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March 8, 2018

When Should a Middle-Aged Family Man Quit His Job?

The other day I was venting to a colleague about the stagnant swamp I call my career.
Despite having a decent job with decent pay, I am slowly getting destroyed by inane politics and busy-work that ignores my capacity and capability.

"So quit", says my single, childless, mortgage-less, 30 year old friend.

When I was 30 I would have said the same thing. In fact, I left many jobs early in my career for the sake of advancement.

Today, however, I am more averse to risk. I am 44 years old with a wife, 3 kids and a mortgage. If I screw up I have to answer to a whole lotta people, possibly as we wait in line at the soup kitchen.

At this point of my life, walking away from job security - and the accompanying severence package if I were laid off - is a big risk. At my level of seniority, pay and experience, my severance would be significant.

If I quit and moved to a different company, there is a chance that it wouldn't work out, sending me back into the job market, resume in hand. Except with nearly zero tenure at the new firm I would receive approximately zero severance.

At my current job level it could take 2 years to find something similar. In comparison, a 30 year old a couple levels down from me could pick up a decent job in 6 months if they tried. It is a simple supply and demand equation. Plus, with fewer responsibilities and a longer career ahead of them, younger job seekers can afford to take a pay cut to start over.

Essentially, for people in my situation there is a huge potential downside risk to leaving a secure job for uncharted waters.

So when will it make sense for me to quit? When the risk of starting somewhere new is paired with substantial incremental financial compensation and job satisfaction.


  1. You are in mid-life crisis mode. Don't quit, this economy is shit. Count your blessings if you have an even semi decent job.

  2. Focus on your family and wife - on making your kids moral, educated, and responsible. You will be stronger if your family is stronger. It will also make the bullshit at work seem secondary, and improve your attitude (which will also improve your prospects).

  3. Regret for the things we did do can be tempered with time .. it is regret for the things we did not do that are inconsolable and soul destroying.

    A middle age man should quit when he finally accepts that spending more time with his children and wife .. even if it involves sharing a plate of Nachos at the beach - is a far more rewarding existence for ALL concerned than grinding away while regretting every wasted moment. Is a successful life a journey, a dance to be enjoyed or some kind of path to a "destination" ?

  4. You have golden handcuffs. Focus on your family instead of your job. Take it easy at work and realize that you are there to make money, not realize your potential. Realize your potential somewhere else.

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  6. Thanks everyone for your comments - I appreciate the insights and advice!

  7. I left high a paying job, and got to spend time working on my marriage, and its a lot healthier and stronger. I realized I have much more potential, after what everyone was telling me. Multiple new opportunities came within 2 months. Its just going out and networking. Now building my own business that is much more rewarding and getting the opportunity to REALIZE that "potential". Health is a lot better, marriage is better, business is better. More opportunites. Why wait until you are retired to get to spend more time with your wife? Would you wait to have sex for old age. Yeah, its a lot more work, but when you get to decide your schedule and build a better relationship with your wife. Why not?


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