Twelve years ago, I left a lucrative corporate job in the semiconductor industry. I wanted to find more meaningful work and create more time for spiritual practice. This decision landed me on a path that eventually led to Southwestern College.
Leaving my corporate job was one of the scariest things I’d ever done. Here are six questions I was pondering in the months leading up to this change:
How will I earn a living?
This was probably the most pressing question—and, in fact, it still seems to be the most pressing question. I didn’t leave my corporate job to do something similar; I left my corporate job to do something totally different. I wasn’t even sure what that totally different thing was going to be—and I’m still not sure. It doesn’t take long to totally change the direction of one’s life—but it can take a long time to make that change financially sustainable. Luckily for me, I had accumulated some savings over the course of my corporate career, and that gave me some freedom to explore.
As I was contemplating my career change, I told someone “If I leave this job, I doubt I’ll ever be able to make as much money as I’m making now.” He suggested I might have a higher income, eventually. That put things in perspective; we never know what life has in store.
How will I fill all my free time?
I imagined I might be lazing around on the couch all day, bored and lonely, but that didn’t ever come to pass. It turns out that I had no problem filling my free time. Free time is a magnet for projects; as soon as my free time showed up, activities rushed in to fill it.
Who will I hang out with?
Leaving my corporate job did change who I was hanging out with. I ended up spending more time hanging out with people who were involved in things I was passionate about, and less time hanging out with people who happened to be fellow employees.
How will I get health insurance?
This turned out to be an easy one, and it’s probably even easier these days. I just shopped for health insurance and bought some. Was my new health insurance as comprehensive as what I had in my corporate job? Not nearly. Have I missed that fancy health insurance? No. I’ve been fairly healthy, I rarely go to the doctor, and I try to take really good care of myself. I’m glad to have insurance in case of emergencies—and my insurance has a very high deductible, so it’s not that expensive. I believe I’m way healthier now than I would have been if I’d stayed in my stressful corporate job.
What about job security?
What security? The longer I worked at my corporate job, the more specialized my work became. Eventually, I started to doubt whether I was qualified to do any job other than the job I was doing. Combine that with the fact that my job was subject to the whims of corporate higher-ups, and my situation didn’t seem so secure.
Will I regret this decision?
Well, it’s been twelve years, and I haven’t, so far. When I was contemplating leaving my corporate job, I believe I was attending to the call of the soul. It seems to me that when we heed the call of the soul, we are unlikely to regret our decisions—even if those decisions lead to challenges and difficult times. That’s all part of the great adventure of life.