I have worked at a large consulting firm for the past, almost five years, now. 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 every night to meet client deadlines, eating dinner alone every night in your room to meet said deadlines, and because of the stress of the job, getting sick in the process.
Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely super appreciative and grateful to be given 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.
For 2+ 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 this:
Consulting life = Meetings with clients + Creating decks + Running decks by 10 stakeholders + Changing decks based on client feedback…and rinse and repeat.
I’d wrap up my weeks by boarding a flight back home every Thursday evening. I’d never fully unpack 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.
Throughout this process, I had to juggle also managing my Ulcerative Colitis. It is an autoimmune disease that is essentially inflammation in my colon. Because of the lack of sleep I would get, irregularity in my schedule, stress from my job, I started developing complications with my disease. I not only had to worry about the inflammation in my gut but I also developed uveitis – which is inflammation in the uvea of your eye. Who knew gut health could contribute to vision issues (that could be permanent if it does not get under control!). Once I developed my eye issues about a year ago, I knew I had to re-examine my lifestyle and re-think what I need in this one life I am fortunate enough to live.
This brings me to my WHY. Perhaps learning more about my why will help you in your life journey; especially if you are looking to transition out of a full-time job that is not ideal for the lifestyle you envision for yourself.
My health was declining
Taking a look back, I should have quit a couple years ago. I didn’t because I held onto the fact that I get a company match with my 401K and that I get to work with awesome clients (I don’t really have client horror stories but I know that’s not usually the case!). Because I went past the point that my body was comfortable with, my vision suffered in the process. Luckily due to new care and a new lifestyle, I’ve been able to resolve a lot of my health woes, but it took me going to the hospital and doctor’s office multiple times for me to wake up.
Never take your health for granted. Once you lose it, it’s hard to get it back – 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 the lives of 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 responsibilities. I would be in charge of sales demands, bringing in new clients, closing large amounts of business and these are not areas in which I wanted to grow.
As I developed my own health and wellness journey, I found my passions in other areas, of wanting to help inspire others live their best 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 passion for health and wellness 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. As a positive person, I didn’t want to be that person. If I am going to spend most of my hours working, I needed to make sure it was somewhat enjoyable 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 did emphasize in the above, that 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 a really bold, irreversible move and before doing it, just make sure you’ve explored all avenues!
I will be writing a part 2 to this on the HOW to quit and feel secure doing it. If you have any questions on this, you can email me, send me a DM on Instagram, or leave a comment below!