Timing is everything. I met my wife-to-be at a very early meeting at work. We were the first to arrive. She was attending in place for someone. We got to talking and she told me that she was quitting in about 7 days to take some time off. I asked what she planned to do. She said travel and hike before going to work at a friend’s coffee shop. I admit I was a bit envious of her upcoming career break. Since I had recently purchased new hiking boots for an upcoming hiking vacation, I asked if I could hike with her to get prepared. Much to my delight she agreed and our first date was a 14 mile hike!
Ted: You decided to leave work in your mid-thirties. By all appearances, you had a good paying job in a field (finance and accounting) you went to school for. Why did you decide to leave work?
Claire: I worked for a series of companies that were not successful. There was nothing to be proud of when I talked about what I did, and there was the constant threat of being laid off. Work had become very unfulfilling. I decided to take six months off to re-evaluate what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Ted: What did you do?
Claire: Someone I knew owned some coffee houses. I wanted to get a closer view at what it was like to have a small business and he let me work part time at one of his coffee houses for awhile. I also did some traveling. Mentally I was able to leave the corporate life behind for awhile.
Ted: You eventually returned to work. What changed?
Claire: I realized I would make more money sticking with a career in finance than starting over at something completely different. My attitude towards work changed. My job was no longer a big part of my identity. I knew I was good at what I did and I worked hard, but I didn’t feel the loyalty or emotional ties to my employer that I felt before. I viewed work as a transaction: I provided a service for which I was compensated.
Ted: Looking back, how do you view your decision?
Claire: Taking time off to re-evaluate my life was the right thing to do. At the time I quit, I knew that I could easily re-enter the work force by signing up with a temporary agency and the compensation would cover my bills. After six months off, I was a much happier person and I knew it was my choice to continue my career in Finance.
Ted: What would you do differently?
Claire: I probably should have figured out a way to achieve FI sooner!
Ted: What advice do you have for someone who is considering a career break?
Claire: If you are going to take time off, have a plan. I set a timeline for myself, I knew how much cash I was going to consume, I knew what I wanted to do during my time off, and I knew how I could easily re-enter the work force.
Note: we recently published a short quick start guide to help you begin pursuing financial independence.