''Should i stay or should i go"
Okay, so I’ve been thinking about leaving (nicer way of saying quitting) my job for the last few months. I’m feeling unfulfilled, lifeless, drained by the constant pressure and work culture. I genuinely no longer receive any job satisfaction from the work I deliver, other than some coaching to junior resources. I work as a Strategy Engagement Manager with a leading Global Consulting firm.
I have always been an energetic, happy, positive and driven person – or at least I’d like to think so. But upon some recent self reflection I’ve noticed I am turning into someone I don’t particularly like looking in the mirror at, not just because of my fading good looks having recently hit 30 years of age ;). I am blending in with all the Corporate clones I work with, and I don’t like it. I’ve even now on occasion found myself actually using those fluffy Consulting talk terms such as ‘Deep dive’, ‘Low hanging fruit’ and my least favourite ‘Synergy’.
What happened and where did it all go wrong?
Or maybe I’m having a mid life crisis. After this recent self reflection, and chatting with my partner I decided to list out both the positive and negative reasons of why I should leave (quit) or stay in my job and then start to plan next steps. Given that I have a goal in mind of reaching financial freedom by 35, I am struggling to just pack it in.
So let’s start with the positives, as there are a lot fewer.
Reasons to stay in high-paying job:
- Pay – probably, actually definitely the biggest reason I’ve stayed in Consulting the last 8 years. It pays well, and it’s really taken off as I was promoted to manager a few years back. I am now on an all in compensation plan of over $200k. Which puts me in the 1% for my age. I would be stupid to leave that behind right?
- Talent – I get to working with smart driven people, and I am continually learning
- Career Progression – Consulting firms generally have an up or out model, which results in faster promotion and progression (both level and compensation). Something which did appeal to me greatly when I was younger.
- Opportunities to travel – generally anywhere from 30%-80% of your time can be spent travelling (plane/train/car) to client site. Not so much over the last year due to the pandemic, but this will return. Again this appealed to me more so when I was younger, but I still enjoy travelling and hotel room service.
- Achievement of Financial Freedom goal – I’ve set a target of $1.5 million by age 35. Going off the 4% rule – I could live off the dividends from my investments which would equate to $60k per year ($1.5M * 4%), and most importantly without ever touching the principal amount. I recently hit $250k in savings, so I’m slowly getting there. Staying in this job, would accelerate my journey there due to the monetary rewards.
Now let’s move onto the negatives,
Reasons (non-exhaustive) to quit high-paying job:
- Passion – I hate (no exaggeration) my job, and it generates no passion for me whatsover. Enough said?
- Misalignment with my life goals – I’ve found recently that my job is no longer aligned with my passion or my life goals. I don’t want to be working for someone else anymore or dependant on my job to survive. Or to wear a suit anymore.
- Culture – Current Company culture is cut-throat, Consulting is generally full of Type A personalities. Which I probably could be described as too, but I just really don’t enjoy being around people who would step on you in an instant if it meant getting a promotion. The charegability and sales culture of Consulting further exacerbates this problem
- Constantly Proving Yourself – Generally in Strategy Consulting you move on to a new project every few months, as you can imagine this generally means a new client, new team and requires building trust and proving yourself all over again. Essentially every few months you start from zero. This becomes exhausting after a while
- Pressure – From clients, to internal leaders, there is constant pressure, deadlines always seem to be last minute
- Clients treat you as their slave – Clients generally know they are paying top dollar to retain your services, this generally results in them expecting you to do whatever they ask in whatever time frame suits them. Statement of work? Pfftt that goes out the window. The customer always comes first right? I’ve found even looking at the partners (the bosses) in my company that they can be treated as slaves by their clients, who can be disrespectful and downright rude. I don’t think I could stomach that for the rest of my career, I have too much pride unfortunately.
- Work life balance – Let’s just say this is non existent for my Monday through Thursdays which are a complete write off. Fridays can be better but not by much, and even weekends are not sacred anymore. I had my last client send an email on a Friday night to my team titled ‘Weekend Project’. Really, who does that?
Okay so upon reflecting on the positives and negatives, the only real reason I am still in my job are monetary reasons. So why am I struggling to leave? Essentially I want to stick it out to accelerate my journey to financial freedom by 35. But I’m not sure I can last another 5 weeks, never mind 5 years.
I’ve 4 options which I haven’t fully decided on one or the other. Let me know what your thoughts/advice is on how I should get out?
- Go on stress leave for 2 months: I genuinely feel burnt out, I had three coffees this morning just to wake up. I know some colleagues who have done the same. Would give me an opportunity to recover and move into another job I am more passionate about.
- Take any other job I can get my hands on: I could take a lower paid job somewhere and just get out fast, and hope that I find more fulfillment in it.
- Just quit and figure it out: I am in the fortunate position financially at least, having saved and invested diligently. So, I could just quit and figure out my next steps then. This would eat into my savings and delay my ultimate goal of financial freedom. But it would also give me a chance to really push forward my side hustle of building out this website and producing more content for you guys/gals.
- Stick it out until I am financially free: My least favourite option, but still an option nonetheless, I could stay for the next 5 years. 5 years? Maybe that isn’t a viable option, I am shuddering just thinking about it.
Once I make a decision I will let you know, but in the meantime would be very interested to hear your open and honest feedback, given my goal of financial freedom as a backdrop. As the lyrics from the Clash say, “Should I stay or Should I go”.