Why I Chose Happiness Over Money

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Sometimes following your dreams is easier said than done, especially when you have rent, student loan bills, and grocery costs piling up each month. Financial burdens compounded with mental health struggles can make it easy to find yourself afloat in a soul-sucking job but “it pays the bills.” But what if that isn't enough? What if you find yourself dreading your next shift? What if you wake up and immediately run the typical “call out sick” scenarios in your head? It might be time to leave your job and find the soul-fulfilling job that you have always dreamed.

I recently left my full-time job, with no backup plan and a modest savings account as a financial cushion. I was initially sad about leaving this job.  I had joined this company in its infancy and had so many hopes and dreams for a future with them. However, over the past year and a half, I began to see that's all I was holding onto…. dreams…in reality, I was working late nights (as a morning person this was severely harming my mentality), working directly with the public for ten to fourteen hours at a time (introvert overload!), and most importantly I was missing out on spending time with my partner.

After the initial sadness of leaving the job, I thought I loved; I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. I was free to pursue a career that directly aligns with my degree and pursue opportunities to help others in my community in a meaningful and lasting way. I traded in my comfortable salary, generous health care package, and paid vacation for the hope of unknown fulfillment.

 

As John Lennon once said:

“You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one.”

 

But let's be real, up and leaving your unsatisfying job may not be feasible for everyone but you can take small steps every day that will slowly pry open the windows of opportunity for you! Personally, volunteering has proved to be the most beneficial experience for myself and my career (even just 2 hours a week). Through volunteering, I learned that meeting people and finding out more about yourself and your community are invaluable in a professional and personal way.

Now let's look at the “bigger picture”... a paycheck (as important as they are) is a short-term form of wealth, but the wealth I acquired through my volunteer experiences have proved invaluable to me. Volunteering lead me to Boston where I became sober, met the love of my life, began pursuing a degree in sustainability, and discovered my sense of worth and autonomy.

Taking this plunge was scary, sad and stressful but it was also enlightening, fun, and exciting! I wouldn't go back for all the money in the world. Now that I have found myself in the field of unknowing I walk lighter, I laugh more, and I get to share my love and time with everyone, not just those who pay me.

In the end, it is important to keep a roof over your head and have all your needs met but never stop pursuing greatness (whatever that looks like to you!).  Never get discouraged and settle for a job that sells you dreams but in reality is just smoke and mirrors. You are so much more than your hourly wage, and it's time you prove that to yourself.

Written by Casey Byrd. Casey is a Kentucky native and lifelong farmer. They are the editor of Boston Green Blog