Why I Quit My High Paying Job to Move Across The World

Selfie in front of river in guangzhou china

Last updated on October 21st, 2021 at 12:30 pm

This post was previously my About page; however, I decided to make this my introduction as it gives a little bit more detail on how and why I decided to quit my job and move halfway across the world. Plus, my previous “About” page was just way too damn long. Without further ado:

How Did I Get Here?

Selfie in front of river in guangzhou china

“I think you should do business.”

I just got off the phone with my mom. It was the summer after my freshmen year of college and I was visiting friends in California. It was about 8:30 in the morning and my head was still throbbing from the remnants of a crushing hangover.

“I think you should switch your degree to something more applicable. Like business,” she reiterated.

I had been thinking about this idea, after all. I mean, a film degree in a shit economy wasn’t going to do me any good and my studying (partying) at the University of Colorado at Boulder put me $20,000 in debt only after my first year. What the fuck was I going to do?

A business degree seemed like the right way to go. I remember asking some of my friends near the end of high school what they were going to focus on and many told me they would get a business degree. I thought, “how incredibly boring.” I had always wanted to do film and had this conviction that a degree would plant my feet right into a cool job upon graduation.

This is not the way the film industry works. They don’t give a shit about where you graduated or what your degree says. My decision to switch majors was solidified after I had the opportunity to speak to a producer who confirmed my beliefs. A film degree was essentially worthless at getting your foot in the door.

So, business it was.

University of Utah Football Stadium

Let’s Go Utes!

I transferred to the University of Utah and began my sophomore year as a business student with a focus in Finance. I joined the school’s finance club and started to learn all things about the business world. Accounting, stocks, venture capital, private equity, valuation, and lots of other typical ‘financy’ things.

During this time I learned how competitive the industry is and what it takes to get to the best jobs in New York City. Professors and mentors stressed the importance of getting internships and relative experience, so I followed suit.

I got my first summer internship at an international finance company with a division located right down from my apartment in Salt Lake City. I was exhilarated but also nervous. They were going to pay me the most I had ever gotten paid for any type of work and I was going to finally get relevant experience that I could put on my resume.

The enthusiasm for my position plummeted rather quickly. After about three weeks I realized that the “office culture” is not really a culture for me. Wasting hours of each day looking at documents that I don’t care about for a guy that I’ve never even met before. I didn’t really see the point. Is this what we’re supposed to do with our lives? Work in a suit and tie and fill up 8 hours a day because that’s what we’re told is normal and how society functions? Sounded more like slavery to me.

After a summer of boredom and a new found realization that I didn’t want to rot away on a desk, I decided that I would move to China to teach English. I began to do extensive research on how to get teaching certifications, where the best cities in were, and how I would manage my student loan payments while abroad.

As this was coming together I got a call from an HR representative at the company that I had interned with over the summer. She asked if I was interested in interviewing for an analyst position in New York City. I said, “Fuck yeah!”

Manhattan Skyline at sunset

My new potential home!

The possibility of getting out of Utah and moving to a great city like New York while getting paid a nice salary outweighed all of those negative feelings that I had about my internship the prior summer. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity so I seized the one before me.

I got hired and moved to New York City in June 2014 to begin my new career. I had a shoddy apartment in the East Village but couldn’t have been more stoked to be in such an energetic environment.

Little Italy sign in New York City

One of my favorite spots in the city.

This was it. I had made it. I had accomplished what I had set out to do nearly four years before.

After training we got placed on our specific teams and started to learn the tricks of the trade. Things were okay but it was all so new I hadn’t really formed an opinion yet. I finally worked on my first deal in September of that year and completed it with success. I felt excited and thrilled for about two days.

This type of up and down continued into the end of the year and at that point I received my long-awaited, super hyped, end-of-year bonus! It was the single largest sum of cash that I had received in at one time. I felt super motivated and driven to work so hard so that the following year my bonus would be even BIGGER!

And that feeling lasted for about two days.

This was a monumental moment for me because at that point I realized that making large sums of money wasn’t ever going to make me happy. Sure, I was grateful to receive so much money at once as it would help me with my student loans and other expenses, but it really wasn’t a motivator for me.

Vietnamese girl burning $100 bills

I felt like this girl burning $100 bills. Money don’t matter!

What I truly wanted was freedom.

Freedom to stay up late or sleep in when I wished.

Freedom to go to the gym when I could actually use the equipment.

Freedom to eat lunch at restaurants that weren’t confined to a one block radius around my office building.

Freedom to build a life with the knowledge, skill, and information that I had acquired through my own hard work and passion.

Thankfully, this day and age it is entirely feasible to enjoy these freedoms because:

We live in the information age.

Drinking beer on roof in Ho Chi Minh City

How is this for an office view?

We can do anything and everything on the Internet. And that includes making money!

It wasn’t long before I was googling “How to Work While Traveling the Globe?” or “How To Quit Your Job And Travel The World?”

And to my surprise, there were lots of people doing this. I felt ecstatic that there could be other options out there. People were writing blogs, doing web development or teaching english in a foreign country. They were hustling to make it work and building a life on their own terms.

I read numerous books and blogs by people like Tim Ferris,  Sean Ogle, and Chris Guillebeau, and all of sudden this distant dream of mine became a real tangible thing. The one person holding me back was myself and the fear that everyone I knew would reject this ‘crazy’ idea that I had.

After reaching out to my good friend, Carl Nickel, who had already taken this leap of faith, I knew that I could do it too.

I Quit My Job

view from plane window above clouds

Off to new lands!

I gathered up the courage, told my friends and family, and quit my high paying office job in New York City.

With a rough plan on what I wanted to accomplish I set out for Guangzhou, China. I have already met an incredible number of entrepreneurs and businessman who, like me, decided to take a risk and create a lifestyle that fits their needs.

I’m excited to say that so far it’s working. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to that conventional lifestyle, the 40 hour work week, the American Dream or whatever you want to call it.

I will create my own work habits and work when I need to. Whether it’s a 4 hour day or a 20 hour day, I will reap the rewards for my efforts.

Even though I quit my job, which sounds really cool, I’m taking this journey to learn about the world, how I want to spend my time in this life, how I can thrive, and everything in between. If at the end I come out with some failures, or many failures, I’ll know I succeeded because you can’t improve until you fail. I’m just glad there will undoubtedly be some memorable stories to share along the way.

And with that, I hope you enjoy!

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