A truly stressful job can destroy your self-esteem and confidence. It's been said that people don't necessarily leave jobs, they leave management.
Indeed, bad management can leave you feeling unmoored and unsupported.
There has been a wider conversation about hostile work environments over the last couple of years now that the COVID-19 pandemic has afforded many people the opportunity to switch careers and/or call it quits with their awful jobs.
No job is worth your mental and physical health.
People shared their stories with us after Redditor yourmaeve asked the online community:
"Redditors who changed careers from a high paying but stressful job to a lower paying but low stress job, was it worth it, why or why not?"
"My wife and I sold the house..."
"I didn't make the switch until I was 50. Something about turning 50 sparked a change in me. I previously had high blood pressure issues and I was having stress related fights with the people I love. I started to hate myself. Something had to change."
"My wife and I sold the house in the city and moved up to the high country. I took a low-paying job with a small startup company. I wanted to make a difference (and not just make an income)."
"EVERYTHING about my life got better almost instantly. Do I miss the money? Sometimes, but not often actually. The quality of life is way more important for us. We often comment/joke about how we still feel like were on a vacation."
Congrats on the change! It sounds like you guys are much happier and healthier to boot.
"The check is smaller..."
"Yep. The check is smaller, but comparable to what I would have lost in a divorce in a couple years."
"About a 45% pay cut, but my "real" labor hours dropped from like 65 and permanent on-call status to about 35 hrs or so and after 4pm, I CANNOT BE CONTACTED... worth it. I'm genuinely happier, healthier, and family life is now GREAT instead of slowly decaying."
Congratulations on saving your marriage and family.
"I left after 30 years..."
"Had an IT job. On call 24x7x365 - never knew what situation would come up. Phone would ring and it would make my blood pressure rise. I left after 30 years as they made me part owner, but God that was stressful."
Glad you got out! 30 years is a hell of a long time.
"Although what's interesting..."
"100%. Although what’s interesting is once I didn’t hate my job I did a much better job advancing and now I make about what I did back then."
It makes sense though that you would naturally just do a better job if you aren't hating your life.
"I'd rather be broke..."
"Yes. I'd rather be broke than suicidal."
Amen to that. Glad you're still here with us.
"It has come with some sacrifices..."
"Yes. It has come with some sacrifices, like I can't do the lavish vacations or buy the super fancy cars that all my neighbors do/have, but I also get to be at home every night and weekend. I learned through a stretch of rapid ascent up the corporate ladder that I don't care about that kind of ambition and got super burned out. I'm finally healing."
Healing is necessary. It's great that you've found what's important to you.
"Money is temporary..."
"Most definitely it was. Money is temporary but the peace of mind and much better family life are everything to me."
Peace of mind? A better family life? It sounds like you won the lottery. Well done!
"I used to rake in paychecks..."
"Yes. Yes. Yes."
"I took a 25% base pay-cut 4 years ago to escape a terrible situation at a terrible company. My new job was salaried, no overtime pay but also no real expectation of overtime. No regrets."
"I used to rake in paychecks that started with a $5xxx, net, with overtime but the negative effects on my health made it pointless. If you're working crazy overtime for too long, you're going to wind up in the hospital, especially if it's a high-stress job in a hostile work environment."
"I gave up the overtime, the title, and the base pay for a far better job elsewhere. To be honest, I haven't really even noticed a difference financially since I have far fewer medical expenses nowadays."
You have your health! That's huge. Kudos for escaping such a toxic work environment.
"I didn't really change companies..."
"I didn't really change companies but I had my middle management position eliminated (60+ hour weeks, stress) but was assigned to another position with about a $20k decrease. But it was 35 hour weeks, low stress, less meetings and when the day was over I was done: no after hour calls, no late nights."
"It was awesome and I ended up being glad I didn't leave for another company and another management position. I have since moved on but i wouldn't go back to a stress filled life."
That's great you were able to stay in the same company but find something right for you. I feel like a lot of people have to completely change their field to something different in order to find what works for them.
"Have since moved up..."
"I used to be a healthcare administrator for private practices. High stress, but pretty good pay. Got into IT at the very bottom. Low stress, low pay."
"Have since moved up and my pay has returned to previous levels. Some stressful days, however my worst day now is like an average day in my previous job. Most days are just fine and the good days are very good."
"I'm not high profile anymore and I don't have to wear a tie anymore. It has been worth the pain of losing 70% of my salary for several years. I sleep better and don't dread going to work everyday."
Sleeping better is the goal! Well done.
No job is worth sacrificing your health. Remember that the next time you feel like you're going to lose it and your management team isn't being supportive. You absolutely deserve better.
Have some stories of your own? Tell us more in the comments below!
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/