Surveys show people leaving their jobs are looking for lifestyle changes like having more flexibility. Many are also looking for new, more meaningful work. The professor credited with coining the term “great resignation” told the Washington Post that “pandemic epiphanies” have people experiencing big shifts in their sense of purpose, and wanting to pursue new careers or launch startups.
As a parent, I know that taking a step like this can feel especially daunting. After all, we have multiple mouths to feed. Resigning to pursue new, more meaningful, flexible work can mean giving up a steady paycheck and entering the unknown. But as someone who did this, I also know it’s worth it.
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Several years ago, I gave up a big salary as an investment banker to launch Givz, a startup focused on helping charities. I did this knowing that my wife and I were ready to enter the world of parenthood. Now we have two kids, ages almost three and almost one. As I built the business, I faced plenty of financial stress, and we gave up some things that we could no longer afford.
But I never once regretted the choice. Instead, I’ve found that trading stability to chase a dream can bring its own benefits and send a great message to kids.
Just like so many people quitting their jobs these days, I was seeking more than just money. I wanted a chance to have a big impact and control my lifestyle. During these past several years, anytime I found myself questioning my decision to leave the stable paycheck behind, I’d stop to ask myself how well I’m doing in these other ways.
There’s no comparison. I can be home when I need to be, and call my own shots. I recently took my daughter to see Winnie the Pooh off Broadway on a Thursday morning (my birthday), and we had a blast. In the Wall Street grind that I was previously a part of, that’s almost unheard of. To be clear, this does not mean my schedule is necessarily lighter or easier. As an entrepreneur, I work plenty of nights and weekends. But I have control in a way that I didn’t before.
Meanwhile, the company I run has channeled more than $1 million to charities. This impact gives me a sense of satisfaction and pride that goes far beyond anything I felt from receiving a corporate salary.
Although my kids are still little, I look forward to them seeing all this and learning from my example as they grow up. I want them to know that they can pursue a life that gives them some control over their schedule and that contributes in a meaningful way.
There’s also another way that being a dad has changed what it’s like for me to make my professional life about meaning and purpose. It’s something I didn’t see coming: Kids, it turns out, can be a phenomenal inspiration to make you succeed.
My commitment to lifestyle and impact have not erased my desire to thrive financially. Instead, I see my new career as an opportunity to bet on myself. By working hard to build this business, I can ultimately make far more than I would have in my old job. Leaving investment banking meant starting on a lower monetary “floor,” but having a much higher “ceiling.” I want my kids to know that chasing your dream is worth it.
I have at times experienced pangs about things I couldn’t give our family — a larger home, some creature comforts, etc. But I wouldn’t trade this new life.
Of course, many parents don’t have the option of giving up their careers to pursue new ones. Millions of people just scrape by and can’t give up a steady paycheck. Working hard to provide for your family is part of parenthood, and to be appreciated. I know how fortunate I am that I could take this risk. Also, at first my wife was employed, although she has since left her job to launch her own business too. And I recognize that the growth and successes of Givz allow me to feel good about my decision in a way that not all startup founders get to.
Ultimately, you need to decide what works for you, and what you’re able to risk. But I can tell you this much: If you have a chance to chase a better career and are ready to tighten your belt while you make it happen, big rewards can await — not just for you, but for your family as well.