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I Just Quit A Dream Job.

By: Everett S
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For those of you who read my last post, or participated in the Facebook poll, this may come as no surprise. I submitted my letter of resignation today. I quit my job.

Your Dream JobWhy would I quit what I describe as a “dream job”? This job allowed me to work from home, in another state, with somewhat flexible hours providing I wasn’t scheduled for a meeting. It paid very well. It was for a company that is doing good things for the planet. I got along well with my co-workers, and felt as though they respected my contribution to the company. So why leave? The fact of the matter is that I was just… just ready.

My “mojo” was gone. I wasn’t learning anything new; I wasn’t enjoying my job; and I was spending my sunny afternoons looking out my office window at the animals instead of working on projects that needed to be done on the farm. So when a small company approached me about a new opportunity, one which would allow me to work only 25 hours per week, I had to take it seriously. I wouldn’t have to turn my computer on until 5pm. I would be learning about a new business model. My ideas could be tested and implemented within hours or days, rather than months or years. And no more meetings to go over the meeting that we’re going to have next week about next months meeting!!! But my salary would be cut by about 30% – GULP.

Really, that last bit is what I wanted to write about. The rest is all – background. Over the last several years, my wife and I (Mrs. Simpleton) have been reducing our expenditures, paying off debts, and simplifying our lives. There are plenty of people out there who are taking it WAY farther than we have (example, example, example, etcetera…) but we are on our own journey, not someone else’s. Still, our journeys are similar in that we recognize that life is about living, not acquiring; That happiness is about spending time with your loved ones and building experiences, not being Mr. or Mrs. Big-Shot in the corporate world; That we live on average for just 35,215,200 minutes, and the clock never stops ticking; That the end goal is happiness and everything else is just the means.

I asked the question: Would you rather make a little bit more than “enough to get by” working 25 hours per week, or double it by working 40 hours per week?
Answers varied, and it was interesting to read everyone’s unique take onĀ  it. But one thing I noticed over and over between the blog post answers and the comments on Facebook, was that a lot of people “would” just work 25 hours per week if they “could” but just – “not right now”. The thing is, I didn’t ask how much debt they had. I didn’t ask what their expenses were. I asked them to assume the 25-hour per week job would cover all of that, but not much more. So what’s the problem? Why not right now?

Answers to questions like that are going to be different for everyone. Our situations are never quite the same. But they are often similar. For instance, most of us worry about retirement. Those of us with children, or who plan to have children, often worry about college funds, buying a first car… Some of us have mortgages; others don’t, but had to save to get there. Some of us live in the country; some of us in the city – all of us looking forward to better days. It really is a TOUGH question, and there is no right or wrong answer. The question was so tough, in fact, that I had to ask a bunch of other people just to reassure myself that I was making the right decision.

In the end it didn’t matter. Had every single person said they would rather work full-time and make more money, I still would have made the same decision to “quit my dream job”. Some time within the next few weeks I am going to wake up on a Monday morning, eat breakfast, read a book while drinking a cup of coffee, put on my overalls, and go do one of the hundreds of chores I need to do around this place. I won’t have any meetings to attend, and I won’t feel guilty for doing something outside during business hours. Around 4pm I’ll come in, take a shower, eat dinner, turn on my computer for the first time all day, and work for a few hours. Around 10pm I’ll shut down and give myself an hour to decompress (i.e. read) before going to bed. I will have the entire weekend off to spend REAL leisure (aka ‘quality’) time with my wife, instead of trying to cram everything into the only two days available for farm work. And the next Monday I’ll do it all over again.

Sometime within the next few months I’ll take five days to visit with my family and I won’t be stressed about getting back to work Monday morning.

Sometime next Spring I will spend a week on a farm in Maine learning how to take care of sheep and goats without being concerned about how much “vacation time” I have left.

Some time next month I will be pruning apple trees without wondering if someone has sent me an email that I need to reply to right away.

We have been preparing for this day for several years. We gave up television. We gave up the conveniences of the city. We gave up a lot of “things”. While my peers drove fancy cars and lived in McMansions, we bought cars with cash and lived in bungalows and duplexes. While our neighbors and friends bought gigantic flat-screen televisions, we were happy with our little box and, eventually, no TV stations at all. Yes, for some a bungalow would be heaven, and any car that runs is a good car. I agree! So why do so many people feel the need to go bigger, better, newer, shinier, and more expensive with the more money they make? Why is it that, the more we make, the more we spend? How can a three-person family with a combined income of more than $80,000 a year still be in debt and living paycheck-to-paycheck? I see it all the time. We could have been on our way there ourselves had we bought into the new “American Dream”. But, thankfully, we both realized that enough was enough – and I mean that in the literal sense.

Yes, I fully understand that not everyone has the luxury of making such a decision. I can do this mostly because I am in an industry in which I can work from home, am very good at what I do, and had some good luck along the way. What about the single mother who raises three children on her own? What about the devoted father who had a family early and had to start working on the crew instead of going to college? What about the 50-year-old who didn’t make the best decisions, or didn’t have the best circumstances, and is now facing retirement with zero savings?

I wish I had an answer, but I don’t. I wish things were different. I wish everyone could do what they enjoy – what they’re good at – and make a decent living. I wish both parents in a family didn’t have to work overtime just to make ends meet. But in our rush toward industrialism, convenience, globalism, technology… we somehow went down the wrong track. The train is barreling down these rails with ever-increasing speed, and at the end is a brick wall. We can only work so much. We can only take from the earth so much. We can only go into debt so far. I have been fortunate enough to see a good place from which to jump off this train, and I am taking it. The only advice I can give for anyone else still riding is to shed as much of your luggage as you can because it’s a long drop from aimless progress to simple happiness.

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Category: Rants, Simple Thoughts, The Transplants

Comments (36)

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  1. Andrea says:

    You may have quit a dream job, but you are living your dream. Mazel tov! Kudos! Congrats!

  2. Lani says:

    Congratulations on your decision and new job! I’m really excited for you and wish you the best. We’ll be back in your area in a few months, perhaps we could meet up. Would love to see the farm (and Chris will help with any projects!)

  3. Rick Ramos says:

    Well done, my friend. I won’t wish you luck because luck has nothing to do with decisions like this. I think it was a wise and and truly noble thing to do. So many people are afraid to take the first step toward a wanted change, which might be why so many folks said “not right now.”

    Big changes are the hardest and the most important. If it was a bad decision, you typically find out right away. In your case, I think you did a fine job of gauging the road ahead.

    You’re a good influence, dude. I’m awful glad I ran into you.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Woo Hoo!!! Congratulations! In my opinion “Dream Job” is an oxymoron.

    I hope it works out wonderfully for you!

  5. Very well said!

    We were on very good salaries in Dubai, But it still wasn’t enough,went on 3 overseas holidays a year and spent spent spent…..
    Now in Cyprus I do not ‘work’ so to speak, I look after the home,have time to grow my own veggies,make homemade bread and instead of watching TV TBH and I talk and plan our next move to simple sustainable living. TBH is on less than half of what he earnt in Dubai,but it is enough to cover the necessaties, having time for us, me being able to focus on us instead of what I have to do in the office tomorrow, has made a huge difference to who and what I am. I don’t need 3 overseas holidays a year, cause I am happy with where I am at.

    You will not regret jummping the train, it is on a road to nowhere!

    Good luck in your new position and good on you for being true to yourself and having the courage to follow your dream.

  6. emily says:

    you write and live boldly and honestly. thank you. i look forward to your updates and sharing mine w you.

  7. kelly says:

    congrats! that had to really be one of the best feelings ever. me and my family have been trying to get off the train for the last few years. we had a huge eye opener and were able to realize that we were making a lot of bad decisons that we only going to all eventually catch up with us. thats what it is too, your own decisions lead you to where you are. you can have luck on your side, but you need to take those chances and be aware of your choices. we arent where we want to be yet, and it will probable still be another year or two to get closer to it. but we are aware of it and working on it! love reading you and missy’s blog. it really has helped remind me and keep me on the track of what my ultimate true happiness goals were and still are. they got clouded up for a while there, but i know the way back!! thanks for the inspiration and you enjoy your monday mornings!! ;)

  8. dean says:

    good for you. go with your gut. it’s not about money for sure. i wish i thought like you 15 years ago i would be OUT of the city where i am still stuck, but hopefully that will change in a year or so.

    i moved out of the IT tech rat race in 2003 with 2nd lay off, first one a month after 9/11 – thanks Compaq! pretty hard to find a job then! i feel sorry for all the out of work people begging for jobs these days. i will NEVER have to do that again!

    since then i have been self-employed working online and LOVING it. nothing like a afternoon naps, and no alarm clocks. some years made more than when i was a ‘product eng’ – but hated it, some less.

    last 3 years i found a niche where i work about 2 hours a day! wish i would have found it earlier. i have all the time with kids i want. funny how others do things only on weekends, i take off any day i want and take kids anywhere i town (course working 2 hours a day is almost like not working, can be REALLY boring).

    you need to focus on blogging, linking. traffic is key of course. maybe you will be on your own soon too! i used to get x-mas presents from adsense for a couple of years, sadly no more. but frankly websites are TOO much work. when i was doing it, i worked 12 hours a day. that sucked, but it was a adventure.

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more! My husband lost his full-time job due to the recession about 2 years ago. Since then, because of our frugal lifestyle, we both have had the “luxury” of working part-time jobs and still making ends meet. I value my time and family over money and materialism. More and more people I know or meet are beginning to think this way. They are tired of the stress of the corporate world and consumer culture. Its nice to read stories about people who take a leap of faith as you did to take back your time and family. I do believe we will start seeing more families take this leap of faith as our economy seems to be making a paradigm shift.

  10. Anna says:

    I’m so thrilled to hear it! I could feel that full time job draining you dry, and I can tell you’re taking a step in the right direction. Really, working 25 hours per week is the absolute maximum I think anyone should work while living on a homestead.

    I’ve been thinking about your previous question too, and in talking it over with Mark, he made the point that people who are going to have kids probably feel like they need to make more money. But I honestly think that people do their kids a disservice by living upper middle class lives while raising those kids. If you raise your kids on a very tight budget, they’re going to feel stunningly rich as soon as they get above the poverty line, and maybe, like me, they won’t feel the need to make so much money and will live fuller lives.

  11. Mr. Simpleton says:

    I agree Anna. I grew up under the care of a single mother who worked in a factory all of her life just to keep a roof over our heads. We all lived with my grandparents for many years. We weren’t “poor” by global standards, but the consumer class in America sure made us feel that way.

    Looking back, I can see how rich we were. I can see how lucky I was to have such a wonderful mother, a wise and patient grandfather, my sweet grandma, my brothers and often aunts and uncles all living under the same roof. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I think it would be more difficult for me to scale-down had I grown up with a little money.

  12. Laura Jeanne says:

    How simply amazing that you can work only 25 hours per week and still meet your needs. You are truly blessed, and I’m happy for you. :)

  13. Mr. Simpleton says:

    Laura Jeanne,

    Indeed we are. I wish everyone could do this. Unfortunately, many people are living as simply as they can out of necessity, not choice, and they have to work 60 or more hours per week just to pay the basic bills for food and shelter. I fully comprehend the privileged nature of my decision and am grateful to have it.

    Enjoy the rest of your vacation! I look forward to reading more when you get back.

  14. Laurel H. says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    Thanks for today’s post; not only because of the really great thoughts you share about this topic, but also because you clarified yesterday’s post. I wanted to comment yesterday, but there seemed to be a missing piece to the puzzle.

    Today, you added it when you said, “I asked them to assume the 25-hour per week job would cover all of that, but not much more.” If you stated that yesterday, I missed it, because that is what keeps my family and I from moving another step ahead and being able to make a decision much like you have.

    To a certain extent, we are already living our dream. We quit our full time jobs a year and half ago, and have been self employed ever since. We gladly cut back on anything and everything that stood in the way of making our life choice work. Currently, my husband works LONG hours to establish his business and to better our financial position. We look forward to the day he can cut back on his hours, and all of the “seeds” he has planted will take root and yield a harvest.

    We have had the “less is more” mindset for years, and have been working towards it diligently. The book “The Four Hour Work Week,” for instance, is a good example of how we feel. We are not interested in getting rich; we are simply interested in having enough.

    Yet we apparently, while we were your age, did not make the best choices, regardless of how hard we tried. We are now in our 40s with two teens, and find that it takes more effort, more money, more everything to pay down debts, etc., and to be in the position you and the Mrs. are in–one in which you have the freedom to take a huge pay cut.

    My apologies; this was not supposed to be about me. :) I have been following your journey since before you moved to the Shenendoah Valley, and it has been an inspiration to me to keep pressing on towards the prize.

    Once again, congratulations to the two of you for having the guts to make such a counter culture decision, and the determination to follow through on it and make it work. Blessings.

  15. Mr. Simpleton says:

    Had I realized so many people read our blog, I’d have spruced it up. I guess now that I have time, that’ll be on my list of To-Dos!

    Laurel, thank you for your kind words and congratulations. If your husband is anything like me, I’m sure he’s happier working 60 hours for himself than 40 hours for someone else.

    And we don’t always make the right choices either. For instance, we’ve spent a lot of money improving our house when I think perhaps we should have spent it paying off the mortgage. But the lesson is learned, and now we pay twice as much as we have to, and it’s almost 50% paid off already. Better late than never, right!

    Also, I love your site. Mrs. Simpleton will too. You and her both seem to have the sewing / knitting bug pretty bad. :-P

  16. Young Mogul says:

    REALLY great post! It resonates so much with me. The question you asked about people who are not in financial positions to change their lives–the single mother, the 50 year old, the father and bread winner; while they may not be able to change their circumstances, what they can do is pass down sound money principles and work ethics to their children.

    They can teach their children that bigger is not better and to be a leader and not a follower of the Joneses.

    I continue to love your blog and find such insightful information from it.

  17. Mr. Simpleton says:

    Mogul, thanks! I love the Mark Twain quote on your website, by the way.

  18. Kim says:

    Everett, I loved reading your post. I am excited to share with you and will be calling you.

    Every person creates their own reality. We all make our choices and create our circumstances. The difference is that not all feel the “can” and not all put a plan into action. The universe responds to clearly stated intention, and to action. I am inspired by both in what you’ve done! Totally awesome.
    I too am creating my intentions through action. Creating my sustainable farm. As I walked inside to eat dinner last night, Juan and I both with our T-shirts acting as our baskets, full of veggies, I felt so proud of what we’re creating and how we are caring for ourselves. I too have some “next steps” to take on this journey. I’d very much like to stay connected with you and share our stories along the way, support eachother, etc. That is where the true power in the universe lays, when we realize we are not in this game of life alone, but that we are all connected, and when we do the right thing for our greater good, that fans out into the universe in an amazing way that gives back to so many.

    Much love!

  19. Leigh says:

    Very interesting set of posts (I don’t “do” Facebook because I know it would be a time drain!). I don’t get around to blog visit much these days and I realize I’m missing a lot of interesting things.

    Like you, we had to make the same decision. In the end, we chose the 1st option, to make less but have more time. Of course as homesteaders, we know that we aren’t actually working less, we’re just working for a different compensation. The heart of the matter is values. Homesteaders have different values. True, we have to make do with less, but really, that’s the point anyway, a simpler lifestyle. In the end, I suppose it depends where one’s sense of security lies. In money, or in the land.

  20. DomesticKate says:

    I’m wishing you the best as well. I didn’t add my two cents before, but I’d happily take a 25-hour-a-week job over more money as long as ends were met. I suppose I’m spoiled, but I’ve only worked full time for a few years (not counting being a student full time) of my life, and it was all right, but I love having extra time to pursue multiple interests. I have plenty of time to cook dinner, exercise, maintain friendships, have hobbies, take classes, etc. My husband is in the military, so he doesn’t determine his paycheck or number of hours, so I can’t know for sure how I’d feel if money were tighter. Still, if a stranger’s opinion matters to you, I think you made a great decision.

    This also reminds me of a blog I was reading recently: http://tylertervooren.com/advancedriskology/

    This guy is all about taking risks and the belief that risks are what make us get at the most important parts of who we are.

  21. Trace says:

    Enjoyed your comments, as an Aussie couple in our later 40’s, 3 nearly grown up kids, and morgtage cats and dogs, we are starting to to convert our large back yard into something more than something to be mowed. Veges, olive, avocado and pistachios are growning, and have just bought 4 baby chooks, living in the aviary. Your comments are very inspiring!

  22. Best of luck on your new ventures man! You’re gonna knock it out of the park. Are you still coming back to Colorado any time soon?

  23. Meengla says:

    Inspiring and thought provoking.
    For a full disclosure, I have been adding web site like your’s in my Google Bookmark’s ‘Simple Living’ folder for years. I have looked into living in ‘communes’ or ‘intentional living’ places over north America. I have been looking into (early) retiring in cheaper places like Ecuador. And I have been looking into using investment money to cut down our $120k mortgage to more manageable amount to enable us to work part time.

    ALL the above options are still on our table.

    Well, at least on my table!

    We have no kids. Are relatively young (30/40s). Have reasonably ‘secure’ jobs. We too live out in ‘the country’ and cannot imagine ever living in a city of larger than 10k people.

    My wife is not at all open to living overseas or in a simple living commune. I am. That may cause a rift in our marriage one day although I am trying to avoid that and she too is sensitive to my ideals.

    I don’t know where it will all pan out. By next August (2011) we should have our mortgage payment cut down to half, thus giving us more financial freedom. We have no other debt. Cars are small and almost paid off.

    I know, I am not going anywhere in my post here. This is sort of thinking out load. May be looking for advice. May be venting out. I will keep checking this blog.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Thank you all above who have posted before me or who may post after me.

  24. Silas Leger says:

    Hi Mr. Simpleton,

    Dave Zuls gave me your website… I just read your above story/article and think you’ve done your homework and took the bull by the horns. Way to go! Courage is all that is needed in this “jump from the train”. I am happy to see you partnered with a woman who shares a similar spirit.

    I worked with Dave Zuls at Kinkos in on University Ave in Honolulu. Did you work there too? I still keep in touch with Mathias once a year or something. I can’t really remember you.

    Anyway – I am a photographer and filmmaker now. Check out my website sometime – http://www.silasleger.com

    Aloha,

    Silas

  25. Mr. Simpleton says:

    Silas,

    It’s nice to meet you. I’m sure we have probably crossed paths at some point. I was working at Kinko’s on King St. around that time.

    Do you know Todd R.? I’m sure the filmmaker circuit in Hawaii is a small, but thriving, world so probably so.

    Thanks for the comment. Tell Mathias and Dave I said hi!

  26. […] have lots of activities planned over the next few months. Now that my work situation has changed, I will be able to get the outdoor work done during the day, work for pay at night, and enjoy our […]

  27. WednesdayNext says:

    This may be an old discussion but I have to say it’s important to do these things while you’re still young enough to truly appreciate them.

    This sounds like crotchety age, but it’s just experience. Your bodies can still handle farm work with a certain amount of joy. You don’t have to worry intensively about medical expenses yet (fingers crossed), so take a small step away from that security blanket. Time together is so precious in your early years, so don’t waste it.

    I wish you much fun with the new job, the freedom, and your youth.

  28. Misty Funk says:

    Wow! You are really brave. Congratulations on fulling your dream…with a plan!

  29. […] some others that have shown that it is possible to leave a day job and be at peace: Everett Sizemore, Everett Bouge, and Tammy […]

  30. sharon says:

    Congratulations Mr. Simpleton!!! The simple life seems so rare these days as I myself struggle to understand the race to support a lifestyle?? You have asked yourself… “What is sincerely important in this life, for my family and myself??? What is it that we really need to honestly survive and be happy???” And you didn’t answer with money, technology and material objects??? Love, shelter, food, clothing… basic human needs!!! :) It makes my heart smile to see more people getting back to the basics! Best wishes to you and your family!!

  31. […] some others that have shown that it is possible to leave a day job and be at peace: Everett Sizemore, Everett Bouge, and Tammy […]

  32. Sundari says:

    What exciting news! Congratulations, Everett!

  33. Kyle says:

    I typed this into google and hit search: “when I type this in and press search it is going to guide me to my dream job that I have been searching for and my wife and I will live the rest of our lives happy and able to raise a wonderful family”
    This site and article was the first thing listed. I read what you had to say and completely agree. I feel very lost right now because I can’t seem to find what I want to do for a career. Your words seem to put in perspective that a job shouldn’t determine how I live my life, instead, how I want to live my life should determine my job. This is good stuff! I enjoyed the video of your dog running and jumping over the creek also.

  34. Tiffany says:

    I quit my “dream job” 4 years ago in October. The adjustment is strange – now I make just over half of what I did with 5% of the stress and NO OVERTIME. I wouldn’t trade that other half of my salary for the my work family and quality of life I have now. I have all that I need and some extra – what more can a girl ask for?

    All that to say, kudos to you. It’s a less popular decision, but it’s so worth it. And, it’s encouraging to see more people tossing aside the American dream and pursuing their own dreams instead. Congratulations!

  35. […] in mind, I’ll be going back to work full time for awhile (a temporary change from the ideal in this post) and we won’t be making any expensive improvements for a few years. I’ve probably made […]

  36. torie says:

    Great post! I’d say the same thing goes for a life of travelling. People say I’m crazy for giving up my permanent address and a “dream job”. The average person is afraid of change… s/he thinks his/her current life with a job, a house and 2.5 kids is a safety net, when really there is more risk in settling! I work less, live comfortably whilst spending less than I ever did in my life before travelling. I always say the same thing to people who look at me with awe… BUT YOU CAN DO IT TOO! YOU JUST HAVE TO JUMP INTO THE WATER!

    Thanks for sharing!

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