Thursday, June 2, 2016

Major Life-Altering Decisions

I've made two major life-altering decision in my life. The first was to quit NCAA basketball and leave the college I chose to attend after my first semester to get on the fast-track to a stock market job and return home to ensure the relationship with my girlfriend was maintained. The second was to quit the job I'd worked so hard to earn.

Out of high school, I chose to attend a small, liberal arts college and play basketball. I liked the feeling of a small school. Students can get to know professors and each other. Athletic careers can be extended. School pride exists in the Alumni base. It's a pretty compelling package.

I'd started dating my girlfriend after choosing my college. She was a year younger than me and, thus, would stay in hour hometown another year while finishing high school. I didn't think our relationship would last through college if I stayed away.

I loved playing basketball. It was part of my identity in high school. I was a 3-year Varsity starter. College basketball was far more work than high school ball. And therefore, a lot less fun.

The program of study at liberal arts colleges is very broad. To get a major, one needs just a handful of classes. It wouldn't be hard to triple major at a liberal arts school given the fairly lenient requirements. That wasn't my goal. I thought I got a very broad education in high school and wanted a specialized education to prepare me to become a stock analyst after college. My school didn't fit that desire.

These three factors combined to lead me to find a new path. I did some research and figured out I could graduate in 3 years at my local, state university. Then go on for a specialized, one-year masters degree. Thus, in 4 years, I could have a BS and MS in my chosen field. Plus, I'd be in my hometown to nurture my relationship with my girlfriend.

The decision was made, but telling everyone was difficult. I remember being in tears in the basketball coach's office. I just wasn't happy and didn't see sticking around as providing my desired outcome in life.

I transferred and completed my goal of earning a BS and MS in my field. I stayed with my girlfriend who became my wife. I got a job in the stock market. Everything worked out as planned. Now, I've given notice that I am resigning from my dream job.

The point of this blog from the beginning was to document my move home and attempt to build my dream life. I've had a great career in the stock market, but that chapter is coming to an end. I'll earn at least $40k in dividends next year. That will nearly cover my expenses. I want to truly and fully experience being a parent to my beautiful baby girl. I want to complete my home renovation. I've got a lot of interests and a long commute to stare at a computer screen has lost its appeal. I haven't been this excited about the next chapter since I got my first job 7 years ago.

Opting out of a great paying, stable job was/is nearly as hard as quitting basketball was as an 18 year old. Basketball was my life. Recently, my job has been my life. It's been my identity. It's been the fuel to help build a sizeable retirement fund. In the grand scheme of things, my job has been more important than basketball ever was. Quitting was hard. I've had the same boss for 7 years. He hired me. He brought me with him to a new firm when he left. He's been the one deciding my bonuses and raises. He's treated me extremely well. I can't thank him enough. But I'm to the point where the trade of time isn't worth the money. He asked me if I wanted to stay on until the next bonus season. He said I could have nearly any work arrangement I want. I told him no thanks. He is proud of me. He told me that "too many people in our profession stick around too long for the money while hating their lives and their work. I respect you for not becoming one of those people." I don't know if I visibly blushed, but he hit on my biggest fear. I don't want to become a zombie who is addicted to the paychecks but hates my life and potentially loses a marriage and family in the process.

I need extreme flexibility in my next chapter. I want to be able to take a day to go to the pool with my daughter and wife. To enjoy the sun on an unseasonably warm spring day. To take long road trips with no concrete plans. I can't be weighed down by a job or a boss.

I'm 1 for 1 in my major life-altering choices to date. I have no doubt that this second one will prove to be at least as successful.

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