Career Advice

How I Quit My Job And Earned $20k Less, But Happiness is Priceless

Creative office

People spend countless hours at jobs they’re not excited about—or just plain hate. Dragging yourself into a job where you’re underworked, underpaid, or underappreciated is both exhausting and discouraging, but still, sometimes it’s necessary.

After finding myself in a position where it became obvious there would be no room for growth, I became uninspired and tired of the day-to-day process. That’s when I knew it was time to transform my side hustle into a full-time career.

Pay is always enticing, but I found there was nothing more invigorating than feeling like I was making a difference. After all, there’s more to life than money.

Running in place.

Many people ask what made me so unhappy in my last job that pushed me to branching out on my own. The truth is, I was actually quite happy in my last job, but it became clear there wasn’t ever going to be room for growth.  

Only a few months after I started working there, a large portion of the staff was laid off in December 2008. Even after the economy began to recover from the recession, raises and promotions were still frozen. I ran the entire media relations department, but unlike other departments, which were headed by either a Vice President or Director, my title was only Manager.

Years later, looking at their website, this has not changed—the media relations department is still headed by a Manager. It became clear that, despite all my successes and accomplishments, my role wasn’t seen as pivotal to the organization.

Changing lives trumps making money.

Realizing my previous employer didn’t see my role as crucial was a difficult reality, but it’s situations like this that brought me closer to starting my own business.

Throughout my career to date, I had been keeping a list of all the ways I was going to be a better employer than what I had experienced. As a public relations professional, I’d also kept a list of how I’d improve the client relations side of the business and overall service offerings.

I had been running my business outside of work hours for several years at that point, so the timing just felt right to make the jump to full-time. I wanted to be able to make a difference, not just collect a paycheck. Eliminating my commute certainly didn’t hurt either!

There’s always room for learning.

Looking back at the route I took to form Come Recommended, there isn’t much I regret.

The biggest change I’d make is learning more about the sales process prior to going out on my own. Because money isn’t all that important to me personally, I’ve never been completely comfortable discussing money. I’ve gotten much better in recent years, but that’s definitely something I wish I’d learned sooner.

Being an employer doesn’t mean making bank.

Deciding to change my situation and take a significant pay decrease was a conscious and deliberate choice. Going into this adventure, I decided what type of employer I wanted to be, and bringing in the highest paycheck wasn’t on that list.

Most people who work for Come Recommended, and have worked for us over the years, don’t realize I’m the lowest paid member of the staff. I do this so we can afford to pay everyone else as much as possible, as well as offer some benefits and many professional development opportunities.

Sometimes it’s hard to know when to start a new opportunity, but I look at it rather simply—when you feel too exhausted in the morning to go to work, day after day, rather than being invigorated most days, it’s probably time to move on.

Everyone needs to do what’s best for them when it comes to possibly taking a decrease in pay. For me, money just isn’t that important to me, and my husband and I have been able to make life work on mostly his salary. I’d rather love what I do, who I’m doing it with, and who I’m doing it for.

TELL US: When was a moment you needed to decide between money and happiness?