Why I Walked Away From My Successful Silicon Valley Career

why I left my career

Friday was my last day of work. When I put in my notice before our big move I let my company know that I would be happy to work for them remotely. They took me up on the offer, but only temporarily as they looked for a replacement.

I’m thankful to have had the continuous income during this transition and I am nervous to no longer have that sense of financial security, however I am also excited to continue to create the life that works best for me and my family.

Making Sense of Nonsense

As I went deeper and deeper into my career the disconnect between what I was giving up for a paycheck became more and more apparent. When I started working shortly out of college, I was stunned when I realized that I only had two weeks of vacation a year. This calculates out to about 10 days that I could claim for myself from an average of 250 something work days. Suddenly college life didn’t seem so bad. There were long breaks that allowed for rest, rejuvenation and adventure. College also consisted of more freedom – no one told me where I needed to study or write my papers, just when they needed to be done. If I didn’t feel like going to class there was no one I had to report to, and I had the ability to choose my schedule.  

It didn’t make sense to me that the professional world didn’t follow similar guidelines, however like most people, I just accepted that this was just the way that life was and that there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Maybe one day I’d make it to the top of the corporate ladder, I thought, and then I’d be able to dictate my life and schedule.

Well, I never made it to the top of that ladder, and I’m afraid of heights anyway, so it was probably best that I never did. If you read my first post, you know that I had tried to get my work schedule to align with my personal goals, however with Sissy Boo only a few months old and having not received any confirmation, I decided that I simply did not have the time to spare and needed to take matters into my own hands. I was ready to reclaim control of my time because no one else was going to do it for me.

Leaving the Box

I was listening to a podcast before I decided to leave my job which talked about placing a mouse in a box from birth. The mouse believed that there was nothing outside of what was in the box because that was all it knew. However, once it got older, the mouse was released from the box and it then discovered that there was this whole other world outside of the box.

My hope with leaving the box of a conventional career is that I will also be able to discover this other world. A world where you can provide for your family but do not need to give up 40 or more physical hours a week. The world has changed so drastically in the last few decades. Technology has made things so much more efficient, yet people are working more now than ever before.

Who am I?

As a society we are so attached to our work and careers that many of us, myself included, have forgotten or have never even discovered the things we love to do and the things we are passionate about outside of work.

I worked for one of the biggest tech companies in the world. I took pride and felt accomplished when I landed the job, but at the end of the day a job is just that – a job. It doesn’t define who you are, what you care about, and it shouldn’t be the main or whole source of one’s identity. What would you do with all of your time if you never had to work again? I am just beginning to try and answer this. There are plenty of people who are not completely happy with work, but have made enough money or have enough passive income to retire, yet they choose not to. I believe part of the reasoning is because their careers have become their identities.

Success is highly tied to money and a career, but these things don’t tell you much about a person at all. They don’t tell you what brings that person joy, what fears they wish they could overcome and the values they hold close to their hearts. While I was trying to do what was best for my career I forgot about the things that were best for me as a human being.

Learning more about myself and rediscovering my passions is what I’m most excited about for this next phase of my life. This post isn’t a bash on the corporate world and it isn’t a call for everyone to leave the workforce. What it is is a plea for you to be honest with yourself. If that little voice in your head is telling you something isn’t right in your life because of your job or career, don’t ignore it. Listen to it and let it lead you to the life you were destined for.

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