Think Simple Now — a moment of clarity

What should I do with my life? Click here.

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.

:)

Before you go: please share this story on Facebook, RT on Twitter. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to receive email updates. Thank you for your support!
Connect with TSN Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Instagram RSS
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.

Love this article? Sign up for weekly updates!

Think Simple Now delivers weekly self-reflective, inspiring stories from real people. Join our empowering community by entering your email address below.

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

  1. Thank you for this article. I quit my job in 2010. I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to a counselor and was told I had ptsd & social anxiety. I am doing better now,no longer in therapy,but still trying to figure out what I want to do in life. I can’t figure it out and it’s making me depressed. Do you have any advice for me? I have things I’m passionate about,but I get stuck on the career thing. I’ve worked in retail for the past 10 years,if that helps. If you need any more info,let me know. Thanks. :)

  2. steve

    These are always inspiring stories, but they almost universally feature a highly successful (read: wealthy) individual chucking it all for a simpler, more meaningful life. Early retirement is a wonderful thing, but many of us who started out in pursuit of a simple, meaningful life (read: liberal arts grads) find ourselves feeling a bit betrayed by such ideals as we struggle to meet our bills. I spent 15 years in art and music until the poverty completely eroded any satisfaction I had in my work. I’m back in school now, but I still have a hard time forgiving myself for the enormous financial loss (opportunity cost) of that poor life decision. On top of that, as an older student/job seeker, I fear I will never rise to a level in my new career where I can then do as the author is doing without fear of further poverty. I still believe in the power of simplicity and a meaningful life, but sadly, I now believe it can only be realized after sacrificing young adulthood to the cult of achievement.

    Congratulations on your new direction in life!

  3. Meg

    Love!! As usual! Xo Meg

  4. Eva

    Thank you for sharing your amazing journey with us Cat. I’m 21 years old, been working part time for the past two years while at university. My jobs ranged from tutoring to touring with the school marketing department and I loved them all; I was happy, motivated & the spare income didn’t hurt either.
    I’ve worked a full time job from January this year, and I’ve gradually grown dissatisfied. The work involves a lot of numbers & even though I’m pretty good with math, data analysis is not something I ever wanted to pursue.
    Over time, I’ve found myself growing restless and losing my “happy”, which is now leading to an identity crisis that I hadn’t traced back to my work situation until I read this post. I don’t write anymore, or draw, or even report to my hospital volunteer post, which is AWFUL, I know.
    I hope I will one day be able to convince my parents that “job security” is not worth becoming someone I greatly dislike, nor a slow descent into depression.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, this was truly inspirational!

  6. LOVED this article, thank you for sharing your journey with us

  7. So true. My favorite lines from The Eagles song “Already Gone” is

    So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
    And we never even know we have the key

    I got an accounting degree because my father told to go into a secure career. First of all, I paid for my education. Second, I knew accounting wasn’t my thing. I’m a creative type and love marketing, art, graphics, writing, literature, languages, etc. Because I desperately wanted my father’s approval, I got the accounting degree. Don’t get me wrong, it helps me with my freelance writing from creating contracts to writing about accounting. But it’s not what I wanted to do.

    Moving

    I moved to Chandler, Arizona in September 2007. I cashed in my investments and left the Midwest. It was liberating. I love Arizona! However, it backfired on my, and I ended up back in my home state three years later. Why? As Neale Donald Walsch would say, “You took yourself with you.” I wasn’t emotionally and spiritually strong enough. I sure as hell didn’t have firm boundaries set with family either. The bottom line is I self-sabotaged myself. This was an expensive and “painful” lesson to learn because I love the Southwest and West Coast. There’s so much to do and see and since I’m creative, I felt I was in the ‘right’ environment.

    Final thoughts

    I recommend people go inward and do some introspection before embarking on a new journey. Figure out what you want out of life. Figure out what you want as far as a career goes. Set strong boundaries because your family and friends will test you. Mine did. I was berated up and down because I left my mom and sister in Ohio. I’m a grown woman; I can do what I want!

    I learned my lessons and will be moving up and out, again. Only this time I’ve got firm boundaries set. And I’m emotionally and spiritually stronger. As I mentioned above, I learned some expensive lessons. But the point is I learned them.

  8. Great article Cat. Thank you for sharing your insight, and good luck to you on your journey! I put a hold on some of the books you mentioned at our local library!

  9. Barb

    I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor. I suggest though that you leave your corporate world “well” as you never know when you may need to go back over a bridge you burned. Your story resonated with me as I did a scaled backed version of your journey. NOTHING would have convinced me that it was not my souls path and the right move for me. I won’t bore you with the details but I missed the work more than I ever imagined and I am now back in the exact job I left! The difference is that I am content now and know myself more. There are many differeces in your story and mine in that I led a less consumer oriented life and my changes were more job related than lifrstyle related. You seem to have a well thought out plan and I am happy for you. Good luck!

  10. Barb

    I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor. I suggest though that you leave your corporate world “well” as you never know when you may need to go back over a bridge you burned. Your story resonated with me as I did a scaled backed version of your journey. NOTHING would have convinced me that it was not my souls path and the right move for me. I won’t bore you with the details but I missed the work more than I ever imagined and I am now back in the exact job I left! The difference is that I am content now and know myself more. There are many differeces in your story and mine in that I led a less consumer oriented life and my changes were more job related than lifrstyle related. You seem to have a well thought out plan and I am happy for you. Good luck!

  11. Enjoy your year’s journey, Cat!

    I love following your path through your articles, and it inspires me to keep focused on my true path. Perhaps you’ll give Tina quick updates she can share with the rest of us? (But only if it works for you:))

    Love and Light, Leigh

  12. Vicki

    Inspiring. Best wishes to you.

  13. Great post! I too, had two homes by age 29. We love to get out of the city every other weekend so I’d never get rid of the vacation home we built (no bills in the mail, 100% solar powered, took 5 years for us to build with our own two hands). Plus, my primary home is a fraction of the size of the one you speak of (1400 square feet–and that’s including the garage and porch).

    Good reminder though to donate some stuff and clean out the cluttered areas! Also, I’m trying to spend more time this summer on creative tasks (outside of the day job).

  14. Many people go through what you did, but few have the courage to make the decision to leave their old life/ jobs. It takes great courage and wisdom. All the best!

  15. That is quite a story and journey. My hat goes off to you in finding that happiness does not lie in stuff. Happiness is enjoying life and not being tied down with impressing the world with stuff.

    Life’s journey is about people and relationships with spouse, children, family and the ones we love a treasure.

    it is about giving, caring and loving. Enjoying the little things life has to offer.

    I was lucky enough to be raise with very little, yes, you might call us poor, but we always felt loved. That is what is important.

    We all are what and who we want to be, but it is up to everyone to figure out just were that path is and to follow it. It is in the heart, so remember to always feel with the heart and think with the head.
    Blessing to you for sharing and have fun on your journey.,
    Debbie

  16. This is a great post! I recently created a blog to document my transition from a job into doing what I love. This post was really uplifting and inspiring. Not to mention, full of great links and resources to further expand my knowledge of self development. Thanks so much Cat! Greatttttttttt insight!

  17. This is a great post. I recently created a blog (alphameditate.wordpress.com) to document my journey from working the 9-5 to doing just what you wrote about. I am already in the process of simplifying my life and hearing your advice and tips about taking it further really was inspiring and insightful. Thank you so much for writing this. It’s very comforting knowing that there are so many people out there doing just this. I wish you all the best and I hope you keep us posted!

  18. Josh Dent

    Cat,
    What an amazing inspiration you are. I am in the beginning stages of leaving my cushy office job also. I would be extremely grateful if you could send me any info on freelance writing jobs. I live in Phoenix also. Best of luck on your remarkable journey.

  19. Josh Dent

    Cat,
    What an inspiration you are! I am in the begining process of leaving my cushy office job as well. I am also located in Phoenix. I would be forever grateful if you have any insight on places to land work freelance writing since you mentioned you have been doing that. My e-mail is jddent1978@yahoo.com

  20. Josh Dent

    Cat,
    What an inspirational story. I am in the beginning stages of a very similar journey. I currently live in Phoenix also. I would be forever grateful if you could e-mail any suggestions in finding freelance writing work I would be forever grateful

  21. Josh Dent

    Cat,
    Amazing article. I live in Phoenix, and I am currently looking for freelance writing work. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  22. Congratulations! What a great adventure and thanks for sharing it with all of us! If you find yourself in the La Quinta/Palm Springs area be sure and let us know–it would be lovely to sit and compare notes! My husband and I have been on the simple living “right-sizing” path for several years ourselves and the freedom is truly amazing and wonderful….that’s why I blog about it on my blog. Looking forward to hearing more from you as you walk the talk…..namaste..

  23. Wow. Incredible words Cat, and such practical wisdom :) Amazing to get to spend a year in a Zen retreat. May you truly be, all that you are and shine and serve. God bless. Do hope to read about your year long journey here.

  24. What a wonderful and inspiring story! Best wishes as you embark on this powerful next phase of your life.

  25. Thank you so much for this post. It truly couldn’t have come at a better time as I’m exploring who and I am and what my business means to me. So many talk about money but I truly want to help people be successful online and have their clients find them for the right reasons – to build relationships and partnerships that will provide a solution to all those involved. (I’ve trademarked it: “Human SEO(tm).)

    I am a teacher – body, mind and soul. There has been so much noise in my head – “society noise” – that was dazing and confusing. All I want is to be able to pay my bills, help others through my innate skill and truly enjoy this short life I’ve been given with my loving friends and family. It’s not about the things – it’s about the impact you have on others – changing their lives for the better.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    And, of course, best of luck on your journey! :)

Page 1 of 212
Your thoughts?

Leave a Comment

We’d love to hear them! Please share.

Think Simple Now, a moment of clarity © 2007-2015 ThinkSimpleNow.com Privacy Disclaimer
Back to top