3 Bad Reasons Why I Stayed at a Job I Hate
Hi everyone! Grizzly mom here, finally showing up after emerging from a painful three weeks locked in a conference room with other disgruntled attorneys. I will spare you the (pretty boring) details of the trial, but suffice to say that it involved many sleepless nights, dozens of cans of sugar-free Red Bull (gross but effective), and 16+ hour days.
I hate my job. I am a litigator for a big law firm, and I have been at it for almost seven years. The horrendous hours, unpredictable schedule, and time away from Grizzly Dad and Baby Bear are the chief reasons why I hate my job, but the lack of autonomy, oppressive culture, and lack of camaraderie among associates or mentorship from the partners at my firm are also major gripes of mine. Yet, I still work there. Until Grizzly Dad helped me realize that independence was a possibility, I thought that I would be stuck in this job for the next 20+ years.
The truth is, I was never actually stuck in corporate law. I just felt stuck.
I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on my education.
I took on a ton of debt to go to Stanford Law School, so I felt some vague need to justify that huge expenditure. But spending my life litigating on behalf of billionaires and giant corporations at a corporate law firm is arguably not the best use of my investment in my education. And at any rate, the money that I spent on my education is long gone. No use crying over spilled milk. Time to move on.
What will people think of me?
I am an insecure, risk-averse people pleaser—a perennial good student who always did what I was told. So naturally, I chose my career path based on my need for approval. This character trait (or flaw, rather) is why I worked hard in high school to get into a “good” college, then worked hard to get into a “good” law school, and then worked hard to get into a “good” law firm, where I continue to work hard for…? Approval from other people, maybe? Social prestige? These are not legitimate reasons to work 60+ hours a week at a job that I hate. And societal approval is fleeting and vastly overrated anyway.
I need the money!
For years, I was convinced that I needed a six-figure salary to make ends meet. I know this sounds laughable and incredibly privileged. But when you live in San Francisco, New York, or another expensive city, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you “need” to make more than $100K a year. After all, renting a one-bedroom apartment easily exceeds $3500 a month in this town. Once you throw in $2,000 worth of educational debt, plus the cost of food (all those quinoa salads from Whole Foods are not cheap), you convince yourself that you need at least $100K. But the beautiful fact is – you don’t need to live in San Francisco and you don’t need to shop at Whole Foods. It takes some effort to save money, but ultimately, Whole Foods salads and San Francisco apartments are not worth slaving away in corporate law. Overcoming student debt is hard, but there are ways to refinance (as we will detail in another post).
In short, these are not good reasons to work at my job. But I imagine many of you who feel shackled to your corporate jobs probably tell yourselves the same lies to justify your long days and nights. Enough of this nonsense. Join us on our journey to save enough money to buy our freedom and free ourselves from our corporate overlords. Life is just too short.
Very nice that Grizzly mom finally joined the blog and shares her point of view.
I really appreciate the honesty from both of you. You are on the right track and I bet your daughter will be for ever grateful for the time you will spend with her during her childhood. I hope I will be able to do the same for my children one day. Greetings from Germany
I feel like I’m in the same boat. We are in NW Oklahoma so salaries and cost of living are far different. I work for a fire department, and the security is the hard part for me; low cost insurance with great coverage, $50,000/yr job, pension, I only work ten 24 hr shifts per month, but I’m definitely unhappy and feel stuck.
We’re working towards FI through real estate hopefully within the next 3-5 years. You guys started Grizzly Mom & Dad at the perfect time for us to keep up during our journey. Thanks!
You have a great story. Kids change everything. It never hurts kids to have a well educated mother.
Grizzly Mom – I feel exactly the same way. I also went into Biglaw – albeit in the midwest – and hated every moment of it. I needed the gig because I wanted to pay my student loans back and wanted the prestige. It’s funny, when you’re in law school, you really think that everyone knows these law firms. Once you’re out in the real world, no one knows except for other lawyers! Screw prestige is what I think now.
I ended up saving my money, paying my loans off in 2.5 years, and then quit to take a gig in state government. So much better atmosphere and even with the huge paycut, I’m still doing totally fine since I never let myself get accustomed to the biglaw paycheck.
I’m sure you’ll feel great once you can get out of the biglaw trap. One of the best decisions I ever made.
Thanks so much, Financial Panther! I totally agree — no one outside of the little world of lawyers knows or cares about the prestige of law firms. I’m actually interviewing for a city attorney position in the Bay Area. Although we hope to save up enough to retire in a couple of years, it would be nice to work in a different atmosphere for a while.
Thanks for sharing. I’m curious how you decided to stay where you are at your job for the next couple of years to retire early vs. trying to find a better job now that makes the present more enjoyable but may delay retirement a few years. And how do you get through the tough times at work now while you know the payoff is a couple of years away? I’m in a similar situation with long hours, demanding work, good money and thinking through these things.