Saturday, August 1, 2015

Why I quit my dream job

I have been dreadfully absent for most of the last year, and for this I apologize. I took what my wife and I were referring to as "a big boy" job. For the first time in a decade I am working real hours, with real responsibilities. As I write this I am the Senior Instructor, for a large company that does outdoor education. And while the company is well established, the market I am working in is new. I am helping to build a new program, training instructors, scheduling classes and creating systems so at some point it runs well. I have 13 field instructors, and 20 something instructors that teach indoors - If you know who I work for please don't mention it here.

I am responsible for these people. I am responsible for their safety (along with the safety of their students), I am responsible for making them the best instructors they can be, and along the way, I want them all having fun.

I said "as I write this" because by the time you read this, I will have resigned my position after a year - I honestly had planned on doing two, and finding another challenge. There were a couple of factors that led to my resignation. The biggest, was my wife got a large promotion that would require a lot of her time. So much so, that I won't be able to work the 40 to 50 hour weeks I have been, not to mention my 1.5 hour commute each way - did I not mention the commute? All big boy jobs have a commute.

My wife and I discussed how for us both to keep working, and shortly after the beginning of the discussion we realized we were working hard to figure out a way for me to keep a job that I wasn't really enjoying! I was making huge sacrifices for a job, and I didn't like it! That is a huge mistake, and I think way too many people do it.

I spent years building myself a simple, practical minimalist lifestyle. I wasn't a slave to my phone, or email. I had three keys on my key chain - I know that is a bizarre measure of how complex life can be but it works - and I loved it. When I left work, I was done with work. I paddled for fun. I was on my feet and going constantly, and it was wonderful.

Then one day I looked at my key chain and it was full of keys. I looked at my computer and I had over 1000 unread emails. My phone beeped and buzzed at all hours of the night. I got sucked into a life I spent years avoiding.

Instead of spending my days on my feet, interacting with people, I spent my days in front of a computer interacting with windows - and really as a life long apple user having to use windows was the last straw, when they tried to upgrade me to windows 8 I hid my laptop! And all this computer time had a negative effect. I gained 15 pounds in under a year, and I am terrified to know what happened to my blood pressure.

There is a reason that I chose to not have a normal work life for many years. There is a reason I work hard to live a peaceful stress free life. The reason, is my father. My father was a wonderful man who died way too early at the age of 58. He lived a sedentary life, was a long time smoker, and a lot of the time ate food that was bad for him. Add to this that he worked most of his life doing a job he hated, and it was incredibly stressful. When I was 15 I asked him if he hated his job, why didn't he do something else, to which he replied "this is what I know how to do." He was also very good at it, and made a great living - he actually put his older brother through dental school. My brother and sister went to college (as would I if I had cared to) and my parents lived in a big house and they drove nice cars. But in my head this is the formula for an early grave. So I worked hard to live a different lifestyle. To eat well, exercise, and be as stress free as possible.

All of this collapsed this year. I got sucked into a cool title, and more - but still meager - money. The hallmarks of the 'successful' life we have all been taught to want. The problem is I didn't want it. I just got stupid. Stupid, and scared. Scared that as I aged I wasn't going to be viewed favorably by my contemporaries. That my friends with successful careers were talking about me. "Can you believe that guy? He gets paid hourly! works like 30 hours a week! Doesn't have a couch in his living room! What a loser!" I should have realized none of that was going on, when I went to New York early last year, and met up with a friend of mine who is a Judge. An actual NYC Judge. She asked if I was going to Alaska during the summer and I told her I was. But I felt I needed to add "but I'm not making any money." to which she replied "you are living the dream!" The issue, the judgement was all being done by me, and at the end of the day it was that fear within myself that caused me to judge my place in the world, and decide that a cool title would fix it. I was wrong.

So August first I will drop the word Senior from my title, and just be an instructor. I will limit the hours I can work, and spend time getting my life back in order. I need to get my cardio fitness back, eat healthier and essentially undue a year of knots that worked their way into my body and my psyche.

First on the list, deleting a lot of unread emails.


  1. Welcome to my world ..... both my wife and I made that decision over 10 years ago selling our part in a very successful luxury auto body shop in Vancouver. After working 10 hours days with 2.5 commute time we were on vacation sitting in campsite in absolute silence and I said to her ... "Do you want to sell everything and move back home to sleepy Victoria where we grew up?"

    The rest is history .... the past 10 years we have done more with less. Do things when we want to do them and make changes in our life when we feel like we need to. Taking that first giant leap is HUGE and I commend you on decision to put YOU (and your wife) first.

    Congrats and welcome to club!!


  2. Congratulations on listening to what's important for you in this life, and allowing yourself to enjoy it! You are an inspiration, Brett! <3

  3. Congrats!

    I really needed to read this. I have finally come to the decision that this is the last year at my job - a job I hate and that stresses me out to the point of physical health issues. I've been with my company for 10 years and make a good living, but it's just not worth it any more.

    I'm finishing out the year, getting all my affairs in order, and will give my notice in January.

    I'm scared shitless, but I know it's the right thing and the time has come.

    Thank you so much for sharing. Hearing stories like yours and Mark Byrne's above really help give others courage.

  4. Thanks Everyone for the kind words. It means a lot. Michelle, it is only scary because it is new, and most of us are trained that change is bad. Your going to do amazing things. The one piece of advice I would give you, "putting my affairs in order" is a phrase used by people who are dying! It won't be that bad. You may want to find another phrase.


  5. I dont know if there is a dream job. I sometimes feel they two words cant exist in a happy person because theyre so different. Live your dream, dont live your job. Im selling off and or giving away a house full of crap I havent touched in a year. Im stepping off the hard and sipping rum punches and tequila. Im done. Please join us soon.

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