Getting Fired: 3.5 years later

by Chris on July 17, 2014

Three and a half years ago I was working at TD Securities as an equity analyst. I had been working on Bay Street as an equity analyst covering tech stocks for almost 11 years at that point. I enjoyed it tremendously for most of those years. But when I had my first daughter in 2004 I knew it wasn’t the long term path I’d follow. The hours were not healthy and it went against everything I knew about living a balanced lifestyle.

Then in 2007 I had another daughter. It was also the year that a good friend of mine, who I’ll call “Julio” (only because that’s his actual name) gave me a copy of Tim Ferriss’ book “The Four Hour Work Week”. It was eye opening to read this book and realize there is more to life than just working for someone else.

By January 2011, the day I walked into my boss’ office to ask him to fire me, it was the culmination of 4 years of planning my departure. I was going to either be successful in asking them to fire me, or I was going to quit in the coming months. I already knew my new direction, and I had long gotten over the fear of pulling the trigger.

Luckily for me the Canadian tech sector was not exactly strong at the time. Nortel had sold itself in pieces and Research In Motion was imploding. As a senior tech analyst at a shop that had two such analysts it was obvious that changes would eventually come. They’d consolidate down to one analyst. It probably would have happened later in 2011. I simply pre-empted it by deciding on my own new path years in advance and being a bit lucky with the timing.

I’ve never liked the idea of constraining my behavior to someone else’s idea of what the box looks like. If you don’t like what you’re doing who says you can’t just walk in and ask them to let you go?

No matter what your job, think of yourself as the boss. YOU are the boss of what you do with your time. Sure you have a boss at work … and my last boss (the director of reserch) was a good guy. I respect him. But no matter who your boss is at work you still must think of yourself as the overall boss of your own life. Work is a subset of life. It has to be a mutual agreement between you and your employer to continue the relationship. If it isn’t working for you there should be no fear in leaving.

Three and a half years later here’s what is different:

  • I see my kids for breakfast and dinner almost every day.
  • I work for myself with a diversified income stream, not one cheque from one employer.
  • Yes, I still make less money than before, but it’s entirely sufficient to enjoy an awesome life.
  • We take more vacations without needing to excrutiatingly plan the time off. I can just handle small amounts of work while away.
  • We decided to move out of the city (about 75km away) to get more land for less money. We refer to our new home as “paradise” and our friends call it “the resort” (it cost far less than the average home in our old ‘hood)
  • I enjoy sleeping a proper 8 hours every night.
  • I work whenever and wherever I bloody well feel like it.
  • My wife and I get to spend time together during the day practically every day.

Several recruiters have attempted to get me back onto Bay Street since I left. I’ve been up front in telling them I have absolutely no interest at all. In 2007 I had no idea I’d be making this kind of radical change to my life, but now that I’ve done it there is no way I’d ever go back to the old life.

One of my best friends has this expression: “It’s so awesome being ME.”

When I first heard him say it I thought it was vain. At the time I didn’t get the context. It’s not about him claiming victory over anyone else, or being better than anyone else. It’s simply about LOVING your own life and being totally satisfied with how you spend your time. Everyone should be able to say it. Three and a half years ago I couldn’t say it. Today I can.

Never be afraid to fire yourself.



Yannick Clerouin July 17, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Hi Chris, I was following you as a journalist for the Investment section of Les Affaires weekly in Montreal. Tell me, what are your sources of income today? Very good text by the way. Yannick.

Chris July 17, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Thanks, Yannick. I do freelance writing, e-commerce, investing and consulting / education. If anything I’m too diversified and should be doing less.

Yannick Clerouin July 17, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Great. Happy for you. Don’t you right in french? I would be happy to publish an article on techs stocks in Les Affaires. 🙂

Dino July 21, 2014 at 7:19 am

Awesome article, congratulations.

I hope to achieve the same balanced work and family lifestyle.

Noel July 31, 2014 at 11:55 pm

Great lifestyle you have. But, recent studies that have been all over the press show that 7 hours sleep is better. I have cut down from 8 to 7. 😉

I am curious, what is the e-commerce you do?

Chris August 20, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Hilarious, Noel! I find that in the summer I usually do’t want a full 8 hours because the sun is up early and I want to go ride my bike or hit the gym, or whatever. But in the winter, when the sun rises later and it’s just cold & not so nice outside, I usually want to sleep in later. So I get up as dictated by when my kids have to leave for school. Either way, no alarm clock. I love it.

Stephen @ How To Save Money August 6, 2014 at 10:28 am

Sounds like you’ve crafted a great life for yourself and it’s been mostly all positive change.

I’ve been dreaming of working for myself for over 4 years now and I finally took the plunge a few weeks ago. So far it has been great but the uncertainty of making enough money rattles my nerves a bit right now. I’m sure that will calm down as I get more used to it.

I didn’t have the guts to ask my boss to fire me. I assume you did that for the severance benefits and EI pay. I had only been at my most recent company for 2 years and I think I would have been making too much income from my business to collect EI. I suppose I could have incorporated and kept all the money in the corporation so I could have been eligible for EI. But then to collect EI you are supposed to be actively looking for work as well.

Did you successfully collect EI after you were let go?

Chris August 6, 2014 at 1:06 pm

I didn’t collect any EI, only severance. I’d have needed to lie about looking for work. I was not willing to do that.

Lisa August 21, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Hi Chris,

I enjoyed reading your article and particularly liked your message around being the boss of your life. I also took the plunge 6 years ago after a downsizing at the big pharma company I worked at and truly have never looked back. It’s true that a lower salary might result from it however one can’t really put a price on the time you enjoy with those who truly matter and pursuing activities when and where you want.

Chris August 21, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Thanks Lisa! The other neat side-effect of this is I find that I surround myself with entrepreneurs. I guess it’s some kind of unconscious program running in my brain. I tend to build instant rapport with people who share my thinking on this stuff 🙂

Nelson T. Enojo August 21, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Hello Chris,
It is still not happening for me. Leaving my present job and do the things I love is a very difficult decision to make. I tried to applying for a job that would lead me to the path but didn’t make it during the interview. It is so sad to received comments that my thoughts comes from a twisted mind and my ideas are weird and impossible.
Anyway, limiting our imaginations is the best way to stay calm. Just hoping someday to fully devote my time to work on the things I love to do.
Thank you so much for the article. It is really inspiring.

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