Why I Turned Down a 6-Figure Career

This past summer I had hit my 3 year mark as a practising family lawyer in Ontario. Since graduating law school my goals were focused on my career development, with very little focus on anything else. I believed once I had my dream job, experience, confidence, and respectable salary that “happiness” would come.

I was constantly told, life as a lawyer gets easier after 5 years. I wasn’t sure if that meant I would have enough experience by then that my job would become easier, or maybe I wouldn’t take things so personally anymore or the money became worth the stress by that point.While focusing on my career goals, my happiness reserve was severely unmaintained. With fleeting moments adding to my tank, I was mostly deferring my happiness to a time in the future when I had the home, career and salary to truly be happy. I had reached several of my career and financial goals, but I was still unfulfilled.

I couldn’t find happiness in my daily life and in the journey. While I was so focused on this 5 year mark, what I lost sight of, was creating habits now that will continue well beyond the 5 years. Habits that would create a life I was happy with. It dawned on me that once I reach my 5 year mark I still may not be any happier than I am now.
While looking at how far I had come and how grateful I am for what I have, I could not shake the feeling that my life will look exactly how it does right now for another 30 years if I continue this way. I did not want to keep waiting until I had the next thing to be happy. This is when I decided to shift my goals. My career goals are still just as important as ever, but I am no longer putting my happiness on the back burner.

The underwhelming reality of graduating post-secondary.

Last April I graduated from my post-secondary program after 5 long years of endless studying and internships. For some reason, I thought it would be this great moment of accomplishment and official transition to adulthood. Maybe it was the fact that my entire last year was done online and there was no graduation ceremony to bring closure to my academic career, but it was one of the most underwhelming experiences. My diplomas came partially crushed in the mail and I took a photo with them at my kitchen table, then I called my friends and we took a shot together over zoom. 


I studied business and finance for my undergrad and worked several internships throughout the years. I quickly learned that the corporate 9-5 was the last thing I want to spend the rest of my life doing. Now with two degrees to my name and a hefty student debt to repay, I’m supposed to be excited to enter a toxic workforce where burnout is worn as a badge of honour. I’m already burnt out! The reality of graduating postsecondary is not a glamorous corporate job waiting on the other side. Now all my conversations with my friends seem to revolve around work and I spend more time with my co-workers than I do with my own family. Is this how the rest of my life is going to look like? I refuse. 


The summer after grad, I worked as a server in my hometown. All my friends are either climbing the corporate ladder or working on a ski resort to get the travel bug out. By the time September rolled around, I knew I needed to get a job in my field and start building my career. I spent hours perusing job postings that  asked for an unreasonable number of years of experience while offering lower than average salaries. Finally, I had to choose between 3 options. Either work at a big firm with a competitive salary where my career growth was predictable, linear and limited. Work at a ski resort for a season. Work as a receptionist for a small firm in my hometown, where they seem to actually care about my personal and career growth. Unsurprisingly, I chose the last and it was clearly the right choice as I write this blog from Mexico. How I got here is a story for another time but the point is I am lucky. So many young people will take on careers that are unfulfilling just to pay off the student debts they’ve accumulated and that’s the reality of graduating post-secondary.