I have worked at a large consulting firm for the past few years. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the consulting world, imagine this: you get a corporate credit card, you get to fly each week and accrue platinum status at hotels and airlines, and on top of all the perks, you get to work alongside executives at leading companies that impact the global economy. It sounds pretty fancy, right? What isn’t shown in the consulting lifestyle though is living in hotels, staying up until 2am regularly to meet client deadlines, eating dinner alone in your hotel room to meet said deadlines, and because of the stress and burnout of the job, getting sick in the process.
Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely super appreciative and grateful to have the opportunity to be able to experience this lifestyle and work at a firm that is really respected in my industry. But, the time came for me to re-evaluate my lifestyle and re-assess what was and is important to me for my long-term well-being. Why I quit my six-figure management consulting job below!
For years, I would get up at 4 am every Monday morning and pick up my suitcase to go to the airport and board my 6:30 am flight. Straight from the airport, I’d rent my car and go to the client site for a 9:30 am meeting. The gist of my work days would essentially be summed up with:
Meeting with clients, creating PowerPoint decks, running my work through several different stakeholders, changing the decks based on feedback, meeting with clients again, and rinse and repeat.
I’d wrap up my week by boarding a flight back home every Thursday evening. I personally never fully unpacked my suitcase because in just a few short days, I’d have to get up at 4 am again to go back to the client.
The weekends then became my ‘get to my errands and take care of my personal life’ time.
Throughout this process, I had to also juggle managing my health. I have an autoimmune disease which can flare up when I am put under too much stress. Because of the lack of sleep I would get, irregularity in my schedule, stress from my job, I started developing complications with my disease. That’s when I knew it was time to take a step back and re-evaluate what my priorities are in life.
Taking a step back from a lucrative consulting career was difficult so I’d like to explain more of my why. Perhaps learning about the details of my why, will help you in your own life journey; especially if you are looking to transition out of a full-time job that is causing you burnout.
My health was declining
Taking a look back, I should have quit a couple years ago. I didn’t because I held onto all of the perks and benefits of the job. A typical golden handcuffs story. Having a 401K, a stable income, and getting to work with amazing clients went a long way for me! I should have left because it was past the point my body was comfortable with, given that my health was quietly deteriorating. Luckily due to new care and a new lifestyle, I’ve been able to resolve a lot of my health complications, but it took me going to the hospital and doctor’s office visits, multiple times for me to come to this awakening.
Never take your health for granted.
Once you lose your health, it’s hard to build yourself back up – and sometimes you can’t ever get it back. If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed due to your job, remember – it is JUST A JOB. I ended up talking to my employer about my health and they helped make adjustments to my schedule to support my needs.
Consider opening up to your HR department or manager and see if there’s a way they will work with you to modify your workload or schedule.
Even with the adjustments that my managers made for me, I knew that my health would always be a factor with whatever new client project I am put on. Due to the nature of my specialization, so many of the projects would have required me to travel, which is when many of my health problems began.
I looked at my career path and the road to senior management
In any job I’ve had, I look at the professional lives of those that are in my field. Of course I will never know what their personal lives are like, but just looking to see where they are in a professional sense, I started asking myself:
In 5 years, is this where I want to be?
Quite often, I found my answer to be NO. Staying within my field meant I would be on the road to promotion and with promotion, comes a lot more responsibility that did not light me up. I would be responsible for generating sales, bringing in new clients, closing large amounts of business and these are not areas in which I wanted to grow.
As I started focusing on my health more, I found my passions in other areas of wanting to help inspire others to live their healthiest lives. I didn’t feel I could accomplish this by being on the consulting track.
I stopped waking up happy
There came a point where I would drive into the office and I would be in tears the whole way there. I would internally try to reframe the thoughts in my head. My “I don’t want to go into the office” would transition to “I’m so grateful for even having a job.” However, at the end of the day, I knew that I was filling my entire day with work that wasn’t meaningful to me, personally. Yes, it would provide value to my client but that started to feel like not enough. While I was providing value to others, I was not providing value to myself.
My interests were changing
As my passions and interests grew, my desire to move up the corporate ladder became less and less significant to me. I discovered there was a wellness committee at work where we could inform overworked consultants on the benefits of mindfulness and movement. Being a part of the committee really helped validate that I needed to be surrounded by my passions more. Having a 30 minute meeting each week discussing these topics wasn’t enough for me, personally.
If you have a passion or side hustle that you love, try seeing if there’s a way to incorporate it into your work life. Is there a group you can form? Can you create a newsletter full of information that you’d like to help spread awareness on? Find ways to see if by trying to integrate your passions more into your 9-5, you can find fulfillment.
I was complaining about my work
Sure everyone complains but I am someone who used to rave about my work. I loved the projects I was on, found them all to be super interesting to me, and I felt I was constantly learning. However, one day I noticed I was complaining more than praising. I knew I was evolving in ways that I did not want. If I am going to spend most of my hours working, I needed to make sure it was enjoyable and purposeful for me.
I Googled “How to know when the right time to leave my job is”
I knew it was the beginning of the end, then. 🙂
With many points I emphasized in the above, I tried to find alternatives or opened up discussions with management. However, at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough for me, personally. I really wanted to make sure that I made notes about talking to your managers, because quitting your job is serious. Make sure you have explored all avenues before putting in your resignation.
If you have any questions on this, you can email me, send me a DM on Instagram, or leave a comment below!