An Emotional Leaving - Walking Away From Wall Street Pt II


Making the decision to walk away from Wall Street was mentally all-consuming. It dominated my thoughts for months.

This is the second part of a true story of a young Wall Street professional who decided to give up his job at a top U.S investment bank and travel the world.

Hit the link below for Part 1:

Walking Away From Wall Street

All my friends knew I was strongly considering making the jump, and I'm sure at times it seemed like nearly all I could talk about. As the idea grew into a plan, it became increasingly hard to focus on anything else.

The passage of time slowed to a crawl, as every day brought more planning / strategizing / daydreaming, all while trying to work in good faith at a job that suddenly held no future for me. I was stuck in limbo - close to the end - but unable to lock in flights and accommodation... simply waiting.

But things accelerated soon enough. In early February, I took a big step and moved out of my apartment. Sure, maybe I hadn't figured out exactly when I was leaving work, but a great opportunity to transfer my lease and sell nearly all my assets presented itself and I jumped at it.

Seizing opportunities as they arise is kind of what this move is all about, right ? Plus, it was a great way to force myself to actually go through with it. It's kind of hard to get cold feet about leaving work when you don't actually have anywhere to live, and you're sleeping on your friend's air mattress! By late February, I'd finally sorted out my departure from work, and with that out of the way, the accelerator was jammed straight down to the floor.

The days of idly searching the Internet for travel advice, strategizing about what time of year is best to visit where, and playing with the oneworld online booking engine to try and maximize my RTW ticket were over. Now I didn't have enough time, and I couldn't do anything fast enough.

Fortunately, I'd planned for it fairly well. Monday was my last day at work. By Tuesday I had a one-way ticket out of New York back to my hometown in the Midwest where I could pack for my trip. By Wednesday I had my RTW ticket booked. Every day was a goodbye lunch, dinner or drinks with a different group of friends. I threw together a quick goodbye party for Friday night and by Sunday afternoon I was several states away.

And while deciding to leave was almost exclusively a rational exercise, the actual leaving was mostly emotional. Picking up my personal items from my desk, explaining to work colleagues my plans, and saying goodbye to good friends, all brought out various emotions; some expected, some not. The encouragement I received from those I worked with was a pleasant surprise. Most didn't see my departure coming, and nearly everyone was happy for me. Many offered to help me find something else in the event that I might need to return to the industry in due course. Several of my colleagues quietly affirmed my rationale.

As my goodbyes wound down and I turned in my ID and walked out the door of the only place from which I've ever received a real paycheck, I waited for the trepidation, the doubt, the overall sense of unease to creep in. It didn't. No hints of adrenaline or fear, and strangely, very little sadness.

I suppose my planning paid off in that sense. I was definitely mentally prepared for this. I broke into a smile as I stepped out into a sunny, fairly warm New York morning. Sure, like many in the industry, I'm disappointed with the state of affairs and how much everything has changed. But that smile was much more about what I was walking towards, than what I was walking away from - and that's exactly how it should be.

Follow along at Here Is The City and and see how it all unfolds.

image: © Sarah Scicluna

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