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10 Times Quitting a Dream Job May Be Worth It, From Women Who’ve Done It
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger
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People quit their jobs for a whole wealth of reasons — maybe they're moving, they found a higher-paying opportunity, they want to pursue another passion. Some women have even quit their dream jobs.

While, of course, some regret quitting their dream jobs, others say that it was, ironically, the best move of their lives. I spoke with TK women who've quit the jobs they'd always wanted, and here's what they had to say.

1. If something else is calling you, you may want to follow it.

"Just like that, I was jobless — something I would have never predicted six months earlier," says Nyaima Smith-Taylor, a former electrical engineer. "I had it made:  good money; great coworkers; responsibility; everyday learning; respect; a company vehicle and travel. More importantly, my circle of family and friends were proud. They had bragging rights and were happy to see the return on their sacrifice and investment. But I quit, with no regrets."

Smith-Taylor quit to move out of the country with her new husband, which felt more enticing than climbing the corporate latter. Still, she says it "took guts," but it was "the best decision" she's ever made.  And, ever if it didn't turn out the be the best decisions, she was committed to it .  

"I sometimes reflect and wish I would have planned better," she says. "But when I analyze, I know if I hadn’t faced an ultimatum... I would have remained in that position longer than I needed to, slowly strategizing and waiting for the perfect moment to pull the trigger. The truth is that I loved my job, but something inside of me was calling for something more.  I wanted to have deeper interactions with more people. I desired to leave a legacy of impact. And my capacity as a field engineer didn’t offer the space for me to express these desires."

2. Sometimes you don't have another choice but to quit.

"I got my dream job shortly after finishing my degree in nutrition — I moved overseas to Australia and ended up working part-time in management at a nutrition-focused NGO," says Brianne Bell, a registered dietitian. "I enjoyed the work, the role was super independent and it wasn't too people-focused (I'm an introvert!). My colleagues were amazingly sweet, and we quickly became friends. And I felt like the work we did was actually making a difference in the world."

But Bell was forced to quit when her visa ran out, and she was unable to get another one.  She and her company thought the company could sponsor her to stay, but because her role was only part-time, it didn't meet visa requirements.

"I don't regret the decision to leave as it was outside of my control, although I do miss it even years later," she says. "It gave me valuable experience, confidence and friendships I'm super grateful for. I'm now self-employed and running my own business, Frugal Minimalist Kitchen. I do believe things do tend to work out how they're supposed to."

3. Quitting can be scary, even if you know it's time.

"My entire career experience, including senior roles at digital giants like eBay and Skype, had led me to finally land an autonomous role as the Marketing Director for a tech startup disrupting the ticketing event industry in Australia — it was considered a very senior position... but I was working alongside one of the most prestigious and well-known advertising families in Australia," says Gabrielle Requena, Founder and CEO of Wrinkles Schminkles.  "In this role, I sat on the board and helped raise funds, build the team and drive the business and marketing strategy for the company. I was also rewarded with generous equity."

Nevertheless, Requena quit. And she says that "quitting this role was like an out of body experience."

"In my head, it was the dream role yet, in my heart,I knew it was time to move on," she explains. "Something didn’t sit right in life, so I undertook a Transcendental Meditation course. Within four weeks of my first Transcendental Meditation course, I found clarity. I quit my job and dumped my boyfriend simultaneously, trusting that there was a different and better path for me where I could define success on my own terms."

She says she's never regretted her decision to quit, even though venturing into the unknown “life after corporate” was scary. She's since found her true passion in creating Wrinkles Schminkles, an international skincare brand.

4. Quitting can lead to a better work-life balance.

"Before I even started working at my dream job, I spent 12 weeks doing The Artist's Way and, as one of the exercises, I wrote out pretty much everything that ended up being my job description," says Kate Hamm, the owner of AnamBliss, a wellness company dedicated to helping women overcome stresses. "Being someone with a lot of interests, I get bored easily when I'm not feeling fulfilled. Finding a position that allowed me to share my passion for wellness, yoga, fitness and the outdoors seemed like a reach. But one day I found a job at a wellness retreat center. I was able to grow with the company to become a manager, and I even opened the second location."

But Hamm left for several reasons. There wasn't a position for her to grow into, and she was working over 70 hours a week. She felt that she was burnt out, even despite doing so much to take care of herself.

"I was having more added to my plate with already not enough hours to get them done," she says, still acknowledging that she does miss the job. "Sometimes I miss the people and guests that I worked with, as they were amazing. Having branched out to start my own company that has been slower to launch than I wish, I miss the regular pay check. But overall, I'm a lot happier. It really took me years to shed the stress I was under, and I'm still working on getting back to normal. I have better control over my schedule, even a weekend day off — something I didn't have for years. I'm able to see my family on a regular basis. So I don't really regret my decision at all."

5. Give quitting some serious thought before you do it.

"I was working as a design manager for Tenet Healthcare and quit to be a stay-at-home mom," says Becky Beach, a design and lifestyle blogger at MomBeach.com. "My husband lost his job five years later, so I had to go back to work. I can only find lesser-paying jobs now because I been out of the workforce a while."

Beach says that she now wishes she would have kept working there, as it was the job she'd always wanted — doing design for hospital campaigns and managing others.

"The people were so wonderful, too," she says.

6. Dreams can change.

"I quit my dream job as a Kindergarten teacher — I  knew I wanted to be a teacher since the time I was in Kindergarten myself," says Lindsay McKenzie. "I worked my whole life to become one. I always looked up to my teachers and loved working with kids. I truly felt it was my calling from God and anyone who meets me will even say, 'You're the epitome of a Kindergarten teacher."

But after six years, McKenzie fell out of love with the profession. She says that it was all-consuming and affecting her personal health, both physically and mentally. She was also experiencing a lot of loss in her life at the time.

"My brother passed away and my husband and I discovered we were unable to conceive a child together so I was grieving the death of my greatest dream of being a mom — I needed a change and it was the hardest thing I've gone through to walk away from my dream job," she says. "So my husband and I decided to do what we love most and figure out a way to travel full-time. He was already working a remote job that he could do from anywhere with WiFi and was able to support us while I found a new career path. So we hit the road in our RV two years ago and I haven't looked back."

McKenzie says she quit her teaching job mid-year, and yet it was the greatest learning and growing experience for her.

"I was happy I chose me!" she says. "I am now a writer and run our travel and lifestyle blog, freelance write for other companies and actually wrote and self-published my own book! My book, Follow Your Detour, actually shares the entire story of our loss, quitting my job and RVing — we've always referred to the journey as our life 'detour.' I think our dreams change in life, just as we change as people. We should always be growing and challenging ourselves, and staying with the same job just isn't possible if we're doing that."

7. Sometimes, you can feel stuck and burnt out even in your dream job.

"I'd chosen my college to become a journalist, and I chose every move between 16 and 24 around that goal," says Brooke Brumfield. "By 22 I was an assistant producer for ABC news in a small Oregon market. From there, I moved to San Diego. I was a writer/producer for a major TV news station in San Diego, and I was working constantly. Even when I wasn't on the job, I was watching other news shows and reading the news constantly. I was a producer at 24, in the midst of a busy newsroom, doing a community service by relaying quality stories on important topics. I was on fire. It was exhilarating, challenging and it carried a certain weight when I told others what I did for work. I got access to incredible events like elections and concerts. I had access to information that nobody knew about. I felt like I was part of the change and doing a public good. I also was given some creative freedom."

But Brumfield says she was "making pennies" and could "barely afford to get to work every day." She also found her job all-consuming and, as such, she felt that she had little to show for a woman in her 20s by way of relationships and time or money for other things in her life. Likewise, she says she became "acutely aware of the limitations of TV News" and "had to write stories on things like the hottest guy on the PGA tour and more."

"I saw the folks around me who'd all been through divorce or stints of addiction, and I decided there was more to life — I needed to figure out my values and priorities before I wasted my life away in a newsroom with nothing to show for it," she says.

Today, however, Brumfield has some regrets about quitting.

"I am very happy with the way my life has gone and think I'm in the right place," she says. "That said, I felt like I was so exhausted from being broke and overcommitted and burnt out that I couldn't see how to stick with it to make the path I wanted at the time. I couldn't see past the immediate. My news director didn't let me put in my resignation. I had to quit five times before I was ready. I regret the flare out in such a big way. I had gone through a breakup and moved in with my sister who was always partying at the time. I think I should have pumped the breaks and given it more time."

8. Quitting can be tough, but other opportunities will arise.

"I worked at our local TV station as a presenter, to which I'd applied because I thought it would be fun —  and it was!" says Janine Pugh. "I loved it. I loved meeting and chatting to so many different people, politicians, governors, general groups of people, actors, authors, the list goes on. It was so amazing. I was autonomous in my role, and it was a small team of four of us doing news and interviews."

But Pugh decided to quit as the pay was low, the expectations were quite high and she didn't work enough hours. She says the workplace was "a bit of a toxic environment at times for such a small business."

"Did i ever regret it? Heck yes — it was the most fun job I had ever done! " she says. "It was an awesome job and I loved the work. I still think of trying to further my career in media journalism. But somehow the confidence is disappearing as I get older. That sais, now I work with clients and their interiors, and I find this satisfying and fun, too."

9. You need to prioritize your health first.

"I quit my dream job as a full-time psychotherapist, as I needed a sabbatical to deal with some increasingly prohibitive physical and mental health concerns," says Gina Handley Schmitt. "This job met 'dream job' criteria because I finally had my own office, decorated entirely by me. I shared a suite with a group of amazing clinicians. I dictated my own hours. I had a full practice, so I could work with clients who were best suited to my expertise, and these clients were engaged and enthusiastic about the therapy process. All of this, and I was making a respectable salary. "

But Schmitt had to quit because she says that her health required it.

"I do not regret the decision, as I think it was the only path that would lead to me finding the additional help and healing I needed, but I do miss it," she explains. "The good news is that this stepping away has led to other professional opportunities, including a chance to teach and finish my book on friendship."

10. Passion projects can come to fruition upon quitting.

Amy Harrington, now co-host of The Passionistas Project Podcast but former senior executive at Warner Bros, quit her ultimate dream job. Before Harrington left, she started a production company with her sister. Now, the pair produces a podcast aimed at empowering women to live more passion-fueled lives.

"When I was nine years old, my big brother took me to see Star Wars at the local movie theater in Braintree, Massachusetts," Harrington says. "I barely breathed through the final Death Star battle and became obsessed with the franchise from that moment on. I dreamed of some day working in that wonderful world of intergalactic creatures and miniature spaceships. In 1993, my wish came true when I was hired as the Visual Effects Production Assistant on the movie, Coneheads. My two great loves, visual effects and Saturday Night Live, in one project — I was over the moon. That movie led me to the TV series Lois & Clark and then to co-founding Warner Bros. first in-house visual effects company, WBIT. I ultimately landed in the Warner Bros. feature film department where I became the first woman in the history of Hollywood to be named Vice President of Post Production and Visual Effects at a major studio."

As that nine-year-old girl in Massachusetts, she says she never could have dreamed of working on films like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Matrix. But she did — along with about 200 other movies. She was able to work with iconic directors like Tim Burton and Alfonso Cuarón, learn from the masters of visual effects like Phil Tippett and John Dykstra and travel the world.

"I thought I was the luckiest girl in Hollywood," she says. "But the catalyst for my decision to quit was a restructuring of the Post Production and Visual Effects department at Warner Bros. They wanted me to stay, but I didn't feel that the new direction was a good fit for me. And after working on hundreds of movies in various stages of development, production and post-production, I wasn't feeling the same enthusiasm for the job that I once had. The final straw came when a studio executive asked me how we were going to make Harry Potter fly in the third film in the franchise and I thought, 'The same way we made him fly in the first two.' The spark that made it all so magical for me had gone out and I knew it was time to move on."

Her decision to leave the studio was made easier by the fact that her sister, Nancy, and she had decided to go into business together.

"I went from the sometimes shark-infested waters of Hollywood to working with my best friend — the person I know I can trust more than anyone on the planet," she says. "We also started conducting interviews for The Television Academy and, ultimately, our own podcast, The Passionistas Project Podcast. If I had stayed at Warner Bros., I never would have found my new love — interviewing strong, empowered women who are following their passions to inspire others to do the same. So although I will always cherish my years there, I will never look back with regret."

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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