Like many people, I thought that I would be more fulfilled when I had achieved my career goals. But for me, it didn’t quite work out that way. As a pharmacist, the eight years of education had been a long and difficult journey. When I finally graduated, I was proud of what I had accomplished.
Five years into my career, my life didn’t look the way I had envisioned it. I was working 50+ hours a week and incredibly stressed. When I came home, I couldn’t enjoy my family for those few hours I had left in the day because it took me a while to decompress. When I had kids, my six-figure salary didn’t seem to go as far as I thought it would. I was working to pay for the house I never had time to enjoy and to have someone else watch my two children. In the end, I realized that, simply, I wasn’t happy.
At that point, I had been contemplating various exit strategies like moving back in with parents to pay off student loans or going back to school for a more lucrative career. And then life gave me a strong push. I was (fortunate?) enough to suffer a spinal cerebral spinal fluid leak, which forced me out of the workforce. I’ve been enduring a slow recovery in the year since.
And guess what? It’s been the biggest blessing in disguise. Despite the hardships of my physical health, I’ve been so happy to have my time back. It was like life gave me a time-out, and I could sit back and assess what I truly wanted to do. And I knew that when I was physically able to, I wanted to work for myself. After that realization, I took the opportunity to learn everything there is to successfully monetize an online business.
I decided I was going to leave my six-figure salary to become an online entrepreneur.
Why it’s so hard to leave your six-figure salary
It’s hard to leave any career you’ve invested your time in, but when you have high earning potential, the risk seems much more monumental.
Here are a few factors that make leaving your great career so difficult:
We all want security, which is exactly what a six-figure salary provides. A roof over your head (that you own), the bills paid and good retirement contributions. It discourages you from taking risks. If you are single with no children, that risk only applies to yourself. But what if you have a family? That risk becomes hard to justify when it could jeopardize the lives of your spouse and children.
When you’re successful and making a six-figure salary, it gives your parents and family some bragging rights. Telling them that you’re giving it all up to venture into a business opportunity usually doesn’t go down well. Often, parents have done everything to secure your future, so it can feel selfish to give it up.
Leaving my career and salary with two children has made me feel at times irresponsible, unappreciative and downright reckless. But I hope this will turn out for the better.
Feeling like you’ve wasted time
What about all that time you invested to get where you are? Most people who get to a six-figure salary didn’t get there overnight. In my case, it took eight years of post-high school education. It can feel at times that you’re throwing away a large personal investment.
Reasons to leave your six-figure salary
Despite all the feelings you may have when leaving a good career, if you’re dreaming about leaving your job, then it’s time to go. As the saying goes, money isn’t everything.
Here are a few reasons why becoming an entrepreneur can be the right choice:
Hitting the ceiling
Have you hit the glass ceiling? At some point, you’re going to hit the ceiling in any industry. For me, I had a coveted ambulatory pharmacist position where I practiced at the top of my license. Yet, my freedom to pivot was still limited by metrics, demands of the job and bottom lines. This is an inevitable reality if you’re working for someone else.
High cost of living
Six figures is not what it used to be. With rising inflation rates and housing costs, you may still only be able to afford a basic living depending on where you’re located. I can only speak of my own example, but after subtracting the mortgage, student loans, outrageous day care bill for two children and living costs, there was nothing left! And no, I didn’t live in a half-million-dollar house with a Mercedes parked out front. (I bought right before the housing market boomed and drove a 2004 pickup truck.) Every career has its salary limitations. Sure, I could have worked more overtime, or tried to become a director, but that incremental pay raise to me was not worth the time taken away from my family.
No work-life autonomy
This was the biggest push for me. Not having the ability to work on my own terms greatly reduced my quality of life. It meant missing out on events if I worked the weekends, losing those precious mornings when my children are in their best moods. Now, being an entrepreneur certainly does not mean I won’t be working, but I have the autonomy to choose what life events I’m willing to miss. Also, choosing a way to make money online allows me to work anytime and anywhere.
Happiness is a choice, not an accident. It’s true that we don’t always have the luxury of choosing our circumstances, but if you’re unhappy with your day-to-day life then it doesn’t matter how much money or success you have.
Things to remember
If you’re in the process of leaving, you’ll likely be second-guessing yourself every step of the way. When that happens, here are some reminders to help you keep moving forward.
You can always go back
Whatever your career was, you have gained high-income skills that no one can take away from you. Sure, you may not be able to jump back into the same company with the same job description, but you can certainly get back into the field. If you climbed your way up once before, you can definitely do it again if your business doesn’t pan out.
The opportunity cost of not trying
The other option is to continue on your current path. You likely can see the life that awaits you and it’s not one you have envisioned. The only person that can change your course is you. So you owe it to yourself to at least try. You can live a life without regret. No one wants to be near the end of their life wishing they had taken more changes and not lived in fear.
The reasons above are why I’m leaving my six-figure-salary career. Although there’s no guarantee of success as an entrepreneur, to me the risk is worth the reward.
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