Ending a Short Chapter in My Career

This Sunday, I woke, poured my morning cup (or two or three) of coffee and turned on the television. I began flipping through the channels to see what I could watch before I fired up my laptop to begin blogging.  I stumbled across a classic, Office Space, and had to watch the rest of the movie.   It is one of those movies I have to watch to the finish line, regardless of whether I started watching at the beginning, middle or the end.  Even though I have watched the movie time and time again, there was something different about watching it this weekend.

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The movie has always resonated with me because it represented everything that I did not want in a career.  Since I studied accounting, I knew I would start my career working for some organization focusing on selling X product or providing X service.  This was prior to my decision to start in public accounting, when during my college years it seemed as if every large corporation and public accounting firm in Ohio would wine and dine you and other students to convince them why their internship or rotational program was better for your career than the others.  Through this, I always knew that I did not want to work for some large company where I would sit at a desk every day, pushing papers, updating meaningless spreadsheets, and creating reports for some unknown internal use.  Sounds a lot like Initech, right?  No, I wanted to find an organization where I felt my actions and hard work will make a lasting impact daily.  Sounds cliché, I know, and I’m sure that everyone feels that way.

That’s why watching Office Space was different this time.  Because after resisting becoming a part of the machine and sticking true to my passions and desires when landing my first job in public accounting, I realized I put myself in the one position that I promised myself I wouldn’t.  After I switched jobs earlier in the year, I had become Peter Gibbons.  That’s me. I am one of those employees that works for a large corporation that continues to perform X meaningless function and producing X meaningless report.  Slowly and surely, over the last few months, I have fallen far off of the emotional high that a new job provides you with and faced the reality of the passionate-less “I am going to show up, do my job, go home” mentality that everyone at Initech and unfortunately way too many unsatisfied employees possess.  I am usually an energetic happy-go-lucky guy most of the time, but I would come home from work every day feeling emotionless, tired, and boring….yes, boring.  I hate the feeling and I hate the fact that I had to subject my fiancé, family and friends to the feelings as it surely trickled down to them.

I have found myself at a crossroads. Even though I hate the position, I was still progressing at a faster pace than my colleagues and showing my ability to move up the corporate ladder.  We all have heard the pitches from management: stay in line, perform well, show promise and you will be rewarded one day. When that day comes, you will be compensated with a nice raise and possibly a promotion when the next position opens up (who actually knows when that will be).  Just stay in line, stay a part of the machine and you will be taken to prosperity.  The sales pitch sounds great and since we are all chasing financial freedom, the dollars (and dividend income– since we love to invest our savings into these great dividend growth stocks) that come with climbing the ladder can be attractive.  But is it worth going through the motions and climbing the ladder if the motions leave you feeling… well… emotionless?  I have asked myself that question so many times over the last few months and arrive at the same conclusion every single time.

Do you all know where I am going with this?  Last week, I resigned from the position that I accepted just a few months ago and I am heading back to my former employer and back into public accounting. I got one heck of a sales pitch from one of my best friends (Take a guess who that is everyone!) and it was time to return home to my first employer.  Think about everything I wrote in the last few paragraphs, the feelings I had at work were not right and were not healthy.  The project I was pitched and the “positive noise” we were making in the company were not as satisfying as I thought they would be.   Life is too short to be miserable and I care too much about trying to make a difference in my own or someone else’s life to continue to sit behind a desk, being a man in the corporate machine, and preparing memo after memo that would just be filed away in the accounting departments internal files. Worst of all, my professional growth came to a screeching halt as well.  While it may work for some, it just was not the right fit for me.  While public accounting has its disadvantages (with work-life balance typically being number 1 on the list), I missed the interaction with clients, helping them with their problems, training those who were younger than me, the satisfaction that came with completing a complete audit cycle and most importantly, learning from the one person that I have grown to respect more than any other person over the last few years.

So now that this chapter is coming to an end, I wanted to pass along the best lesson this experience has taught me.  Don’t be afraid to make a change. Unfortunately, as a part of our human nature, we can be our own worst enemy and put up road blocks that prevent us from achieving greatness or pursuing what makes us happy in life for whatever reason.  If there is something that is causing you pain and is a negative in your life, don’t be afraid to begin getting the ball rolling on a solution that will one day alleviate this from your life.  Whether that is going back to school to get a degree, working at building a website that will one day allow us all to hand in our employer name badge and become our own boss (Thanks for the inspiration on this one Jason – Dividend Mantra), or even placing a call to the recruiter…TAKE ACTION.  Your life is in your hands and only you know what is best for you.  I’m not saying the change has to be immediate, but put together a plan, start the engine, and drive towards the change that will make your life better.

Okay everyone, I promise I am done with the clichés.  Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last year and changes I’ve gone through.  We are all making moves and heading in the right direction, so let’s continue to push ourselves to be the best we can be and reach financial freedom as soon as possible! Let’s make the most of our lives and put ourselves in the position to make the greatest impact, that provides us and the one’s we love with the best experiences.

-Bert

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26 thoughts on “Ending a Short Chapter in My Career

  1. Can’t blame you whatsoever and as someone finishing up school it’s good to see someone in the workforce have conviction in their decisions to stay true to their passions and desires. Best of luck to you on the next chapter!

    • Thank you Joe, very much appreciated here! Sometimes it is hard to remember what your passions are, especially when a company is flashing more money in front of you because they can. But if the passion is not their, you won’t work to the best of your ability and won’t get the most out of your experience. That’s where I found myself. I’d rather earn less but work on something more satisfying providing me with better knowledge and experiences than earning more for less. It may sound ridiculous, but the money will follow the experiences down the road, so make sure you make yourself the best candidate out there!

      Thanks again for stopping by an the kind words. Best of luck with your journey as you enter the workforce. Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams!

      Bert

  2. Bert, well done! It must’ve been hard to move again after having only taken on this job recently, but it looks like you’re making the right decision fit the right reasons. I’m sure you’ll be way happier going back to public accounting!

    Best of luck,

    Cheers

    • M,

      Thank you very much. Strangely, it wasn’t really that hard. I knew after the first month that it wasn’t the right fit and I wanted to make a change before I got settled in and handed more responsibilities. It wasn’t the same as my old job at all and I will never be able to replicate the family atmosphere of what I had and what I will be going back to. Thank goodness I didn’t burn that bridge!

      Bert

  3. I’m still working for a public accounting firm, but in a more interesting role (at least to me) than I was in before. I always think about leaving since my schedule can be such a P.I.T.A. sometimes as in client service some of the deadlines can be quite aggressive. But I don’t want to be bored. I want to be challenged. Let’s see how long I can last 🙂

    • FF,

      Man it is so much different outside of public accounting. I felt like my mind was always going at about 200 mph in public vs. 25 mph in private industry. The slowdown was much worse than I had anticipated. Like you, I enjoyed the constant challenges that public provides and for me, I really missed the client interaction and the “your back is against the wall before a deadline” mentality. It always kept me on my toes and gave me the drive needed to stay focused and work my ass off every day. I can’t wait to dive back in.

      It is a tough balance. You will know when the time is right to leave and when you feel like you have gotten all of the experiences you want to out of public. I thought I knew where that line was, but I still have a lot more left in the tank.

      Thanks for stopping by and the support!

      Bert

    • Thanks Tawcan! I am excited because the familiarity will allow me to hit the ground running instead of having to spend the first few months running around to try and figure out where to go to find information and complete tasks. That was huge in my decision so I can begin getting those tough, challenging experiences that I want right away. Plus, it never hurts to go back to a place that treats you like you are a part of their family! I can’t emphasize how much that matters and unfortunately you don’t always realize something like that until it is gone.

      As always, I appreciate the support and your kind words.

      Bert

    • Thanks Pat! That is a huge point to remember during this process, especially when your bosses are telling you how big of a mistake you are making. If something is not right for you, it is not right end of story and you have the freedom to pursuit opportunities that will make you happy. I don’t want to run through life every day upset as a curmudgeon…what fun would that be??

      Take care and thanks for stopping by!

      Bert

    • Thanks ADD. I have a great feeling that it will the second time around. This time will be a lot different and I have a much different mindset going into this “new” job that I didn’t have 4 months ago. I learned a lot about myself and what I want out of a career. Having that mindset will make it that much easier to be happy in public accounting!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Bert

  4. Good luck bro. I’m currently finishing my accounting degree. . Lol sometimes I just want to a truck driving license and get away from this city..but financial freedom is the mission. Let’s goo.

  5. Good luck bro. I’m currently finishing my accounting degree. . Lol sometimes I just want to a truck driving license and get away from this city..but remember financial freedom is the mission. Dicipline.

    • haha thanks Victor! Trust me, there were many Saturdays where I wished I had my old high school job in a grocery store. It seemed so nice in the middle of my busy season. As you said though, FF is the end goal and that would be hard as heck in that job. So here I am pressing to get there as soon as possible!

      Thanks for stopping by and best of luck in school and the career you choose to pursue!

      Bert

  6. Bravo to you – firstly for making the initial move and secondly, for not letting pride get in the way by changing your mind when you realised that the new job was not what you thought it would be. The fact that you were able to go back to your old job just goes to show that it is never a good idea to burn bridges as you never know what will happen in the future.

    That was a great read, thanks for posting about your experience.

    Good luck and all the best.

    • Thank you very much! I appreciate the kind words. Not burning bridges is key and it is never a good idea (even though I burned the bridge at this employer). What was awesome was how nice my employer was in welcoming back. They never said “I told you so” or gloated that I was coming back. Instead, they were kind, considerate, and made me feel as if I was returning back home to a family. That’s the kind of place I want to work for!

      It sometimes can be hard to swallow your pride. But not this time, it was the easiest decision I could have made. Again, thanks for stopping by and the kind words.

      Bert

  7. Damn straight Bert. Some jobs are just shy of soul-sucking to some, I’ve been in those shoes too. Mine current spot is much better, but I know I don’t want to do it forever.

    That being said, push that FI. The closer you get the sooner you can take that sweet construction job Peter gets at the end of Office Space. If that is what you want of course.

    – Gremlin

    • Gremlin,

      Thank you very much. The soul sucking experiences are sadly a necessary evil. You don’t know how crushing they really are until you are in too deep, since every recruiter and manager do a great job pitching their opportunity as the best (which you can’t really blame them). All that matters is that you learn from all of your experiences, good or bad. Glad to hear that you also are moving on to better situations and jobs. I don’t think anyone in the community will truly love their current jobs because we all crave and seek financial independence.

      All I know is I want to get through the rat race as possible. I already have my FI job picked out, because I definitely won’t be able to stop working. It is just in my blood. To me, nothing would be better than relaxing each night as an usher for the Indians. Spending 81 nights outside watching the sport I love sounds amazing to me. Plus, blogging and living on dividends along the way. What’s your FI plan?

      Thanks for stopping by and the kind words/motivations!

      Bert

  8. Well, you would have never known if you didn’t try! You now understand your needs better as an individual and this is quite something. Staying true to your passions will surely pay out at one point.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  9. Congratulations on being able to take a step back and assess your situation, it’s harder to do than one would think. This really brought back memories for me. Over a decade ago I was watching Office Space with my wife on a Sunday night. Monday morning I gave notice to a Family Law firm that was destroying my will to live. One of my better decisions.

    • Thanks Chimp! I love that story, that’s incredible. The decisiveness is amazing. Isn’t funny how that movie seems to provide you with one heck of a reality check. I agree, it is hard to give a fair assessment while you are in the heat of the moment. On one hand, you are living everything that is pushing you out the door while the other company is selling you on greener pastures. Sounds like you made the best decision for you and your family and you haven’t looked back since.

      Bert

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