The brief answer: an itch. This short article doesn’t aim to look down on investment banking. It is also not going to try to convince one to quit your task to visit the world. Looking back again, the main feeling that emerges when I think back again to my time at J.P. Morgan is appreciation. I worked with an amazing team, contributed to transactions that in lots of ways transformed the healthcare industry, and learned an unbelievable amount in a short period of your time.
Don’t get me wrong, as an analyst, I worked well 70-100 hours a week and had to sacrifice many, many weekends to get the working job done. My friends can attest. At its worst, I proved helpful 30 direct hours on a financial model, and I’d venture to say I gained as hard as any other analyst on Wall Street. But I usually knew that I was within an extremely lucky position which to complain simply designed I was keeping the wrong perspective.
There were one thousand other kids who’d happily take my job, and yes, at times, things were tough, but I understood what I was getting myself into. I signed up to work hard and I was forced by no one to sign the dotted line. Why did I quit? That’s me earlier this season at Salar de Uyuni, the salt flats in Bolivia where during the rainy season, the light level of water on the sky is reflected by the bottom from a distance. For years, there was no other place in the world I needed to visit more than Uyuni.
It was my dream to travel there and experience the place with my very own hands and eye. But of course, my desires didn’t end there. I wanted to watch the water trickle down at Iguazu falls in Argentina rigorously, motorbike from city to city in Vietnam, and scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
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For as long as I can remember, I needed what proved to be an uncontrollable desire to one day quit my job and backpack around the world. The only thing stopping me? It wasn’t just my current job. It was about my next job and my next job and the main one after that. If you are in a competitive, hyper-ambitious environment like the main one in the SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, you’re constantly encircled by people who aren’t just reaching for the moon – they’re reaching for Mars.
Quit your task and take more than 14 days off work? That’s for the vulnerable. Big opportunity cost there. Not a smart move. Obviously, none of that was true. It was all in my head. The plain truth is that we now have an infinite ways to approach life. There is no right or incorrect career route; there are just incorrect perspectives. I emerged to understand this whenever a close relative grew gravely sick. She had experienced dreams to travel to spend the summer months in Spain, visit the pyramids in Egypt, and eat spaghetti in Italy.
But with ALS, journeying is now an agonizing hassle rather than luxurious pleasure. Even eating meals is an enormous struggle when you’re able to barely hold a fork. How are you likely to bring a jump and backpack from plane to plane? How will you eat that spaghetti?
I acutely grasped in the future that life may take a sharp turn in a direction you do not want it to go literally in virtually any moment. I made a decision that doing what I truly wanted to do while having the methods to take action was an apparent decision for the reason that I essentially didn’t have one.
And I realized that if I ever experienced that itch again, I needed to tend to it. What does this mean for you? If you have an itch to do something and you know you’ll regret not carrying it out if you are old and gray, you need to do it. It doesn’t mean you must do anything unethical, put yourself in financial wreck, or drop everything you’re currently doing to get what you would like.