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Why I Left My Well Paid Corporate Job

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Just over a month ago I left my well-paid corporate job.

I was working at a Big Four company, in a shiny new office with views over the Thames River and Tower Bridge; I even had a promotion lined up for October.

You probably think it was stupid of me to leave, and you might wonder why I did. Long story short; I wasn’t happy.

I knew that a month after I started working there, but it took me a year and a half to decide it was time to move on.

What did I move on to? I still don’t know.

The view from my ex-office (no that wasn't my desk...)

The view from my ex-office (no that wasn’t my desk…)

Before I jump straight into what happened and what’s in store for the future of this blog, let me give you a bit of introduction on myself and how I ended up here.

Let’s go back to teenage me. Teenage me was an over achiever. I had good grades and I did lots of extra curricular activities, and I found it all easy.

Not because I was particularly smart or hard working, I just did as I was told and didn’t leave homework to the night before.

Naturally, I applied to those top universities, because that’s also what you’re supposed to do.

When I got an offer from University College London to study Geography, I knew I could easily get the minimum entry points they required.

After completing my summer internship, between my second and third year of university, I had a job offer lined up for after graduation.

Instead of dealing with job search stress, I took the job so I could focus on my final year of university.

Enjoying the turquoise water of the Gili T beaches

Enjoying the turquoise water of the beaches in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

I never stopped to think about what I wanted to do, I just went along with what I was expected to do.

I finished high school when I was 17, got my degree when I was 20 and started working a couple months after graduation.

Now after a year and a half of working at a job I hated, I decided it’s time for me to stop and properly think about what I want to do. I’m still figuring it out, but what I’m sure of is that I’m not looking for a standard office career.

I want a life of experiences and seeing the world, not of creating PowerPoint presentations for meetings I won’t even speak in.

I want to hike volcanoes at night to watch the sunrise, snorkel with turtles and explore new cities.

Maybe once I’m done I’ll go back to the corporate world, but at the moment it’s not what I want or need. I want to follow my passions.

Wandering around London, the city that has become my second home

Wandering around London, the city that has become my second home

As soon as I started working I felt trapped in my job.

My flatmates make fun of me and say I get really bad FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) because as soon as I hear someone talking in the kitchen I’ll come out of my room to see what’s up, in fear that my flatmates might be having fun without me.

I guess that’s also how I felt about seeing the world.

It didn’t help that a lot of my friends who had graduated with me were off on incredible adventures around South America and Asia, while I was at my desk for 10+ hours a day, doing work I found boring.

At the top of the First Peak Hike

Feeling on top of the world after a hike in Stawamus Provincial Park, Canada.

I have always loved travelling. I was really lucky as a kid since my parents travelled a lot either for work, or they had long breaks and they could take me on cool trips.

After I started working the travel bug bit me. You can call it travel FOMO too I guess.

The thought of spending the rest of my life in an office made me want to escape more and more often, in an attempt to travel and see everything before I “grew up” and then would no longer be able to.

The financial freedom that comes with having a well paid corporate job obviously also helped, as I could go on trips without having to ask anything from my parents.

In the year and a half I spent working in an office I went on 6 long haul international trips to places like Dubai, Mexico, the Caribbean, Thailand, Kenya, Bali and multiple European weekend breaks (to Rome, Seville, Tuscany and Bath to name a few).

I got so many questions about how I could travel so much with a job that I even wrote a post about it.

Every time I came back the post-holiday blues would hit me harder than the time before. I was always unhappy when I was at work, and it was starting to affect my personal life too.

I wanted to quit, but I didn’t know how to break it to my parents.

Watching the sun set from Ipanema and Arpoador

Watching the sun set from Ipanema and Arpoador, in Rio de Janeiro

My parents are the most hardworking and successful people I know.

My mum is an ex world champion in judo, when she stopped competing she opened her own martial arts gym and started teaching judo to children. Her gym had the most memberships across Italy, with 300+ children per year.

My dad is a TV producer, mostly for sports TV shows but also cruise travel documentaries (his show is where I had my first experiences filming and travelling, that then lead to this blog)!

They taught me from a young age that you have to work hard to achieve the things you want, and to never quit.

After supporting me for so long, and finally being able to tell their friends that their 21-year-old daughter already had a degree and a well-paid job in a fancy company, I wasn’t sure how they’d take me quitting.

Swimming in the crystal clear waters of Sardinia

Swimming in the crystal clear waters of Sardinia, Italy

I started this travel blog about 7 months ago, and it has been a life saver since.

I finally had a hobby again. I won’t lie and say that it started as a creative outlet that then turned into something more, although it is also that.

I started it because I saw successful travel bloggers getting paid to travel the world and I thought, “If they can do it, surely I can too. I’m going to work to get that life”!

So I started putting what I’d learned from my dad’s TV show to use online, creating videos on YouTube and advertising them on Instagram and Facebook.

It then developed into an actual blog, where I write travel guides and stories with videos and pictures. Greta’s Travels then expanded to include also other social media platforms like Twitter and Pinterest.

I finally had something to do again that I enjoyed, that was completely different from my day to day job, and I started getting more and more into it.

Receiving comments and DMs like the ones below makes me genuinely happy, and I find it way more rewarding than any praise I ever received at work.

Some of the comments I received on Instagram and YouTube

Some of the comments I receive on Instagram and YouTube, that make me love what I’m doing

Enjoying the morning light after the night hike

Watching the sunrise from the crater of Kawah Ijen, an active volcano in Indonesia

I can’t remember what the tipping point was. I had a horrible day at work once and decided I couldn’t handle it anymore. So I did it. I quit.

I called my mum in tears saying I wanted to quit, and she told me not to worry. That whatever I decided to do her and dad would always support me, and that my happiness was more important than any job.

I’m privileged and I know it. I know not everybody can quit their job on a whim, and I’m grateful I was able to.

This doesn’t mean I’m just going to go back home and have my parents support me.

I saved up in the past year and a half of working, and I have some money of my own that I’m planning to live off and fund my future travels with.

My parents are both entrepreneurs, and they raised me to value my independence. While they might have been a bit disappointed that I quit all of a sudden, they both knew it was never going to last.

Enjoying the sunset in Gili T, admiring Lombok in the distance

Enjoying the sunset in Gili Trawangan, admiring Lombok in the distance

I don’t have a solid plan for the future yet, and I’m ok with that.

After doing everything that I was supposed to do so quickly, I decided it’s time to stop and actually think about what I want to do. 

What I do know is that I don’t want to be a management consultant, and ideally I never want to work in a corporate office again.

I figured there wasn’t much point in me staying there and waiting till promotion.

My flatmate makes fun of me for being impulsive. When we were flat hunting I fell I love with every flat we saw and wanted to rent it immediately, and I would have if she wasn’t more responsible than me and stopped me every time.

In this case though, I knew I had to listen to my impulsive side and go for it, or I’d never get round to it.

I’d always postpone; wait for the next pay check, wait till the next project that will hopefully be more interesting, or wait till promotion, and then never leave. And always be unhappy.

Getting up close to Bridal Veil Falls

Chasing waterfalls in Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park, Canada

What’s in store for the future now you might ask?

At the moment I’m working at a judo summer camp for kids in Sardinia (admittedly it’s my mum’s summer camp but hey, no point in her paying for another assistant if I’m available)!

Once this is over I’m going to dedicate myself full time to Greta’s Travels, creating more and better content.

I’m going to spend the summer in Italy. Despite the long summers I had at university, due to internships and travelling I haven’t been home for longer than two weeks in the past five years.

After that I have some trips planned from September around Europe with friends, and hopefully onwards to full time travel soon enough!

Enjoying the tropical beaches of Koh Lanta, Thailand

Enjoying the tropical beaches of Koh Lanta, Thailand

If you follow me regularly you will have noticed this is my first time writing something as personal as this.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read this, and for following me in my adventures, I wouldn’t be able to do this without you!

There will hopefully be lots of good things to come in the future for this blog, and I’m excited to bring you with me on this adventure!

Have you ever felt the same way? If you have any similar stories you want to share just leave me a comment and I’d love to read about them.

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Photo collage of a blonde girl by Tower Bridge, at the beach in Italy, by a sunrise and hiking a mountain with text overlay saying "Why I left my corporate job"

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Wednesday 18th of March 2020

[…] used to work in More London when I had an office job (did you read about how I quit my corporate job?) and I was always very jealous of people that could sit there during the week and enjoy the summer […]

FLORENCE TIMOTHY

Thursday 27th of June 2019

Hi Greta, thanks for the courage to choose and go for what you love. i did same but it took me ten years to conquer my fears of the unknown and the opinion of others especially we in Africa where the family ties are so strong and ones life decision can not be taken independently, you need lots of gut to do this. today am happy living the life i always dream of from childhood. Bravo.

Moa

Friday 31st of May 2019

Ahhhh I relate to this so much. I found this post via Google. I went straight from college to a desk job. I have had 3 promotions in 5 years but is it making me happy? NO!!!! So today I told my manager that I am moving to Bulgaria (I'm in the UK). We are going to start a new life there, experience a new culture (well my bf is Bulgarian so not so new for him haha). It's just so exciting. Life is too short to sit behind a desk.

Sam

Thursday 2nd of May 2019

thats Exellent article i love to visit here

Alexandra Wrigley

Wednesday 20th of March 2019

Hey Greta! I know i'm a bit late to the club commenting. But it's so good to read your post. I've recently done the same and left everything behind in the UK on my university break. Staying in Nepal missing my flight home and leaving job. I have no direct plan but all I can say is I'm so happy with my decision. I'm living in the moment.

I can relate to your story so much. I was also introduced to travel from a young age and I don't think i'll ever get sick of it!

Greta

Thursday 21st of March 2019

Hey Alex, thanks for the comment and so excited to hear about your decision, I hope it all works out and wishing you all the best on your travels! I still haven't been to Nepal, I'll have to ask you for tips when I finally decide to go! :)