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Taking the Plunge: The Day I Finally Said, ‘ Quit Your Job ’

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Taking the plunge

Please welcome back, after too long away, the lovely Mrs. Frugal Rules as she shares what it was like for her to watch me go through the decision whether or not to quit my job. Enjoy…

During the more than a decade that I’ve been married to Mr. Frugal Rules, I can honestly say that this is the first time I’ve seen him enjoy his work.

Twelve years is a long time to watch someone suffer in jobs that they are either overqualified, mismatched or unsatisfied in. I asked Mr. Frugal Rules if I could share a little about what it was like as his wife to watch him make the leap into self-employment and happily, he agreed. I want to share this candid experience about what it’s like to quit your job because I think there may be a lot of people out there who can relate to it. If nothing else, my hope is that if you are miserable in your job, feel like you want to quit your job, or even are just unfulfilled, you can be encouraged by our experience to take the risk on stepping out of what you know – as scary as that is. That step out doesn’t necessarily have to be self-employment. A decision to quit your job could mean applying for a new job or even exploring other position possibilities within your current company.

Know When It’s Time to Quit Your Job

After Mr. Frugal Rules and I moved to Nebraska, we worked a series of temporary positions before finding permanent jobs. He ended up at a bank and I eventually landed a good job at a life insurance company where I stayed for nearly ten years. While I found a challenging, fulfilling position that allowed me to grow personally and professionally, Mr. Frugal Rules bounced from one disappointment to another. I knew it wasn’t because he lacked the skills, talent or drive, but it just seemed that no matter where he went he couldn’t get his boss or company to respond to his demonstrated professionalism and expertise with increased responsibility and autonomy.

I watched his frustration grow, then deepen, and finally, wear him down in the last corporate position he held. Mondays were always the hardest for him and Fridays were the best. I’d watch him go from looking carefree when the weekends began to weighed down and stressed by Sunday evening because he knew what was waiting for him the next morning. I watched him go through this dynamic for four years. When I began to see it affect his health, I knew it was time for him to quit his job.

Signs You Need to Get Out

It can be hard to know when it’s time to quit your job but there are signs if you pay attention to them. A sense of loyalty and hard work can even sometimes blind you to a genuine need to quit your job. My husband is not a quitter. He works hard and is extremely loyal. It takes A LOT for him to give up on something or someone. He is also deeply driven to provide for his family. “Hated” doesn’t even describe how he felt about his job but he did not want to leave it without having another, better job to go to. But finally, after I and both of his parents told him regularly, “Quit your job already!” he started to listen. I think he realized that no job is worth your life. To me, the fact that he felt like a different person on the weekends, momentarily removed from the impending doom of his day job was another big sign that it was time for him to consider leaving.

When The Decision to Quit Your Job Can Be A Good Thing

I think that if our fourth child hadn’t been born, my husband would still be helping investors at his old brokerage job. Having a two-week break gave him the separation he needed to see what the rest of us who loved him already knew – his job, and specifically the environment in which he was working it, was literally killing him and no amount of income could ever replace him. I think he realized that he wanted to be there to see our children have children of their own someday and didn’t want them to see him slaving away at a job he not only hated but felt morally compromised in.

Looking back, I’m thankful for what he went through because it led him to where we are today – running our own business, which is what he has truly wanted to do for the entire time I’ve known him. He’s developed a new skill set and while he works far more hours per week now than he ever did at his desk job, it’s happy work. We’re building something of our own and we’re helping others. And, for the first time in a long time, I feel like I finally have the man I fell in love with back. And, anyone who has ever loved anyone knows, that is a very good thing.

 

Are you watching someone you love suffer in a bad job? How would your lives change if he or she took the plunge into self-employment?

 

Photo courtesy of: Josef Grunig

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more. If you're wanting to learn how to monetize your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.

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56 Comments

  • Such a tough decision to make but most people who ever quit there job “know” that its the right thing to do. It still takes guts to do it, but its usually the right choice…

  • I can definitely relate to John wanting to provide for his family. I would never quit my job without having another one lined up, and while working for myself sounds great I wouldn’t do it unless the finances were right – even if it meant suffering through a bad job for an extended period of time.

    It definitely seems like John is happy with the work he does these days, at least from a reader’s perspective.

  • LOVE this, Nicole, and I think it’s so awesome that you put so much emphasis on your husband’s happiness, because that is what makes for a strong marriage. Rick has a good job, but it’s definitely not his dream job by any stretch of imagination. This is what motivates me to not spend money – the fact that once our debt is gone and we’ve got a solid savings account in place, that Rick will have more freedom to choose to work at what he loves.

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks, Laurie. The more I read your posts and get to know your story, I want to meet you! Someday, on our next trip up to Minneapolis, we will have to try to stop by and meet up!

  • I totally agree with how awful it can be to be stuck in a job you hate. I didn’t really hate my old job but it was very stressful and overwhelming at times. It was definitely bad for my health. I think I added ten years on my life by quitting!

    • Nicole says:

      Agreed, Holly. A bad job can cause more stress than it’s worth, especially when you start to see that stress shaving years off your life. That’s where John was and we realized (as I’m sure you would in your old line of work) how precious and short life is. 🙂

  • Tony says:

    Completely understand the agony John must have been going through. You were right to point out the health aspect, one I feel gets overlooked until it is too late. The stress of not liking the job and what do I do if I quit, really adds up. I am in this situation myself. I am in a profession that I dreamed about since 3rd grade. Then perception met reality. I have been wanting to leave the industry for over a decade. Problem is, I could never replace my current income if I left. So for me I am stuck, which makes it more frustrating at times. I try to make the best of it, which is all I can do at this point. We have a saying in my industry that “you’ll know if you made the right decision the day you retire.”

    • Nicole says:

      Tony, I’m so sorry to hear you are so unhappy in your job. Especially when you are doing something you’ve dreamed of for so long. I completely understand about not being able to replace your income. At some point you do have to begin to explore how much that income is worth if it saps you of the joy of living.

  • Great post, I feel like I can definitely relate – especially what you wrote about Mondays being the worst days and Fridays being the best. Congrats to John for taking a leap of faith!

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks Connie. I am glad you could relate to the post. Well, glad on one hand and sad on the other because I wish everyone could be satisfied in their jobs. It’s funny how the whole Friday/Monday dynamic seems to almost completely disappear when you run your own business.

  • My husband likes his job but would love to open and own his own rock climbing gym. He has talked about it off and on, but it’s very expensive to start.

    I think he would love self-employment, but it truly is a lot of work and sacrifice. You really have to be disciplined and love what you’re doing.Thanks for sharing your story. Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday~

    • Nicole says:

      Hi Amber. That’s true. Running your own business does require a lot of time, sacrifice and, depending on what type of business you run (such as a rock climbing gym) money. Do you live near mountains? Perhaps he could sort of fulfill his desire by running a business where he takes people rock climbing in nature, teaches them how to do it and such. Not sure if that would cut down on some of the overhead costs or not. I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday as well!

  • Hating your job is no fun because you spend so much time there. I don’t necessarily hate my job, but sometimes I’d prefer something else (especially something with a shorter commute). I would love to be financially independent and have the choice to leave though. However, I work in government and the pension and benefits are a bit of a golden handcuff. I shouldn’t complain about that.

    • Nicole says:

      ‘Golden handcuff’ is a good way to put it. If you don’t hate your job and you have good benefits, I can see why there wouldn’t be much motivation to leave. I don’t think Mr. Frugal Rules would have ever left his corporate job if he had been anything less than completely miserable and horribly underpaid.

  • Romona (@monasez) says:

    I definitely think happiness is most important. Ifeel as though we only have one life to live and working takes up most of your life. So in esseence if your work life is miserable then your life is miserable. It’s time for people to start living happy and stop just doing things for the money.

  • This reminds of my last relationship, really. You get so comfortable somewhere and you feel so much security, even though you’re miserable. It wasn’t until my parents sat me down and confronted me about it that I knew I had to make a change. Some jobs are just like a bad boyfriend I guess 🙂

    • Nicole says:

      Wow. I hadn’t thought about work that way before. Very interesting way to look at it. Good thing you have such kind and loving parents. Sometimes that’s what it takes for us to see some of those things we are blind to. By the way, I love your logo and tagline. Nice job!

  • Dear Debt says:

    Sounds like it was definitely time for you to leave that job! For you and your relationships sake. It’s a hard balance of wanting to be self-sufficient and providing, while also maintaining a sense of sanity and drive. Although freelance work has its own challenges, it sounds like you guys are making it work. No job should compromise your health!

    • Nicole says:

      So true. I think when family members started expressing concern about Mr. Frugal’s health that’s when we realized that just trying to ‘tough it out’ for another x years wasn’t going to be good enough.

  • E.M. says:

    This post is timely, and I liked reading it from your perspective Mrs. Frugal Rules! I just posted about my own experiences at work, and it seems that I have the attitude John used to have. When it’s Friday I am happy, but by Sunday afternoon I’m in denial about the next day being Monday. I am really glad you both found your calling and are much happier now! My boyfriend and I started dating while I was in college, pre-working days. He often comments about the “old me” and it’s disheartening.

    • Nicole says:

      E.M. – thanks for being honest and leaving a very real comment. I feel for you. I really do. Maybe it’s time to look for a job somewhere else. Sometimes a change of scenery makes all the difference in the world. It’s amazing that once you open your mind to all the possibilities out there you see that there’s no need to box yourself into a corner.

  • I can relate to watching someone you love suffer through an awful, soul-sucking job. I watched my husband struggle with the same thing for years before he finally moved onto something bigger and better. He stayed with a horrible job because he was so dedicated to doing a good job and he was loyal to his management as well as the employees that reported to him. I felt like I was reading something about my own life with this post! I’m so glad he – and John! – has found something better now.

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks for your comment Kali. It’s sad to me how often an employee gives so much of himself or herself to a company without getting anything near like value in return. So glad to hear that your husband is in a better place workwise now.

  • It is hard to watch someone with many talents find those underutilized. After a while, the light can certainly go out. Jim is a great teacher, but I saw him grow frustrated with the lack of growth potential in his job. Yes, he chose it, but when you have two master’s degrees, tons of experience, and excellent reviews, yet know you’re going to top out around $40K for life, it seems like a waste of skills. It was hard to see him give up a steady thing to do something different, but I think he is re-energized. It really takes a certain type of man to be OK with knowing his wife is always going to earn more money. I’ve seen many go in thinking they would be OK with it and have problems later. I don’t think he would have ever had serious problems with my salary, but he is much happier with his own higher earnings and the potential to make more down the road. Sometimes there are benefits to changing jobs that you don’t even see until you get in the middle of them.

    I’m really glad you guys took the plunge. It’s been fun to hear about it.

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks, Kim. Wow. I can relate to so much of what you said. I think one of the other things that was disheartening to me was seeing John encounter companies over and over again who would be impressed with his advanced degrees and skills yet say ‘well, we aren’t going to offer you the job because you haven’t already done it somewhere else for someone else.’ It seems like people have a hard time envisioning what workers are capable of. But in the end I am glad it worked out the way it did because if it hadn’t he’d probably be at a different corporate job that he didn’t hate but wouldn’t have discovered something he enjoys so much more, which for him really is being self-employed.

  • It’s always interesting hearing from the partner’s perspective. I know when I left my Corporate position to return to private practice it was both an easy and difficult choice. My husband was, thankfully, incredibly supportive of the risk that I was taking. While I was not miserable in my position the way John was, it was the right time for me to take the plunge. I’ve seen countless people work jobs they hate and it really does break you down.

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks, Shannon. It’s funny how sometimes “the plunge” can be just jumping into a job at a different company. I’ve seen people paralyzed by the fear of something new to such an extent that they seem to be unable to even dip the toe of one foot into a different pool of water. I’m glad that you made the change to a work situation that’s more fulfilling for you. Life really is too short to waste it in a job you aren’t suited for.

  • Michelle says:

    I definitely hate my current job and I can’t wait to leave. Luckily that is within the next couple of days 🙂

  • Matt Becker says:

    This is such a great lesson. It can be really easy to stay where you are just because you’re there. I love that family was really the wake up call. If you can’t do your job without negatively impacting your family life, then there’s definitely something wrong. I’m glad you guys were able to find a situation that makes you money AND makes you happy.

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks, Matt. It’s funny. We were working FOR our family but at some point we realized there wasn’t going to be a family to enjoy if we stayed in the work we were doing. Glad you found the post helpful.

  • Love this post. Hopefully it will help other people currently going through what John went through and help bring some new perspective to their lives and help them make the right decision.

  • Thanks for sharing this. i have only had one job where I dreaded going to work, and I was only there for like 4 months. LONGEST 4 MONTHS EVER! Glad to hear he regained his health and his sanity by leaving a toxic position.

  • I say when it’s starting to affect your health in a negative way you need to think about something else. I’m so glad he is in a space that he is so much happier with now!

  • Jaclyn says:

    I am currently in this situation, hating my job with every fiber of my being and willing to do nearly anything to get out of it. Unfortunately, my husband thinks it’s too risky considering our financial situation. I can feel it sucking the life out of me and I know how dangerous this is since I’m pregnant. Alas, I think I’m stuck until after my maternity leave. Making it through each day is hard.

    • I feel for you Jaclyn and know where you are. We’ve totally been there. Try to focus on the coming joy of your new little one and hopefully circumstances will change freeing up your finances to allow you to do something different for work. I’m sure your husband is trying to be as prudent as possible in preparing and providing for that little one. 🙂

  • Micro says:

    I can understand not looking forward to certain days at work because you know they are going to be bad. When that transitions over into an every day affair, it is time to get out. Life is too short to spend 1/3 of your time being miserable.

  • krantcents says:

    I always recommend finding a career that you enjoy. Why suffer in a job or career you do not like?

    • Agreed. Unfortunately, many workers don’t know what they’d truly enjoy and either don’t have or don’t know how to get the skills they need to move into a line of work ideally suited for them. It’s a shame especially considering how advanced our society is and how many options there are for work out there.

  • I know some people that have been in pretty bad jobs but luckily they found new ones that fit their lives and personalities much better. Spending 40+ hours in a place you hate is a horrible feeling.

    • It is, especially if that time starts to head north of 50 or 60 hours which is, unfortunately becoming more and more common in America. It’s one thing if you work all the time and love what you do but it’s wretched to work long, hard hours in a job you’re just not suited for.

  • I have been there myself and it is about knowing the signs that you exhibit when it comes time. For driven and dedicated people walking away from something can sometimes feel like the ultimate loss. But the ray of light that appears when the stress is removed cannot be understated.

  • I have been self employed for 5 years now and I did everything I could to guide my wife towards the same goal: being self employed and hoping to reach a point where we can live a location independent lifestyle. She had a job that she was way too skilled for, had a crazy schedule (had to wake up at 5 in the morning) and got to a point where she was so tired that she went to sleep at 9 – 10 PM basically killing our social life. The pay was also mediocre, but she kept doing it because in the city we live in it’s really difficult to find a job and she had hers. When I finally managed to convince her take the leap, everything changed for the better and we are now both extremely happy!

    • Good for you! So happy for you both and so glad that you shared your story here in the comments. Besides being happier, now it sounds like you are in a position where you can move to another city to find better work or just continue to work for yourselves while also experiencing all the world has to offer!

  • I’m not likely to be somebody that will up and quit her job, but I get it for others. As long as you can still make money and you are happier, that must be very rewarding. Being morally compromised in a job that you don’t even like.. yikes! Glad that you guys made that transition.

  • Mr.s Enwealthen is in a bad job right now, unfortunately. However, she’s doing a great job of maintaining her performance at work, and using the pent up frustration to fuel her search for her next position.

    Happily, being a well trained networker, I’ve been able to give her a networking crash course to help her find her way into something better. It’s only a matter of time, and I can hardly wait to see her doing something she loves again.

  • I really enjoyed this article, especially the ‘Know When it’s Time to Quit Your Job” section and I related especially with this statement specifically, “I watched his frustration grow, then deepen, and finally, wear him down in the last corporate position he held.”

    I’ve seen this happen to so many people and you just have to know that no amount of money is worth the damage you’re inflicting on your mind, your health and often your family.

    Thanks for posting!

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