, I was hired at a financial firm as a financial plan.
I work from 8AM-5PMpm, Monday – Friday. It’s amazing. I feel free. Not only do I love the hours, but I actually love what I’m doing – I enjoy learning about financial planning.
I fit in with the culture, which is equally important as fitting in with the subject matter. The stress is less, I’m fully engaged, and I’m happy.
I have time outside of work for friends, family, reading, blogging, running, and anything else that I want to do. It’s amazing.
I’M HAPPIER BUT IT’S NOT ALL ROSES – I TOOK A FINANCIAL HIT.
The only downfall for me is the money.
I took more than a 50% pay cut. It actually doesn’t bother me when it comes to standard of living – I’m single, I don’t have kids, I rent an apartment, and I don’t have any consumer debt. The only problem – and it’s a big one – is my massive student loan debt.
Thankfully, all of my personal development studying has paid off. I turned this problem into the best thing that has ever happened to me. I focus on growing my blog and making money blogging. I make over $4k blogging per month, while working full time. I talk about how I did it in my eBook, How I Made $45k In 1 Year While Blogging Full Time.
I’m so thankful for my debt, my career, and my blog. My life is amazing now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I HAVE NO REGRETS.
People weirdly ask me if I regret quitting law all the time. They don’t understand. I don’t understand them, either.
I can’t imagine staying in a career I hate or am indifferent to.
I value my contribution to the world and my own happiness. I practice making tough decisions and committing to pursuing my dreams.
There are ups and downs in any career, so it’s really important to pursue your dreams with passion and commitment, while knowing that each won’t be perfect.
I’m a work in progress, and I love the life I’ve created.