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.