I was a junior in college when I chose to major in accounting. At the time I was struggling to find a passion and the economy was struggling as well. I knew that accounting would guarantee me a job and supply a steady income.
I wasn’t very interested in the subject of accounting, but I was good at it. I graduated with a 3.8 GPA and a job offer from one of the world’s largest accounting firms. They lured me with in with fancy lunches, gifts, and the promise of a substantial paycheck. I figured I’d try it out for a couple years, get my CPA, and at the very least the position would look great on my resume.
Well life often doesn’t go to plan. I ended up resigning a year and nine months later, without my CPA, and without another job in the industry. Many people have questioned whether or not I made the right decision for my career and have wondered what the heck happened. Here are five reasons why I left my secure, well-paying job… and why maybe you should leave yours too.
#1 I didn’t enjoy the work.
For some people my job as a tax accountant is a challenging, fulfilling task. But I was unable to connect personal meaning to it and as a result I found it painfully boring. I grew to resent the many different tax laws. I didn’t know why I had to work late filing out various tax forms, just because some big shots in Congress wanted to make everything unnecessarily complicated.
#2 I didn’t like the office environment
I thrive on sunshine, we all do. In college I biked to class and spent at least a couple of hours outside everyday. It was great to breathe fresh air, get my heartbeat racing, and feel physically tired at the end of each day. When I started working I slowly said goodbye to all of that. Eventually my days consisted of waking up early, spending 30 minutes commuting to work, parking in a garage, taking an elevator up to my office, sitting in a cubicle with no windows for the next 10 hours, spending 30 minutes driving home… and then spending a couple hours de-stressing before I went to sleep so I could do all again the next day. I grew to hate the office environment and viewed it as my prison cell.
#3 Didn’t connect with my office peers
My co-workers and my bosses were all truly smart, hard-working, and friendly people. But I had trouble truly connecting with most of them. They actually enjoyed discussing the nuances of tax law, didn’t seem to mind the cubicle, and were more concerned about passing the CPA exam then maintaining their quality of life. I couldn’t relate and because of that I began to make myself feel isolated and misunderstood.
#4 I got depressed
After about a year and a half of disliking what I did all day, hating where I did it, and not connecting with my peers…I started to get depressed. FIrst I’d deal with it by smoking a cigarette on the way home. Eventually I dropped the cigarettes and just cried instead. At first it would just be on my way home, but soon I was crying on my way into work and on the weekends too. A lack of purpose and fulfillment had caused me to develop a low self-esteem. Simple things that used to make me laugh and smile started to have no effect and I dreaded waking up in the mornings.
#5 I didn’t want my bosses job
Eventually word came around that it was a “promotion year” for me. I started hearing from 1-4 people a day about how I needed to start going above and beyond what was expected of me. They said this like a promotion was a very good and exciting thing… but I could barely keep it together doing my current job. The very thought of having to learn more tax code and spend even more hours in an office caused me to start crying in the middle of the work day. It was in those moments that I was so thankful they had a private bathroom on the ground floor.
Once I could no longer keep it together in my office, I knew I had to get out. It no longer mattered that I hadn’t lasted two years there, that I never finished getting my CPA, and that I never got a promotion. My survival instinct kicked in and I realized that if I didn’t get out now that I was going to completely lose myself. I immediately started applying for new jobs and I soon heard back from an organic food company that wanted to hire me as an independant contractor.
The new job offers no guaranteed paychecks. It is up to me to find work for the company and make my own money. But I get to interact with lots of different people, make my own hours, have more free time to pursue my passions, and most importantly do work that I find interesting. When I accepted the position I immediately felt more energy and more excitement about life. It didn’t matter what anyone else thought… because I could instantly feel that I was making the right decision.
Many people put on a smile everyday and pretend everything is great, but lots of us are secretly struggling. If you are feeling miserable at your current job, or in any current situation, you need to know that you are not alone and you can change it. It will take some planning, a whole lot of courage, and definitely won’t be easy, but it will absolutely be worth it. Unhappiness, depression, lack of energy… be thankful for these symptoms. For they are simply signs that you need to re-route your life. We have a limited time on Earth and we shouldn’t waste precious years of our lives in an environment that is not a good fit. Take that leap of faith and take it sooner rather than later.