Your Job or Your Happiness-A.K.A. Why I Demoted Myself

by Matt B

OfficeLast week was a busy one for me. On Tuesday, I interviewed for a new position within my company. I have been unhappy in my current position for far too long and decided to look for a change. When a position opened, I thought hard before finally applying. After taking a few assessments over the course of about 2 weeks, I scheduled an interview.

With the interview in place, I had to let my manager know my intentions to consider this new position. It came as no surprise to me that he was unhappy. I am good at my job, and have capabilities that many do not, and he knows this. We discussed the position, what he thought of it, what I thought of it and why I intended to leave. Overall, it was a productive meeting. But his aims to change my mind were for naught.

Long story short, after my interview, I had a pretty good idea that the job was mine. I was far more qualified than any of the other candidates and have a better working knowledge of the position and the intricacies of the day to day operations. Two days after the interview, I got the call and was offered the job.

This position carries less responsibility and carries a lower “rank” within the company…so why accept the position?

As I have made no secret, I did not enjoy what I was doing. My remedy to this is to take this new job, try it on for size and see if it makes me happier. I have a feeling that I will be in a much better place within a month or two. My happiness is much more important to me than having a prestigious or glamorous job.

You are not getting paid as much…are you still sure?

Absolutely. I mulled over the pay for quite some time. When it came down to negotiation time, I stood my ground. I realize that the base salary of this particular position is quite a bit less than I am making currently, but that is irrelevant if I can get what I need. I was very forward from the get-go about my salary expectations and let my interviewer know what was acceptable regarding pay rate. It did require a few phone conversations and some awkward pauses during the process, but I got what I need. It is a slight pay cut, but is a more than fair salary for the position. I am not upset or disappointed at all about my new (slightly lower) salary.

What is the difference between the old position and this new one?

While it is for the same company, the differences are night and day. My old job entailed a lot of customer service, problem resolution and sales. While the first two I can carry out with ease, I have never been (and probably will never be) a good salesman. After a few years of the company pushing different products, (some of which I did not even believe were beneficial to customers) I have had enough. The new job lies within the “operations” sector, and requires no sales or customer contact of any kind, a welcome change.

Another difference with the new position are the responsibilities themselves. While I need not go into great detail about specifics, I will say that for the new job, I will have to rely a lot more on myself than others. That means less “leadership”…which means I will not have to harp on irresponsible people all day long about silly things they overlooked. That also means less tasks in my queue. I will not be walking into a hailstorm of unending tasks every day like I have been for years.

Making the final decision was easy.

As I have already stated, my happiness is much more important to me than a few dollars. I consider myself pretty healthy overall, but I do get scared when I take my blood pressure at the drugstore and it is teetering on the verge of “pre-hypertension” due to stress. In addition to happiness, health is of the utmost importance, and hopefully my new position will allow less stress and more freedom for side projects (like Financial Methods!).

The moral of this recent decision is that when it comes to my career, I know what I want and need, and money is not the most important factor in my job. While it is in the top 5, happiness and health far outrank them. Have you ever had to make a decision like this one? If so, how did it turn out? I’m very optimistic that this decision will work out well for me in the long-run. For now, I’ll just take it one day at a time and acclimate myself to my new surroundings. Wish me luck!

Photo: hfb

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Ashley August 17, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Good for you and good luck! It pains me to watch people stuck in jobs they cannot stand because they feel the world will crumble if their paycheck is less than a certain amount. A lot of people could stand to learn a lesson from you, money doesn’t buy happiness.

The sister August 18, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Kudos to you for following your gut! People tend to adjust to whatever money they’re making; I’m sure you won’t miss the pay difference.
Last year when I was switching jobs I made a move from upstate New York to North Carolina, and there was definitely some negotiation in pay in that situation, not just because of the move. Months later I heard my boss comment about someone who had started a new job with our company and complained about the pay. She said something like, “Well, [the new person] had the opportunity to negotiate when they started; it’s their own fault they’re not making more”. Number one, I was glad I had taken some time to really consider what the salary would mean for my lifestyle, and whether it would cover my basic expenses. Secondly, I realized that bosses notice when you negotiate; it shows that you know you’re good at what you do, you have confidence in your abilities, and that you see yourself as an asset to your employer. I think sometimes people low-ball themselves when they hear about salary–kudos to you to really take time to consider how the change (in salary and lifestyle) will affect your life and how your expertise can benefit the company you work for.

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