People on Quora were asked: "What was it like quitting your high-paying job for a less stressful lower paying job?" These are some of the best answers.
1. 'I didn't like the degree of fakery that went on'
I quit the Navy after 8 years. I was an officer in nuclear submarines: given the pay plus relatively good odds of survival, it's the best elite they have. I had a shot at commanding one of those beasts in another 7 or 8 years. In the main, I loved the guys I worked with.
What I didn't like was the culture of competing to stay awake the longest and push the most papers and look the busiest. I didn't like the degree of fakery that went on: everyone knew that it was impossible to do everything we were supposed to; occasionally someone would get burned for "radioing" some "vital" piece of paper, but mostly things just went on. I didn't like knowing that I had at least 3, maybe 4 more captains to work for -- I was relatively lucky to have had only one genuine psychotic and no dangerous incompetents out of the first 4.
When I left, it was like rising from the dead. I missed a lot of things (still do), but I didn't have to play the game any more. I didn't have another job lined up, I didn't even need one right away. I just gloried in having every day off with no end in sight. I eventually did some construction, fixed burglar alarms, got into computers again, and it was all fun because I still felt free.
If I'd had a family or debts to pay off it might have been different; I'm glad I didn't, for several years. It all comes down to how much you like something about your rat race -- prestige, money, whatever, and whether having a career means anything to you. If none of that matters as much as wasting your youth doing something you don't like, JUMP! It will be worth whatever it costs you.
2. 'I decided to do something I love'
I did sales from age 19 to age 31. I was really, really good at it. At times made 10K per month or more. Others around me made a lot more, but they were true sociopaths with nothing resembling a conscience.
In 2009, I finally admitted to myself that my entire career was about deceiving people into parting with their money for things that they truly did not need. I decided to do something I love, and have been in school to be a nutritionist ever since.
Even though I have barely scraped by since, working jobs that are well below my skill level, I sleep well at night and have never, ever been healthier or happier. Money and material wealth are [nothing]. They are shallow pursuits for people who are ravaged by insecurity, whether conscious of it or not, and truly do not like themselves. True happiness and fulfillment come from helping people.
3. 'Not a high-paying gig, but it was a dream come true'
Circa 2005, I was enjoying the dream of working in Hollywood. I had worked my way up the totem pole, first working as a security guard to get onto the lot, and eventually worked my way out of a security uniform into an office and became a studio liaison working with incoming film and television productions,executives, and talent term deals like the production companies of Sam Raimi, Will Smith, and especially Adam Sandler. It wasn't what one would call an overly "high-paying" position, but it was a dream come true beauty no able to work directly with respected Hollywood names and icons. And I had my own golf cart and access to the stages, etc. I even played basketball with Sandler often and had one-on-one time with him talking about the Midwest (where I was from) and Chris Farley, who grew up where I lived for five years.
I then began another dream job as a script reader/story analyst. Again, not a high-paying gig, but it was a dream come true.
And then in August of 2005, we had our first son, Jack. Anyone living in L.A. knows that childcare is ridiculously expensive. My wife, a career micro-biologist, suggested that I leave the studio and stay home full time with our son while I focused on my screenwriting full time. After much thought, I did. I did it for our family and later we decided to move out of L.A. to return to our home state of Wisconsin to raise him close to family.
So I left a high-paying job - as far as it paying okay in wages but outstanding as far as how it paid the realization of my dreams - to become a work-from-home father.
The decision and move paid more to my life than any dollar amount could. I am raising two boys now, near family in Wisconsin. We bought a nice house in a great and safe neighborhood (something we could never have done in a big city like L.A.) with amazing schooling and awesome friends around us.
I haven't worked in an office environment since 2005. 11 years now almost. I never liked the office environment. I had some good friends but it takes its toll, especially the politics of it all that always come into play.
Ironically, I didn't see success in my own writing until after I made this major life change, moving 2000+ miles from Hollywood. It gave me the time to write great work that got me management and meeting with nearly all major studios right before moving, and then after having moved, I nabbed a deal with Lionsgate, additional studio assignments, and even a produced project with a name cast.
None of that would have happened had I not left that "high-paying" job to be a work-from-home father and writer.
There's no doubt in my mind that had I stayed there at Sony, even if I broke through and gotten my writing off of the ground while working there, I would surely be making much, much more money. No doubt. If I had stayed in L.A. just for my screenwriting, the momentum I had would have more so continued having been able to attend more face-to-face meetings, etc.
But at what cost? No house to raise our kids in. No close contact with our Wisconsin family (this our boys wouldn't know their grandparents as well).
Sometimes happiness trumps all. Money can buy a means for happiness sure, however, it can also trap you into falsehoods.
I work from home. I deal with very little office politics. I see my boys every morning and evening after school. During summers, I see them every day. They always have one parent there, never needing daycare. We have an amazing house surrounded by amazing neighbors. We see family all of the time instead of 2-4 times a year. Life is good. We're more rich than we would have ever been with me working a big studio job, etc. Money can't buy what we've been blessed with.
4. 'I'm not going to lie, it has been extremely difficult'
I was told my entire life that work had nothing to do with fun and enjoyment. I went to college and received my degree in a field that I never really wanted to work in but I knew it would provide me a lucrative career. About eight years ago I was in an accident that nearly killed me. I remember lying there as the doctor was stapling my head back together and promising myself that even though I have a huge student loan to pay back, that I would start doing what I really wanted to do, which was act. Head still barely held together, I said "[screw] it" and enrolled in some acting classes.
Eight long but fulfilling years later I am proud to call myself a working professional actor. I'm not going to lie, it has been extremely difficult and trying at times but loving what you do more than makes up for it. Stay the course and focus on your goal. I can't tell you how many times I second guessed myself just because others tried to convince me that acting was a dead end career and I would never make any money off of it. I'm not living in a mansion or driving a Ferrari but I can make ends meet and I'm doing what I love. That's all I ever wanted and it's more than most of my friends and family can say. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't an extremely difficult career (both mentally and professionally) but you damn well better believe it's going to be for something I love doing.
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