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Finding Myself: Why I’m Quitting My Job

Photo by Eduardoizq
Editor’s Note

This is the 3rd version of an intimate and insightful story from Cat. I highly recommend reading it. I hope something in this speaks to you as it has for me. And before you go, please help me wish Cat a beautiful journey in this new life chapter by leaving a quick comment at the end of this article.

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards. They try to have more of what they want so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You first must be who you are, then love what you do, in order to have what you want. ~Margaret Young

I started my banking career 10 years ago out of convenience.

“My mom had worked in the industry, banking appears to be a respectable living, and I like money.”— That was the entirety of the thought process behind my career choice.

With a secure paycheck and material comfort as my guiding life force, I would spend most of my 20’s crafting my external life.

In the chase of social status, I would tone my body and count calories to exhaustion, obsessively furnish a home with all things Crate & Barrel, plan an early retirement by closely monitoring my 401K, take great trips (and then update them to Facebook immediately), as a recognizable reward for living a good life.

I have a nice car, two beautiful homes, and a cushy career.  Between my banking job and a real estate gig as a part-time Agent, I was making a healthy living.

At 29, I have achieved all the material goals I could possibly want. The tradeoff for this lifestyle: most of my waking hours working for stuff that brought more stress and debt than joy and ease.

This truth emerged: well-having and well-being are not synonymous. Stuff and external achievement do not equate to happiness and inner fulfillment.

In recent years, a recurring restlessness came on strong – a motion sickness, of sorts, from an unconscious ferris-wheel routine.

I felt stuck.

I did have it backwards.  

Back to banking, convenience, the achievement-based chase …

On June 1st, I’m quitting my Commercial Banking job. I’ll be reorienting my focus from external to internal.

Four days to follow, on June 5th, my husband and I will take a 12-hour drive from Phoenix up the coast of California to begin six months of dedicated mindfulness training at two Zen Centers.

This will kick-off a one-year dedication to fully invest in growth of three areas:

  • Wisdom and wellness – through work/practice at two Zen Centers
  • Personal development – will read many books and self-educate during spare time
  • Compassion – will go overseas and serve a charity.

This is a tribute to living forward.

Finding Courage to Leave My Job


Photo by Eduardoizq

“Once in awhile it really hits people that
they don’t have to experience the world they have been told to.”

~ Alan Keightley

The courage to arrive at a resignation letter and the hatching of purpose-driven plans did not come over night. It began four years ago with introspection, valuable guidance, and exploring income streams outside of my banking job.

My work commute and evenings became a full on churning of teachings attributed to more consciousness. In the process, I saw that the way I had chosen to live – for the love of security in the corporate world – wasn’t the only way.

Here is a list of inspirational activities and resources that broadened my awareness:

  • Read many books. Top six favorites: Think and Grow Rich, Today Matters, The Four Agreements, The Power of Now, The Big Leap, The Magic of Thinking Big.
  • Listened to motivational talks. I have a lengthy commute to work, and have utilized this car time to tune into motivational talks – inspiring podcasts, TedTalks, audio books of favorite authors.
  • Traveled and retreated. Traveling to many different places (in and out of the country) and attending retreats provides for fresh perspective. So often, our most resonant moments appear from venturing out and immersing in a new way of seeing.
  • Self-discovery exercises to facilitate a deeper self understanding. Two tools: personality Jung & Briggs Myers test (I’m in INFJ and so is Tinawhat are you?) and a great worksheet to explore personal values.
  • Surrounded myself with mentors, conferences, friends, websites, and role models.  Annual conference I attend: Wisdom 2.0; Dharma Talk I follow: Gil Fronsdal; Blogs I follow: Zen Habits, Tiny Buddha, Mind Body Green & Think Simple Now (of course); Meditation teachings I follow: Sarah McLean
  • Explored supplementary income during evenings and weekends, outside of my 9 to 5. I freelance wrote and started a real estate business.
  • Identified activities that brought me peace. I love rising at dawn, coffee and writing at cafes, listening to beautiful music. Intentionally making space for activities that bring calm is crucial to nurturing growth, clarity and creativity.
  • Breathed. Prayed. Did a lot of yoga, long walks, jogs, and journaling. Holistic practices and a daily routine of healthy habits are oxygen for my inner strength.

Takeaway #1:

Our daily growth and ability to tap into our inner wisdom is crucial to who we become.

Our environment – who we choose to surround ourselves with – cultivates our mindset.

And self-awareness is the start of untangling ourselves from the limiting beliefs, societal conditionings, and old habitual patterns that prevent us from living the most extraordinary life.

Economic Changes that Took Place


Photo by Moaan

“Things are thieves of time.” ~ Nathan Gardels

I recently heard this quote … and man, it’s so true! Here are the two strategic steps that took place over the past seven months to actualize leaving our jobs for a year.

1. Simplify Living Conditions

  • Leased out the two homes we own
  • Donated most of our furnishings (that previously filled a 5 bedroom, 2,600 square foot home)
  • Sent two dozen bags of clothes to Goodwill.
  • Had a garage sale for all remaining things
  • Got a PO BOX, as we will not have a a permanent physical address for a  year
  • Sold one car
  • Went paperless: simplified the entire home office – I scanned all pertinent documents (tax returns, business documents, real estate leases, legal paperwork) into electronic files. Then, I saved them all onto an external hard drive. This makes being out-of-state/out-of-country very convenient.
  • Shrank ‘stuff’ so that step #2 would be easy to manage.

Outside of the basic essentials, after three months of minimizing down to nearly nothing, I realized there are only seven things I need for my well-being: vitamins, journal, coffee, music, laptop, a space (for yoga/meditating/writing), running shoes.

2.  Get the Finances in Check

  • Took a giant chainsaw to discretionary expenses: got rid of everything outside of necessities – cable, the landscaper, lavish nights out, clothes, overpriced Whole Foods snacks.
  • Paid off credit card debts
  • Automated finances: all bill payments are on auto-debit and electronic statements that auto-filter into a “bills” folder in my email.
  • Created a detailed budget and projection for financial goals.
  • Revisited the budget weekly to track savings.
  • Set the corporate resignation date based off of savings goals.
  • Saved enough for one year’s expenses.

Takeaway #2:

A life heavy with stuff is distracting – it’s a complicated lifestyle that pulls us from spending time doing what we enjoy with who we love.  We think we’re living, but we’re really dancing around in a circle of material upkeep.

Whether you’re leaving your job or not, I encourage you to simplify your material life (home, debt, finances) and you’ll notice a feeling of lightness and mobility– it’s freeing … like a deep exhale. You’ll find freedom in your ability to do more of what you want, when you want.

Be Who You Are (First)


Photo by Lauren Rosenbaum

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~Ghandi

 This post is not to motivate you to quit your job (jobs aren’t bad). What is bad: living a knock-off version of who we are, shrinking our dreams, our quality of life and contributions to fit a tiny small-self mold.

Take an inner dive and practice listening to your intuition.  Get to know who you are.

Instead of shuffling around a collection of stuff in the garage or maintaining a large lawn on the weekend, can you deliberately simplify your living conditions so you have more energy to do what you enjoy? Can you more frequently shift your attention inward — to connect – versus outward to distract?

Make space. Find activities in your life to expand your awareness and the feeling of inner peace.

Instead of spending evenings at happy hour talking about the cubicle slavery of a 9 to 5, can you invest in a new hobby? Brainstorm bigger possibilities? Surround yourself with passionate people who are loving life? Or find a mentor who can offer guidance?

Take action now – try new things, make mistakes, imagine possibilities, follow your heart and gut. The insights will ultimately appear.

Love What You Do (Secondly)

Let all of the external noise go. Become more conscious by attuning to your inner wholeness.

The inspiration and courage to “love what you do” will organically unfold as a by-product of being connected to yourself.  Perhaps then, that will translate into quitting your job to pursue a deep-seeded passion. Or perhaps you may simply awaken to the life you’re already living now—and find it to be already perfect.

At the core, each of us is already beautifully complete. We just need to reorient ourselves back to that place.

Parting Wish & Takeaway #3:

May you be who you are.  And the rest will follow.

:)

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About the author

Cat is a recent corporate escapee, now practicing as a full-time Zen Student. Her home, for the next year or so, is on various meditation cushions in the world.

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49 thoughts on Finding Myself: Why I’m Quitting My Job

  1. Hey Cat – Congrats on taking the leap away from unhappiness, and into yourself! I too had a fairly high paying job, and left it to venture out on my own and find a better way. So glad to hear you’re doing mindfulness training – it’s what I highly advocate, use everyday in my personal life, and use as the foundation for coaching people for various issues.

    I love the be who you are, love what you do model. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  2. I’m quitting my job too! My last day will be on June 30!
    Although we have different reasons for doing so, I can say that focusing on my “internal” life is important for me so I can find out what I really want.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. As Craig Valentine’s wife told him: “Your dream is not for sale”

    Your story and your courage are an inspiration. Go well….

  4. Hi Amber ~ I know how you feel. It’s easy to get stuck in our heads and constantly replay the ‘what’s my purpose’ chatter. I’d say “relax & remember to consciously breathe”. Find more activities for peace & calm in your life. Learn to quiet your mind, be patient with yourself, and see if you can pick up a daily meditation or yoga practice.

    Wishing you well.

    Steve ~ Thanks for sharing your story. And being so honest about how you feel. The economics of life aren’t always easy. Sending you encouragement … and hoping that you’re able to forgive yourself, in order to make space for new clarity and possibilities in your life.

    Eva ~ It’s wonderful you have that self-awareness. It sounds like you know what you have to do — get back to those activities that facilitate your true self and happiness. Cheers. :)

    Bella, Leah and Meg ~ Thank YOU, ladies, for the warm words!

    Amandah ~ I’m in Chandler too. :) Appreciate you sharing your wisdom and story — sounds like the move made you a stronger, more in-touch person. Wonderful that you learned the intangible lessons … and were able to see beyond the tangible challenges. Best to you!

    Monica ~ I’m so glad the article resonated and your library had some of those books. Yay. Lots of inspirational truth ahead in your reading. :)

    Barb ~ Thank you for the advice. My exit has been as graceful as it could be. I’m open to returning to a job in banking, if that is where my path leads back to …

    Leigh ~ YES, I will be posting updates to Tina. I’ll be living at Tassajara where there’s no internet, so will be mailing a handwritten letter during my three months off the map. Hope you’re well ~ I miss our ‘girl gang’ chats. :)

  5. it’s very uplifting to hear your story…thanks for sharing it! There’s a lot of people out there shedding social norms and living a better more simple life. I’ve been on a spiritual journey for 18 years now and have changed tremendously because of it and am hoping once my youngest is off to college in two years to be able to do exactly what you’re doing!!

    Best of luck in your courageous and fun adventure!!!

  6. @ Cat… Chandler’s a great community! I loved every minute of my time in Arizona and am grateful I had the courage to move. I want to go back (possibly move back, probably more like L.A.) and visit Miraval in Tucson. I like the exercises they have. It helps you to feel the fear, process, and push through it.

    It’s amazing how life responds to you when you let go and pursue your dreams. When you take everyone else out of the equation, get quiet, get real, and are honest with yourself. Do this and amazing things will happen. For me, I just sold my first greeting card copy and am confident I’ll sell others. Also, I was asked if I was interested in working on a couple of indie film projects. Woot!Woot! I do love storytelling, film making, and writing; creativity, in general.

    I plead with parents to allow their kids to pursue what they want for a career. Don’t force them to do something just because it’s been a family ‘tradition’ since 1881. Don’t force them to go to College X or University A because great-great granddaddy and uncle so and so went there or it’s expected of them. Some kids aren’t cut out for college at 18, even at 25. It’s the 21st century. Allow kids to follow their heart. It won’t lead them astray.

  7. Minnie

    Hi, wish you all the best. Like you I am going through times when I am myself the question- who am I?

  8. Great post, great life-path. Many of us, like you, have just said no to the rat-race, and yes to more creative, freedom-loving lifestyles. I’ve been surprised, for example, by the thousands of people who have visited my blog post on working for rent. My husband and I found it a kick, and our housemates who worked for rent enjoyed it too. It can be a win-win (and a viable alternative to the rat race). Here’s the link if anyone’s interested; hope it’s helpful. http://www.diamondcutlife.org/the-win-win-of-working-for-rent/

  9. What’s wrong with having lots of things? Is it absolutely necessary to get rid of all your luxuries in order to live a spiritual, mindful life? What if it doesn’t have to be one or the other? Why is it that the spiritual community demonizes luxury? I think it is possible to have lavish nights out and still be happy all the time. I think the point being is that most people look towards these external things to fix us, to make us happy, but they don’t. I think it’s great that you are living your life internally, instead of externally. But why get rid of all your stuff? Why not keep the stuff and the big houses. I mean I’m all for downsizing and eliminating unnecessary clutter but is it necessary to get rid of all of it?

    It’s great to see more and more people living from their truth, and seeking a more simple and fulfilling life, instead of filling the gap in their souls with external crap.

    And as for the spiritual practices, I see you’re doing yoga. Have you ever tried EFT(Emotional Freedom Technique)? It’s a really practical way to eliminate negative emotions and beliefs. You can take all the stuff you learned in all the self-help books and apply them to your daily life more effectively. It’s completely changing my life around since I started doing it every day.

    Thank you for this post!

  10. Ben

    I definately agree with doing something you love instead of having a job. I never really liked most of my jobs and just felt really constricted, except for one where I had alot more freedom but it was a inherently dangerous job (working in a nightclub).

    The thing about clutter is interesting because i’ve noticed that sometimes when I clean internal clutter (e.g let go of thoughts, past memories, negative emotions) that I will suddenly have a desire to clean up and throw alot of things out, this has happened a few times and it seems every time I naturally get a little cleaner. I still have alot of stuff but I am alot more clean than I ever used to be.

    -Ben

  11. This is an inspiring post! You might be interested in some of the interviews on http://www.extraordinarywomentv.com.

  12. sanjay

    Hats off to Cat for daring to follow her own discovery,her real course of life.Beautifully depicted and touchingly told-moves the heart.Wish more citizens can emaluate her-the world will truly become a nicer place.
    Look forward to more revelations from her in months to come,would inspire others to follow her.

  13. I had a similar awakening when I was 28. I’d done what I was expected to do, had what I was expected to have, but I was terribly unhappy and didn’t know why. It took me a good 5 years to figure out what I truly want, what my preferences are, what gets me going in the morning. And now, I’m turning my life into the life that I want, not the life that was expected of me. It’s an evolution and revolution!

  14. Xiaobo

    What a beautiful human mind…. Even more beautifully, your husband is on same page with you. it’s more fun to explore the beauty of adventures with loved one.

    i guess not everyone can understand and follow what you are doing. Most people enjoy security, the cozy, stable home and guaranteed paychecks on time. Nothing wrong with that. But some others are more curious on new things, thrilled when pushing the envelope of self capacity. Quitting your job itself is pushing the envelope, because it’s not that easy to do it voluntarily. i guess if there is a ‘optimal’ way of living, that would be each of us dare to do what we feel comfortable, either surf on big ocean waves or lay down on the beach doing nothing.

    Congratulations Cat! Keep updating us with you adventures.

  15. Inspirational! Reminds me of my own journey, difficul, bumpy and still not over yet… Thank you for sharing.

  16. Eddie

    I just quit my job last thursday and i am happy with my decision, why would you continue your job if your not happy with, because of money? That su***. It’s not the end of the world, there’s so much opportunity and try something else. Thanks for the heads up.

  17. This is a wonderful post that really hits the heart right in the anxiety area.

    Coming to the realization that I are doing this life thing backwards hits me every day. It is overwhelming and frustrating to realize that you want out, but can’t quite seem to figure out how.

    I am actually starting a blog right now so I can find out how to really be free in life.

    Thank you for sharing this story, I can certainly relate.

    Brooklyn

  18. Cat-

    There is so much wisdom and tangible advice in this post, for which I want to thank you!

    But mostly I’m just popping in to say,

    “Enjoy your LAST day of work!!!”

    :-)

    Congratulations on taking this step, and best wishes for your next adventure.

  19. Darni

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom, through this entry and your FB page. Best of luck, love, and peace on your new endeavor. Always Love!

  20. came here after a long time and thinking I missed a lot of life in between. Nicely written and spot on.

  21. Great Piece Cat! Having walked this walk 5 years ago, but not until the age of 45, I commend you for catching on so quickly! Keep singing your song, the truth is we all want the same thing, peace. Those still caught up in the delusion of materialism desperately need your help. Become the light and together we can change the resonance of human consciousness.

  22. We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with useful info to work on. You have performed an impressive process and our entire community can be thankful to you.

  23. Rat Race to Epiphany

    Hopefully, by the time I acquire such material wealth, ill have such an awakening ….. This human experience had so much to offer.

  24. Nikki

    Thank you for sharing the post. I have questioned for many years if I am doing what I should be. I also question if I am living my best life now. I am a single parent, and I got in my career out of the necessity and need to care for my daughter. It wasn’t what I had in mind when I first went off to college, but here I am 16 years later unhappy, underpaid, and totally lost. While I am not in poverty (I make enough money to keep me well above the poverty line), I still struggle financially. I get that I may not be financially savvy, but I’m also not a frivolous spender. It is for this reason I have been afraid to just leave my job. Not to mention the benefits are great, and I have a child that will be going off to college in a couple years. Although these are great reasons to stay, I am afraid this life will kill me if I don’t change.

    I did not mention that I am African American with several strikes in this life against me. I am not lacking in education (I have 4 college degrees) or experience. However, true to what some may think about African American women, I did not take care of me while I was building my career. Now I want to reverse it before I become a statistic (diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity was not in my plan). I wasn’t lazy, but I was trying to provide a good life for my daughter. The return has been terrible.

    So what advice do you have for someone like me? I already plan to sell my home. I have thought of this for a very long time, and I am at peace with the idea. So how do I let go of Something I worked hard to get without worrying?

    I want to live for me and my daughter, but I know I wont survive if I don’t change something.

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