career

'I walked away from a six-figure salary job. I've never been happier.'

This post discusses mental health and could be triggering for some readers.

I will never forget that day just before Easter in 2019.

I left the house with my two children and braced myself for the normal separation anxiety that my daughter experiences at daycare drop off. She screams hysterically every single time I leave her and although I know she will be okay once I go, I always leave with a heavy feeling in my heart.

My son is generally happy to go to school, but on this day he would not leave my side. His eyes welled up with tears as the school educators peeled him off me so I could leave. I could hear him screaming as I quickly walked back to my car. 

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The drop off at daycare went as expected. The usual clinginess and hysterical screams occurred.

But this time I didn't walk away with just a heavy heart. I felt something break.  

Back in my car, my children’s screams haunted me, and I couldn't stop the tears rolling down my cheeks. I cried the whole 20-minute car ride to work.

When I arrived, I tried so hard to calm down, to compose myself, but the first person who saw me asked if I was okay, and I broke. 

What was going on? Everyone kept asking what was wrong, and I had no answer. I didn't know; I just felt so incredibly sad. 

That afternoon my boss suggested I see my GP. I took her advice. I booked two weeks of leave and made an appointment. 

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My doctor told me I was showing signs of depression, gave me a mental health care plan and recommended a therapist. 

I’m normally a happy, positive person.

I’ve been through a fair bit in my life, but I’ve become a lot stronger for it. During therapy, everything that I had been through was raised, but it was clear that my past wasn't the issue. So what was it? 

My therapist delved deeper, and we came to the conclusion that I was extremely miserable in my job. 

I was in a job that didn’t bring me any joy or give me any purpose. 

I was good at what I did, but I was stuck in a role that wouldn’t progress and no similar roles outside of that company appealed to me. 

My therapist was also a career counsellor, and she assisted further by quizzing me about my job; likes, dislikes, what appealed to me, what didn't. 

I knew I couldn't stay in a role that was making me miserable, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. 

I decided to invest in myself. I found a life coach. 

The experience was fantastic, and I still use some of the techniques I learned from them in day-to-day life. Through life coaching, I was able to work out my strengths and weaknesses, figure out what drives me and what brings me joy.

I quickly came to the conclusion that helping people gives me joy and interacting with them gives me energy. I also have a huge passion for food and love to cook. The pieces of the puzzle started to come together.  

I had been following a ketogenic lifestyle for a few years and it had helped significantly with my health. The only issue I'd had with what is essentially a very high fat, low carb way of eating, was the lack of meal variety. It had forced me to get creative in the kitchen and I'd dreamed up plenty of recipes that fit my lifestyle. 

This gave me an idea. If other keto devotees were struggling with meal ideas, I could help them. I decided to start an in-home ketogenic cooking service. Customers would select from a list of recipes, I'd go to their home, cook for them and leave their kitchen even cleaner than when I got there. 

The service would be perfect for those lacking the time and inspiration to make exciting keto meals. 

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So was I really going to give up my career? 

I had invested so much time and effort - and it was going to mean losing a six-figure income. 

The idea of having to adjust to living on just my husband’s income for a few years was incredibly daunting - but I also knew how privileged I was to be in a position where that was possible. 

I decided to think about it while we took a trip to the UK. By the time I got on the plane to fly home, the decision had been made. Just the thought of going back to my job made my chest tighten and tears fall.

No doubt about it, we were worried about finances, but I knew I needed to do what made me happy.

I handed in my notice and started planning. 

Today, my business is two years old. I don’t even make 10 per cent of my old salary, but I could not be happier. 

I know I have made the right decision. 

Every day, I do something I truly enjoy and that my clients really appreciate. I absolutely love cooking for my clients and making their lives easier. 

I can work hours that suit my family, and I am able to take time off to watch my kids’ sports carnivals.  

My children are much happier because they spend more time with me. My family is less busy, and we are all calmer as a result. 

Making the decision to give up a secure six-figure salary was terrifying. It’s a substantial amount of money to lose.

But at the end of the day, we realised life is not just about money and that we must put our ourselves and mental health first or we won’t have the time to enjoy our lives as we deserve. Sometimes, less really is more.

Click here to find out more about Jenni's business.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you’re based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: Supplied.