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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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