In past Fearless Fridays interviews, we’ve seen people who’ve quit their corporate jobs to start their own businesses, those who’ve been passionate about doing something more creative, those who’ve left to start a family. What about those who’ve left a job, a career, without really knowing what they’re going to do instead?
When I left my “normal” job almost two years ago now, when I took that leap, I wasn’t sure what I was leaping towards – I just knew that I had to leap. In my first months of “freedom”, I went to interviews for other full-time jobs, I was considering going freelance, I thought about long-term travel… It took time for me to decide to set up my own business, and it’s taken more time for me to evolve my thinking on where I want to be and what I want to be doing. In fact, it’s an on-going process that I think will never end, as I continue to learn about myself, to meet different people, and to discover new opportunities.
Part of this process is taking a step back and really thinking about what’s important to you: what are your values? Your big rocks? Do you want to start a family at some point? Do you want to travel or spend time abroad? Do you want to become CEO of a big company? Do you want to have more time for your hobbies? It takes time to work through these questions and then to craft the life you want. Of course it helps if you have some kind of financial buffer saved up from years in the corporate world, or if you have generous friends and family who will support you as you figure things out, but there’s really no rush and you can and should take your time before jumping into the next big thing.
This is Mark’s story of how he changed careers but more importantly changed his priorities as to what’s really important to him…
Leaving a corporate job behind to follow your passion: From engineering to finance to ???
When Mark graduated with his Engineering degree from UC Berkeley he had no immediate goal beyond making enough money to one day be able to retire early. After almost three years working as an engineer, he realised that wasn’t going to be the path to great wealth and changed his career to Securities Trading at Barclays Global Investors, and then to be a Derivatives consultant at Wells Fargo. Right at the point where he would have started making serious money, however, he discovered that he had “lost that loving feeling” for finance and wanted another change. While he doesn’t yet know the next big step, in the meantime he’s enjoying the freedom of doing whatever he feels like…
1) At what moment did you decide it was time for a change?
I decided to make the change in the beginning of 2014. I had been passionate about finance, and about the art of making money out of money, but I lost that passion at a pivotal moment; I woke up one morning and had an epiphany after 15 years in the business: “the juice was [not] worth the squeeze” (quote from The Girl Next Door). I was tired of spending my time making everyone who was above me richer and, as far as I could tell, more miserable.
2) What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the change?
The biggest challenge was effectively begging to be laid off while coming to terms with the thought and accompanying fears of living without income, especially when money had always been the sole career driver for me.
3) Where did you get the support you needed to make it happen?
I got the support in making the change from witnessing those above me in the business living absolutely miserable lives, despite their much greater pay. They suffered from costly divorces, lost time with family and children and deteriorating health: that was the window to the future I needed to support my decision to leave.
4) What’s the best part of your lifestyle today?
The best part of my lifestyle today is the freedom: I do exactly what I want when I want and I only answer to myself. In my career, I always felt like I was an actor playing a scripted role; now I feel like an improvisational artist.
5) What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is considering making a big career or lifestyle change?
My one piece of advice to anyone considering making a big career change is this: Take a mental snapshot of yourself at work, recognise that what you are doing is taking up your entire day and that you have a limited number of days in your life. Then ask yourself one question: Is this how you want to spend the best days of your life?
Have you made big changes in your life and want to inspire others to do the same? Or maybe you’re 100% happy staying put where you are and want to make a case for being satisfied with what you have? Get in touch to share your story!