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. 

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (61)

Dec 6, 2021 - 12:30pm

Lol i was the same way, I wish IB is something that could be done 6 months out of the year like a lobster fisherman or a merchant marine. At half the pay that would make the job exponentially better. 

  • 2
Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Dec 7, 2021 - 12:58pm

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.  

Dec 7, 2021 - 9:47pm

I've tooled around with the idea of corp fin but I feel like too many of my contacts just took a director role of fp&a where they sprint from one month end to the next with incredibly redundant work (may be generalizing). 
 

I have some contacts that speak well of corp strategy or specializing in m&a projects, as well as a lot of product managers. Those all sound good in theory to me, but I feel like my enjoyment would live or die on where I was passionate about the product / service, and had enough leeway to really make my own decisions within the role. That I feel is asking a lot out of a run of the mill corp finance role 

  • 2
Dec 9, 2021 - 2:09am

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

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

Most Helpful
Dec 6, 2021 - 12:10pm

When I quit I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my chest, but thats probably because I had a lot going on personally as well as professionally. I left my midtown apartment, sold all my shit and lived in my car for awhile driving around to different national parks. I did a lot of fishing, travel, exercise, and visiting various friends, I think the biggest feeling is I wanted to start feeling "human" again if that makes sense. I tried to give myself goals (I wanted to bike across japan, or climb a mountain, or work at a ski resort), but for about a 2 year period I was sorta just moving with the wind. 

One thing I noticed is that it really defined the quality of relationships that I had left - Quality colleagues were happy for me, they could see that I was improving and they were well wishing for the best (offering recommendations and telling me about placements for the future). The process revealed a lot of colleagues that used to act like we were very tight when I was producing a lot for them, but afterwards would simply scoff at the idea of taking so much time off, thought I was stupid, or were resentful that I was taking the time off and hinted that it would destroy my life. The whole process helped a lot with weeding out from my network people that were quality or not. 

  • 16
Dec 6, 2021 - 12:01pm

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 - 12:25pm

I just posted a reply above so a little copy/paste but I was doing a lot of car-living driving around the west, I did a lot of fishing, travel, exercise, and visiting various friends. I tried to give myself goals (I wanted to bike across japan, or climb a mountain, or work at a ski resort), but for about a 2 year period I was sorta just moving with the wind. For a year I was straight travelling, but I would call myself a bum for at least 2 years. It was a lot of introspection because I felt like I blew up a very secure spot, but the funny thing in life is when you leave NYC and aren't comparing yourself to all the type A's in your network and start to have some colleagues that went an untraditional path you aren't going to feel as bad about yourself, everyone is walking a different path. 

When I went back to working full time I wanted to start a business because it had always been a dream of mine. I ended up using my finance background to eventually buy a plant watering business with an absentee owner. I worked on the business full time, built it up a good bit and expanded the business into different sections (weirdly enough I now do a lot of plant-selling, nursury, and furniture refurbishing to get into fatter margins). I own some real estate right now, own a business, and things are working a lot better for my personality type where I can set my own path a bit more.

Its good you were able to de-prioritize career for awhile, its something that I think can benefit career progression and really helps you set what you value in life a bit more clearly than when you are 24/7 on the grind. 

  • 6
Dec 6, 2021 - 2:09pm

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

kiddo202 We Have One Life - You Can Go Nuts If Your Stressing

You're 

"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

  • 2
  • 2
Dec 6, 2021 - 2:12pm

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 6, 2021 - 2:17pm

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

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

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 - 3:06pm

People get obsessed with the grind. Putting in heavy hours might seem crazy, but when you are on the wheel sometimes its the only thing to hold onto to justify the effort spent / money made. Its definitely a toxic mentality, but you talk to lifers and sometimes its the only thing they have left. 

Thats why adulthood can be hard for so many people, its a very human emotion to compare yourself to others and since there is no concrete path you have lots of people on this forum comparing themselves to other people in their sphere (need to work at this BB, get this internship, live in this neighborhood, etc). The beauty of banking is like many other high profile jobs, it really is a economic question - you sell your life for a certain amount, as well as the other trappings of prestige and resume building blocks. Its healthy and natural to work hard, but after awhile plenty of people tap out and decide that selling their life no longer becomes worth it for them. 

  • 7
Dec 9, 2021 - 8:56am

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

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

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.

Dec 7, 2021 - 12:09pm

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

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

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 - 9:46am

Well while your working (even if its WFH a job where your barely getting shit done), it can be very easy for your motivation to be sapped. Your sorta just waiting for stuff to happen, and even though you could netflix or play games during the workday, you would probably feel fear going out and doing something that is a bigger time commitment in case you get called. 

For the WFH job I would use your extra time to optimize everything in your life. Get all your cleaning, cooking, bill paying, general life admin etc done during work hours. If you still have time left within work hours get general relaxing leisure (netflix, read books, etc). 

I chose these goals based on what I already liked, I knew when I quit I would have lots of time. So I liked Biking and always wanted to bike across japan, so I knew I would want to train for that. I always loved fishing and I wanted to compete in a fishing contest, I loved swimming and wanted to swim across a long waterway, Etc. These goals made it easier to justify going out and doing the practice (swimming, biking, fishing), but it already came from a place in which it was stuff I loved.

So I would suggest if your really serious about this look up some form of community / competition element for hobbies you already have. (Ex, a video game tournament, a writing submission deadline, a photography show, a race, etc). Try to get something with a fee to enter long in advance so that you have your commitment already set in stone. This should at least help a bit with the motivation element of it all.

As far as practice goes, if your life is optimized during your easy job it should be a piece of cake to practice frequently after work.

  • 9
Dec 8, 2021 - 6:05pm

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?

Array

Dec 18, 2021 - 12:52am

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

Amet omnis veritatis reiciendis reiciendis ex. Ut id error sequi vel. Delectus aspernatur asperiores aliquid dolorum. Ullam repudiandae similique animi a facere dicta quae.

Jan 1, 2022 - 1:13am

Odit cum accusamus qui sint. Dignissimos perspiciatis qui reiciendis fugit soluta. Et adipisci in sed repellat est pariatur nobis. Velit quibusdam minima ut autem. Eaque explicabo adipisci id neque doloribus qui. Quo molestiae et aspernatur nesciunt reprehenderit est est.

At aliquid asperiores quos ipsa. Architecto tempora maxime repellendus autem quis nihil in.

Aut pariatur sed reiciendis vel est aut. Dolorum impedit nisi et dolore saepe minima. Quam ullam ut ut hic recusandae consequatur eligendi.

Natus laborum reiciendis iusto alias voluptatem asperiores. Sit sit reiciendis perspiciatis maxime nisi occaecati.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

January 2022 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (5) $604
  • Vice President (21) $384
  • Associates (144) $238
  • 2nd Year Analyst (84) $153
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (15) $150
  • 1st Year Analyst (295) $142
  • Intern/Summer Associate (63) $143
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (225) $90