We have one life - you can go nuts if your stressing

I am seeing a lot of posts about extreme stress that are outside of the realm of what I would call typically cyclical stress (approaching year end always comes with some stress). That, combined with the recent suicide of someone in the industry makes me want to send out a reminder to all the younger folks that it is 100% okay if you get into IB and you absolutely bug out and have to quit. Its hard to imagine this if you measure your worth based on arbitrary achievements, but you will be 100% fine if you have to quit.

Back in the day I thought I had it made. I was cranking along in IB, I was seen as an expert in my product group. I made associate in lightning speed compared to my peer group. I was seen as a shoe-in for VP track. This all came crashing down one day where my body basically gave out. Me and my GF broke up because I wasn't there for her due to obsession with work, my twin brother who I had a very close bond too died of an overdose, and I realized that the spot I was chasing just wasn't that glamorous anymore. I remembered when I went to school in Cali and would surf and play tennis all day and I started to cry, something in my brain just switched and I did the career killer, I slept in late, ignored calls, came in to work after smoking weed, ignored deliverables and told my MD that I wanted to quit the firm. I couldn't even make it two weeks, I had to leave in 7 work days. After being an all-star for so long, I would have developed a reputation as an unreliable (the death knell for your reputation in this industry).  

For those of you with less experience this might be hard to believe, but veterans will understand when I say that everything was ultimately 100% fine. I took a year off, I got into new and exciting careers, I started a business, and I ultimately did things I am proud of with more time for family and friends. This isn't a knock against IB, I love the industry, but I reached my shelf life in it like many others will continue to do after me. 

IB is a train that is all consuming; you get on board and your life is tied to that journey. Its a great thing and it also causes a lot of anxiety, but just understand that you can get off the train at any point. There is no need to have extreme stress or have an inflexible attitude over goals that are incredibly arbitrary. I wanted to go to analyst - associate - VP in lightning speed not because it was an innate human need, I wouldn't even know that track if I didnt work in the industry. I wanted it simply because it was the thing that I was being told to want. I wanted to get into IB after college because I was told that was the best career. I had so many desires that weren't in my heart, but they were dictated to me by the expectations of others and so I was no better than a extremely well paid automaton. The key thing to remember though is you have options, IB is great on a resume not because you learned about things any idiot can learn about (you could probably teach a monkey a DCF), but it is great because it signals to employers that you could get into IB, and you could hack it for X years. 

So my advice if your really stressing, really freaking out is evaluate what do you want out of your life. I promise you you will be okay if you quit, so think on it long and hard. What do you want from your life? Make sure you are getting more from IB than it is taking from you. If the equation starts to look unequal, maybe it is time to consider getting off the train. 

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Comments (61)

Dec 6, 2021 - 11:03am
PeRmAnEnTiNtErN, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I constantly flip between: "I love this career" and "I want to quit and live in a Van" 

Wish there was a better in between point.  

Dec 7, 2021 - 10:25am
PeRmAnEnTiNtErN, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think the ultimate goal is to be that Washed up MD that closes like a deal a deal or two a year 

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Dec 7, 2021 - 12:58pm
PeRmAnEnTiNtErN, what's your opinion? Comment below:

See the problem with that is,  I find a lot of the Corp Fin work boring(I have done some internships in Corp Fin/Accounting). Granted I may find Corp Dev or treasury more interesting, but I am less optimistic.  Also, you still can't go like full offline.  I don't want to be working in the Van,  I want to Literally unplug from society.  

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Dec 9, 2021 - 2:09am
StepChange, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Corporate Finance is what I've been doing for the past 4.5 years. It's extremely redundant and the pay is weak (I found fun/growth through automation products like Alteryx). I was offered an FP&A Manager of Analysis role at my current boomer-run Koch company. I declined because I'm interviewing for Product Manager roles, and didn't want the distraction of learning a new role while trying to leave it. Product Management or Data Science is 100% the move in my opinion as the comp is fat because Tech, and the hours are a very easy work-life balance. Product Management is easier to break into because there are resources like the Product Podcast that tell you exactly how to get into PM (frameworks, frameworks, frameworks). Data Science is harder to break into because you need certifications if you don't have a software or computer engineering background. My plan is to break into PM, and worst case I easily transition from PM to Data Engineer. End goal at this point is Machine Learning Product Manager making $400K-$900K fully remote. 

Dec 6, 2021 - 11:24am
Username_TBU, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Can you comment on how you felt once you left banking? "All your life" was spent chasing those prestigious spots, and then you gave it up suddenly without clear direction - were you lost? How did you spend time?

Also to add on - totally okay to set work boundaries and take the foot off the gas for a bit. The game isn't just being top bucket or nothing. If you want to be in the industry long term, coasting in the middle is okay and can set you up for better mental wellbeing vs. hitting a wall

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Dec 6, 2021 - 12:10pm
rallyally, what's your opinion? Comment below:


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Dec 6, 2021 - 12:01pm
lotsofbananas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for sharing your experience with those who have less career experience. Can you elaborate on what you did when you took a year off and before you got into the new career? It sounds like it was initially a rough period of coping with loss as well as rethinking your values.

I myself made the goal of de-prioritizing my career in 2021 in order to focus on other aspects of my life which I neglected - relationships, longboarding, going for random walks around town, clubbing, meeting new friends, sitting at home and just chilling, watching tv, pottery nights with friends, therapy homework etc. I also did a fair amount of freelancing in order to gain experience working across very different industries and teams. It's been a good re-set and I'm grateful I had the chance to step back. 

Dec 6, 2021 - 2:09pm
lotsofbananas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks so much for the thorough reply. The period sounds like the breather you needed between IB and working on your own business. That lifestyle is night and day compared to what you were doing before, and you gained so much life experience and memories out of it. I can also relate to how a change in your environment, and the people you're surrounded by translates to changes in what you want out of your own life. 

Do you have recommendations on making the most of this period where I'm de-prioritizing my career? For example, you mentioned you set goals such as biking across Japan. I'll be starting a new role which is about 40 - 50 hours weekly with what should be very predictable schedule as I plan on continuing to prioritize other areas of my life in 2022 so I want to make the most of my free time.

Dec 6, 2021 - 1:55pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:
kiddo202 We Have One Life - You Can Go Nuts If Your Stressing


"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Dec 6, 2021 - 2:12pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

lol 😂 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Dec 7, 2021 - 10:13pm
rallyally, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for keeping Pls fix culture alive in my heart :) 

Dec 6, 2021 - 2:17pm
MonkeyNoise, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is a great post, and something I (as well as most) wrestle with all the time.

On the one hand my career is easy in the fact that you arent doing backbreaking work or in some factory/in the hot sun every day - and provides good pay and benefits. On the other hand, when you do 'real' things in life it puts into perspective how meaningless your employer/ prestige/ etc really is.

Whenever I go on trips abroad I feel this. Miles away from home, relatively disconnected. You realize that while you are in some office and in your little corporate ecosystem the current deal/project/etc is life and death  - but thousands of miles away you realize just how tiny a drop in the ocean of life your work should be. Here none of that world matters. You are just a speck, and your life is just a speck. So what's the point in continuing with something if it makes you so unhappy?

But again this is a pretty privileged thought coming from someone who can afford the luxury such as international travel for fun, and isnt pressed to work to provide for their family

Dec 7, 2021 - 12:57pm
Rotterdam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree with this big time. There is no feeling quite like being thousands of miles away from anything you know. It is so liberating. I went through a rough phase a couple years back and those international trips like that really put it all in perspective for me. Once you step away from it all and are riding some shitty motorcycle around Thailand you realize how little everything back home really matters or impacts your life unless you let it. 

Dec 6, 2021 - 3:01pm
HitTheAsk, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I mean, am I the only one here who understands the demographic this forum attracts and why they are the way they are? Don't get me wrong I'm a driven guy with ambitions,but seeing people here gung-ho to get a job working 80 hour work weeks in their prime decade seem like weirdos to me to begin with, any normal guy who has a healthy social life and relationships would agree with that. Never ever understood the point of being so long-sighted that you would want to trash some of the best years of ur life so you can coast later on, maybe I'm nihilistic here but by the time you're in your 30s, a lot of nice things come to an end. I'd rather enjoy the moment. 

I see threads of nerds here consistently talking down on and trashing software engineers/comp sci peeps, people in "less prestigious" finance roles/banks, etc. Imo who gives a shit we're all office drones at the end of it. This goes back to what I said about this forum attracting a certain demographic. Either way I just view a job as a means to an end, I'm only in this to rack up as much money as I can before my mid to late 20s and figure out a plan, I'm not built to work in an office all my life, that's how I see it. 

inb4 I'm just a first year in asset management (if this is what ur thinking, then u literally reaffirmed my point). 

Dec 6, 2021 - 4:12pm
Username_TBU, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The grind, competition, corporate politics, the chase for the "atta boy," etc. gives certain people a purpose. Without that, they would have to contemplate another purpose, which doesn't work for everyone

Dec 9, 2021 - 8:56am
MonkeyNoise, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Always found it funny the adages that get thrown around to top workers

'he's a grinder'

'he's a rockstar in our company'

'she's the quarterback of the team right now'

all terms to make it sound cool that you are sitting in front of a slide deck or excel for 60 hours a week lmao

Dec 7, 2021 - 12:52pm
9percent, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I mostly agree, except for the part that nice things come to an end in your 30's, this is just not true (at least for me). In most ways, my 30's are a lot better than my 20's. 

I've felt that office life was not for me since I entered the workforce and have been aggressively saving and investing ever since. Minimize work, maximize pay, and keep on stacking! 

Dec 7, 2021 - 7:52pm
Army Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To some extent it's also a matter of perspective. Everyone thinks that they'll be able to suck up ridiculous hours of work for a limited period of time and above-market pay until you actually do it. You can do anything for two weeks but that doesn't hold for 2 years (or more). Once someone actually lives it, one gets a fuller picture of the extreme ends of the spectrum re: WLB vs. Comp. and it allows him/her to figure out what is important.

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Dec 7, 2021 - 12:09pm
THE PsYcHoLoGy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks very much for sharing +SB. Have been struggling with this lately, as well... I dream for liberation but dread not being in the "mix" of things. The paradoxical nature of this realm is both exciting and a bit maddening - "how will this decision impact the rest of my life?"

Glad to see everything has worked out well for you, and I'm sure your overall health and happiness has substantially improved. I salute you!

Dec 8, 2021 - 1:12am
Friedmaneconomics, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I feel this. I think for many of us it's more so the risk of sacrificing these physical pleasures in exchange for the greater more soulful pleasures of purpose. That's been something I've been battling with, thinking about

Dec 8, 2021 - 2:59am
ssanta, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Reading the part where you said you made goals for yourself such as biking Japan lit a fire under me that I haven't had since my wrestling days in high school (I'm currently one year out of college doing B4 consulting). Could you elaborate on how you went about choosing these inner goals? I make pretty good money and barely work 10 hours a week WFH and I have no motivation to do much because of this. I feel like back when I was in school, I had a clear goals set out for me and after achieving them, I feel like I've been living day to day doing nothing. Maybe having a goal like biking all of Japan next year would help me change back into the motivated person I once was?

Dec 8, 2021 - 12:05pm
ssanta, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I can't believe this app is free. Thank you for the really insightful answer, I really appreciate this!

Dec 8, 2021 - 6:05pm
Troy McClure, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great post, thanks! There is more to life than money, prestige and the grind.

How did you find the plant watering business, and how did you go about buying it? And was it "easy" to adapt and keep it going / make it grow?


Dec 14, 2021 - 4:46pm
Pizz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do you have a girlfriend/are married? Because that could be a contributor to your stress as well in life. 

Dec 18, 2021 - 12:52am
lotsofbananas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm curious about this too. 

Since on the flip side, it could also help keep you grounded and it's nice having someone to have meaningful experiences with. 

I would also love to know what qualities you value in a partner and how that may have changed throughout the years? 

Dec 28, 2021 - 9:22am
guy_incognito, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Jan 1, 2022 - 1:13am
112343321, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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