What I Gained When I Quit My 6-figure Sales Job
I’m frequently asked by friends and former colleagues about my decision to quit my former career. One that was very lucrative and life changing. Truth is, this job changed my life for the best. I had many proud moments of success, but eventually the job negatively impacted my well-being and I was forced to make the difficult decision to leave.
The questions I frequently get are as follows:
- When did you know it was time to leave?
- How did you prepare for the final exit?
- Was it difficult adjusting to running your own business?
I thought it would be beneficial to share my experience in hopes that it may help others in similar situations.
Let’s start with #1. When did I know it was time to leave?
The thing was, I loved my job. The actual work was enjoyable. My colleagues were, and still are, some of my best friends. I was in corporate sales and created relationships with local businesses - ultimately strategizing and managing their advertising campaigns. It was the perfect job for me: I love people, I love interacting, I love finding opportunities and opening doors. I love the feeling of closing a sale. I loved my clients. I made more money than I knew what to do with, I got to travel the world, and won some pretty amazing trips as a result of my performance. On paper, life was great.
I knew it was time to leave when that love was entirely clouded by the daily stress, criticisms, and pressure that being in sales can inevitably bring. The environment in which I was working started to turn toxic. I was drinking a lot to mask the stress. I woke up almost every morning fighting tears. The toxicity slowly crept into my relationship and I knew it wasn't fair to my spouse. So, I turned to medication to manage the anxiety that surged through me on a daily basis. That was my sign. But I didn’t just up-and-decide to quit. I planned my exit over the course of a year and methodically strategized leaving so I could do so on a positive note. After all, this company changed my life.
#2. How did I prepare for the final exit?
There are many factors when it comes to leaving a career, and not one that you should take lightly. I suggest creating a very specific and actionable budget plan, so you can leave your place of work with enough money to survive for 6 months. It is possible to save money wether you make $40k per year or $150k. It’s all relative and you can always make adjustments to save a little bit of loot each month... Even if it means you have to stick out your current job for 1-2 years. I do not suggest quitting a job if you don’t have an “oh-shit” reserve. You will be exchanging one giant stressor for another, and that defeats the purpose of making a choice like this.
Although it’s normal to daydream quitting a job by exclaiming some mic dropping statement, with middle fingers blazing and paperwork flying in the air as you drop-kick double doors - that’s not realistic nor professional. I prepared to leave my career in a respectful, adult-like fashion. I did not let my performance weaken. I did not become “checked-out,” as most do. In fact, I closed $11,000 in revenue on my last day.
It took over a year of strategizing...not only my exit but my business strategy for once I quit. I could not have done this without the support of trusted loved ones and mentors. Having the support of a spouse, family member, or friend is huge. I don’t mean financial support. I mean someone who can give you emotional support and practical advice. After all, this is a big decision that can be clouded by emotion. An outside perspective will keep you on the side of logic.
When it ultimately became time to leave, I informed management of my decision in person, thanking them for the opportunities, successes, support, learning etc. I highly recommend having this conversation in person, and doing so positively. Failure to do so will burn bridges and impair your professional reputation. No matter how disgruntled a person is, I always recommend taking the high road. You will feel better about your decision, and lest not forget, you may need these people at some point in the future.
#3. Was it difficult adjusting to working for yourself?
Yes. Of course it was. It’s still difficult. Running a business is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I used to think my corporate sales gig was the most challenging. However, I believe that my former job paved the path for what I’m doing now. I am one of those people who believes that everything happens for a reason. It’s up to you to decide your own personal perspective regarding that. I find it easier to be optimistic by thinking that way, so I do.
The hardest part of the transition for me was not what I expected. I had so much fear about money and finances. I did not grow up wealthy, and greatly struggled for years before I landed in sales. The thought of struggling financially kept me from throwing my hat over the wall and making the leap.
I went from making over 6 figures to starting over from scratch, technically living under the poverty line. The financial difference on paper was drastic. But did I REALLY notice the significant drop in income? No. Was I eventually able to pay my bills and have some money left over for fun? Yes. But it didn’t come without lifestyle changes and budgeting, not to mention a TON of hard, hard work. Turns out, working alone was an obstacle I had to overcome, not the lack of income.
The thing with money is, we all want it. Of course we do. But when we’re running on the hedonic treadmill, we can only see each carrot dangling in front of us…one after the next. You desire material things, then you get said material thing, and then you immediately replace that gratification with the desire for something else. We always want something else.
When you reach a certain income threshold, the money stops serving you. It does not fulfill you or make you inspired. In fact, when you reach a certain threshold of income, it does the opposite. It causes more stress. In my case, I was so fearful of losing it that it prevented me from making a change that would drastically improve my mental and physical health…something I realized you just can’t put a price tag on. When I let go of my 6-figure, high-stress sales job, I gained my life back. I found myself again.
What I’d like to get out of saying all of this is don’t let your fears cloud your decisions. Most of the time, your fears will never actually happen. I am proof of this. Despite my financial fears, I barely dipped into the aforementioned oh-shit fund I prepared before leaving my job. Want to know why? Because I had a fire under my you-know-what that did not allow for complacency.
If you’re thinking about quitting your job, here are the signs that point to it being in your best interest. Consider these reasons carefully, and if it’s determined that you must leave, I recommend doing it professionally and with a plan.
+Your work life is negatively impacting your mental and/or physical health
+You wake up miserable every morning
+You rely on substances to cope with work-related stress
+Your company is struggling
+You dislike your colleagues and/or boss
+You don’t have work/life balance
+Your responsibilities continue to increase but your salary does not
+Your skills are untapped or unappreciated
+You are no longer learning new things
+You are being abused or harassed (in any way, shape, or form)
Before jumping ship, consult with a trusted mentor. I highly recommend someone older and more experienced than you. Talking this out with someone before making a life-altering decision is critical, and they can help you navigate the pro’s and con’s of your decision.
Good luck :)