Leaving the Pinnacle
Why I left a six-figure job for a no-figure job.
I had it all -- a six-figure job, power, and prestige. I had a wonderful job at a Fortune 300 company with a devoted and intelligent staff. It was the dream job. I traveled both nationally and internationally. For 10 years I climbed up the corporate ladder and filled my house with treasures and padded my bank accounts.
Suddenly everything changed when my mother-in-law, Vera, passed away from cancer. My husband was too grief stricken to go through his mom's remaining dozen boxes cluttering our den. I tackled the job partly to help my grieving husband and partly to see the carpet once again.
Going through her boxes changed my whole perspective and outlook on life. Her 75 years of boxes were filled with resumes, reference letters, wills, death certificates, coupons, family pictures and mementos, mother's day cards and baby cards. Boxes and boxes of stuff. All mixed up. No rhyme or reason. I piled through the items sometimes crying -- sometimes laughing. She also collected a stack of written jokes that had me laughing out loud. Her sense of humor flew through the boxes as I sat on the floor tears streaming down my face surrounded by her love.
I remember when I first got hired for my dream job. My soon-to-be boss said in the interview, “We want to hire someone who can think outside the box.”
I replied, “I don't even have a box.”
The chemistry between us sparkled instantly. He made me a job offer on the spot that I couldn't refuse.
I loved working at this company. I developed global advertising campaigns and worked around the clock during sensitive merger and acquisitions. I was afforded flexibility to telecommute and offered flexible hours when I had my first and then my second child. In five short years my salary and my family grew.
What box did I really want my children to go through 50 years from now?
So did my heart. I panged for my children. My box was quickly filling up with corporate awards, reports, top assignments, committees and meetings. But what box did I really want my children to go through 50 years from now?
I soul searched and agonized and after five months, I finally made my decision. I had just been presented the highest award at the company for developing the Core Values program worldwide. I decided I'd reached the corporate pinnacle. It was time to build my core values at home.
But what were my core values? I was raised in a loving yet secular Jewish home. My father was in international business so I was afforded the wonderful opportunity to live my first 16 years in Australia, Asia and Europe. My best friends were Muslim, Hindu, Chinese and Christian. I didn't know any Jewish people.
Sure I knew a little about Judaism. After all, I pressured my parents into giving my brother and me a bar/bat mitzvah when I was 18. I marched to free Russian Jews at 19, traveled to Israel at 24 and contributed funds and volunteer time to Jewish causes. But it wasn't enough. I wanted to live a life more in line with my values. I longed to learn more about a Torah core set of values.
So I resigned from the corporate world at 34 to nurture my children, my soul and my home.
Everyone was shocked. Some were sad. My staff wept. Others cheered. Others were jealous. I beamed. I never felt so empowered in my whole life. I floated through the air. I just left a six-figure job, after all, for a no-figure job -- literally.
It's been seven months now since I jumped off the cliff and left the corporate scene. I've been hard at work on my no figure job -- building my box of Jewish core values at home. My daughter is enrolled at the Orthodox Day School and we belong to a small Orthodox synagogue. My vision has become a reality as I take two days per week during the school calendar year to work on empowering people to do as I did. I give motivational talks on how to live a more meaningful life, to create a plan, to follow your dreams, to listen to your heart, to watch for coincidences and to let God help you. And most importantly to give of yourself to help others.
Sure I had my doubts! Some days I get crazy and think -- oh what have I done!? But then I just look at my kids and my life and I realize how truly blessed we are. Life is too short. I had to follow my heart -- now.
So now I'm writing inspirational stories. Two books have already been published and I'm working on two sets of children's books on virtues and Jewish rituals. I'm creating lasting memories for my children and family. I'm baking challah from scratch, going to the park, singing and reading to my children.
My ability to make this change came from a very supportive husband, a lifetime of avoiding debt, saving and living below our means. The budget's a little tight. We're eating a lot of pasta these days and I'm now cutting coupons and shopping at discount stores. And we're expecting our third child in May. My box runneth over. Thank you God.