should I leave my job if I don’t have to work for money?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I work a job I’m overall “meh” about. There are lots of good things: it’s a prestigious company with fantastic pay and benefits, I’m now doing really well (just promoted), and, on some days, I like or even really like it. That said, it’s definitely not something I’m passionate about, and I also feel frustrated because despite doing well, I’m still behind my peers in terms of advancement (I was on the losing end of some corporate politics a few years ago).

The thing is, my husband has an INCREDIBLY lucrative job, to the point that now neither one of us ever has to work again if we choose not to. He’s going to keep working because he absolutely loves his job, and he’s always encouraging me to quit my job and pursue whatever I’m passionate about.

Looking ahead, I don’t see myself in a corporate role. I have some one-off creative projects I’d want to pursue but no obvious path to making those projects into a meaningful or successful career. I’m really hesitant to quit my job because even though I don’t love it, at least I can spend my days doing something that can sometimes be meaningful and provides some degree of intellectual challenge. I’m worried that if I quit my job, I’ll pursue these fun projects that will go nowhere, and I’ll regret having not spent those years at my current job where I can at least point to some level of accomplishment. I know I can always come back to my current role (or an equivalent role at another company), but I already feel behind my peers and taking a few years off will only exacerbate that.

Additionally, I recently hired someone (who starts in a few months), and she told me when she accepted the offer that one of the main reasons she chose the role was because she was eager to work with me. So I’d feel guilty leaving, on top of everything else.

At the same time, it feels silly to stay in a role I’m not wild about when I don’t have to and pass up the chance to pursue an alternate career that could be really cool (even if the odds are very much against me). Any advice on what I should do?

Readers, what’s your advice?

{ 453 comments… read them below }

  1. Justin*

    Why not take as many of your alloted vacation days as possible, throw yourself into creative pursuits when you have free time, enjoy your time with your new employee for a time-limited amount of time, and then see if any of the pursuits are worth focusing on at that point?

    1. Mouse*

      I love this answer. Take some time off, and work on the creative projects on weekends and evenings if you can. Once you’ve tried it out, you can see if it will sustain and fulfill you in all the ways you need, and then decide if you can quit guilt-free, or need to keep the full-time job, or need to try to find something part-time.

      1. it_guy*

        Even better, check with your employer to see if you can take a sabbatical for 3-6 months.

        Don’t quit with no plan though. It would be too easy to just not do anything. Make a plan and set a goal and a time window.

        IMHO

        1. Elizabeth*

          I like the idea of a sabbatical, but I’d say make a 1 year plan of sorts. Maybe it looks like vacation days and planning what you want to do (do you need courses, business plans, permits, what would your days look like?) for the next 6 months, and then taking 3-6 months off.

          I recommend taking 6 months to come up with a plan only because I know too many retired/semi-retired people who decided to go back to work after their lives devolved into watching soaps all day. My dad’s plan was literally no more detailed than “DO all the stuff I never had time for” but it took him a solid 2+ years before he found his groove. I see her question as really similar to retirees.

          1. Elizabeth*

            I don’t know how to edit, but I meant to add in that I agreed with it_guy about a plan, not re-explaining his point. I had premature submission issues.

          2. Amaranth*

            I’m curious how to sell this to an employer. You wouldn’t want to give too much detail or mention it as a trial run to leaving.

        2. Hummer on the Hill*

          Love this idea. Also, if she’s valued by the organization, maybe she could wrangle a reduced schedule for less of a paycheck? From the sound of her post, it doesn’t sound like the job is packed with 60-hour weeks and fires to put out, so maybe this would be a compromise. It’s weird what happens to the brain when you quit a FT job that’s occupied brain cells for a while.

          1. Luke G*

            I like that too! LW says the job can “sometimes be meaningful,” so it might be worth negotiating either a part time position or even a consultant/contractor role focusing on just the most meaningful parts of the job, that LW presumably has enough experience in that the company would be willing to not lose her.

          2. Mockingjay*

            Heartily concur with trying a reduced schedule. My father-in-law recently came to live with us, so Hubby put in his notice (he retired from government service, then worked as a contractor since). Company didn’t want to lose his expertise, so kept him on as a consultant. He works a few hours a week and spends the rest of his time tooling around with Dad, doing home improvement projects and visiting local breweries for lunch. Keeps Hubby mentally alert and occupied (and out of my hair, lol). Pretty much the best of both worlds. If OP can do it, go for it!

            1. TardyTardis*

              My husband’s a teacher, so he used his summer vacations to try out different things (except for some periods of time when he took temporary work because small children suck up money), so he had some idea of how his retirement would look like (then his body let him know that It Had Other Plans, but ah well, best laid plans etc.).

              (do women get to retire? Asking for a friend…)

          3. Quinalla*

            Agreed on a reduced schedule for reduced pay if possible, my Dad did kind of a slow roll retirement – he’s a dentist, so first he hired another dentist under him, then made him a partner, then eventually sold the practice to him so he was the 2nd dentist, then he went more reduced hours, now he is finally ready to retire. It’s let him slowly get used to what he’ll do with his free time and slowly let go of all the “stuff” of his job.

            But if you can’t, then I definitely like the idea above of planning for 3-6 months first, taking some vacation time, then either asking for an unpaid sabbatical or just deciding to quit. You don’t sound like you are ready to quit, so take some time to figure out if quitting is what you want or maybe something else.

          4. LunaLena*

            A slightly different alternative is to become a consultant for one’s field. One of my former bosses did that – even though she runs her own business now, she still gets to work with her former employer of almost 20 years and use her expertise and institutional knowledge a lot.

          5. TooTiredToThink*

            Oh goodness yes; On days that I’ve taken half days; I still have motivation to do things because I’m still in that mindset – rather than taking off a full day; nothing gets done!

          6. Windchime*

            This is what I did. A couple of months ago, I went part-time (20 hours a week). I have a lot more free time now and I also got to keep my health insurance. It’s kind of helped me to see what it would be like to be retired. (Hint: Pretty freakin’ awesome). I’m scheduled to work part-time through early fall, and then we will re-evaluate at that time.

        3. Butterfly Counter*

          I agree with this. I teach and I get completely burned out by May. However, I also start feeling like a bum by mid-August, even with projects I do over the summer. I appreciate coming back and feeling like a contributing member of society.

          So if OP still feels good not having a job after 3, 4, or 5 months, that might be her answer.

            1. Anon.*

              I’m in higher ed in a primarily teaching focused institution. I love my job, but I am always desperate for summer and absolutely full of passion projects plus deferred life and self projects, plus aspects of my job that I can’t get to during the academic year. I average out to a long FT job, with less work during the summer. I never feel lazy or ready for fall! Maybe I have more time consuming interests than some others?

          1. Artist WorkerBee*

            A “trial run” in some form or other is a good idea. I will also add:

            If the trial shows that you are even a little passionate about your creative projects — DO IT. From personal experience I can tell you that you will absolutely regret not trying in favor of the safe job that you’re meh about. You also have the huge advantage that you do not need to rely on your income alone to survive. This will give you opportunities in your creative endeavors that will give you a distinct leg up in accomplishing your goals; for example, you can afford better marketing materials (or afford marketing materials at all) if you don’t have to weigh the cost of marketing yourself against being able to pay the rent/mortgage.

            I have done both the working artist career and corporate America job tracks. When I was an artist I was broke AF but ultimately much, MUCH happier than I am doing the office job. Pursue your happiness, wherever it lies — you HAVE that option when so many people don’t.

            Also consider: does it really matter if you are “behind” in a career that 1> you aren’t that invested in, and 2> you don’t need money from — making advancements/salary increases kind of meaningless? How does it matter? Who is it going to matter to? What is “behind” anyway? It’s not like there is only one acceptable way to do career. Everyone’s trajectory looks different from everyone elses. I don’t think you need to get hung up on comparing yourself to others; from a mental health perspective that’s pretty self-destructive. And no one’s career trajectory is a straight line, even if it looks like that from the outside.

            1. OP*

              I missed this yesterday but first of all, thanks to everyone for the advice!

              To answer a few questions: my employer doesn’t allow part-time work for reduced pay. And they have very generous leave plans (medical, maternity) but unpaid leave/a sabbatical isn’t something they offer. I get around 4 weeks of PTO a year which I’ve used for working on the projects, but it hasn’t been enough time to get signal on whether the projects have legs.

              The other thing to address: my job can be very, very time intensive. Those are actually the periods when I really like my job because it’s challenging and everyone comes together to get a big project over the finish line. It’s not uncommon for me to have a 3-4 month stretch where I’m working 65-70 hour weeks. That’s made it really challenging to pursue these projects on weekends/evenings.

              1. Artist WorkerBee*

                Honestly, if I were in your shoes, I would make a plan (what are your goals/what results are you looking for, what is your timeline, what are your first steps, what are your current resources, how do you measure success, etc.), quit my job, and not worry at all about being “behind” should I come back to it later. Who cares what other people are doing, this is YOUR life. You are in a unique position to try different things (many different things, if you wish) and figure out what you like. Even if you change your mind later and return to the old job, you will still like the aspects of that job that you like now, and isn’t what you want from your life the most important consideration here? Maybe you do need some time to figure out what you want, but you can do that without risking homelessness, when most people can’t. It would be such a crying shame to waste that opportunity.

                1. OP*

                  It’s really good to get validation on the last point – it really does feel like a missed opportunity to not take advantage of this, but I’ve never been in the position to think about what I really want! I’m so used to being on the “treadmill” of corporate life. It’s definitely a question of what would make me the happiest/be the most meaningful.

                2. Artist WorkerBee*

                  You have a lot of safety net going for you here:
                  1. You will always have your corporate job skills to fall back on, if necessary.
                  2. You have physical safety and financial stability even without the corporate job.
                  3. “Success” in your creative ventures can look like whatever you want, it doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to money. You can make your own goals. (And art has real value even when capitalism disagrees. Money is not the only or even the best measure of quality or value. There’s quite a lot of crap out there that makes tons of money. And I’m sure most people would find it crass to value say, their close relationships with a dollar amount.)

                  You are in a very good position to allow yourself the time and space to explore.

    2. Moniker*

      I like this response, too. I have a good friend who was posted with her Air Force husband to a place where she could not work. She thought she was going to do all sorts of creative projects she had been wanting to do, but she did not do them. It takes discipline that she did not have. Plus she really likes to work. She learned something about herself and it was all good. I recently heard about the concept of the “fantasy self” which is someone who does all these things that you are truly interested in doing, but you don’t have either the wherewithal or the motivation to get them done. It is great, because now I enjoy all the things my fantasy self does and don’t feel bad that I don’t get them done in reality.

      1. Pam Coledog*

        I love the fantasy self idea! Now I can enjoy her creative pursuits without feeling guilty that I haven’t gotten a “round tuit.”

      2. TootsNYC*

        my life got so much better when I gave myself permission to plan all sorts of projects and things to make or fix, without requiring myself to purchase anything or bring them to completion.

        Fancy bulletin board with pockets for the daughter at college? Planned three or four ways, complete with research into materials and hardware and cost. Never made, but the planning was fun.

        Bookcase to fit in the little nook in the bedroom? Planned it out, adjusted measurements 3 times, drew it in SketchUp, investigated four different door schemes (tambour, sliding, hinged single, hingled split). Walked through Home Depot looking at materials. Never built, but the planning was fun.

        1. Zzzzzzz*

          TootsNYC – this is brilliant!! I am stealing this idea for sure. I make the plans and then buy the things… and feel so guilty. But I enjoy it right up until then. I’ll keep the fun part, end the part that brings the guilt. Thanks for sharing this idea!!

          1. Fern*

            I love this “fantasy self” idea. Makes me realize there are lots of creative fields in which no one questions loving the design process but not doing the actual labour to finish the project eg: being an architect but not also a carpenter. Fashion designer but not a sewer. Dreaming/ designing/ planning are valid pursuits on their own. What a lovely realization!

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        My “fantasy self” works out every day and eats way more healthy than my reality self, I will admit! And I take full credit for it too. lol

      4. TardyTardis*

        I might add that one hopes this family has sufficient insurance; things do happen to the best-intentioned husband, and if you don’t have savings and good health insurance, some really bad things can happen if the lucrative job is gone for whatever reason.

    3. Artemesia*

      Or even negotiate a 3 mos leave of absence and try out your projects. Or look for a job that puts you into the creative field that interests you.When making a dramatic change like this, it is helpful to be gradual and find out if that is what you. really want to do.

      My husband and I are retired and he has been productive and happy every day since. He has devoted time to writing a column for a fairly well known political blog and spends hours reading and writing. I know academic types who are happily writing books or furthering their research in retirement. Others we know are languishing, golfing a bit and have trouble finding things to do. You don’t really know who you will be on this until you give it a try.

      It will also affect your marriage — how will your not working while he is affect your household management and your relationship.

      1. happybat*

        I think that’s such a good point. It might be that not working has no impact whatsoever on your domestic balance and relationships. But it could also be that you move from person-in-your-own-right to domestic support staff. On retirement, a very good friend of mine found that she lost a lot of status in her relationship, and was expected to ‘work’ at supporting her partner in their plans.

        There is also (I’m sorry) the chance that the relationship may not last forever. It may well do! But it’s tough to move back into the labour market if you have been gone for a long time.

    4. Campfire Raccoon*

      I agree with this. Creative pursuits are great, but I’ve found that anytime I try to monetize something I view as a hobby, it immediately becomes a “job” in my head and loses its shine. Obviously you are not me- and if you aren’t interested in monetizing the creative pursuits it may be a non-issue. But since you say you’re worried the “fun projects that will go nowhere” it makes me think you’ve got plans for these projects.

      If you take time off to specifically pursue the projects, then you’ve tested the waters without losing anything.

      1. GS*

        Depending on the projects, there might also be room to do them on a donation/unpaid basis that still supports something but it doesn’t quite have the contraints of a job: farming for donations to the food bank, or making quilts for homeless shelters/charity raffles, for instance.

        1. Campfire Raccoon*

          Right. I read the OP’s letter through my own lens. Once upon a time I spent a lot of time volunteering for this thing I loved. I was offered (what I thought) was a fantastic opportunity working in that field. 6 years later I bailed. Now I can’t even look at said thing without major feelings of blergitude and bitterness.

          Similarly I enjoy vegetable gardening and often scramble to give them away after I’ve canned/dried/frozen the excess. People will offer me money for the veggies, but now I know selling the produce would suck all the fun out of it.

          1. Victoria, Please*

            (Off topic and input you didn’t ask for, so take it fwiw: if people offer you money for your vegs and you don’t want to take it, suggest they donate it to the local food bank. Win win!)

            1. Campfire Raccoon*

              Nah. I have zero interest what they do with their money. It doesn’t have to go home, but it can’t stay here. But if they leave their car unlocked, imma fill said car up with zucchini and eggplant.

    5. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I agree with this, and all the down comments are right on the money. If you were to stop working, it would change your relationship dynamic (not necessarily for the worse, but it would change) and household responsibilities. OP didn’t mention her age (I’m wondering if age discrimination would be a factor if and when she wanted to re-enter the workplace) or if there are kids still at home who need care. It’s a fortunate position to be in, but I definitely suggest staying put for now and seeing how things go if you devote most/all of your time off to your passion pursuit. There is a real impact to being a woman in a leadership role in a company/agency and you are helping other women just by being there. (WAIT – is OP a female?!)

      1. GrooveBat*

        I really don’t think it’s fair to put the onus on OP to subvert her own creative/professional desires for the sake of “helping other women just by being there.” If she wants to leave and do other things with her life, then that’s what choice and autonomy are all about.

        That said, I would really hesitate to advise anyone to simply up and leave a job if that would leave them dependent on a spouse or partner’s income. You’re right that it would change the relationship dynamic, but it would also put OP in a really tough spot if anything (heaven forbid) were to happen with the marriage.

        1. Cj*

          Since she says neither her or her husband need to work at all, I’m assuming that there are a lot of assets she would get half of in the case of divorce.

          1. GrooveBat*

            Maybe…but given that this would be a big shift in the economics of the marriage I wouldn’t assume anything. If they don’t have a pre-nup, it might be time to formalize their “in the event of…” financial understanding.

            1. wanda*

              Yes. In a community property state, any property accumulated before marriage is not held in common and therefore not split at divorce. Before she quits her job, she should make sure that she will be able to continue to not work in case of a divorce- both now and a retirement age. If she isn’t working, she won’t be accumulating social security either.

              1. OP*

                Yes – to answer folks – I have very solid financial plans in the event (God forbid) there’s a divorce or death. I also went to a top business school and have a pretty extensive network (plus my work history) which makes me cautiously optimistic that I could get a job if needed.

                On the household responsibilities – my husband is actually really, really supportive of not having me do more household work – and we are lucky enough to be able to afford a staff (chef, nanny, housekeeper) that runs our household pretty seamlessly.

                1. OP*

                  Posted this below but to be super clear:

                  I wouldn’t in any way be depending on my spouse’s income.* We already have enough to retire and 50% of those assets are in my name. I could easily live the rest of my life on the 50% I already have. I should’ve been clearer that this is a “should I retire” and not a “should I depend on my spouse’s income” question. My husband has decided to spend his days working still because he absolutely loves his job, so the question is: how do I want to spend my days? A job I’m “meh” about? Or creative projects that I don’t have guarantees on?

                2. Green tea*

                  I’m way late commenting here so you might not see this. When I first saw the post I cautioned you strongly against it. With this additional info, I (enviously) say you should go for it!

        2. TootsNYC*

          I agree with you. But if she like the job “well enough,” this sort of thing might give her more of a cause to invest herself in, and make keeping the job more enjoyable.

          I read once that people are happiest and enjoy their jobs most when they see their jobs as having important meaning. But that having the same job for a while means the “meaning” you’ve assigned it will likely start to fade after a few years, and you’ll need a new one.
          So a school janitor might start out by thinking of their work as benefitting students. Once that starts to be a little repetitive, they might switch to thinking of themselves as facilitating teachers; then to benefitting the physical plant and the taxpayers by providing upkeep and preserving the building and keeping costs down; then to seeing their work as creating order and calm in the world. By then, they might switch back to thinking of themselves as providing a clean and welcoming space for students.

          For the OP, seeing herself as making inroads and providing opportunities and a role model for other women might be the “value” that makes her feel better about keeping her job.

      2. Amaranth*

        Oh shoot, did we all just jump to conclusions based on mention of a husband? If so, I’m ashamed of myself.

      3. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        Statistically speaking, the LW probably is female, but your excellent point about shifting marital dynamics applies to both wives and husbands. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so, but yes, in most marriages, the income-earner does have more power – in both their own eyes and in those of their spouse. (We all like to think we’re above that sort of thinking, but almost none of us really is.) If the LW quits their job, they’re likely to find the power dynamics shifting in ways that they didn’t anticipate and which come as a very rude shock.

        But that doesn’t mean that the LW is stuck forever in an unrewarding job! Several commenters have suggested that they look around (and look within) to see the kind of work they’d really love to do. It might pay less than the LW’s current job. It might come with a less prestigious title. But it might be the best career move that the LW has ever made.

        1. L Dub*

          This.

          Personally, I also could not handle being financially dependent on my spouse, but that’s 100% my issue. I’d just recommend looking into what OP’s financial protections are, just in case divorce is ever on the table.

          1. OP*

            Hi! I posted this below but re-posting here:

            *I wouldn’t in any way be depending on my spouse’s income.* We already have enough to retire and 50% of those assets are in my name. I could easily live the rest of my life on the 50% I already have. I should’ve been clearer that this is a “should I retire” and not a “should I depend on my spouse’s income” question. My husband has decided to spend his days working still because he absolutely loves his job, so the question is: how do I want to spend my days? A job I’m “meh” about? Or creative projects that I don’t have guarantees on?

        2. Kat in VA*

          This. Entirely. I was a SAHM for 20 years and finally decided to get a job mostly out of boredom. (You can only clean your house so many times, bake so many pies, do so many home improvement projects when your kids are older and more self-sufficient).

          While I make 1/2 of what my husband makes, the power dynamics in our relationship have shifted significantly (in my favor).

          This isn’t to say that we had an awful marriage before (we’ve been together for over three decades), but there’s certainly been a change in terms of decision making and overall independence that I didn’t feel I had before, due to my own internal constraints. Now that I’m contributing monetarily, I feel personally that I have far more latitude to make decisions and engage in behaviors that I wouldn’t have done before not earning wages.

          There was also a massive shift in Who Did What in terms of household chores. My job is far more intense and fast-paced that my husband’s, and I also work longer hours. Expectations around house cleaning, meals, laundry, kids’ doctor appointments, vet visits, even grocery shopping have been majorly readjusted.

          1. OP*

            Hi! I wasn’t able to comment until Friday afternoon so I missed most of the discussion, but I wanted to clarify something:

            *I wouldn’t in any way be depending on my spouse’s income.* We already have enough to retire and 50% of those assets are in my name. I could easily live the rest of my life on the 50% I already have. I should’ve been clearer that this is a “should I retire” and not a “should I depend on my spouse’s income” question. My husband has decided to spend his days working still because he absolutely loves his job, so the question is: how do I want to spend my days? A job I’m “meh” about? Or creative projects that I don’t have guarantees on?

    6. anonymouse*

      This is the most excellent suggestion. Start by taking one day off. Use that day just to think about what you would do. Not time at work, or on the weekend with your husband/others around. Just a day with your and your coffee and keyboard/pen.
      Then next month take a day and do one thing on the list.
      How much did you get done compared to what you expected?
      How soon/how long before you needed to maybe just talk to SOMEBODY, or move from your desk/office/workshop?
      Conversely, did you hate talking to people for this new venture and it’s a big part of it?
      Take your time. Enjoy your options.
      (Full disclosure, I like my job. But if I could leave, there’d be a roadrunner smoke trail leading through an “anonymouse sized” hole in the door. But I also think that since OP didn’t hit the $50 mil lottery, there are a lot of variables and s/he shouldn’t jump with both feet since it’s not necessary.)

    7. Countess of Upstairs Downstairs*

      I agree with this – and want to add that in the meantime, if you haven’t done so already, look to increase your free time for creative pursuits by outsourcing your routine tasks. Hire a housekeeper, a cook, personal assistant, driver, etc. If you’re that wealthy, your “hired help” should have their own assistants as well.

    8. Web of Pies*

      “I have some one-off creative projects I’d want to pursue but no obvious path to making those projects into a ***meaningful or successful career***….I’ll pursue these fun projects that ***will go nowhere***.” (Emphasis mine obviously)

      This can be a really damaging mindset. Creative pursuits/hobbies do not have to be “successful” (i.e. monetizable) to offer tremendous value to your life. In fact, monetizing a hobby you’re passionate about can often ruin it. Many professional artists complain that they feel boxed in by their audience, who expect a certain product of them, but that’s not what art is about at all.

      Really ask yourself what the point of trying to monetize your interests is. Is it that you feel that time spent should equal money made (a capitalist idea ingrained in most of us), or that your value is tied to your earnings? Do you feel guilty about not having to earn anything, or feel guilty doing something “pointless” for yourself? Why can’t fun projects just be for fun? Can you pursue your creative ideas just for the sake of experiencing the pleasure of doing them, the way kids will spend an afternoon making glitter glue and popsicle stick contraptions?

      1. Elle by the sea*

        I agree. In my experience, once you start monetising your creative pursuits, they stop being creative and enjoyable. It depends on the person and the type of the creative pursuits, but I think people should free themselves from this eagerness to feel useful and having to monetise everything. Especially in situations when you can afford to not work for money.

        And as for leaving or not leaving your job, OP, it really is up to you. I love my job, but to be honest I would probably stop working, work fewer ours or retire very early if I didn’t have to work. I have many creative pursuits myself, so I wouldn’t be bored for a minute.

        As for you not working would change your dynamics, that again varies from couple to couple. Both my partner and I have been jobless for lengthy periods of time. It only changed our dynamics when partner was jobless, as he was upset and frustrated about it. When I was jobless, I had fun most of the time. I could finally cook nice meals, go for trips, get some alone time, work on my creative projects and do some upskilling (as eventually, due to pressure from the world, my goal was to find a job). Both of us earned enough money to be the sole breadwinner but only one of us enjoyed not working. You need to decide which type of person you are.

      1. OP*

        This is super helpful and a really great point! It’s definitely made me think through why I associate monetization with value, when so many valuable jobs in our culture don’t pay well.

    1. JokeyJules*

      YUP
      If you are looking for intellectual stimulation and achievements that you find tangible, OP, I would suggest charity work, creative projects, sponsoring other peoples’ creative projects, funding scholarships, the list goes on. There is a world of opportunity for you, arguably moreso than before, to fulfill the need for intellectual stimulation and achievement.

      1. MK*

        Yes. But all these things require a great deal of self discipline, and most people don’t know whether they have what it takes, because they have never been in a position to only do work when they want to.

        Maybe I am wrong, but the sense I get is the OP being afraid that she will quit her job and 10 years later will find herself morphed into the spouse of a rich man, wasting her time, brains and energy in half-heartedly pursuing hobbies. It’s not an unreasonable fear.

        1. JustaTech*

          Agreed! This literally came up for me this week (my spouse was like, “hey, we could retire in 3 years”) and it has thrown me for a loop.
          The things I want to do/love to do/stimulate my brain aren’t things I can do alone, or as a start-up, or for a charity. The life sciences just aren’t like that (the material overhead is *huge*). And I’m terrified that if I just stopped working forever without something else huge to occupy my time (kids) then I would just kind of … melt?
          Like, I could be a perpetual student, or go into a related field where no one makes any money (archeology), but the idea of not having an external structure to my life sounds like some kind of Victorian nightmare. Which is my personal reaction! I bet a lot of people would not feel this way at all!

          But I really understand where OP is coming from.

          1. ampersand*

            Oooh I feel this way, too, and the “Victorian nightmare” description is spot on.

            There are also lots of things I like to/would like to do, but in the absence of (forced) structure in my life, I don’t do those things; I languish. I need actual constraints on my free time in order to make it valuable. I also like using my brain, and much of that happens at my job. I think I’d quickly turn back into the sullen teenager I used to be if I had limitless free time and wasn’t working!

        2. RB*

          I’m in the same boat! I got laid off from my job during COVID, and considered not returning to work and instead contributing my time to causes I care about. I spent 14 months unemployed and here are a few things to consider 1.) it is hard to motivate yourself when you don’t have firm responsibilities and structured time; 2.) I felt like a trophy wife when we were in social situations and didn’t have my own work to talk about; 3.) not working further alienated me from my friends in a lower income bracket. In the end, I took a job at a cool non profit.

      2. Mountain Home Kid*

        As a society we do not give enough credit to people who donate time and energy and skills to a charity. Is there a cause you care about to which you could donate your time and expertise? Or is there a non-profit you could work for that would make you feel more passionate about working?

        One concern I would have about quitting my job would be my financial independence. You might consider what steps you could take before quitting to ensure your financial security.

        1. GrooveBat*

          Yeah, that’s where my mind when to (re financial security). Having a job isn’t just about the salary; it’s also about making sure you’re well positioned to support yourself if the worst happens.

        2. SchuylerSeestra*

          Financial security would be my concern. Would the OP be dependent on her husband for money? Do they have a joint account? I would actually love to be in a place where I don’t have to work, but financial independence would be important to me.

        3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          “Or is there a non-profit you could work for that would make you feel more passionate about working?”
          I always wonder where people get the idea that someone can just stroll into the non-profit of their choice, and automatically get hired for whatever position suits their fancy, with no thought of relevant experience or degrees. Fantasyland!

      3. Well...*

        Also getting involved in local government or activist groups! Jobs usually keep us too busy to do our civic duty.

        1. OP*

          Thanks for this advice, everyone! I am definitely worried about being 10 years in and feeling like I didn’t accomplish anything.

          That said, if I were to pursue these projects, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking through how I could build in “deadlines” and keep myself accountable. I think I could do it, but I worry that maybe those plans wouldn’t work.

          1. JoR*

            Have you considered working with a life coach? They could help you figure out a direction and hold you accountable to goals you set for yourself.

    2. Anon.*

      I would quit the job. I’m not rich but I love my job and I still seriously consider quitting, though, as I have a lot of interests and lots of other priorities s, and I’m not sure that’s you? Listen to some podcasts or read some material about entrepreneurship or art or service or whatever your interests are. Work is just work and there is no need to devote yourself to a career that is just so-so. But it’s only going to work if you can break away from the “I’m behind” and “life is about making money /gaining career prestige” mindset. Paula Pant’s Afford Anything is great for thinking about life abs what your money is for. Seth Godwin’s Akimbo is interesting too.

  2. Coffee Cup*

    Obviously this is personal and depends on your personality and relationship, but I myself cannot imagine depending solely on someone else’s income with no other sources of revenue. It would drive me insane with anxiety. YMMV.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      I know. My first thought is that if she quits and desnt get a job again for several years that when she goes to get her social security that she might not get as much because she wasn’t working as much. I’ve heard about women who only worked for a few years and then left the workforce all together to raise kids or whatever, and then they didn’t get as much in social security because they hadn’t paid in.

      I also think that when one partner makes all the money it starts an unbalanced power dynamic where now she would have to ask for money for her husband to fund her hobbies and her passions. But this is may just be my own personal experience coloring my perspective on this.

      1. Bluesboy*

        My wife was in a situation not too dissimilar from the OP, and had the same worries you express, so I get it, but from the opposite perspective. In the end we created an Excel sheet so we could insert what she makes with her freelance work every month into it, and it would split the bills proportionately so we both have roughly the same disposable income – we were worried about the power dynamic, as you say. Every month I just send an email (I’m very romantic) telling her what she needs to pay into the joint account or what I need to send her (so if anyone is asking for money it’s me!) It works for us.

        If I were OP, I would seriously consider leaving to follow her dreams, but I would make sure that I have an agreement with my partner first (a) on how to handle monthly expenses etc and (b) how to cover long-term future prospects – payments into a private pension or share scheme, so that she is independent even if hubbie vanishes, or worse, dies?

      2. New Mom*

        I had similar concerns when reading the OP’s letter. I hate to be so jaded but I’ve seen the power balance shift in a negative way for every couple I know where one parent is SAHP, not that my sample size is the biggest but maybe about a dozen? And I’ve seen this go extremely bad for two close friends. Over time the working partner starts to view the money as their money that they are then giving to the other partner, like an allowance. And what happens if the OP and her husband separate years in the future? This is definitely coming from the worst-case-scenario option, but if the OP does not have a sizable nest egg of their own, I’d be cautious of giving up all financial control to another person.

        1. Janet Rosen*

          This 100% plus the loss of Social Security earnings. I was fortunate in being able to work part time as RN my entire career, allowing time for both painting and volunteering the other days. I think the suggestions to seek reduced work hours at current job may be a good place to start without burning bridges… Also: there is never anything gained comparing your relative position to peers; your goals and priorities are not necessarily theirs.

          1. JustaTech*

            I would agree that there’s not a lot of good in comparison, but there is value in *observation*. If you observe that situation X sometimes results in outcome Y, and you don’t want outcome Y, then you can think about how to avoid/address that without just saying “no X”. Such as talking through various responsibilities, or how you would handle money, etc.

          2. PT*

            This is a myth about losing Social Security! Once you are married for 10 years, you’re entitled to claim benefits under your spouse’s Social Security number and benefit level.

        2. Temporary ID*

          My ex and I started a new company. I quit my job and threw myself into building up the business. Off and on through the 17 years we were together, I also worked full-time at office jobs, to prop up our income stream as the business slowly grew. But not on a consistent basis.

          So I have several years where I worked exclusively for the business and several years where I worked full-time elsewhere and spent every second of my spare time on the business.

          Similar to what New Mom said, he began to see our business as “his” business, because he was doing the manual labor (residential and store front window cleaning), and because I often was working at other full-time jobs. All of my back office, marketing, accounting, IT, and legal work was a mere “hobby” and of zero value.

          Also, those years I worked full-time elsewhere and then spent my evenings and weekends on the business, he was watching TV and playing video games while I did “my share” of the business work. So I was putting in 80-90 hours a week (if you include commute time to and from the full-time jobs) while he was spending maaaaaybe 20-30 hours a week actually cleaning windows. (I don’t think he has ever worked a full 40 hours in the entire existence of the business).

          Since he came to believe was that my work had zero value, he decided that I didn’t need to have any independent spending authority and “gave” me an allowance. Of $35/week. This was in 2015, not 1955.

          I went back to school, finished my Bachelor’s, got a Master’s, got a seriously well-paying job, and got rid of him. I now have just a 10% stake in the business.

          I am so glad that I never completely stopped working outside of our own small business, and that I kept my skills fresh and was seen as employable.

        3. Can't Think of a Name*

          From a more positive perspective, my mom worked before having my brother and I, and when she had me became a SAHM while my dad financially supported the family. Granted, I was a kid, but even as an adult now, I don’t see an imbalanced power dynamic. From the time they were married, my parents always had join accounts, and have viewed the money my dad earned as the family’s money. I think part of what helped is that my dad 100% recognized all the work that goes into being a SAHP and managing a household (and my mom always handled the bills, they’d budget together, etc.).

          After I got older, my mom didn’t go back to working full-time, but did work part-time/volunteer for things that were important to her (teacher’s aide, and now she volunteers at our Church).

          This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be wary about the shift in power dynamics, I just wanted to share a perspective where things went well! 40 years of marriage and going strong :)

          1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            My parents had the same arrangement, the only difference being that they were blue-collar, and when Mom went back to work, it was full-time. But their incomes, whether single or double, were family income, and they made all financial decisions together. This was in the 1950s and 60s, and I assumed all families were like ours. It’s pretty sad that so many weren’t, and still aren’t.

        4. SAHM No power imbalance here*

          It really depends on the people. I’ve been a SAHM for 18 years and haven’t felt like there’s a power imbalance at all. I manage the house and the kids and my spouse considers that a job in itself. Since he doesn’t have time to deal with any of that stuff, it removes stress and problems for him because I’m handling it. He says I make it easier for him to do his job well because he doesn’t have to worry about any of the day to day non-work stuff. We consider ourselves a partnership and he shares his salary with me freely. We do have a dollar amount that we agreed we both need to discuss any purchases above that amount, but aside from that, I conduct myself how I wish. I make decisions about repairs/maintenance to the house myself. I involve him so he knows what’s going on and can comment if he disagrees with my choices, but he rarely does. He trusts me and I trust him. It’s important to note that we talked about this stuff before we got married and have discussed it through the years to make adjustments as needed so I always felt secure that I would not have to ask for permission to spend money on myself. As for what the OP can do with their time, that one has been harder for me. When school is in session for my kids, I have spent time volunteering at their schools or at other organizations. During summer break we go on adventures discovering interesting parks and places in our state. I’ve gone back to school and gotten another degree, not as a career goal, but because it was something I was interested in. It took me twice as long to get because I went part time since my kids were my main focus, but I consider it valuable time and money spent on myself. Now that my kids are older, I’m starting to think about one day going back to work, but I only have 1 out of high school at this point and my other 2 are the ones with all the extra curricular activities that I also volunteer to support so I’m actually pretty busy these days. I could work if I wanted to, but I like that I don’t have a commitment like that to tie me down. I don’t have to worry about my job if my kids get sick and I need to call off work. I also feel that since I don’t *need* to work, I don’t want to take a job that someone else really does need. I enjoy volunteer work, but it’s important to pick something that makes you feel fulfilled and not taken advantage of.

        5. OP*

          Hi! I posted this below but re-posting here:

          *I wouldn’t in any way be depending on my spouse’s income.* We already have enough to retire and 50% of those assets are in my name. I could easily live the rest of my life on the 50% I already have. I should’ve been clearer that this is a “should I retire” and not a “should I depend on my spouse’s income” question. My husband has decided to spend his days working still because he absolutely loves his job, so the question is: how do I want to spend my days? A job I’m “meh” about? Or creative projects that I don’t have guarantees on?

      3. Disgruntled Engineer*

        It really varies on how the couple views money in general. If you start out with the view of “my money and my spouse’s money” and splitting expenses, etc., then yeah – you can definitely end up with weird power dynamics with regards to money.

        When you view all income as “ours” to be divided up for family needs and individual pursuits, it takes a lot of the power struggles out of those conversations. Once the money goes into the pot, both adult members of the family work together to figure out how to spend/save/whatever.

        I never felt like I was in a subordinate position as a stay-at-home mom for the 6 years I did that – we worked together to make our budget work to do the things we needed and wanted to do. I never felt like I was the only one who got to make money decisions for the time he was a stay-at-home parent, either.

        Both my husband and I have been full-time stay-at-home parents, the primary breadwinner, or the one earning the most money in the relationship. It hasn’t made a fig of a difference in how we spend the “family” income.

        I’ve had a hobby for a long time that can sometimes get expensive – triathlons. When we were living on just my husband’s post-doctoral income (about $50,000 a year, which was covering all the expenses for our family of 4 at the time), we would both save for me to be able to afford race fees, triathlon gear, bike equipment, etc. – he knew our life as a family functioned better if I had this physical and “self” outlet, and cheered me on at every race! We also saved up for him to be able to go do karaoke regularly, as that’s his “self” outlet.

        1. OP*

          Thanks for the comments! I totally hear where people are coming from on the power dynamics/financial support question, but we combined finances from the get-go and, even in the event of something awful, I would only need to get a job if I wanted to work.

    2. Littorally*

      Same. It’s not your income therefore you don’t know what’s actually going on with it. I’ve heard too many horror stories of spouses concealing job loss, gambling or other financial addictions, a second family, etc….

      1. Tin Cormorant*

        I mean, my husband earns all the income in our family, but I’ve got logins and cards attached to all our accounts. I spend it the same as he does because it’s *our* money, not his, even if the checks coming in are in his name.

        I’m not sure how he could conceal excessive spending when I can look at the transactions whenever I want. We’re often asking each other what so-and-so charge is in order to properly categorize it on PersonalCapital, and discussing major purchases with each other ahead of time.

        I’d still prefer to have my own job just in case he dies or something, but it’s really hard to get motivated to stick with a job when the money doesn’t make a noticeable difference in my life (but I definitely notice the lack of time to do things!)

        1. Rose*

          Thank you. No matter who you are or who’s making the money, your spouse could always possibly have a secret gambling addiction or hundreds of thousands in credit card debt. Bring a breadwinner or not doesn’t really change that fact and doesn’t have to change the amount of access you have to information.

          1. A Feast of Fools*

            What is *does* change though is one’s ability to recover from that kind of financial… abuse (?).

            If you don’t have your own independent income stream, then you’re hosed if you divorce (and they’ve already spent all the joint money) or if the income-earning spouse dies (and they’ve already spent all the joint money).

            Also, the people I know who have had to recover from this type of deception had logins and access to all the *known* accounts. And those were always on the up-and-up. But their spouses were putting bonuses, commissions, portions of raises, monetary gifts from family, etc., into secret accounts.

            And it’s easy to have your company deposit your paycheck into multiple bank accounts, in whatever apportioning you desire.

            So if my base pay is, say, $4000/check and I get a 10% raise, I just tell my spouse that my company only did COLA raises and all I got was a measly 3%, then have $280/check direct-deposited into a secret account. Scrub, rinse, repeat every single year. And, as my base pay climbs higher with each raise, the amount I deposit to my secret account each pay period increases.

            1. Countess of Upstairs Downstairs*

              This. Unfortunately, if a spouse is determined to conceal their finances, they will find a way. They can and will hire lawyers and accountants to help them hide their assets. And the professionals are never confused about which person they work for – and it’s not you.

      2. Firecat*

        As my families sole breadwinner I’m going to push back on “it’s not your money so you don’t know.”

        There are a lot of horror stories out there and it boils down to – do you trust your spouse and have open communication about finances? Yes? Then you will be fine.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah.
      I hate to throw cold water on OP, but what if your spouse dies suddenly? Or runs off to Tahiti with a paramour and leaves you with nothing? Even if I’m not earning up to my “full potential”, whatever that is, I’d want to keep my hand in something so that I could go back to supporting myself if I needed to.
      Also be aware that if you ratchet your lifestyle up to fit your income, then you need to seriously reconsider what’s a necessity and what’s a luxury if you quit, or both of you retire, etc. A lot of people fall into the trap of spending to match their peak income, and then finding that they are uncomfortable living off their retirement income.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        Thank you for saying this. One of the reasons my sisters and I are where we are professionally is because my parents said this. It’s great to have a partner with a lucrative career, but what if….
        Maybe LW needs a different job but if it were me (and I know it’s not) I would keep working. I like having my own money and independence in the event the worst should happen. (And since we live well within our income, I know he or I could make it with just the one income if it came to that.)

      2. drinking Mello Yello*

        Also, (because I work in medical billing and this is On My Mind All The Time), if you’re (you, the OP) in the US, is your health insurance through your work or your husband’s? Dental and vision? If you’re on your husband’s health insurance and he suddenly dies, do you have a plan for getting a insurance plan in your own name? Since you have a decent amount of money, it doesn’t sound like it’d be nearly as dire a situation as it would be for poor peeps, but it’s something to account for regardless.

        Personally, I’m with the first comment thread of “long vacation/sabbatical to see what you Truly want to do” and “whatever you decide, get all your ducks in a row beforehand”.

      3. Bluesboy*

        Well dying, from a purely financial perspective, is manageable with life insurance. The running off to Tahiti is more complicated, as far as I know there is no ‘spouse is a cheat’ insurance currently available on the market.

        1. Here we go again*

          If your spouse dies, depending on your spouses employer you can only get health insurance for a year after from the employer for your family. That’s what happens when my mom passed away.

      4. Rose*

        This happened to a friend, K. She had a wonderful husband who encouraged her not to work as she hated her low paying job and he loved his very, very high paying one. Everything was great until they retired. He developed dementia and his kids, K’s step kids, took control of his finances against K’s will. They basically claimed that K was a manipulative gold digger and taking advantage of their poor sweet senile father by using his money to spend large amounts, which they openly admitted were FOR HER MEDICAL CARE, on herself. Their whole argument was it was leaving less for them to inherit. They didn’t even try to hide that.

        Now K has serious medical issues herself, can’t work, and needs to be in a nursing facility full time. Her step kids have somehow gotten it so that despite her husbands millions, K is on one of the cheapest facilities in our area. Only through in insane amount of legal intervention was she able to stop them from cutting her off totally, so she would have to move hours away to the state funded facility.

        I’m still shocked, furious, and baffled over how all of this was even possible. K has spent thousands of hours and dollars on lawyers. The story sounds fake even to me. It’s insane her step kids were able to get this much control. I only share it because I don’t want OP to think “oh people are saying this assuming my marriage will fail,” or anything like that. It’s just good to be super safe. K never paid much attention to the legal aspects of their money because she trusted her sweet husband. He was trustworthy but it ended horribly.

        1. Littorally*

          Plus all the ones.

          This kind of thing is so painfully common, and while being a breadwinner on her own won’t protect the OP from financial exploitation, it will block off the avenues that come along with the family assets not being hers.

        2. generic_username*

          This really drives home the importance of having a will, to include a living will, and keeping those documents updated

          1. Rose*

            The crazy thing was he did have a will, but somehow these monster “children” (in their 40s/50s) convinced him, once he was already senile, to make changes to “stop K from taking all his money.” His WIFE. Who needed the money for medical care. It still baffles and angers me. She has the bare min she needs to not be uncomfortable but it never should have been legally possible and makes me furious.

            1. Shades of Jean Gray*

              Y’know, family dynamics are a complicated thing. I respectfully submit that the “monster” children might have a different view of things. That’s not to say they’re necessarily right, but I think it’s hasty to say they’re necessarily *wrong*, too.

              Or it might even be that neither side is wrong per se, but merely has a different perspective.

      5. RabbitRabbit*

        Or tons of things! Obviously it’s not a binary of “must stay at this exact job” vs “must quit all paid work” – she can opt to use this as a jumping-off point to a more fulfilling career, maybe something in a non-profit if that’s up her alley. She could reduce her hours at this job, take a sabbatical, go job hunting, pay a headhunter to find her more suitable work.

      6. two cents*

        OP could mitigate the risk of sudden death with life insurance. Abandonment is different, although with enough time and energy I suspect OP would have a good shot at legal recourse to obtain some kind of spousal support.

    4. Sugar Snaps!*

      I think this could be alleviated if some of the passive income streams were in her name or jointly held. Since the OP mentioned that her husband wouldn’t have to work either at this point, I’m thinking they have some passive streams set up already. That way the income isn’t being held over their head in the relationship.

    5. Nicotene*

      This was my first thought. Even in loving marriages that truly go the distance, it’s always a risk to be completely dependent on the other person’s salary. You can get life insurance but you can’t get insurance for everything. And while you could easily re-enter the job market at a comparable level now if you left your job, within a few years it might be a lot harder.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This was my first thought as well. I’ve heard far too many horror stories about situations like this.

      OP, before you quit, make sure you are legally and financially protected.

    7. Anon for this one*

      Yes. I’m risk averse so YMMV, but I don’t ever want to be in a position where I’m solely dependent on one other person for my financial well being. No matter how lovely, loyal, trustworthy, etc etc

      A few years ago, my spouse had an affair. Divorce was a distinct possibility. If I had not been working, my life would have been a lot harder if we had split (I ran the numbers, it’s one reason I decided it to leave).

      This past year, my spouse went on medical leave for several months. Continued to get paid (lots of PTO plus a faculty benefit). If they had not gotten better and started working again, things would have been very tight on my considerably lower salary.

      I think being able to take the time to work on an alternate career is a gift and OP should take it, but ALSO making sure to set up a rock solid financial cushion. And setting some deadlines for earning $X from that career.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I don’t expect you to respond, but I am curious how that worked out. Pretty sure that’s the reason my mom and dad stayed married (he had an affair in 1986 and again in 2010, same woman). He didn’t want to give up half and she didn’t want to give up half. 10 years later they still sleep in separate rooms and my mom won’t wear her wedding ring, AND she now has colon cancer and one of his responses to that was “what about my quality of life” because my mom isn’t able to get out to restaurants and stuff. I just think they should have left and made do financially. They both made decent money at their jobs and have a very nice house and another property. They clearly don’t like each other.

      1. Nicotene*

        True, since OP doesn’t hate their job, maybe they commit to staying for 3-6 more months and building up a large cushion of savings – you’re saying you can live without your income, so prove it, as the FIRE people do. (it’s also possible OP already has a large cushion so it’s not necessary, just a thought experiment).

    8. Gene Parmesan*

      I agree, I am a married woman and I am very, very secure about the state of my marriage, and we have always had 100% shared finances. But I would not be okay with giving up work and being fully dependent on my husband’s income. Even without the possibility of the relationship changing or divorce. This is horribly pessimistic to think about, but there could always be a situation where the husband became sick, his medical bills depleted the household finances, and he died, leaving the wife in bad financial shape.

    9. twocents*

      This is where I am. Even if he doesn’t want to divorce, he could to die or could get permanently disabled. Heck, LW could want to leave someday and realize that they can’t because they’re financially dependent.

      And honestly: pays reasonably well + makes me feel accomplished and proud at least some of the time + is a good company to work for is basically winning the lottery. I think it’s a great disservice society has done to people to suggest you have to love your job or it’s not worth doing.

      1. TheAG*

        I totally agree about the disservice. If I had to guess the percentage of people out there that do something they’re passionate about if they work for someone else is pretty small.
        Then there’s the opposite side. I’m actually very passionate about what I do, but that combined with a pair of golden handcuffs has kept me in a situation where I’ve taken far more abuse than I should have had to (the company uses the passion we have and knows it has the upper hand).

    10. Sangamo Girl*

      Came to say the same. Spouse had a great, really secure job. We had a plan and a budget and I became a SAHM with tons of outside interests and volunteer gigs. I LOVED it and intended never to work full time again. And then life happened. No divorce but he, through not fault of his own, lost his job. It took him two years to get something in his field and his salary has never caught up.

      And fortunately for us, no one had a life threatening event while we were without insurance. And our house didn’t get hit by lightening. And the world didn’t suffer a pandemic. . . . And. . . . And. . . . And. I could never ever be solely reliant on another person ever again. We’ve planned a life together forever but I still have my own retirement, savings, etc.

      So–think long and hard while talking to a lawyer, financial planner, and perhaps even a therapist. Good luck and I wish you the best OP!!

    11. D'Euly*

      But OP says that neither one of them ever has to work again, so she’s not depending on someone else’s income.

    12. Anon today*

      Having left the workforce to raise our kids because my husband also had a lucrative job, I’m deeply regretting my decision now that my marriage is in an ugly place. Depending on another person’s income puts you in a vulnerable position that you may not be able to come back from.

    13. GraceRN*

      I feel the same. Since I was a child, both my grandmothers and my mother all gave me the same advice that women need to have their own source of income. They *know* from having survived the harsh realities of war, famine, husbands dying young, hidden gambling addiction, etc. Their husbands had money and they thought they were secure. But in life there are too many things out of our control. I listen to these women because I don’t want to learn this lesson the hard way.
      I went through a divorce and the one thing that kept me sane that I have my own career to keep me financially secure.

    14. mrs__peel*

      Yes, this is where the lawyer part of my brain went immediately, too.

      OP, I’d *strongly* suggest that you talk to an attorney and/or financial planner about what your financial situation would be like if you experienced an abrupt change of circumstances (e.g., divorce, death of a spouse, or your spouse becoming too sick to work) before deciding to leave the workforce. I wouldn’t personally risk it unless my financial position was pretty ironclad. (Even then, I might try to keep my hand in the workforce by working part-time or consulting).

      1. OP*

        Thanks everyone! I mentioned this above but I have really solid financial plans if something awful were to happen. We wouldn’t be dependent on anyone’s future income, we would be fine with the amount we have now (which is split 50-50 in the event of a divorce, still enough for me to not have to work). But I totally hear folks – my husband and I have had a lot of discussions along these lines because I was worried about these things (and those worries have been resolved).

      1. Hobbit*

        I’m going to third this, but then I already have a side gig that I would love to be my day job.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Just as long as you don’t forsee a divorce and have a restrictive prenup, quit and allow someone who needs a job to take it.

      Very simple, very easy.

      1. mrs__peel*

        Not to be a huge downer, but a lot of people don’t foresee a divorce and it happens anyway. If I were OP, I’d want to be very sure of what my financial position would be if that happened.

  3. Bend & Snap*

    I would never give up my job to rely on a spouse’s income. But I’m divorced and a little jaded so take that for what it’s worth.

    Practically speaking–if the LW leaves the workforce and at some point needs to go back, it could be really hard to get in the door.

    1. Malarkey01*

      I would agree if she said that already neither of them need to work. So she’s not currently depending on his income either. If the money is already in the bank, or investments, than it’s a little different to me.

    2. Lora*

      This. It’s one of those, nobody thinks it will happen to them until it does happen to them – the world is chock-full of people who never thought their spouse would cheat on them, or develop a secret addiction of some sort, or leave them for the younger lingerie model, sort of thing. I have heard many MANY women rationalize that these things happen “because there were already big problems in the relationship,” “because she didn’t [do whatever] to keep her man happy” etc. For sudden death you can get life insurance, but for “I just found out my spouse has three secret lovers and a gambling habit” you are hosed. People are amazingly good at hiding these things, too. One of my best friends was 100% certain her husband was a terrible liar and couldn’t hide candy from a baby – turned out he had a lot of secret bank accounts in excess of 6 figures and had been doing all kinds of things with marital assets.

      Can you do a job part time? Doesn’t have to be this job, but can you do some support function for a charity or nonprofit you like, which would at least give you some kind of job history if you did have to jump back into full time work?

      Or, and I know this is likely a conversation too difficult to have, maybe think about a post-nup agreement before quitting your job.

      1. Nicotene*

        Or honestly, even if your spouse is faithful, there could be medical issues, mental health challenges, many unforeseen life circumstances that undermine the best plans. One of my friends was a stay at home mom until her husband developed unexplained medical symptoms that took over his life (and insurance refused to cover since there was never a diagnosis that explained the situation). She ended up going back to work way earlier than she planned and he couldn’t even qualify for disability.

        1. two cents*

          “insurance refused to cover since there was never a diagnosis that explained the situation”

          That is a new level of crappy. I know it’s a struggle for many to get health care. I hope that issue can be part of whatever solution occurs.

      2. Aerin*

        I’ve heard it referred to as a “f***-off fund” (don’t know if swearing gets caught in a filter…) Look at every potential worst-case scenario and make absolutely, positively certain that you could support yourself if, for whatever reason, your spouse was no longer able to. It’s a good idea to have bank accounts and assets in your name only, even if nothing ever goes wrong or separates you, just for that peace of mind and independence. Like, if he’s incapacitated for some reason and an account is in both your names or his only, you might have trouble accessing it quickly, which wouldn’t be an issue if the account is yours and yours alone.

        Even if you can’t get to a point where you could support yourself 100%, but where you’d be okay with a part-time/low-paying job, that’s enough that I’d be willing to pull the trigger and quit. Career advancement is not an absolute good unto itself, and you don’t need to compare yours to that of anyone else. If you’re finding fulfillment in places other than your job, what does it matter if your peers are “ahead” by some other metric?

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yeah, having my own account with my own money is something I need to not be a basket case. My father was financially abusive (and I’m sure my mom didn’t marry him thinking, gee, this guy will relish driving me into bankruptcy and having me spend my retirement savings on lawyers in a few decades), and it’s done a number on my trust in others with my financial security. My husband also has his own bank account, and we both have our own retirement accounts, in addition to the joint funds. I also make my husband go through the joint accounts with me at least once a year, whether he wants to or not, because he should know what I’m doing with the joint money. We also use a budgeting app that I put on his phone and logged him into.

          I am a very big fan of yours, mine, and ours banking.

        2. Le Sigh*

          Yeah, I agree with this. I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of having a career-advancing job specifically — don’t do that if you’re tired of it — more like options and back-up plans, and control over those options and back-up plans. Life taught me that no matter how much you trust someone, life can be weird for all the reasons you point out (i.e., it’s not just the risk of divorce). You can still have joint accounts, but having control over your own funds can make a big difference.

          My SO and I have some shared assets and accounts, which I like. But I was non-negotiable (e.g., would not get married otherwise) on retaining full ownership over my existing accounts (and I felt he he should do the same for himself!). Some of that is because hey, yes, someone could get into an accident or all kinds of crazy things could happen and I prefer we each have similar amounts of money stored away so we have fallbacks. But it’s also because if something went sideways and I had to pick between staying and going, I know if I stay it’s because I’m choosing to, not because I financially can’t. I frankly think it’s pretty darn romantic.

    3. 1234*

      I’m single and I completely agree with your first sentence. My mom’s big thing has always been “provide for yourself regardless of what someone else makes.” You never know when your spouse might be unwilling to “share.”

  4. esra*

    I’m on team quit. Quit so hard.

    I’d also like to throw out there, this idea of what is and isn’t an accomplished life. Specifically: trying fun, one-off creative projects, trying your hand at different skills and hobbies (even if they don’t go anywhere), has value. There’s not some quantity of accomplishment, measured in hours of working a job you feel “meh” about, that is better or more valuable than spending time being creative and learning and just slowing down and living your life.

    1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      Agreed! I worry that OP isn’t there yet. But if it were me, I’d quit yesterday!

    2. EPLawyer*

      Ditto on the what is or isn’t an accomplished life. Don’t compare yourself to your peers to determine your success. Success is what is right for you.

      So what if the creative projects are not a “career.” Not everything HAS to be a career. Do they fulfill and make you happy? Your accomplishment would be actually DOING them. Your success is a happy life.

      I mean take into consideration the concerns about losing your husband’s income. Also realize that NO ONE loves their job every day. Even doing the creative projects there will be days that you are not thrilled to be doing them. But having said all that – GO ENJOY LIFE.

      1. stornry*

        this! We’ve gotten too tied up in success = money and/or accomplishment = career. You can be happy/content just “doing”. So, take some time to just DO. Find a cause you support and offer your time — that may give your days structure, if that’s what you need, and a feeling if doing something worthwhile.

    3. A Ladrona*

      esra I just need to say, thank you for those first two lines. Made me laugh… and it’s where I need to be (working on it!).

    4. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      Yesssss. I mean, all the good advice here about really nailing down the finances etc, but…it’s your life! It’s the only life you’ve got! Really interrogate where we all picked up the idea that trading your time for money is the only way to get value out of it. Who benefits from that cultural expectation? Probably not average workers, that’s who. Find your passion and embrace it, and nudge away your guilt by ensuring at least some of your spare time and cash benefits the common good.

      1. it's me*

        I’m fascinated to see how the pandemic affects American “workism” – the rat race, always needing to do more to feel OK about ourselves. Once upon a time, the great aspiration was to increase leisure time.

    5. JustaTech*

      Yes so much to what is an “accomplished” life. I keep trying to tell myself this, but it isn’t getting through. Partly because I don’t know that I believe it, partly because I don’t have any role models in it, and a lot because trying to do the thing I’m most passionate about on my own would just get me put on terrorist watchlists (infectious disease research isn’t something you do in the shed out back).

      1. OP*

        I really like this advice – it’s definitely made me think through why I associate success with monetization. Thank you!

  5. Long Furby*

    You could always split the difference and find a part time job. Hustle Culture spawned Anti-Hustle Culture, which borderline shames people for wanting to have a steady job. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to work for the sake of having order and productivity in your life. We as creatures with a social structure to our society means most of us default to wanting to contribute to something. If you find a part time role that you enjoy, you still have more free time than most to pursue your hobbies, while retaining that sense of connection to a greater system and goal.

    1. Long Furby*

      As for the newer colleague, one can only hope that she understands that nobody is guaranteed to work anywhere forever, and will find fulfillment in the job even without you long term.

      1. Hobbit*

        Exactly, I have an employee who always goes on about “we’d be lost without you”. His job is a part-time entry-level position & he’s been here for several years, even after graduating with a degree in something unrelated. I really hope that he’s not staying on just bc he like working with me & the rest of the team. I hate the thought of someone stalling their career just for a specific boss. Part of me really wants to give him the reality check, of “You know I’m not staying here forever?”

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yes, this! Or see if there’s any way to do your current job part-time (which I realize isn’t always possible). Maybe you’ll find it’s a better job when you’re not there 40 hours a week.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yep! I’ve known people who have done this. They pursue art but have a “regular” job to fall back on. Let creative pursuits be your day job for a while.

    3. Audrey Puffins*

      Hustle Culture has a lot to answer for. I have hobbies that I could never turn into a career and would never want to turn into a career, but I would still happily quit the workforce and devote my days to them if money were no object. We’re allowed to have hobbies that we pursue just because we enjoy them.

      1. Long Furby*

        I have had to field SO many “suggestions” that I try to sell my baked goods or crocheted crafts.

        A) There is already a glut of home bakers and crafters out there I do not feel compelled to compete with

        B) Part of what I love is picking something for people I know, and seeing them enjoy the finished product (edible or otherwise). What’s so bad about that??

        In my opinion, it is no bad thing to celebrate a simple [hobby].

        1. The Original K.*

          Me too – “you should start a catering business!” I just like to cook because I think it’s fun, can it just be that? I’ve taken cooking classes and people are like, to further your craft so you can start a business? No! I just want to get better at this thing I like doing!

        2. JelloStapler*

          I discuss this a lot with my college students when they’re choosing a major! Not everything in their life has to be funneled into a career, sometimes something can just be an interest or a hobby.

        3. Aerin*

          I casually run an Etsy shop mainly because it gets the stuff I cross-stitch out of the house. I could probably expand the business if I wanted to… but I don’t want to.

        4. A Ladrona*

          Part of the reason I don’t pursue becoming a chef or opening a restaurant is it would kill me, I believe, to turn something I love into something I HAVE TO DO for money.. which then likely means I may have to sacrifice some freedom and creativity and I would never want to do that. I can imagine that sucking the joy out of every moment…

          But to each their own… I have heard people say they wouldn’t want to have a hobby and make no money and others say that hobbies are a luxury that many people can’t have. *shrug*

        5. Chauncy Gardener*

          I love to cook, but only for people I like. Having a restaurant would be its own special hell for me!

        6. Eliza*

          Agreed. I’m someone who successfully turned a creative hobby into a job, but it’s also changed how I feel about creative work, and I think changed who I am as a person. I do enjoy my job, but I don’t think I could go back to doing it as a hobby; now that I’ve proven that it’s worth money to someone and seen the business side of the field firsthand, the idea of doing it for free would make me feel taken advantage of, and I do have some regrets about having turned into the kind of person who would feel that way.

    4. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      That’s what I was thinking – is it possible to go part time and see how you feel?

    5. Bee*

      Part-time job OR finding a job that you do actually find fulfilling. If you have the freedom of not needing the money, there are a lot of things that would give you some day-to-day structure, that you’d enjoy doing, and that would keep you in the workforce in case you do eventually find that you need/want to make more money. I have a job that is often exhausting & stressful in large part because the pay is inconsistent – but if I didn’t have to worry about the money, it’d be an absolute dream. (Mostly. There are annoying things in any job, same as life.) You have the freedom to pursue anything you want! Go look for something you’ll be happy to do every day!

    6. Here we go again*

      +1 you get more time to do what you care about but you still have your own money. Plus if something awful happens and you need to return to the workforce your foot is already in the door.

  6. mreasy*

    I agree with Susan. You have the luxury of being involved in any meaningful work you’d like – from pursing creative things (even if they don’t pan out!) to spending some of the time you would have been working on volunteering with organizations whose work you believe in and who can use your skills and labor. Your situation is my absolute dream – I would love to be able to use my time productively without having to worry about salary. And the good thing about volunteering is that if there was ever a reason you were forced by circumstance to return to work, you’d have been building skills the whole time you were out of the paid labor force. On behalf of all us forced wage-earners at AAM, please go live a wonderful dream and enjoy yourself.

    1. H*

      Another good point here as well regard volunteer work and being able to use that in a resume during a work gap.

  7. Another JD*

    Before you quit your job, I’d have a chat with a family law attorney in your jurisdiction about what you might be entitled to in the case of a divorce. If you have an ante- or postnuptial agreement that waives certain rights, it may be detrimental to quit your job and have no separate assets. Alternatively, it might be worth putting together a postnup so that you have financial security in case you do quit and the marriage goes south.

    1. mskyle*

      Yes, if you’re financially sound of regardless of future events (e.g. if you divorce, if your husband dies, or if one of you becomes seriously ill or disabled), then I say quit and do work that’s meaningful to you without worrying about the financial aspect. But do your due diligence.

    2. Shenandoah*

      I think this is good advice that might let OP sleep a little better at night – it certainly would for me.

      But beyond that OP, you only get a certain number of years on this Earth. I cannot imagine being in your situation, and looking back when I’m 99 years old thinking “Wow, so glad I stayed at this job.”

    3. Totalanon*

      Came here to say this. Depending on when the assets were earned, filing taxes jointly/single (can impact Social security compensation), what names are on the accounts can impact what assets are considered yours (its also highly dependent on what state you live in). You want to make sure you’re protected in a worst case scenario.

    4. The Starsong Princess*

      Agree with this. LW needs to have financial security in her own name independent of her husband and the company he works. The wealth needs to be diversified and not dependent on that company’s success. If she quits her job and doesn’t work anymore, her career is effectively over and she will have difficulty earning to that level again if she ever has to go back to work, and wouldn’t have accrued social security benefits. Don’t be like my mother’s friend who was very comfortable until her husband divorced her and made off with all the money. She didn’t fight for it because she wanted him back and didn’t want to upset him. She died at work at 80.

      That said, I think LW should quit her job. She can always volunteer if she needs to find meaning.

    5. Not Today Satan*

      I would add that it’s also a concern for the death of a spouse. I have a good friend who lost her husband suddenly. She’s a CPA who has had running arguments with attorneys at their law firm because one didn’t know what he was talking about. She’s in her 70s and recommends that all women have credit cards established in their own name (not joint accounts). The joint accounts were suddenly frozen and fortunately she’s able to rely on her own credit history.

      My husband made enough that I didn’t have to work. Fortunately I have had jobs in a profession that I like. I would maximize what went into my retirement fund. He worked for today. I worked for tomorrow.

  8. Box of Kittens*

    Insert the Tangled “Go. Live your dream.” gif here. In all seriousness, I would quit. You sound ambivalent about your job and know that you would likely be able to come back if you quit but change your mind in a few years. You could do other things instead of or in addition to your creative projects, like volunteering, traveling, or even getting a temporary job somewhere else where you could be creative and/or do work you like more. I think it will take some intentionality to get your life to look the way you want it to, and it will probably take some trial and error, but you have an incredible opportunity to do exactly what you want to do and make it meaningful in a way that works for you. If I were you, I would go for it.

    (And I wouldn’t worry too much about leaving the new hire. I feel like Alison would agree, because as she says often, job situations change all the time and it’s not worth doing something you don’t really love just because you feel obligated to.)

  9. High Score!*

    Take an extended leave of absence. Most companies allow their employees to take unpaid time off. Try it. Explore. Then re-evaluate.

    1. Nicotene*

      I really like these middle-of-the-road suggestions. Quitting with nothing lined up except vague interests seems risky to me in terms of both opportunity cost to your career but also likelihood of actually making you happy. When I did it, I had a defined goal for my creative pursuit – a deadline and a work plan – and had actual metrics indicating that success was reasonable (already had an agent for my next book, a successful track record of prior sales etc). If I had quit earlier to pursue a vaguer dream, I would have been surprised by how aimless I felt after the first month or two of freedom wore off – and concerns about money began to sink in. Now, if I’d had a spouse providing insurance and a lot more savings in the bank (not talking future income there) it might have been different, but there are real mental health risks to quitting, and it’s possible a few months would be just as good without the risks. Also see, getting a part time job, asking to reduce your hours, using every bit of your vacation, etc. At least make sure you actually like the lifestyle you’re entering.

  10. Jo4*

    Me too. (divorced and jaded, and thought it could never happen to me)
    Long term this can be a very bad decision if the marriage breaks down.

  11. ratatatcat*

    I’m with some other commenters that relying on spousal income isn’t ideal!
    Maybe pick one project and start to get serious with it on weekends/evening/a few vacation days… if it goes somewhere and you want to build it further, you can always quit at that time. But it will give you a sense of what you like first, before you make the leap, and it’ll give you some structure & direction if you do quit.

  12. Green tea*

    I personally would not recommend that anyone become 100% financially dependent on their spouse as it changes the power dynamic within a relationship. It also means that if you need to re-enter the workforce later on for whatever reason, you will be earning much less than you would have if you had stayed in your career for that amount of time. If one of your biggest issues with your job is feeling behind your peers, those feelings likely will grow worse if you leave the workforce and your other projects don’t pan out.

    1. Alex*

      Me too! Working part time seems like a great way for OP to balance this also —- I know that my partner & I have talked about living on his higher paying job alone because mine has been causing me some health issues but tbh it’s too scary for me. Partners die or get divorced or decide to pursue a sudden passion for a much lower paying field etc. It’s just nice to be prepared

      1. OP*

        Hi! Thanks for sharing – I should have clarified that I wouldn’t be depending on income in the future. We would be fine with what we have (and those assets are split 50-50 in the event of a divorce). But definitely appreciate the advice – it’s always a good idea to make sure everything is truly set.

  13. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    Short answer – yes!

    Long answer- Decide what you want to do first and make a plan. You mention feeling behind and tying accomplishments specifically to your work. So don’t leave until you have something else to work toward. That will help you feel accomplished without it being tied to corporate productivity. Do you want to go back to school? Start a business? Learn a new skill? Read more?

    Depending on the needs of your current employer, you might be able to work part time so you can explore other interests without fully leaving. But again, have an idea of what you want to do first before you have that conversation.

  14. Forrest*

    Team You Don’t Have To Make Any Decisions Straight Away.

    Given that money is no problem, why not spring for a few sessions with a career coach or counsellor? Explore your motivations, long-term goals, worries, what you’d like to do / achieve if you didn’t have the job any more, and be really honest about how much you need/like the structure of a job and whether you’d be able to create your own structure if you didn’t have it. (I absolutely wouldn’t, and have always been very glad I’m not independently wealthy and wouldn’t have to make this choice!) Spend some money and time on the decision!

    1. Team Outside Perspective*

      I came here to make this comment – a coach/counsellor and even a therapist can help untangle some of this to really dig into your values/anxieties/concerns. Which concerns are realistic and which are artificial limitations that you’re placing on yourself? It can be really helpful to have some outside perspective when addressing that question.

      This also reminds me that one of my favorite first date questions is “What would you do if you were independently wealthy?” The answers are incredibly revealing.

      You’re in a position to live out the answer to that question. Enjoy it as best you can! And good luck!

    2. ten-four*

      I’m joining your team!

      OP: you have more choices than “stay at this corporate job forever” and “have no job.” You could switch industries/careers, you could take on a long-term volunteering post, you could become a freelance consultant, you could train/teach in your field.

      I don’t think I could not work, personally. I need the structure and I like the accomplishment, and I frankly don’t get a lot of enjoyment out of creative pursuits – or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I use my creativity at work. BUT maybe you are the sort of person who would really thrive in a less structured environment! Or maybe you’re like me, but could find structure and fulfillment at a job that is different than the one you do now.

      I think it’s great that you’re thinking hard about this, and I bet getting some coaching/support around thinking about what you really, actually want your day-to-day to look like is a great idea.

  15. Littorally*

    This really, really depends on your personality and risk appetite.

    First off, not everyone needs or even wants a job that is also a passion project. The degree to which you want a job that feels meaningful to you, balanced with the risk that pouring your passions into your work will lead to burnout, is a highly individual calculation. For some people, it’s a lot more sustainable to have a job that feels fine but which they can easily “put away” mentally at the end of the day. To what degree you’re one of those people is something I think only you can answer, but it’s worth explicitly asking yourself.

    Second off, you say that you don’t see a way to build your passion projects into a meaningful career. Can you be happy with that? Five, ten, twenty years from now, can you look back on that many years of messing around with things without any feeling of true progression or career-hood, and feel like you’ve done just what you wanted? Again, this is a highly individual question, but worth thinking about in explicit terms.

    Third off, the lucrative career is your husband’s, not yours. There are risks associated with that. What happens if he is hit by a bus tomorrow? If you find out he’s been having an affair? If you find out he secretly lost his job and has been burning through his retirement savings to hide it from you? If you find out he’s been concealing a massive gambling addiction? Not to be a worrywart, but that money is not secure and what you don’t know can very much hurt you. How safe do you feel relying on an income that you yourself are not earning?

    Now, I’m a child of an acrimonious, financially-messy divorce. I look on the down side with regard to these things. You may not! But again, worth thinking about. In your shoes, I would absolutely keep the job, maybe scale back a little on commitments outside of the 9-5 in order to maximize time for passion projects, but I would not trade my own financial stability for reliance on someone else’s, no matter how beloved. But that’s just me.

    1. AY*

      These are such great points. I am extremely conservative when it comes to #3 on your list above. I can’t see a future in which I would ever quit working or contributing to my separate retirement as a hedge against my spouse’s death, disability, or whatever. That consideration overcomes any thoughts I have on #1-2 in your list, but that’s me.

      For LW, I like the suggestions of a sabbatical or finding part-time work. Most importantly, whatever you decide to do now isn’t what you decide to do forever. You have the gift and privilege of flexibility, and it seems like now is a great time to use it!

    2. Forrest*

      >>There are risks associated with that. What happens if he is hit by a bus tomorrow? If you find out he’s been having an affair? If you find out he secretly lost his job and has been burning through his retirement savings to hide it from you? If you find out he’s been concealing a massive gambling addiction?

      I think all of these concerns are bang on, and if you do decide to leave work, OP, you shouldn’t do it until you’ve had lots of meetings with lawyers (with your husband’s knowledge and cooperation!) and got your financial security absolutely nailed down. Trusts, pensions, lumpsums, interests etc– you’ve got to be brutal about planning for the worst case scenario!

  16. WFHHalloweenCat*

    I think there is a middle ground here. I think you are unfulfilled (and possibly undervalued) at your current job but aren’t ready to throw in the towel on working altogether. Why not explore other fields or other companies that more align with your actual interests? If the current company is as prestigious as you say, that will look good on a resume even if you’re changing lanes entirely.

    1. SassyAccountant*

      I’m with you. I think that finding a different job that is more aligned with interests and fulfillment is the way to go. My husband and I love each other and we both have parents who are planning to leave us a significant amount of money when they die BUT I don’t depend on any of those things. Anything could happen; my husband could change his mind and run off on me (taking his parents money rightfully with him) or either or both sets of parents could decide we are unworthy of their money. Call me a pessimist but I’m just too pragmatic to trust anything being a sure thing.

    2. Naomi*

      Yes! If you’re ambivalent about this job but want to work to feel fulfilled, maybe the answer is to try a different job. Since you’re currently employed and don’t need to leave in a hurry, take your time figuring out what your ideal job would look like. Would you want a job with fewer hours that gave you more time for creative pursuits? A job serving a cause you’re passionate about? A job where you get to solve challenging problems? Then figure out what your options are to transition to the kind of job you want.

    3. Bostonian*

      Absolutely! This is freedom to explore other options. And it sounds like money isn’t an issue if OP wants to get additional degrees/certifications or take classes.

  17. Quitty McQuitface*

    Regardless of my field or professional accomplishments, I will never enjoy working. If I could still lead the life I want and not worry about money, I would quit in a heartbeat to pursue the things that interest me, knowing full well that they most likely would never go anywhere. How great it would be to be able to slowly run a marathon in every state, paint badly along to Bob Ross videos, bake cheesecakes, write bad horror movie screenplays, and volunteer as a dog walker for shelters full time! I still do these things…but working an 8-5 certainly limits the time I get to spend on them.

    So I am team quit.

    1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      I think the OP should spend time considering how much they desire success in turning their passion projects into an actual income stream versus traditional career success.

      One morbid way to think about it is to consider what you want your obituary or funeral eulogy to say. Driven by their career or showed up to work and quit when they had enough money? Renowned artist versus surrounded by the tragic outcomes of their attempts to paint like Bob Ross? Most amazing baker of cheesecakes East of the Mississippi River versus sometimes able to bake a cheesecake?

      There’s no wrong answer. Different people will have very different opinions on what they consider to be a successful life. If success matters, taking it slower and planning things out is a good idea. If success is a bonus, then break out the cheesecake pan.

  18. kittymommy*

    I’m kinda leaning to leaving your job as well. It sounds like the things holding you back from quitting is the concern/fear that if you’re not officially “working” that it won’t be fulfilling or “matter”. If you are pursuing a field that you love, are passionate about and work hard at I think your sense of accomplishment might be even more meaningful regardless of it maybe not being a paid or highly-paid endeavor.

    The colleague issue is a little more dicey and I understand your hesitation and sense of guilt by disappointing her, but ultimately people leave jobs. It’s the nature of the beast. And who knows, if you are no longer at that organization you may be able to find yourself in a more mentor/mentoree relationship with her than is possibly allowable now (assuming that’s something you are okay with).

  19. AnonPi*

    For the kind of work you do, can you look into part time or freelance work? That way you “keep your toes in the water” so to speak should you decide to return full time later.

    Or as Justin suggested above, try to take a lot of vacation, arrange a sabbatical, or just leave your current job for awhile and see how it goes. If you decide in a few months you want to return to work, a few months (or even a year) of not working shouldn’t have much of an impact job seeking wise. You would just need to be careful how you phrase a response to being asked why you took off which could be numerous (eg family matters).

  20. PJS*

    I could never quit my job and be dependent on someone else supporting me. What if you and your husband break up down the road? You may think it’s unlikely but it’s always possible. I would not want to have to try to get back into the workforce years down the road out of necessity. If I had a job I hated and was miserable, maybe I’d consider it, but I would definitely not give up a job I did not dislike and mostly enjoyed, with fantastic pay and benefits unless I was somehow legally guaranteed enough money in the event of a divorce that I would still not need to work.

  21. Niniel*

    You are in a position I can only dream about. Quit!! Pursue those dreams. I wish I could live a life where I could invest serious time into various crafts and hobbies. If you get good enough at some of them where people want to purchase from you, even better.

  22. Malarkey01*

    We get one life and a limited time on this earth. Work, and sometimes meh jobs, have to be a part of that life for survival and money drives a lot of decisions. But, THIS SPECIFIC job is not something you have to keep for your circumstances. You can do amazingly meaningful work and have accomplishments outside of this one job and position. I’d start thinking about what I would truly enjoy and love to spend time on and then see what the different options are out there. You have the luxury of being choosy with where you put your time, don’t settle for something you don’t like just because it’s there now.

    1. Jackalope*

      Yes, this. It sounds like you aren’t sure about quitting working, you’re just not crazy about THIS job. You can always start applying at other places and have the luxury of waiting until you find something you’re really interested in to jump ship. That also gives you a bit more time with the new employee to help get her up to speed.

  23. vampire physicist*

    I think there’s a lot of value in having a job if you don’t have other considerations (eg: childcare) – I say this as the child of a former stay-at-home mother who struggled to get back into the workforce. That said, maybe not this job if it doesn’t excite you. There will always be reasons to stay, whether it’s a new coworker or a project, so there comes a point where you just need to leave if that’s what you want. Are there part-time roles elsewhere that would give you more time to pursue your interests, but still keep you engaged in something you find meaningful?

  24. Jean*

    I was in a somewhat similar position a few years ago – not really happy with my job, but with a partner who was (and is) making good enough money that we could get by without my salary. So we did some budgeting and planning, and I quit that job and did a distance learning course to train for a new profession. Now I’m a part-time freelancer, doing work I genuinely enjoy, and feeling incredibly fortunate that we’ve been able to build a life that allows this. I’m so much happier now than I was when I was working a full-time office job. If you have the option to find something more fulfilling that won’t put you in an untenable financial position, I say go for it.

  25. Mike*

    What do you *want* to be doing? Whatever that is, is there a way you can do that thing? Volunteering, working for a nonprofit, part-time work, etc. Personally, I’d work or volunteer with 1-2 nonprofits, with the stipulation that I make my own schedule. That way you get to do something you’re passionate about, scratch your itch to be productive and fulfilled professionally, but you remove a lot of the stress associated with working and you get to do something you love.

  26. JustKnope*

    I would spend some time really digging into those creative pursuits on your evenings/weekends for a while and see if they’re something you actually want to turn into a career! It might be beneficial to just leave those as fun/hobbies instead of worrying about the business side of them. I’d also really invest in some self-reflection – maybe with the help of a few sessions with a therapist! – to get at the root of what you want. You don’t really love your job, but you’re worried about being “behind” in advancement. Do you want to look for a new corporate job where you can advance? Would you be fulfilled if you quit your job and your creative pursuits didn’t go anywhere? I love everyone’s passionate advice so far to quit and be free, but really think about whether less structure and days you need to fill yourself will seem daunting to you (I know I would really struggle with that). There could be a middle ground where you find a less-corporate job for a while that you’re more passionate about before you jump to full-time creative pursuits. Basically – really think about the logistics and where you want to get fulfillment from before you make any big moves!

  27. AudieB*

    I think this is really a question about your values and what makes you feel the most fulfilled–if keeping pace with your work peers is what gives you satisfaction, then sure, stay. If you need something with more intellectual challenge or a more meaningful mission, then maybe look for a different job. Personally I would look for a part-time job doing something I’m passionate about and do part-time creative work. But that’s me, and my values.

    It might also be worth reframing who your “peers” are that you feel compared against. There’s so many people in the world that maybe you can identify a different way to gauge your progress and work status against to feel better in whichever path you choose.

    Honestly I might turn to some sort of personality test that helps ID what reward system makes you feel the best (status vs making a difference vs money etc) and use that to guide your decision.

  28. Alex*

    While I would definitely think seriously about how secure your financial situation is *really* (like, worst case scenario kind of thinking), definitely move towards getting into something that would be more fulfilling for you! That doesn’t mean you have to quit today. Maybe spend some time looking at job postings and seeing what you’d actually like to do. Maybe you’d like to go back to school to get some training in something more meaningful for you. There is a wide range of options between “stay in my meh job forever” and “quit today and pursue fruitless hobbies.”

  29. many bells down*

    Maybe there are volunteer positions that would make you feel more fulfilled? I was out of the workforce for a long time and I started volunteering at a museum as a way to get back to working (I’d have recent references that way) and I found that was way more fun and interesting than I’d imagined.

  30. Person from the Resume*

    I feel like the LW’s ambivalence points to staying in her job or possibly getting another job. It just seems like many people (myself included) know that we’d quit if money were no object. The LW’s uncertainty points to her getting something out of her job. I also cannot relate to the LW’s ambitions and feeling behind her colleagues. But that points to her getting something and possibly of her self-worth from her job success. It sounds like she likes her job a reasonable amount to stay in it.

    Also I’d be extremely reluctant to depend on my spouse’s income, but I have never had a spouse so am very used to having to provide everything for myself.

    Also needing to feel passionate about your job is BS. Lots and lots of people aren’t and are perfectly happy. Lots and lots are unlikely to generate any passion for anyone but have to be done.

    1. Self-Care Always*

      I see guilt in their letter, and a lifetime of making choices based other people’s perceptions and needs to the point that they can’t tell what it is they truly want, which is to quit or they wouldn’t even be considering it.

  31. OrigCassandra*

    I think I’m on team “wargame this out carefully.” As suggested by a couple other commenters, divorce is one of the possibilities you need to consider. My ex-husband took a major hit to his living standard after we divorced because during our marriage he went the pursue-passion-projects route, not getting training for (much less holding) any realistic job until I put my foot down and insisted on it (far later than I ought to have, frankly, for the marriage’s sake as well as his). At divorce time, I had a decent career and he had… a job and very little work history.

    Take a look at your financial situation beyond your spouse’s income. Savings? Assets? If you two split, what would you likely be able to take with you? It sounds grody, but consulting an accountant or family lawyer experienced with divorce could give you reliable answers… and a postnup might protect you if your marriage frays after you quit your job.

    There isn’t enough information in your letter on what your one-off projects look like for us to provide advice on this, but a useful question to ask yourself would be “how WOULD I stitch these together into a career, or parlay them into another job if I re-enter the workforce?” I daresay something’s possible. Find out what it is!

  32. You Could Die Tomorrow*

    You are wasting your life doing something you don’t care about for a company that will immediately replace you when you’re gone. You have limited time on this planet, why would you use it this way if you didn’t have to?

    1. Sarah*

      This. If you have other options, pursue them. You don’t have to quit today, and other commenters bring up valid points about financial security and taking the time to explore other paths before you make any point of no return decisions. But you do not owe your employer your life. Why would you waste it working there when something better may be possible?

  33. shuu_iam*

    In your position, I’d go down to part-time work that got me out of the house and kept me on a regular schedule, while spending most of my time on creative pursuits. But I’m not in your position. This is ultimately your choice, and I feel like it’s most important that you be able to feel confident listening to your own voice as you decide your future.

    Right now, although your letter mentions the advantages of leaving the job, it seems like all of your emotions are set on staying. Which is totally okay! There doesn’t need to be a grand profound reason for you being where you are. If you left, maybe you’d make amazing progress on all your creative goals such that you couldn’t imagine any other life. Or maybe the pressure of feeling like you had to accomplish those creative things to make progress in life would be too much and you’d end up burning out and losing that same passion. Even if your job has its frustrations, it sounds like it does fulfill some desires for you – to make you feel like you’re advancing in life, to do meaningful work…

    You can always quit later if you change your mind about where to focus your time, or if the current job doesn’t keep moving you forward in your career the way you want it to. But if quitting currently feels stressful and undesirable, it’s okay to put off that decision. Give yourself another few months to mull things over and then mentally check in on how you feel.

  34. The Original K.*

    My first thought was “Quit.” My second thought was “But wait, you wouldn’t want to depend fully on a spouse for money in case the marriage went south.” My third thought was “OP says she can get another job if her creative pursuits don’t work, so I assume she could get another job if her marriage didn’t work out.”

    Put another way: what would give me pause about leaving isn’t the job itself, it’s “what if my finances suddenly require that I go back to work?” So I would have some kind of plan in place for that and talk that over with my husband (I am very pro-getting-stuff-in-writing so maybe we would do a post-nup or something), and then I would quit.

    I also very much agree with esra that you don’t have to work outside the home for money to be an accomplished person.

    1. The Original K.*

      I might also consider going to part-time, low-stress work first before taking the plunge to quitting – that way I would have more time to pursue what I wanted to pursue but would still have the structure of work and would be able to get a sense of whether pursuing these hobbies was fulfilling.

  35. Khatul Madame*

    My only reservation is that you depend on your spouse’s money. If you split, you may be left without source of income other than your earnings. If you have an adequate prenup, or postnup, or other legal arrangements protecting you in case of a divorce, then by all means, quit. I would.
    It seems that you really care about appearances – being “behind your peers”, having a need to “show accomplishment” and so forth. You need to make peace with living your life on your own timeline and terms and stop worrying about judgmental opinions – as a non-working spouse in comfortable financial circumstances you will get plenty of those. Adding your own insecurity will keep you from being happy.

  36. blink14*

    If I were in this position, I would not work at a job that I wasn’t interested in or passionate about. Take some time off to figure out what would interest you and pursue that. It may not have to be a paying job (if you’re comfortable with that), it could be a volunteer position or perhaps working part time on something you really love! I would focus on having the ability to explore your interests and find something that you are passionate about, just as your husband is about his job.

  37. ScreamingFlower*

    Start doing what you love on the side and if you earn enough to live comfortably on, quit your job! Life is too short to be miserable and stuck in a corporate job. I am working on something on the side and hoping it turns into a lucrative gig! Once it does, I will leave my job. I’m at the point that I want to go out and explore, live life and have fun.

  38. Boof*

    Sit down with your husband and have a heart to heart on whether the extra income / security /etc from your job is wanted, what your plan will be for retirement and the future etc, and whether he’d be ok with you pursuing passion projects. It sounds like a good idea if you can and want to, why not, but have to make sure both parties on the team are on board.

  39. Lizzles*

    It is understandable to feel anxiety when walking away from society’s standards of what counts as “success.” It’s hard to not feel like choosing to leave that world will affect you in ways you may not be able to foresee. But we have one life (that we know of) and it is really a gift to be able to explore without being concerned with the financial aspects of survival.
    Echoing the suggestions others have made, I think it may be worth while to take time to give this a try. Take all your vacations days, take unpaid leave or a leave of absence.
    Last thing is that you already know what it is like having the job, you don’t know what it feels like to try this path. Regrets are often more about what we didn’t do, so I hope you explore this option! And no shame if you decide you are happy with having a regular work life. You won’t really know until you step out and give this a shot. Good luck!

  40. I'm just here for the cats*

    I think that the LW needs to give herself a break. There’s so much pressure on everyone to be passionate about your work and that if you are not passionate then something must be wrong and you need to quit your job immediately and search for what you like. There’s also a lot of keeping up with the Jones’ type of stuff where you are constantly reviewing yourself against your peers and if you aren’t making the same amount or whatever then you must be failing.

    It’s ok to just feel Meh about your job and have hobbies or interests that are not related to your work. You work to make money to live so that you can enjoy your life.

    I would say keep the job and try and work on the side stuff. Maybe see if you can reduce your workload some so that you can focus on the side stuff. Then if it does take off you can then quit your job.

  41. Dream Jobbed*

    Would moving to halftime fix some of your issues? It would give you time to pursue the creative, allow you to mentor the new hire, and give you the professional and intellectual stimulation you need.

  42. Colette*

    My thoughts:
    – you don’t love this job all of the time, but that’s true of everything. What about it do you like? Is there a way to find another job (or change this job) so that you get more of the things you like?
    – Is part-time work an option – maybe even something like working 4 days a week at 80% pay?
    – How much vacation do you get? Is unpaid leave an option?
    – You say neither you nor your husband have to work again if you don’t want to; how much of that money is under your (and only your) control? Could your husband squandor the money without you knowing about it? (I’m not asking about whether he would, just whether he is able to.) Is the money in stocks or something else that can lose value over time?
    – do you have an outlet for your creative projects? What happens when you have enough tea cosies/paintings/etc. and don’t need or want more?
    – how will you have social contact outside of your relationship with your husband (e.g. are you going to volunteer? Join a knitting club or coffee group?)

  43. Anontoday*

    You have options, you can stay at your job and do the creative stuff on the side, or quit and start putting together some concrete plans toward fulfilling your creative dreams. Give yourself a year to see where you can take it, and then decide if you want to continue or go back to corporate America. You seem influenced by others (being behind your peers in your current corporate role, not wanting to leave because the new hire really wants to work with you), until you can get a handle on what YOU want, you might regret staying in the job, for years, with only the meh accomplishments.

    If I had the opportunity to quit my current job to focus on and pursue something else (anything else!), I’d do it in a heartbeat.

  44. What She Said*

    If it were me, I’d find a similar job in my industry that is part-time and pursue other things to find what excites me. This feeds into the need to ensure you are being productive while allowing the flexibility to try other things.

    What kept sticking out to me though was the fact you have a real concern over being behind your peers. This isn’t a race and you should never compare yourself to another. But what this sounds like to me is you have conflicting thoughts in your head, stay and don’t fall behind or leave to give yourself a chance to find something you truly love. Which is it? Are you more concerned about being behind your peers or about finding what you are passionate about. It is possible to find a full-time job doing what you love to do. In order to find that though you need to give yourself permission to try various things. Your husband’s income allows you the freedom to do so. But you can’t do that if you keep worrying about being behind your peers.

    Good luck!

  45. Just Something I Did Once Myself*

    I think I would actually do neither. Instead I would reevaluate my career because it sounds like you are actually simply unhappy in either your career or that area of your career field.

    First I’d sit down and think about what it is about your creative pursuits and positions (past and present) that you really like and enjoy. Then think about what your don’t particular enjoy about them.

    Next consider what career or positions in your career would best fit the things you love and enjoy about your positions and pursuits. How would you switch to this career field or position? Would you want to try?

    If you do, great! Create a plan of action, and start going for it. If not, no harm, no foul. You know a little more about yourself now and can better decide if you want to stay in your job or quit to pursue your creative endeavors.

  46. Matt*

    When my wife and I have enough money to retire, she wants to go work at the animal shelter, or a dog rescue. It’d give her a small income stream, keep her occupied, give her a schedule to keep to, and give her a reason to wake up every day. Maybe you should do something like that if you have similar desires?

  47. Blinded By the Gaslight*

    If you don’t want to quit your job so your husband can support you, can I quit my job so your husband can support me? I have LOTS of creative passions I’d be thrilled to quit my day job to pursue!

    But seriously, enjoy your good fortune and the freedom of choice you have. Since there’s no financial pressure, put all the cards on the table and consider your options – what would you really enjoy doing with your time? Nobody has to be ecstatic about what they’re doing every day, but life’s too short for “meh.” :-)

  48. chai latte*

    Here’s one random internet person’s advice:

    Quit.

    You’re meh about the job. Your husband has enough money that neither of you(!) ever need to work again. You have other projects you want to be doing.

    Quitting this job doesn’t mean you’ll never work again. But you are in a position that few people ever get once they graduate college (and some people don’t even get this in their youth) — the chance to spend the bulk of time doing things that YOU want to do. And your husband’s on board!

    Yes, it’s unfortunate to your new report that they took the job in large part because of you. Maybe that means you put in another six months instead of quitting tomorrow, but their ultimate happiness is not your responsibility beyond you fulfilling your professional duties.

    I say quit, but with two caveats:
    * Make a formal arrangement with your husband about income. What savings do you have? Is he going to give you money each week/month? How will household expenses be divided? Go through a lawyer or a notary or whatever you need to do to make sure you’re protected financially. What happens if you divorce, if he gets sick, etc etc.

    * Make a list of the skills you want to keep up to date in case you do want to re-enter the workforce some months or years down the line. This list might change over time, or you might change your mind and decide you never want to go back to work, but it’s better to be prepared.

  49. DocVonMittens*

    I’m in a somewhat similar situation. Due to the money I made in my early 20s I no longer need to work. I’m in my 30s now.

    For a while I didn’t work. I painted and worked on my writing. I made some money from that but it was mostly about passion. After a year, I got really bored and missed the feeling of accomplishment associated with work. I also stopped enjoy creative stuff when I did it every day. I was also more lonely.

    I returned to the work world and I’m really happy I did. I work in a job I enjoy and that I’m good at (even though it’s not my passion). I like the people I work with and it gives me small daily doses of socialization. I get to work remote and my schedule is flexible. But there’s no pressure financially to stay if things change.

    I’d say, if you can, quit and see how that feels.

    You may enjoy not working and doing your passions. Or you may realize you miss work, in which case you can re-enter the workforce. These days a year or so off isn’t going to be as big a deal as it once was.

    1. New Job So Much Better*

      Agree with Doc…. had 6 months off between jobs once and thought I’d get more creative writing done. Instead I hardly accomplished any. Found I need the structured time of the day job.. who knew?

    2. Caraway*

      Yeah, I second this. I’m also in a similar position. I quit practicing law five years ago when my wife got a big promotion, and after two years of low-stress, “this is my passion” work, I returned to the legal field. I started finding the same feelings of “meh” about the (serious and awesome) hobby I’d turned into my new job, so it just made sense to me to go back to practicing law instead.

      I returned on an 80% schedule now, and might one day go down to 60%. But it gives me some socialization and intellectual stimulation to be in the office, even if the “office” is my attic these days. It’s actually freeing knowing that if my feelings change about my current job, I can get out without major lifestyle repercussions. (I don’t love being dependent on my wife, but with promotions she’s earned that I never have aspired to attain, she’ll always out-earn me on an 8:1 or more ratio…) And, best of all, my love of my hobby has started to return, so overall, my life feels more balanced with a part-time position instead of totally bailing on working. I hope this helps, and good luck thinking everything through!

  50. Mental Lentil*

    Give it a year, and keep in mind that leaving at any time is always on the table.

    If you still feel this way after a year, leave.

    If you have found new meaning in your work, stay.

    Please keep in mind that my “dream job” is essentially no job. I hate work*, but I like to eat and I don’t want to live in a tree, and leaves don’t make the greatest clothes. (They chafe.) I have a lot of creative pursuits, and if I had time to make them into something that could pay the bills, I would love to do that. (My YouTube channel now has 27 subscribers, so there’s that. It’s fun, but damn, I’m tired at the end of the day, and I wish I weren’t.)

    *I don’t mind working. There is a difference between “working” and “work” to me.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oh wow, we have the same dream job! I’d happily spend the rest of my productive years living in an old house, gardening, making fixes/improvements to the house, fostering animals, being active in my community, all of which is working, just not for a paycheck.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Oh, definitely!

        I always envision a tall, two-story Victorian style house with tall narrow windows plopped down in the middle of the woods somewhere. Lots of gardens, chickens, rabbits, maybe a koi pond.

  51. bopper*

    Optimistic outlook: Your husband makes lots of money, you quit and work at something you are passionate about. Yay!

    Pessimistic outlook: Your husband makes lots of money. You quit and work at something you are passionate about. He is around women who want access to that money and after a few years then starts seeing one secretly. You get divorced, but you no longer have a high paying job. Your retirement Social Security income is somewhat based on your lower income.
    OR You find out that even if the job area is something you are passionate about, it is still working in an office with people and is not that different than what you are doing now, but just for less money.

    1. ronda*

      if she was married for at least 10 years her SS can be based on his income even if divorces (maybe not if re-married, it doesn’t apply to me so I dont remember)

  52. Save the Hellbender*

    I hear everyone saying it’s not great to be fully dependent on your spouse, but you have an almost unique opportunity/privilege to be able to spend your days doing what you love. I guess the question is if you’d rather spend your days how you choose, or live cautiously on the chance things go wrong in your marriage. I know what I’d pick but it’s really up to you!

    1. Save the Hellbender*

      Amending a little after reading other comments: I think you have to pick what will satisfy you the most. If that’s a corporate job that you can advance in, awesome, but if your ideal day looks differently (for me, it would be blogging about BTVS and learning rock climbing, white water kayaking, and wilderness skills, plus completely controlling my schedule) – why not capitalize on your (rare) ability to make that happen?

    2. Esmeralda*

      You don’t want to be older and left out to dry, financially. It’s harder to find work the older you get (and the longer you are out of the workforce). And your medical expenses generally go up as you get older-older. Not inevitably, but very often.

      Think 10, 20, 30 years ahead.

      By all means, if OP can quit, take the opportunity. But first make very very sure that you’re protected. Lawyer, financial planner, your own source of income that is not solely dependent on your spouse.

  53. Medical Librarian*

    Coming from a situation of going through my parents’ very bad divorce when I was child with a SAHM, is there a way you could set up a savings account in just your name that gets all of your salary for however much longer you decide to work and a percentage of your husband’s pay after you leave paid employment? Even if you’re entitled to half of a house and/or other assets in case of a divorce, the divorce could drag on for months or years, and a job search can take just as long.

    Otherwise, yes, leave and pursue your own goals and passions.

  54. Velawciraptor*

    I think the solution here is to quit, pursue your creative projects part-time, but also find a philanthropic cause or causes to which you can devote some of your time as a volunteer. If you don’t have to work for money, then don’t worry about working for money. Work for joy. Work for meaning. That alleviates the pressure for your creative work to do anything more than bring you joy and you can find meaning in doing work that serves your community in some way.

  55. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    My thoughts:

    1) Like others said, I would never quit my job for the reason that my SO (or whomever else – a friend of my parents’ was at one point supported by her adult son, who was a highly successful businessman) can support me. The financial support that is here today, may be gone tomorrow for a variety of reasons other than divorce (changes in the economy that make the other person’s whole field of work disappear or the pay go down, health conditions arise that make it impossible for other person to continue working, and I hesitate to say death, but, well, death).
    2) With that said, if OP wants to change careers, they are in a uniquely good position right now to do it, so I say, go for it.
    3) With *that* said, I don’t believe that a job we are extremely happy and passionate about every day, would choose it over not working for a living, has no downsides, etc. exists. If I had a job that I liked on most days and *really liked* the rest of the time, I’d stay in it, because a new job in a new career would likely turn out to be the same *at best*, the only difference being that you’d be starting in the new career from zero, and would therefore be decades behind your peers for the rest of that career. I’d only make the change if I had a specific career in mind that I knew I’d be the perfect fit for.

  56. Karen Zucconi*

    So, yeah, it depends on what might happen if the marriage breaks down. Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row in that regard, I’d say quit.
    You might consider finding a job doing something or working somewhere you are passionate about, not just trying a creative project or two where the motivation to stick to it isn’t that strong. Maybe do something you never considered doing before because it was just not the kind of thing someone might expect from someone like you. So, look, you might have a fancy degree and lots of corporate experience but what you love more than anything is baby llamas. Go get a job cleaning up after baby llamas. Go back to school to become a llama midwife.

    Good luck!

  57. Annony*

    Personally, I wouldn’t want to quit my job without a firm plan of what I wanted to do unless I was really burnt out. I think quitting without a plan could make you feel adrift and wouldn’t necessarily bring you satisfaction. If you stop liking your job, it is nice to know that you have the freedom to just leave. I would probably start working on those creative projects on the side and see if they take off or if you get to a point where you have a burning desire to be able to work on them full time. It doesn’t sound like you are there yet.

  58. Liv*

    Leave your job. Life is too short to spend time working a job you don’t enjoy if you don’t have to. The majority of us work so that we can afford to have the time to do the things we actually love. You don’t have to have a career – one you’re passionate about or otherwise. You can build a fulfilling and meaningful life outside of the workings of capitalism. Do hobbies. Exercise. Travel. Volunteer. Do those creative projects. Read all the books you want. Experiment until you find a career you do love if that’s what you really want – if you can afford not to work, you can afford to ‘start again’ at the bottom of a different career ladder and try things out.

    I suspect you’re probably just scared of the unknown. We live in a capitalist hellscape that teaches us from birth that we must be productive and have a career and earn money. It can be scary to break away from that, even if you have the means to do so.

    Be brave!

  59. Nonny Moose*

    Quit. No question. Quit as soon as you can. I agree with other commenters that it’s worth getting your personal financial affairs in order just in case, but you should feel no obligation to this job. That sort of freedom is a rare blessing and you can spend time doing things you actually enjoy.

  60. Former call centre worker*

    I’d be really hesitant to rely on a spouse’s income. Firstly as others have said, you should think about what would happen if you divorced – would you have to rejoin the workforce after years away?

    I also think you should think about how it will change your relationship with your husband if he’s your sole source of income. This might be something you have to try in practice to find out, but it might turn out that he’ll subconsciously expect you to contribute more in other ways or start viewing himself as “in charge”.

    It is a great opportunity to pursue your interests, so you might decide it’s worth the risk. But I don’t think you should feel like you’re missing out if you decide to just look for another job instead.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I also think you should think about how it will change your relationship with your husband if he’s your sole source of income.

      Yep, this happened after I went on maternity leave with my oldest and subsequently lost the job. Admittedly, mine was a really dysfunctional marriage and my x-husband had some really outrageous ideas about gender roles in a family; which I didn’t really know about until I was no longer working. He managed to somehow carry a lot of that attitude (subconsciously expecting me to contribute more in other ways and viewing himself as “in charge”) over into the later years when I was working and making the same amount he did; and even into the brief period of time after we moved to the US when he was out of work and I was the only income provider. Hopefully my x was an exception, but me not working really did bring out the worst in him.

  61. Child of a working mom*

    My mom quit her job to raise my siblings and for 14 years she did a wonderful job. Then my father died. Id recommend working. Maybe stay in your job for noe and woek on finding what you are passionate about and when you find it work part time.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I heard a similar tale of caution once, from a woman I ran into at coffee hour at the Greek church I then attended, and it really stayed with me. She was in her late teens when her husband married her, brought her to the US from their native Greece, and told her she’d never have to work again, he’d take care of everything. Which he did, and was doing a perfect job of it, while she raised their three kids, until he died suddenly of a heart attack. She did not know much English, could not drive, did not know how to shop for groceries because he’d always done it. Did not have an education or a profession. It turned out he did not have life insurance. The kids were in middle school. She told me their first few years with him gone were brutal. Her first job was at a bakery across the street, because it was the only place she didn’t have to drive to that was willing to hire. She said she made sure that all her daughters (adults at the time we talked) got college degrees and careers of their own.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Hmm, I actually don’t know where she lived! I met her in the Cleveland, OH area, but she was visiting from out of town.

      1. Boof*

        This is why I’ve done my best to make sure my husband (who quit working a few years ago and does a lot of passion stuff and help raising the kids stuff and keeping the home functional stuff) is covered – life insurance, contributing to an IRA in his name (not as much as I could do a 401K or equivalent but still something), etc. I know unexpected crap can happen. “hope for the best prepare for the worst”

  62. drpuma*

    I don’t see the question as “Should I leave my job?” so much as “Am I ready to retire?”

    Sounds almost like the OP and their husband stumbled into a FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) situation. There is a LOT about FIRE as a lifestyle out on the internet, and your mileage will vary wildly with the various thinkers. I’m sure there are some folks who zoom in on “what do I do after early retirement?” and that could be a helpful resource.

    Also I wonder if the OP is erring by holding themself to the same standard their husband meets. It’s great for your husband that he loves his job! You don’t have to. OP, you don’t actually have to pursue something you’re “passionate” about. You could pursue something that makes you feel useful, or curious, or excited, or any other human emotion.

    This is a big decision and there’s a ton to dig into. It’s also an amazing opportunity to define your life exclusively by your own values and priorities. Take your time, consult experts so you know you really, truly won’t get screwed financially. As long as you maintain your safety net there is no wrong way to take this next step.

    1. Annony*

      I like this framing. I think it is a very good way to look at it, especially since it expands the options beyond making the creative projects work.

    2. CAA*

      This is exactly what I came to say. You don’t just “retire from” a job, you “retire to” something and you get to define what you’re retiring to any way you’d like. If you want to explore FIRE more there are a bunch of online communities. I personally like early-retirement.org because there are a lot of discussions about how to get there both mentally and financially.

      1. OP*

        I like this framing a lot – it’s definitely an accidental FIRE situation. We wouldn’t be dependent on any future income, so it’s a question of what would make me happiest/would be the most meaningful.

    3. FIRE all the way!*

      Exactly! The OP and her spouse are FI (Financially Independent) and now the question is whether she wants to RE (Retire Early). The folks commenting about the OP being financially dependent on the spouse are missing the boat – nobody is depending on the spousal income. Both OP and the spouse can stop working today because their needs will be met through the wealth they have already accumulated. Her spouse is choosing to work because he WANTS to do so. The OP just needs to decide how she wants to spend her days now that she no longer needs to go to work.

      As a person who FIREd at a pretty early age (42), I do not regret it one bit. The free time I suddenly had after leaving a 70-80 hour/week high pressure job has allowed me to be the volunteer and community activist I always wanted to be, along with having time to travel to and enjoy some amazing places and to do previously-unattainable things like participate in book clubs. But there are plenty of people who are FI who choose to run businesses, work at regular jobs, etc., because that’s how they want to spend their time. OP, you have the incredible opportunity to live the life you want to live…. now it’s up to you to to figure out what that life is. :-)

      1. OP*

        Yes, this is exactly right! I should have been clearer in my original letter that I wouldn’t be depending on my spouse in any way – 50% of the assets are in my name, and we have already accumulated enough wealth to retire.

        Thank you for sharing your FIRE experience – it’s really great to hear that you don’t regret it.

  63. RagingADHD*

    When it’s time to go, you’ll know. It sounds like you aren’t ready to go yet, you’re just starting to engage with the possibility.

    Working on a creative career in any kind of professional way takes a lot of determination, clear goals, and strong motivation. If you’re unsure, conflicted, and hazy about what you’d actually do with your time, then you will not take full advantage of the opportunity and are more likely to feel that you wasted it.

    Keep thinking about it, do research, make a plan of what you want to do and the steps you need to take.

    When you have a really clear, exciting vision that’s calling you, then go.

  64. phira*

    I’d say it matters more about the dynamics of your marriage than anything else! If it’s safe for you to quit–that is, you would not be left destitute in a divorce–then I would quit. Like, with my marriage, I would feel safe quitting. And I would do it right away.

    There really isn’t some kind of inherent virtue in working, and if you quit and end up wanting to return to work, then you can reenter the workforce. It’s not a permanent thing!

    1. Nicotene*

      I’d say more than a feeling of safety, there are also practical ways to reduce the risk of being dependent on a single income. How much do you currently have in savings – is it enough even if it was halved? Do you have life insurance on your spouse, do you have excellent insurance, etc.

  65. Beth*

    Take a sabbatical! Request a few months of leave (unpaid is fine for you, it sounds like, so this is way more likely to happen for you than most people), or, if your employer won’t grant you that time even if it’s unpaid, quit and plan to job hunt in 6 months.

    Spend those months off figuring out what your life would look like if you don’t work. Tackle your creative projects, pick up a volunteer gig that you’re passionate about, join some hobby groups (a local theater? a weekend sports league? a book group? a pottery class?), travel.

    If you’re focused about it, 4-6 months is long enough to find things to do, settle into them, and get a sense of whether you’d actually want your life to look like this indefinitely. You might find that the things you choose to do with your free time bring a huge sense of accomplishment. Or you might find that by the time you’re three months in, you’re missing the routine and structure of having a job. If it’s the latter, you go back to work–either returning to your present role, or starting up a job search.

    If it’s the former, though…I mean, people here are right that being dependent on your spouse is a gamble, but everything in life is a gamble. Living a life where you get to focus your time and energy on accomplishing things that actually matter to you may well be worth it. It would be a good idea to figure out some safety nets for you (historically the wives and daughters of rich men had expensive jewelry collections that served as this for them; the modern equivalent might be a savings account solely in your name), but I wouldn’t let that fear alone hold you back if you find you want to take the leap.

  66. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

    It sounds like being able to talk to someone who can help you create both your exit plan and your next steps would be really beneficial. Since it seems like you would be able to invest in a life coach, which I would recommend because then you could work with someone who can help you realistically plan what you want and how you can achieve it. That was you can feel less ‘directionally challenged’ and you can have a clear understanding of your own expectations for yourself. I would do that before leaving your job just so you know what you really want.

  67. LifeBeforeCorona*

    Talk to a career coach and see if there is a related field that you might be more passionate about. Just because you are a baker, it doesn’t mean that you want to have your own bakery. You don’t have to love everything about what you do. Concentrate on what you do enjoy.

  68. Team Part Tim*

    Relying on a spouse for your income isn’t ideal. My mom, who has been married for 45 years to someone who could have solely provided for our family (so no divorce here), always told me and my sister to never rely on someone else. Only you can truly take care of you. Plus, isn’t it nice to be able to buy certain things with your own money that you don’t have to run by a spouse?

    That said, it doesn’t mean you need to quit all together as it sounds like some of it is fulfilling. Try part time (either here or somewhere else) and then that gives you opportunity to ease back in or out as you choose.

    Remove the rat race without removing yourself completely.

  69. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I, too, would vote for not just quitting. Specifically:

    Find a job opening you do like. You have the freedom to take a pay cut and negotiate for more PTO, or even part-time as suggested by others. If it’s a job you love, work will be more of its own reward, and if you do need a job to support yourself later, having the continual employment history and current skills will make getting back into the rat race far easier.

    Congratulations and good luck!

  70. Nicotene*

    When I was faced with similar circumstances, I put a lot of thought into it and decided this all came down to a question of risk tolerance. In financial investing, this is a legitimate metric you can track; it also is true in other aspects of life. Many people have very low risk tolerance so they would not be happy taking on the chances this would entail (that something would happen to your husband, that you wouldn’t be able to re-enter the workforce, etc). In my case, I realized that I was desperate to take a risk rather than continue to play it safe, because I was afraid I’d get to the end of my life and wonder why I had spent so much of it too afraid to make a change. Both are legitimate positions, it’s just up to you to decide where you fall on the spectrum.

  71. Anancy*

    I second what everyone is saying above about depending on another person’s salary. But I also want to highlight that the balance of your marriage is likely to shift if your husband is working a full time job and you are pursuing passion projects or are your own boss. It becomes so easy for the little chores to fall to you—you’re at home so you can start dinner/throw in laundry/pick up a package at the post office. It is so easy for those to become big projects, because after all he’s bringing in the income so you chip in where you can. But before you know it, your full time job is the household manager, your passion projects are still on the side, and your husband works at his job.
    Now, that might work for you. And it isn’t inevitable that it will happen, but it is common enough that I think it is worth your consideration.

    1. Nicotene*

      Yeah, it’s a little hard for me to imagine that this *wouldn’t* happen; if I was the husband, it would seem a little odd to me that we should split chores 50/50 if I’m working full time and my partner is not working at all (I count childcare as work but presumably OP would have mentioned if there were children).

      1. Boof*

        Yeah – I mean if they are really SUPER well off they could (and maybe already do?) hire someone to pay for maintenance tasks but that’s an important part of a conversation before they pull the trigger on quitting work; how will finances work? (ie – if they have split accounts, will he contribute to her account, and if so how much; will there be retirement accounts in her name to contribute to, etc); what kind of budget does she have for her passion projects and fun stuff if they have mixed accounts; will the chore situation stay the same or change if she quits. Maybe set a time to reevaluate how things are going. Etc etc.

    2. mrs__peel*

      Great points to consider. I’ve seen similar situations play out among couples I know.

  72. SentientAmoeba*

    I’m a former single mom who is still part of a single mom community. You don’t mention having or wanting kids so this might not be a factor. But I’ve seen and heard about so many marriages where one person is a high earning breadwinner and then divorce, injury or other life changing event happens and the at home spouse is SOL. I’d say stick out the job fort at least another year and make solid plans for what you would do if you no longer had to work. You’d be surprised at how much having a job can fulfill some people, even if they don’t NEED to work. Just don’t get yourself a FastPass to Ramen island.

  73. different seudonym*

    Give your salary away. I’m completely serious. Give it away, do some good in the world, and see how you really feel about not earning. You can disaggregate work from pay, in other words, and get better information about what you can personally deal with.

  74. ABBBBK*

    “behind your peers” is a not a great reason to make decisions! It’s super arbitrary and based on such a small sample pool! For example, yes, at your current company you have peers that are ahead of you. But look around the world and you’ll find people who are struggling to enter the corporate world, people who have stalled out, people who never found their niche. You’ll also find people who have successfully launched creative work and you’re already behind them by staying at your current job!! We all have our own paths, I’ve stopped paying attention to others’ paths because while there are always people “ahead” of me, that’s not really relevant for my path.
    You’re going to stay at a job you’re lukewarm about just to catch up to a few other people on the corporate ladder? what if you never do? what if you do? will that make you happy?

    1. Nicotene*

      Well and OP says that they don’t see themselves at a corporate role in future; presumably that’s one difference between her and the people that are “ahead” of her.

      I’ve had to wrestle with this in my own life, I don’t actually think I would enjoy management or being the boss but it’s hard to turn off that mindset when that’s what success is “supposed” to look like in the corporate world. You work hard and someday become the boss.

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      This is so important. OP’s definition of success and accomplishment seems to be tied to things she specifically finds she doesn’t enjoy to the expected degree. Before making major decisions, it’ll be crucial to identify and be able to adhere to different benchmarks to assess success, fulfillment, accomplishment, etc.

      1. Take This Job and Love It*

        I’m also hearing an echo of a previous LW who thought her report should have her job. This OP might have far more career value than she perceives— especially if a new hire is so specifically attracted to working with her.
        I’m working with a health condition that requires regular PT to recover from, and prepare for, subsequent work shifts. If I didn’t work I would need far less PT, but my overall quality of life would not be better as a result; having tried both ways, I’m keeping the job.

        1. OP*

          This is something I think about a lot – that I would, in part, staying in a job I don’t love for peers who I never really talk to. It seems silly to be so concerned about what they think of me (even though I am!)

  75. araminty*

    There’s something to be said for sharing your passion with the world. It’s all very well to be doing what you want, but for fulfillment, many people find they need external reinforcement. I think this is why so many people talk about or are advised to create a business to monetize their passions – it’s the most obvious way our capitalist society can assign value. Literal $ value. I wonder if the OP can find that sharing capacity in other ways. Working for a non-profit org with similar goals? Teaching kids? Writing deep dive Wikipedia articles or collating and hosting a similarly-purposed info source?

  76. NomadiCat*

    You sound like someone who needs to work through what their values are. What drives you, what sustains you, and what makes you feel content with your lot in the world?

    From what you’ve written here (the first word you use in the first sentence to describe your company is “prestigious”, and later you talk about wanting to be able to point to accomplishments that others will recognize as important) you seem to be split between wanting a certain level of external validation and also wanting a certain level of creative freedom in your life. Neither of these things are wrong, nor are they incompatible!

    Based on that, you may be “meh” on your job because it ticks some of the right boxes for you, but not all of them. Rather than quitting your job to pursue passions that it sounds like may not actually be fulfilling to you long term, is there another job or career path you can pursue that combines both the traditional external signifiers of success you value (prestige, money, etc.) with a bit more of a creative bent?

    Following your creative passion/ dreams/ whatever is a lot like grad school or having kids. It’s sold as this big, important thing that everyone who really cares living the right way should do, something that gives your life meaning and makes everything worthwhile. And for some people, that’s true. For other people, they find that the reality doesn’t match up to the brochure and they’re more tired, cranky, and broke than when they started.

    I’m not saying don’t take the plunge. But before you take the plunge, sit down and map out what you really value, and run through a couple of different scenarios about what your life could look like in 5 years if you started making changes now. In 5 years, if you were in exactly the same place you are now, would you hate your life? In 5 years if you were working the same job but had a cool creative hobby, would that be ideal? In 5 years, if you didn’t get promoted to the next level because you opted to put your efforts elsewhere, would you regret it?

    Good luck!

    1. Nicotene*

      Also beware that if external validation is your jam, within the arts world there’s a chance you’ll be a little looked down on if you’re seen as a dilettante who can make non-profitable art because you don’t need the money. It can be overcome but it exists in the creative classes.

      1. RagingADHD*

        If external validation is the jam, LW should know that an “overnight success” means 15 years.

  77. bunniferous*

    I think before you do anything you need to figure out just what you feel you were put on this earth to do. Do you need to go back to school? Is there something out there you have a real passion for? The issue is we are all wired to want to be productive. I would not quit until I decided what that would look like and until I had figured out concrete steps to get there. It’s not about money, but I think you already know that.

  78. Sled dog mama*

    I have a hobby that I would love to be able to pursue as a full time amateur. I’m never going to be good enough to make a living at it (and frankly it’s a very hard way to make a living) but having the financial freedom to pursue it full time is my dream.
    OP I would quit without hesitation but the suggestions above of taking time to make a plan are very good. Are your creative pursuits something you would be able to do fully tomorrow (as a hobby or job) or would you need to plan. Take a leave of absence and try it out, maybe you’ll find it more fulfilling than your job, maybe not.
    I have a good friend who took a leap of faith a few years ago to go into dog training now she trains exclusively service dogs. She’s been wildly successful and now only takes non service dogs from previous clients (I’m going to pick up my non-service dog tomorrow from his month of training).
    She makes a good income from training but she gets so much more out of it.

  79. LilacLily*

    Have you considered checking whether you can do your job part-time, about 4 hours a day instead of 8? Your letter reminded me a liiitle bit of Christine from Simply Nailogical, who after her Youtube channel exploded, was adamant she would not leave her job and career for her side hobby, but as things took off even more for her creatively speaking (she started her own nail polish line, which is very successful) she managed to talk to her bosses and keep her job as a part time role. Maybe look into whether that’s possible! It’d definitely be a good compromise.

  80. S Lands*

    Get a post-nup agreement to outline division of assets and retirement and spousal support before you leave the workforce. No one expects their marriage to change or end, but you never know and you don’t want to be forced to rejoin the workforce even farther behind if things go awry. If you’re in a blended family, look into life insurance beneficiaries and wills as well. Not fun topics but people end up in bad spots all the time from not working.

  81. PrairieEffingDawn*

    You say you never see yourself in a corporate role going forward, but what if you found yourself in the best job you could possibly imagine in your current field? I think before throwing in the towel completely, I’d take 6 months to a year applying to dream jobs to see what came up. Who knows, you could end up in a role you love, AND gives you time to enjoy your creative pursuits.

    If you took the new job and it wasn’t anything better than your role now, you could retire to the hobby plan you’re considering now.

  82. nnn*

    The big question mark here (possibly left out of the question because this is a workplace advice column) is what would happen if you could no longer depend on your husband.

    What would your finances look like if your husband died? What would your finances look like if your husband lost his ability to work and also required expensive medical care in perpetuity? What would your finances look like if your husband decided to divorce you as cruelly as possible?

    Before leaving this job, make any necessary adjustments to your finances so you’d be equally secure even if you could no longer depend on your husband.

  83. Homebody Houseplant*

    If I could afford to not work, I wouldn’t. If you don’t find it fulfilling and you don’t have to, do what makes you happy. So much of our self worth seems tied up in traditional expectations of labor. Pursue your passions, maybe volunteer, spend time learning new hobbies. If you don’t have to work in the traditional sense you aren’t obligated, and if you’re feeling societal pressure then maybe it’s a good thing to take a step back from that and find value in other aspects of life that we don’t always have the good fortune to explore.

  84. Jean Valjean*

    I’m not sure how old you are, but make sure you are financially set (independent of your husband, you never know what life will throw at you), make a plan, quit, and go pursue those creative pursuits! They can even turn into a new job if you find that you miss working, which could happen! I know a few retirees who regret retiring when they did because they missed the socialization, feelings of responsibility, and even the daily schedule of work more so than the money. Also, think of it this way: You are taking up a job that someone else might love who needs the money more than you do.

  85. hbc*

    I’m pretty much going to do this myself around the end of the year. Work circumstances made a natural exit point, but it was going to happen eventually. My thoughts in my situation:

    -If you’re already okay with not working, there’s zero risk to asking for some change to your work situation that would help you. Leave of absence, part time, whatever.
    -Is it really a problem if you’re “behind” your peers if/when you come back to the traditional working world? No one is keeping score.
    -There are so, so many ways to have accomplishments without a job. During my last break/leisurely job search, I volunteered at a school, bottle-fed orphan kittens, donated platelets as often as allowable, and made good progress on learning a new language. There are many more things I wanted to do that I couldn’t commit to.
    -You’ve got the benefit of time, so use it. You feel guilty about the new hire? Then wait a month or so and see if you feel better about leaving, and then check in with yourself in another month. At some point, you’ll either realize you’d rather keep the job as-is (for now), or become more certain in your decision to leave.

  86. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    My mother and grandmother worked too damn hard to fight for the have a bank account in their names, let alone have a credit card, purchase a car or house without a husband for me to ever consider relying solely on a spouse’s income. But that’s just me being a raging feminist and probably has nothing to do with OP’s situation.

    Have you considered a sabbatical or a leave of absence? Many companies do have procedures in place to make this happen. You’d get a taste of what your life would be like without work for a chunk of time longer than PTO could allow, but would still have the option to go back to your job if you find that you’re not happy. Hell, just quit this job and say “I’m going to give this no-job thing a go for 6 months and then I’ll re-evaluate”. Then in 6 months if you’re not happy, then you can find another job. A 6 month gap on a resume isn’t that hard to explain away, and won’t look weird. Honestly, a lot of what you’re feeling about your job could just be described as burnout.

  87. Some Lady*

    Freakonomics podcast has an episode on quitting that could be helpful.

    If you do passion projects, not all of them will lead anywhere, but if you do many of them with care and a spirit of collaboration, they will eventually lead to something. I think you can trust that you can find ways to do meaningful and fulfilling work both within and outside of your current job – don’t set it up as a dichotomy!

  88. Teapot Repair Technician*

    In my experience, nothing kills your passion for a creative pursuit faster than trying to make a career of it.

    I don’t know if you should quit your job, but if you do, keep your creative projects in the “have fun and make friends” category of activities.

  89. Hamlet's friend Omlet*

    LW, there is an interesting mixture of attitudes in your letter. You start by saying it is a ‘meh’ job but then complain you lost a promotion due to office politics, yet you were recently promoted and hired a new co-worker who specifically took the job to work with you. Those things say you are doing very well and are a valued asset to your employer. Being concerned about being ‘further behind your peers’ if you take a few years off really says you are invested in having a career and having accomplishments more than being an independent creator.

    I will bet your dissatisfaction is based on comparing where you are today to some idealized version of your career. I started my professional career when I turned 30 but I don’t compare my career to my high school classmates. Some are already retired, some are not. Heck, my younger sister just retired from her career at an aerospace company but I will still be working for 3-5 years.

    I agree with starting to donate your salary to charity for now. That keeps you in the game and protects you against the risks of a single income.

  90. Luke G*

    LW, you say “I know I can always come back to my current role (or an equivalent role at another company), but I already feel behind my peers and taking a few years off will only exacerbate that.” I want to challenge that assumption a little- if you’re rearranging your work life to suit your preferences, why does it matter where you are compared to coworkers?

    There are good reasons to care how you develop compared to peers. You don’t want to be left behind in the pay or promotion scales, for one, and it also feels good to be appreciated and feels bad to be unappreciated. But you’ve got an unusual set of circumstances- if you’re focused on doing a job you love (at your current company, a competitor, or even an entire different industry) but you’re financially secure without it, then pay and promotions don’t matter as much. If you can break off from the idea of comparing yourself to others and re-frame it as “I’m doing exactly what I enjoy about the job and the pay is really just an added benefit that I don’t rely on” you are free to shape your work options however you want.

    A llama groomer without your financial fortune may have to wrestle with the idea that another company would pay them more, or that they’re lagging behind their peers in prestige as the peers move to management, or that a director’s salary would be a huge improvement- but also that they enjoy their current role and moving out/up would change their job. You get to say “I’m a llama groomer because I like grooming llamas and I do it for llamacorp because I like working here, and I’m not worried about transfers or promotions because I’m doing this job purely for the sake of doing it.”

    1. purple*

      That idea about being “behind” one’s peers really stuck out to me too. How many of those peers would love to be in OP’s shoes and not have to work? How many people would love to noodle around and work on one-off creative projects and not *have* to try and fashion them into a career? It’s fine to want to advance in a career and to need that feeling of moving forward with something to be satisfied, but if you always compare yourself to others you will always find a reason to be unhappy no matter what path you take. I would dig into this feeling more before making any decisions, OP.

      I think you also make an excellent point that a lot of what we traditionally consider career success is tied up in money, and when you uncouple the need for money from work, a “good job” can look very different. Maybe OP could advance faster at a smaller org that’s less prestigious and pays less, but is more nimble. Maybe a part-time job would keep their hand in the game, so to speak, while still allowing more time to pursue their creative projects. There’s a lot of options between “keep doing exactly what I’m doing” and “quit and change gears entirely.”

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      You won’t think of yourself as “behind” on anything if you are in a job you love.

      Think about what is important to you and start job searching. Hard. I wouldn’t quit the current job just yet. The structure of your regular routine will help you stay motivated.

      1. OP*

        This is really helpful – thanks! It has really flagged that I need to think about why I define success so much in relation to others or external validation.

  91. Llellayena*

    If I could live on a lottery win (or other monetary windfall) for the rest of my life, I would still want to work. Part of that is that I love my work and part is that having something to get up for helps me not stagnate. So I’m on team keep working, but with adjustments. You have the freedom to pursue a job that you actually love (almost) every aspect of, no matter what the salary AND the freedom to do that job part time to give you time for non-income related passion projects. Take some time to figure out what pursuing the passion projects would need (2 days a week? a 2 month block off every year?) and look for a job you love that would allow for that type of schedule. You have time to be picky in the job search. Also, since you don’t need your income to live, set any of your income aside in a separate account in your name in the (hopefully unlikely) event of divorce. If you don’t need it, great! But if you do, you’re at least not starting from scratch.

  92. Hobby Horse*

    Quit. Find a meaningful and/or fun job now or after you have hobbied to your satisfaction.

  93. Andria*

    I’ve said for over 40 years, “Work is a shitty way to spend a short life.” If you don’t enjoy it and can afford to, quit!

    1. H*

      100%! I know this sounds insensitive but this is not a real problem to me. There are people who HATE and LOATHE their jobs who can’t afford to quit and have to think about the family they support and who else is on their health care plan. Not having that as a burden is amazing! Like I don’t really love my job now and can easily work PRN with my credentials anywhere between 8-24 hours or even more a week and that is what I would do if I was in this same financial situation. I would quite my FT job and work PRN 8-24 hours a week and enjoy the free time to do other things.

      1. Colette*

        But not working has its own set of challenges. A lot of us get motivation, socialization, and a sense of accomplishment from work. Of course those things aren’t exclusive to paid employment – but someone who opts out of the workforce will have to make a effort to replace them. If you’re 33 and childless, for example, your peers are probably at work during the day. The OP can’t depend solely on her husband for social contact. (Well, she can, but it’s not a great idea.)

  94. PolarVortex*

    Since you don’t actively hate your job and it’s not terrible to work at, take some time and make a plan. (Do this during your vacation days or after work or whatever.)
    – What would these creative pursuits look like? How could you could tell if they’re “successful” or not trying it out? If you’re doing these pursuits, what would it look like in terms of daily commitment so that you have structured days still and feel like they’re a career forward?
    -If these pursuits didn’t work out in the definition you determined above in a timeline you’ve predetermined, what would be your plan afterwards? Go back to your job or a similar one after trying this? (Perfectly fine.) Taking a job where the pay is less but the fulfillment is more? (Non-profit eg.) Volunteering and not working instead?

    Having answers to these questions – and more, I could think of dozens if given the time – will help you determine if that is the right choice or not. There are many more options out there for you and it sounds like you’re in a rut enough that you’re only considering the binary of stay or quit. Take some time, think through your options, make a decision you feel all in on.

  95. Macaroni Penguin*

    Hmmm. I’d probably work at the current job until I broke into the more interesting one. Also, I’d secure savings of my own just in case things cratered with my partner.

    Though I’m a bit jaded from a divorce and a few bad work places. It’s also really tempting to live on wealth and immediately work in Fun Jobs.

  96. HereKittyKitty*

    I just wanted to push back a little bit on this idea OP: “I have some one-off creative projects I’d want to pursue but no obvious path to making those projects into a meaningful or successful career.”

    My question is what would make the creative project “meaningful” or “successful” to you? The common answer is money and perhaps some notoriety, but mainly money. If that is what you mean, I’m worried you will not be happy in these creative projects, as creative things often struggle to create monetary value.

    HOWEVER what if you found meaning and value in the act of making itself? What if you determined a successful career on the growth of your skills, independent of whether or not you create an income stream? Too often capitalism makes us think we aren’t creating value unless we are bringing in money. I’d encourage you to really define what your goals are if you pursued a creative lifestyle beyond a potential income stream. What would count as success? What would count as a failure? I think knowing the answers to these questions may set you up for success if you were to leave your career.

  97. joss*

    “I’m worried that if I quit my job … and I’ll regret having not spent those years at my current job where I can at least point to some level of accomplishment.”
    With the exception of the fun projects you have just described why I have not yet retired despite being past my FRA. I will retire by the end of this year provided the Delta variant does not mess it up.

    All this to say that you will need to assess what accomplishment means to you and how important that is to you. Is it measured in money earned (whether needed or not)? If it is stay. Are there issues you feel passionate about? Would you want to devote your time to that if your creative projects do not pan out? If there are go pursue those. Remember that there is no shame in changing your mind about what to do with your life.

  98. DrSalty*

    I would start casually looking for a new job. It sounds like you want the structure of employment but don’t feel fulfilled at your current job. Why not start looking around and see what else you can find? Take it easy and just see what’s out there. You’re in a great position where there’s no rush!

  99. anony*

    How stable is your marriage and what does your pre-nup look like? I’d start there.

    If you truly won’t ever ever ever need to make money, use the time while you DO have a job to do some dreaming and exploring. Decide that whatever plan you come up with that feels like it *could* make a fulfilling life long-term, you will first pause and make time for the one-off projects, and you will allow yourself to change the plan if those one-off projects lead you in another direction (whether long-term or just “let’s play a little while longer”).

    My 2 cents.

    Also, simultaneously, make your plan for how you are going to use some of that wealth — and time — to make this world a better place. Being out of the workforce by choice is a privileged thing that can also create a feeling of alienation and detachment…. this is one of the most reliable ways to stay on course (and to make a positive difference even when you are navigating inevitable feelings of doubt).

    Hope this helps.

  100. SubjectAvocado*

    Is there a related part-time position OP could take, move to, or find? I feel like the quit/don’t quit dichotomy is false– it seems like there should be an in-between that would free up time for a creative endeavor but still keep some sense of purpose and productivity in your life.

  101. Vox Experientia*

    whenever i read something where a woman (and it would apply to a man in the same situation) is considering quitting working i think about the people who thought they’d be married forever to their rich spouse, but ended up divorced, broke, and a decade or two behind where they’d be professionally if they hadn’t left the workforce. over half of marriages end in divorce, it’s a risky bet to make that they’ll be there to provide for you for the rest of your life. nobody gets married thinking their marriage is going to fail. and over half of them are wrong. just something to consider.

  102. Bubbles*

    “it feels silly to stay in a role I’m not wild about when I don’t have to”

    Not to put too fine a point on it, OP, but are you sure your creative endeavors wouldn’t fall into the same category?

    Take writing. Now, writing may be your gig or it may not, but it’s kind of mine, and I know *exactly* why I’m not trying to do it full-time… You don’t *just* have to write to be an author! You also have to edit (obvious, but it’s a different set of mental muscles and some folks only have the one set), you have to network, pitch, self-market… Frankly, being a writer sounds so exhausting, I’m astonished that some folks get an any writing done!

    Just like how being an interior designer doesn’t *just* mean having a vision for a room, or being in marketing doesn’t *just* mean designing an ad campaign, every job–even creative ones–have their less-well-publicized, “secondary” duties. I would say that, before you go leaving your job for “creative pursuits,” you make sure you know *everything* that creative pursuit might entail, because if you love making macrame coasters but you don’t love *marketing* or *shipping* your macrame coasters, your macrame coaster business is going to fail.

    But, hey, if you *do* know everything, and you like and/or tolerate all of it–then heck yeah, leave your job!

  103. not that kind of Doctor*

    I would stay long enough to make a plan.

    What is it you would do with the time off? What are the action steps to get there? What will you do if it doesn’t work out, takes longer than expected, or isn’t as fun or fulfilling as you hoped? What securement do you have in the event of widowhood or divorce? What if you decide to re-enter the workforce (want or need) at some point down the road?

    Also, what can you leave behind at your current job that would make you proud?

    Basically, stay till you’re excited to go.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yes…find out what you want and go after it. Don’t just move from something you ‘re not thrilled by.

  104. Doctor of Laboratoria*

    I am going to echo a lot of what is said here.

    Relying solely on a spouse’s income is risky. Period. And it’s not only divorce you have to think about. It’s death too. What happens if your partner dies? If you two get into trouble – like a health emergency – the only thing that will get you through is hard cash.

    Don’t give up a second income.

    I think it would be great just to hang out at your job and peruse job descriptions and see if there is something else you’d like to do. You have the luxury of time on your hands.

  105. H*

    I need to read other comments but I WISH I HAD THIS PROBLEM. I am sure many people wish they had this “problem”. Lord.

    1. Nicotene*

      It is exciting just to be confronted with the question, “what would be meaningful to me if I didn’t have to work to live?” This is a question that few people get to ask themselves.

      Then again, most of the women in my circle have ended up taking significant time out of the workforce, planned or unplanned, for things like caregiving, education, medical crisis, or layoffs; it turns out many people actually can drop out of the workforce for some amount of time and survive somehow when they really need to.

      1. H*

        Exactly. I would love the possibility. I feel like even if I were to win the lottery or something that I wouldn’t stop working per se but I would change how often I worked. Right now I carry the benefits for my family and work PRN on top of fulltime because my husband has been out of work so I dream of the day when I can just work PRN where I make decent money per hour but don’t have to stress about keeping a 40 hour a week FT job for health care and dental. Like I would still work part time in my field. I got a Masters but I would put up with a lot less BS and give myself a lot more breaks.

  106. JTM*

    You have a luxury that few people have – the ability to take your time and figure out what you what to do with your time. Use it! Explore! Take classes or volunteer or just try things out. Tap into things you’ve always been curious about.

  107. Dark Macadamia*

    Don’t quit without a plan. Reduce your hours, look for other jobs, take some time to think about how you will move forward with your creative pursuits, etc – give yourself a path to follow regardless of where you decide it should lead. I was financially able to “take off a year or two” to be a SAHM until I found a job I was really passionate about but now it’s been 5 years and I feel like my professional skills, discipline, and confidence will never recover.

  108. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

    This may not be a helpful answer, but here we go.

    I think ONLY you can decide this. I’m going to put to one side the ‘but what if you get divorced’ issue – I’m going to assume for the purposes of this that that isn’t on the cards.

    Now that’s out of the way:
    Any decision comes with risks. If you stay, you might think in X years’ time ‘if only I’d followed my inclinations and left I’d be so much more fulfilled.’ Conversely, though, if you left, you might feel in X years’ time ‘if only I’d stayed at least for a while longer, I’d feel so much more fulfilled’ (or similar).

    Things to consider – would you end up taking on all the household responsibilities as you’d be ‘at home’ full time? Would that be ok with you if so? Do you have a large enough social/creative circle to avoid isolation or loneliness? What if your creative pursuits don’t work out? How would you feel? Would you feel like a ‘kept person’ and if so, would that bother you?

    I know that ideally, you’re looking for a ‘leave’ or ‘stay’ answer (and plenty of commentators have given you that) but I think ultimately, you need to weigh the pros and cons and listen to all the advice offered…and then make your own decision.

    Sorry for the wishy washy answer!

    1. Nicotene*

      I had a friend who took a year off without working at all. She was financially able to do it, although it got a bit tight at the end. She got a better paying job at the end of that and has been in the role for over a year, so basically she “got away with it” as far as I’m concerned – she was able to not work! For a year! And it didn’t sink her! She has now rebuilt her savings to where they were. But interestingly, I now note she frequently looks at her savings and thinks about what they *would have been if she hadn’t left.* That is insane to me, and very self-defeating since she could NEVER win that way – but it clearly does bother her.

  109. Alexis Rose*

    Echoing everyone else’s comments about becoming dependent on your spouse in a way you may not intend to be.

    I also really like the idea of some sort of hybrid approach. Can you take an unpaid 6 month sabbatical with the job waiting for you on the other end to come back to? Can you go down to 60% or 80% of your workweek, freeing up time to do more of your personal creative projects?

    Also: could you get a job in a field you find more interesting? Perhaps pursue a job in creative field adjacent to what your personal projects are focused on, it might be a good way to do both while building those creative projects into a career if thats what you want. You have a lot of freedom here to change fields that a lot of folks don’t have: you have stability and financial support while you figure out next steps. I wouldn’t use that flexibility to make yourself dependent, but rather to have so much wiggle room to figure out what YOU want to do!

  110. GoTeam!*

    I have a few minor reservations about some of the discussion about relying on spousal income. I’ll preface with the caveat that any healthy relationship should do what’s possible to ensure that both partners would be at the same level of financial security should the worst happen (whether it be divorce, a medical issue, or who knows). However, I think it is worthwhile to recognize that it’s possible for a couple to earn as a family or partnership if they chose. No partner should be better than the other or entitled to anything more than the other simply because they make more money (some–mostly women–do way too much unpaid labor for this to be acceptable). I know this isn’t the way the world works most of the time, but it’s definitely the way the world should work. It’s attainable for some, and it should be attainable for all. Many healthy families with a stay-at-home parent work this way. I also know many families (including my own) that have built lives where one partner is a high earner and the other is in a low-paying but good-for-the-world field. Neither job or role is more important that the other–it’s a team effort where there is a lot of shared paid and unpaid labor. I think a lot of the caution many have advised is certainly warranted, but I also think it’s worth balancing that by saying that it does not have to be the case in a relationship that breadwinner = more powerful. The alternative exists, it needs to exist way more than it does, and looking out for the financial security of both partners does not imply a lack of trust or confidence in the relationship–on the contrary, it implies mutual respect, love, and care.

    1. Nicotene*

      This is true, and I think if OP had asked “I desperately want to stay home with my children / sick parent” we would have a different answer. It is unfair that our society has decided to either underpay or not pay at all for certain types of work, like caregiving, while arguably over-paying for other jobs that may or may not contribute equal value. I remember on NPR they recently profiled an EMT – so someone literally saving lives – only making $15/hour, unable to afford basic necessities and having to quit to find other work.

      However, wants to not work at all, and it’s not clear to me how serious they are about their creative pursuits. Does that change the perspective at all?

    2. not a doctor*

      ABSOLUTELY agreed with this. My particular caution on this issue is solely about the risk of losing the income. If they can make sure OP will be financially secure no matter what, even in the worst possible case (and you can see my comment below for what that looked like in my family), they’re in a very privileged position and should take advantage of it.

      1. OP*

        Yes – we are super lucky that we have enough now, and I wouldn’t be dependent on future income. Our assets would be split 50-50 if our marriage didn’t survive (which I very much hope doesn’t happen!)

  111. Properlike*

    Without reading all the responses above, here’s my recommended first step: Get over “being on the same level as your peers.” You used the word “prestigious company” and that was the red flag. It doesn’t look like you’re living YOUR life right now.

    I see where you’re coming from with that. You put in a lot of time in you career, you’re supposed to have achieved a certain level of accomplishment, become a leader in your field, corner office, VP, etc. etc. etc. I’m going to bet many of your peers are in the corporate world too. And for women, this is especially fraught, with or without kids in the picture. I’m going to guess you’re around mid-40s, so that retirement isn’t on the horizon yet? That’s when I really started to question my path.

    I’m not corporate, but I had one career post-college that I got pretty advanced in, and then the industry shifted (as did I) and I moved into my second career, which required a second degree. I was married by then and had savings so I could make the switch. Got into my second career and still felt that “requirement” that I “make a significant contribution to the field” because it’s the expectation I always seemed to have for myself, since high school. And it wasn’t a reasonable expectation. Then I had kids, and we moved across the country for my husband’s well-paying new career, and I did some full-time work but mostly part time because of the kids (special needs), and now I’m here at 52 with kids about to go and me with no social security saved up and that bugs me, even with the retirement plan my husband set up that keeps us covered. I can’t conceive of what career I can move into at this stage, or if I’d even be hired (the first two careers are non-starters for me — though they were great at the time.) Yes, I have financial security, but my options, from my view, are limited. I have plenty of friends who’ve stepped away from their big careers to smaller roles, and friends who transitioned to different ones, and friends who are killing it in their original field. Sometimes I’m really jealous of people who’ve stayed in one field and worked their way up and they’ve got big houses and bank accounts and fancy fancy. But I see now that’s only ONE path, and to get there, I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of things that were great even if they weren’t especially prestigious.

    Had I been without kids, with more funding (as it sounds like you have), I think I would’ve kept working but really looked for a job that was meaningful to me that provided structure, checked most of my boxes for “like my work” and still paid money so that I wasn’t completely beholden to my spouse’s income and maintained a work record. Also, highly recommend scheduling some sessions with a therapist to examine the beliefs you hold about work, independence, meaningfulness, etc. and get clarity in what you really want the next stage to look like. Good luck, OP! I’m cheering for you.

  112. Kixco*

    I would love to just take a year off and do what I want to do without thinking about money, so I vote that you go do exactly that!

  113. JB*

    This is not an easy choice! Ultimately, don’t make the decision lightly, or base it just on what us internet commenters have to say.
    You are, however, in a slightly enviable position of getting paid to so something you kind of like, and don’t have to rush to decision.
    You can take a lot of time to consider what you are passionate about. You could, for example, volunteer for a cause that means a lot to you, and give back to your community.
    Also, you could groom your new hire for success, so that when you eventually leave (whether that’s in ten weeks or ten years), they will be prepared to enjoy their work and advance their career. It will still be tough, I left a job a couple months ago, and the hardest part was letting my staff know, as I really liked working with them.
    Ultimately, do what is right for yourself.

  114. That One Person*

    Nothing has to be immediate, my suggestion is to take time to plan. Jot down the ideas of things you’d do if you weren’t working: the projects, the classes, the traveling, etc that you want to do. As many others have pointed out you’ll probably want to consider the financial side of things to some degree and how that’d work out, and an extended vacation from the job might also help gauge how you feel being away from the job. You can treat it as a sort of “trial period” of no longer working.

    That said it may also be worth it to evaluate the job further. Is the lack of upwards movement a cause in making it feel “meh” to you? You seem to worry about making an accomplishment out of the field, but if you’re not particularly invested then is it really going to be something you talk about with pride later or just act more like a footnote in your life? Mostly I’d just caution against trying to make “accomplishments” in categories you’re not fond of or feeling it in because they won’t be positive bragging moments for you in the long run, and may feel like somewhat a waste of time as well.

  115. ADHSquirrelWhat*

    I had to quit outside work and stay home because of health reasons. Thankfully, hubby’s job pays the bills – but I’m now in a situation similar to the one you’re positing. And that leaves me with questions:

    How good are you at self-motivating? Will you actually DO the things you want to do, or will you find yourself unshowered on a three day Minecraft binge wondering what the heck happened? If you can’t manage your time without external focus, it’s very easy to end up miserable with yourself.

    How much do you depend on work for social interaction? I spend a lot of time in an online chat with my friends, so I don’t miss out on social – but I’m also deeply introverted and happy not doing the people thing. Everyone needs their own balance, and you need some form of low-effort other-people in life.

    How much do you identify with your job title as /who you are/? Whether or not I have a day job, I identify as a writer. A day job is secondary. But if you identify AS a /fill in the blank/, taking that away can end up making you feel like you’ve lost your identity. So – if you’re not a /career person/, who are you? Is that someone you want to be?

    1. Humble Schoolmarm*

      These are good questions! I don’t work in the summer and definitely appreciate it, but structuring my time when there isn’t strictly a need to do so is hard for me and leaves me feeling a little disappointed with myself that I haven’t done more, whether that’s in a creative pursuit or in various home projects. It can also be difficult to socialize with working friends if it’s not something that comes naturally to you.

  116. AnotherSarah*

    I think you need to decide what the choice is between and what each option really is–is it quit and not try to work for pay ever again? Is it quit and regroup, then apply places in 1-2 years? Is it quit and you’ll revisit in a year? Is it quit and devote yourself to volunteer work part-time while pursuing creative work? Maybe it’s quit but definitely look for another job, in 3 months! I think once the actual contours of the choices are clearer, it might be easier to make a decision.

  117. Nicki Name*

    LW, you seem to have a lot of worries about deviating from a specific script for life. You’ve absorbed an expectation that you will have one career, and you must advance in it at a certain rate or you’re failing.

    But if it’s not about survival, you can do what you want. If you want to do fun creative things that go nowhere, do fun creative things that go nowhere! You’re not a less worthy human being for taking the opportunity to do something you love rather than having A Career where you can be ranked against everyone else.

  118. not a doctor*

    I’m on Team Sabbatical/Extended Leave (or dropping to part-time, or consulting, or whatever gives you a break without actually breaking things off completely). You deserve the chance to explore what your life would genuinely look like without work, and if that’s the life for you — and it sounds like you work for the kind of company that can give you that chance, which is great! On the other hand, it also gives you a chance to 1) keep earning/accumulating that fantastic pay and using those benefits, and 2) figure out your long-term plans and strategies.

    I do have to agree with everyone who said they’d be reluctant to rely solely on a spouse’s income, so if you do retire, make sure you either have some solid passive income sources set up, or find a way to stay at least somewhat prepared for a potential return to work (quite possibly at a pay cut). The worst can always happen — and contrary to popular belief, the worst in this case wouldn’t be his death. The worst would be what happened to my mother, who had to retire from a successful career 30-odd years ago due to a progressive illness that continues to this day, and which has cost us over $100K *a year* for at least the past decade. My father has said many times that he’d be retired by now if not for that. God forbid this happens to anyone else, ever — but it does and can.

  119. Ginger Baker*

    Apologies if this has already been mentioned, but for those (rightful) concerns about being financially dependent upon your spouse: could you set up a trust to account for this as a backup “just in case” situation? I’m thinking something you wouldn’t touch unless for some reason your marriage ends (divorce or death, with divorce being the bigger issue to an extent). Something that would cover retirement, possible education/job training for re-entering the job market, and health insurance. It could be you never ever have reason to touch it, in which case, you can leave it to someone when you die or have it set to automatically convert to a scholarship fund or [something]. (Others have covered my thoughts on making sure you would actually do the things you want to do first – I find an external structure of some sort – not necessarily A Job – to be absolutely vital to me not being a lump, personally.)

    1. Colette*

      For me, it’s not just the marriage dissolving, it’s things like deciding to invest in one stock that goes down, or the spouse lends money to his deadbeat cousin, or someone develops a gambling problem.

  120. May Flowers*

    I had a similar crossroads in the fall of last year. My husband and I have been living very frugally (living off one income; saving the other income). When things at work became outrageously stressful, compounded by COVID last fall, I reached a breaking point. We knew we could live on one income, since we were already doing that. So, we decided that I should take a sabbatical: one year off to figure out what to do next. It was hard to leave the company, since I was managing a team of really amazing people, all of whom I hired. But I knew I had to do this for my own well-being, and though they were sad, they understood and supported my decision.

    During the holidays, I did nothing but focus on restoring my own mental wellness and rebalancing mind, body, and soul. In the new year, a former colleague at a different company offered me some freelance work, which I accepted. In addition, as others have mentioned, I searched for (and found) a couple of volunteer organizations to join where I feel that I am still a contributing member of society. Just switching my LinkedIn profile to be open to freelance work has landed me increasing amounts of freelance work. I just turned down an opportunity this week.

    This time away from full-time work has caused me to realize that I am at my healthiest and best when I work part-time, making my own hours as a freelancer. This is my plan for the foreseeable future. The idea of returning to corporate America 40+ hours of work each week has zero appeal to me. I’m better able to be a support for my spouse (I took on responsibility for the bulk of household chores). We now have weekends completely free to do things as a family. My income gives us “splurge money” and continued opportunity for savings.

    So, from this side of the fence, I encourage you to perhaps take a set amount of time off from full-time work to explore how else you might want to live your life. You can always return to the rat race, but by giving yourself freedom to explore, who knows what you might discover about what helps you live your best life?!

  121. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    How about a leave of absence to ponder this and see what time off is like.
    If you can snag a month or two off that would be nice.

    Also your husband may love his job but life happens, new tyrannical manager, husband gets sick and needs time off, divorce and so forth.
    So the best plan is to put away money and be able to retire early (after crunching the numbers with a fee only financial planner to be sure either of you can actually afford to not work), then you actually have carte blanche to not work. It might take a few years but its time well spent.
    That said even if you don’t work you want to have something to keep you busy, it can be creative projects, it can be a new vocation, it can be part time work. Or perhaps what you really want is to continue your career but in a different position or at a different employer.

  122. Voice of Caution*

    Three words: death; divorce; disability. They can happen out of the blue or by inches, but nobody is young and healthy forever. (I won’t dwell on divorce, because others have done so.)
    You say your financial resources are such that neither of you needs to work. So I won’t ask what happens if your husband loses his job. What if he not only can’t work, but requires expensive medical care? Remember, at least in the US, medical insurance is usually tied to employment, and if he can’t work, COBRA only lasts for a year or 18 months, at most. (It’s also hideously expensive.)
    Life insurance is all well and good, in case he dies, but how are you set for long-term care insurance? How much disability insurance do you have? These should be on each of you, because even if you aren’t employed, if you need care due to illness or disability, what might that do to your joint finances? Are you sure your spouse would stick with you, or regretfully decide to preserve his assets at some point by divorcing you? What if you are *both* horribly injured in an accident or by serious illness?
    I took a few years off when I had a baby, and it was hard getting hired again after less than five years. And age discrimination kicks in, too. Too many of my mother’s generation were forced to try to find work in their fifties after twenty years out of the work force. It wasn’t pretty.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yep, yep, yep.
      I was widowed at 45. That wasn’t in the plan, whoops.

      My two most pressing thoughts here:
      Stress test your finances. My husband’s out of pocket medical for 1 year would have been at least 80k. Probably more. How long can the two of you go paying out 80k per year PLUS your regular bills?
      Scenario 2. A friend needed a medication that cost $178k per year plus a helper med that cost $30 k per year. These were not covered by insurance. Their spouse could not work because of tending to this person. How long would the two of you last in this scenario?

      More importantly because I think this is more likely to happen: How will you fill up your days and maintain long term goals for yourself? Remember there is a BIG difference between running away from something and running TOWARD something. Always, always make sure you are moving toward something. I get it, the job sucks for you. No, you do not “have to” stay at it. However it is a substantial issue for good mental health to have set goals and longer term goals you are working toward. People without short term goals, medium term goals and long term goals can really flounder and end up in a very bad spot. Write out your short/medium/ long term goals and commit to them. Review them on a regular basis. Break them down into actionable steps and cross off the step on its completion. Make sure you are always working toward something.

  123. Full-Time Creative*

    I’m on Team “Have a Plan.” I second all the cautions about being fully dependent on a spouse, but I also want to note that being a creative full-time can be a lot less romantic than people think (even if you aren’t pressured by the financials).

    I’m a full-time creative and I was a grouch on last week’s question, too. The thing is, a lot, a LOT of people find it’s not for them once they try it. I know quite a few people in my field who tried to give it a go full-time and ended up realizing they were much happier as a part-time hobbyist. They needed the structure, and pressuring themselves with the creative pursuit being the main thing in their life sucked all the joy out of it. I think this can absolutely be true even if you aren’t making a living off it — if you feel like you “need” to stick to some schedule or advancement with the hobby in order to feel a work-style accomplishment in your life (which it sounds like might be true for you), it can start to make it feel a lot more like a grind.

    I’ve also seen people take time off to pursue a creative thing (with money saved for supporting themselves, or spousal support), and just flail, because they didn’t have any sort of plan or knowledge of how to go about it, and they ended up ending that time with regrets because they lacked any feeling of accomplishment. I agree that accomplishment absolutely doesn’t have to be financial, but OP I am like you in that I always want SOME accomplishment to point to and feel good about, and I start to feel bad about myself if I’m not developing it. It is HARD to engineer self-discipline around creative pursuits in order to give yourself that, and you might find it hard to do at the level that would satisfy you equally to work accomplishments (I can’t say whether you would or not — that’s for you to think about, I think).

    I suggest (1) pursuing your possible creative goals on the side to the point where you know enough about those industries to make a plan as whatever level of dedicated amateur or neo-professional would satisfy your desire for life accomplishment (or as a full career if that’s the thing you want), and know what you’re getting into, (2) also look at options like part-time work, volunteer or charity work, etc that would give your life structure and meaning as well, to possibly pursue concurrently in case the creative stuff ends up being a struggle for you to feel that sense of accomplishment in, (3) make sure you’re comfortable in your relationship’s financial division and take whatever steps you need to be so (even if that means not quitting your job). Does your current industry lend itself to consulting, btw? Because that might be a way to keep a toe in and not *really* have a gap if you decide to go back….

    Bottom line: I’m someone who really relates to your need to have a sense of accomplishment and the fear of not having that is very real and it’s also something that can be exceptionally hard to get in creative professions. That exact thing makes a lot of people in my creative industry miserable and makes them feel like they’ve wasted time, are burning out, etc even if they don’t need the money (I’m one of the few people who make a full-time living at what I do; the majority of my colleagues have day jobs). I strongly recommend listening to yourself on this — it’s possible other people who are saying they’d quit right away and not look back don’t feel that planning for that sense of accomplishment is a life need (or they already know how they would do it), and that’s fine, but speaking as someone who does feel it’s necessary for me, I think it’s a very tough thing and is well worth ensuring a structure for before jumping.

    All that said, I think exploring your options is a great idea. I wouldn’t stay in your job just because you feel like you “should”, either, and I think pursuing creativity is great (obviously). Just know the realities of it and have a direction that’s likely to make *you personally* happier than your current job, rather than less happy.

    1. Nicotene*

      I also quit my FT work to pursue my creative work. I ended up back part time, which is the right choice for me right now, but I did get to do it full-time for three years. I had a few rules for myself before I made the jump, and the first one was that I needed to have some external sense that I was actually talented enough to do this professionally. I didn’t quit until I had an agent, had sold one book, and was successful enough that there was interest in my second book. I knew it was still very unlikely that I’d be able to make a living long term (yep) but at least I wasn’t totally fooling myself. I’d be concerned for anyone who wanted to quit to pursue vague creative dreams without much sense of what that entailed because in most cases it leads to unhappiness.

  124. Emmie*

    When I ask for other people’s opinion, I do it because I need validation; or because I do not know what to do; or I am not listening to my intuition or inner voice. If you need validation, it’s okay to stay at your job or leave. If your inner voice makes you hesitate, why is that?

    What would I do? I do not know. Part of me would want to quit. Part of me would feel leery about relying on my husband’s income without a written agreement. (I loved the earlier suggestion about putting money into a separate retirement fund for you. You may also consider asking your husband to transfer money to an account held only by you, which would provide you a cushion if something happened.) Another part of me would feel uneasy about leaving the job market in case I needed to return. I would think about a consulting arrangement, or a part-time role at the company.

    What would bring you fulfillment? We sometimes expect too much from our jobs and hobbies. Neither often brings the complete life satisfaction that we hope for.
    What would make you feel comfortable enough to leave your position?
    What do you and your husband want to do now that you have more freedom? It will probably change over time.
    The answer lies in those questions.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Totally agree. Just my opinion, but, OP, if you knew what you were moving toward and you knew you were on solid ground there’d be no need to question leaving this job.

  125. The Happy Graduate*

    Personally I believe the smart thing to do is to give yourself a timeline for when you’d want to decide – say a year. And within that year, throw yourself into your creative passions as much as you can to see if you get any sort of fulfillment out of those. I wouldn’t throw away your own personal career success just because you aren’t passionate about it – most people aren’t frankly but at least you tend to like your job overall it seems. Plus, what if something were to happen to your partner and you lose that financial security and find yourself struggling to find work again? Lastly, the intellectual stimulation is A THING and something to genuinely factor in if you already know your creative passions won’t do it.

    Ultimately, I think setting a rough reasonable timeline for yourself to come to a decision is the best way to move forward and really think long and hard about the pros/cons for both sides.

  126. Susana*

    LW, don’t stay in a job because you feel guilty leaving people (unless you’re feeding hungry children who otherwise would not eat or something).

    BUT. Be careful about thinking you’ll never need to work. I don’t mean to be macabre, but what if your husband was hit by a bus? And then the market tanked and all your investments were lost? Only you know how truly secure you are – but it’s something to think about.

    It sounds like you don’t want to be a Lady of Leisure, so don’t. That doesn’t mean you have to stay in your current job – but I’d have a plan for what else to do.

  127. Manana*

    Take the leap! In the situation you describe, the worst thing that’s going to happen is that you decide creative self employment isn’t for you. And even in that scenario, giving yourself the time and space to explore your passions in a monetized way can help you figure out what kind of work you could do for someone else that you would feel more excited and energized than what you’re doing now. You can also get into more volunteer opportunities and see what skills and relationships you can build there. The privilege of being able to decide every minute of your day to your liking is unparalleled, take advantage of that any chance you get.

  128. Prague*

    It’s not clear whether these are similar efforts (writing books with multiple plot ideas) or unrelated (writing a single novel but also photography, blacksmithing, and fashion design).

    Either way, each field has dedicated efforts to improve the OP’s craft. So I’d say explore these areas with some clear goals, dedicated time, and see where achievement leads you. This leads to a couple things:

    – Improved craft (skills). Classes, research, studying – dedicate time to learning the stupid yet very important little details that matter to really get good at something, like scales for musicians. Includes practice, and structuring out plans to achieve goals.

    – Realistic self-discipline. As others recommended, take a few days off in order to see how far you get. Do this several times. Figure out what hiccups you will hit and whether you want to dedicate time and effort to getting past those. Hate research but need to do some before writing your novel? Might be a problem, or maybe you hire it out. Discouraged by a plot point because how is your detective supposed to figure out the murderer when you can’t figure out who it is either? Dedicate time to getting past these issues, or finding out if your brain “squirrels” to the next topic. Then develop the disciplinary pattern to get past it – or not, which is also fine!

    – Identifying inspiration: Maybe s/he will find out that inspiration for the novel only comes from observing the day job’s work drama, or inspiration for painting only comes on the weekends when OP observes the buffalo herd wandering by while drinking coffee from the porch.

    – Learn the business aspects. Even if this doesn’t provide a viable career (at first), it can be a factor for increasing your risk tolerance, allow some breathing room if anything does happen to OP’s spouse, and provide goals. If it brings some money in, great, even if you don’t need it. Maybe it’ll just make you appreciate the creative hobby more but realize you never want to do this full time.

    All of these can be done while still working the other job – perhaps with more vacation time or a few short sabbaticals – but these are steps that will give a clearer picture of dedication over time, which is what the OP might need to determine before making any drastic choices (which admittedly are less drastic given the OP’s situation, but situations can change rapidly).

    1. Nicotene*

      True, I think I’d feel better about OP’s creative dreams if she had a more concrete thing she wanted to do that would improve them, like take intensive classes or something. Don’t waste money on an MFA, but if you want to write could there be a bootcamp style writing program at a local writing center, or if you want to make art, could you pay a trainer or coach to mentor you, etc? As a bonus, you would be using your largess to support other creatives, which is, uh, desperately needed.

      1. Nicotene*

        Also I’m sorry, if OP wants to do an MFA and has the funds without expectation of earning the income back, it’s really none of my business. I keep forgetting money is not an obstacle!

  129. Master Bean Counter*

    I think what you need to do is change jobs. You say your are behind on your career due to office politics. Your growth at your current company sounds like it is stunted and may never recover. Changing where you work could catapult your career to the next level. Go see what’s out there and what might be a better fit.

  130. LizardOfOdds*

    Before quitting, I would focus on building a personal nest egg, i.e., a savings account *just for you* for a “just in case” situation that you hope never happens but might (like a divorce). I’d set aside enough to live for 1-2 years in there and just leave it.

    Then I’d focus on personal passion projects. The accomplishments you can achieve in terms of learning, growth, maybe even helping others could be far more fulfilling than working for The Man, and I wouldn’t underestimate the satisfaction you could get from that shift in focus. Honestly, that’s living the dream for many of us.

  131. Another Michael*

    Speaking to the new hire guilt specifically – don’t feel guilty. Every job I’ve had in a decade has included a supervisor I’ve loved (and one I didn’t) leaving within my first six months working there. (Oh no, is it me??) I’ve never felt resentment over that and was mostly happy for them to move onto new opportunities. It seems to be a fact of life in work and this new hire will understand that. And if they don’t…it’s still not really something you should worry about.

  132. Black Horse Dancing*

    I don’t know if it’s been mentioned but take a vacation, break but don’t quit your job if you must rely on spouse’s income. I worked in social work and helped way too many women (and some men) who were suddenly broke because spouse left them, died, kicked them out, etc. Have some kind of income coming in for yourself. Your relationship will change if you quit and don’t be surprised if hubby gets resentful. Often the sole breadwinner does, no matter how good their original intentions were!

  133. bowl of cherries*

    Why not engage a life coach/therapist to support you in creating a plan that works for you and addresses some of the issues you allude to in your letter; e.g., feelings of ambivalence toward current career, sense of competition and ‘falling behind’ your colleagues, feelings of guilt toward ‘leaving’ a new hire who looked forward to working with you, presumption that your creative endeavors would lead to nothing (or even the underlying assumption that they should “lead to something”). These are understandable issues that are causing you both some level of pain and holding you back from fully enjoying the wonderful achievements you’ve already accomplished and the variety of options in front of you. Working with a good coach for 6 months or a year could really help you feel intentional and hopeful about whatever choices you make and may help you identify options you hadn’t even thought of. Best of luck to you.

  134. Jess*

    Go part time! As a teacher I sign up to do summer school half days every year because I need that structure to my life. I just go blergh and lose all motivation after a week or two without some sort of outside schedule.
    But more specifically, if you worked from home during the pandemic, you should have some idea for yourself if you do well with limited opportunities to work with other people. I need the company and collaboration opportunities to keep my energy and motivation up.

    1. Momma Bear*

      Same. We always What If ourselves into disaster, but WHAT IF it works out OK? I left my job, stayed home/freelanced for a few years, got back into the workforce when the kid was in school and am pretty much where I thought I might be when I left. Took a couple of hops/job changes, but I got here. Don’t ignore disaster, of course, but dare to dream, too.

      1. Nicotene*

        True! I quit, freelanced for a few years, pursued creative stuff which was reasonably successful, needed money, and got back into the work world. All fine now. Now, it was possible disaster could have struck during that time – I used to speculate that if something went wrong with the house AND a pet, or my health AND my car, it’d get pretty uncomfortable pretty fast – but it turned out fine. Even during the pandemic! Of course there’s a risk. But there’s always risk whether we choose to see it or not, so we don’t always have to default to the status quo.

  135. some kind of pun*

    Personally I would be too cautious to quit the workforce entirely (YMMV), but I would go part time. I might also take the opportunity to explore other career options that feel better than “some days it’s even good”.

    Part time means you aren’t completely unmoored from a schedule all at once and that you have your own money and an easier time getting back into full time work later if that’s what you end up wanting. In my experience it also nudges a job that is just ‘ok’ slightly closer to ‘good’ if a smaller proportion of your time is spent on it, and it can almost become a nice change from what you do the other days of the week.

  136. Momma Bear*

    People step out of the workforce all the time for various reasons. I did in part to stay home with a child. IMO, crunch the numbers, make sure you’ll still have money going to your 401K, have healthcare, and you and your spouse are on the same page re: money, bills, time spent at home/housekeeping/children. Maybe talk to a financial advisor. Then go for it. It doesn’t need to be forever. Maybe this gives you the space and support to find a better role.

    I also agree – you’re not beholden to the new hire. It’s flattering but it’s still business.

  137. Pumpkin215*

    Stay. Here are my reasons why:

    Your husband could die. You could leave him. He could leave you. He could decide he’s gay. You could decide you are gay. He could get arrested and go to jail. He could lose it all in the stock market/bad investments/etc. There are so many things that could happen that could cause you to lose your lucrative position.

    Now I’m being very broad with my assumptions about your life because I don’t know you. But I know what I was once told and that is: have a backup plan. Have a marketable skill and make your own money. You are lucky that you don’t have to work as most people do. I think there has been WAY too much “follow your passion” advice out there. I make enough money so that I can pursue my passions on the side. I work to pay the bills. If ALL the bills were paid, I would still work.

    I’ve had jobs that I’ve liked, really liked, and hated. I have never been one of those people that loved their job. I envy those that do! However, finance is not my passion. Finance is interesting, cool and necessary but it is not what gets my blood pumping. I think many of us are “not wild about” the day to day. That is what the weekends and tequila are for.

    I hope you never lose your lucrative position. I also hope you keep working at your current job and mentor this new employee. How exciting that someone wants to work with you! It sounds like you have done well for yourself and I encourage you to keep going.

  138. Morning Reader*

    Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches…

    Or whatever you’d prefer. My vote would be to stay in your job while you figure it out. What do you want to accomplish, in life, not job, in your “life work?” Build your skills from where you are now, figure out how you can best deploy them to make your accomplishments, and then work on what you care about. Perhaps write or create in another way, or take a job with a nonprofit you care about, and defer/donate the salary back to them. Find work you like whether or not it pays much. This way, you continue to grow professionally and won’t have resume gaps if this arrangement changes.

  139. 2cents*

    You’re dissatisfied now. If you stay you will look back on many more years of dissatisfaction. The accomplishments in the big picture will be meaningless in the rearview mirror. It’s all absurd when you look pull back and look at the big picture. Meaning is what we make of it. What makes something “fun” isn’t necessarily any more trivial than the day to day grind, something most people tolerate so they can afford the rest of their time and life. What may be fun may be utilizing your brain and talents for making your life, and possibly in some small or even bigger way others too- more pleasant. That’s not minor. You owe your employee nothing in terms of your career choices. She’s a big girl and doesn’t need her hand held. She’ll figure out her best path on or off this job.

  140. Wolfie*

    I once took a job because of the manager I’d be working with, and 2 months in, he quit for a different company. I was assigned a manager that didn’t interview or choose me, and she did not like me. I was fired 5 months later for no reason and with no warning (which is legal in Ohio). That was 3 years ago, and I have a good job now, but I still have PTSD from it.

    So, my thoughts are, if you do need/want to quit, for the person you just hired that really wanted to work for/with you, at least try to prevent such a situation from happening to them, if possible.

  141. Regular Human Accountant*

    I have worked for three different companies that have ended in bankruptcy (I swear I am not the common denominator in those outcomes!). I try not to think about the years of work I did that felt so important, urgent even, but that eventually ended up in a literal dumpster, completely unnecessary and with no impact on the world at all. If I were in your position, I would jump at the chance to do something real and lasting–either a creative pursuit that brings about beauty and joy, or a volunteer pursuit that benefits people’s lives in some meaningful way.

    1. Nicotene*

      Aww, you helped provide income to those workers during the years the company was in business! Nothing lasts forever but I don’t think your efforts were a waste :(

  142. Goody*

    My dream is to have enough money from *waves hands* some other non-work source that I don’t need the paycheck to live anymore. I would still want to work for social contact, but I would drop to a part time position doing something I enjoyed instead, and spend my free time in creative pursuits or traveling.
    Perhaps something similar is an option for OP.

  143. Mid*

    I’m personally not on Team Quit Your Job. Only because, I wouldn’t like having that little structure in my days, and while I have creative side projects I’d like to dedicate more time to, I wouldn’t be happy doing that full time. I’d still need something else in my life. What about dropping down to half time? Or freelancing? Something to add structure and stability while you figure out what direction you’d like to go in.

    I took a full month off of work, and ended up feeling pretty depressed and adrift, without any direction. I was overwhelmed by the unlimited possibilities, and ended up doing nothing. That’s just my personal experience however.

  144. Hiring Mgr*

    Leave and do whatever you want, even if that means you’re doing “nothing” for a while… Doing nothing gets a bad rap – most of us need WAY more down time than we get but can’t afford to take it.. Go for it!

  145. AthenaC*

    What a great question! I think you can see from the responses that a lot of us are jealous of the opportunity you have. But that doesn’t mean you should let us live vicariously through you! Here’s some things I would suggest you think through as you decide whether to stay, quit, or do something else entirely –

    Structure: If you didn’t have a job to report to every day, how are you likely to spend your time? Are you the type of person to easily give yourself structure or do you tend to “waste” time? I strongly suspect that the degree to which you manage your time will drive your long-term satisfaction – not that you have to basically pretend you have a job, but you’ll want to look back on the week / month and know that you spent your time well, even if you didn’t happen to have any concrete accomplishments.

    Plan B: What story will you tell if you decide to re-enter the workforce? Not saying you definitely will, but it would be a good idea to figure out what that story might be if you need to use it. Maybe you decided you would “use your financial flexibility to contribute your time and energy to issues that are meaningful to you” but you want to re-enter the workforce because (reasons) and you come equipped with all these life skills and realizations under your belt.

    Finances / marriage: I’ll admit I’ve been the stay-at-home mom that got burned by my husband having control over all the money. So now I’m the breadwinner and my (second) husband doesn’t want to have anything to do with the money; I make it all and I manage it all. Everyone has their stories of how one-income marriages worked or didn’t work, but none of that means our stories will happen to you. You’re the best judge of your life. Ideally, if something goes south in the marriage / finances part, that’s when you’ll switch tracks to your Plan B that you worked through above.

    Your employee: I wouldn’t worry about her. Work circumstances change for all sorts of reasons, as other people have pointed out.

    You have a lot to think about – good luck and please keep us updated!

  146. Lizy*

    So this is basically me, but in a few years once the kids are bigger. I like working. My job is ok – not great, but definitely not horrible. My commute is fantastic. But there’s definitely some side-projects I’d love to make not-so-on-the-side.

    What if you can work part-time, or even 3/4 time? For me, I’d love to work 3/4 time now, but I’m a relatively newish employee (year and a half) and while we don’t *need* my income, it’s preferable for us right now to keep it. I think it depends on your position, how long you’ve been there, what capital you have, if you think NewPerson would be willing to take on more of your role… stuff like that. Also – this isn’t something you have to do RIGHT NOW! You could make the decision to ask about stepping back slightly at your next performance review or in a year or two, and then go from there. This would allow you time to lay the groundwork for your proposal, as well as get the feel for how NewPerson would play into it all.

    Taking a sabbatical or “extra” leave might be an option, too, or even adjusting your work schedule to allow for more time for the “other” things. See about taking unpaid time off, if you want. Or would it be an option to work Monday-Thursday and have every weekend be a 3-day weekend? For me, I hate having to have a break for lunch. The vast majority of the time, if I could just take a 15 minute break and get back to work, I would. A whole hour seems like such a waste. Maybe it’s an option to adjust your schedule to allow for longer chunks of “free time” at home. Even if it’s just leaving an hour earlier each day, that’s an hour you could have to do whatever else.

  147. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I look at it this way, do you want to keep giving all your working hours to capitalism?
    Cause that is what we are all doing, we are giving up 8 or 10 hours a day to support a company. Some are lucky enough to like both what they do with those hours and what they get paid in trade for their hours (the OP’s husband) and some don’t particularly like what they do in those hours or the pay they trade for them.

    I look back and think that I wish I took the unbeaten path, that I explored and tried more things. I also have a spouse who loves what he does while I just don’t. And I am “behind” my peers – so why did I not just go for the weird and different and explore?

    I hope you go for it!

  148. AthenaC*

    I forgot one thing: When it comes to your peers, I hope future you is able to own the choices and tradeoffs that you made and not see yourself as “behind” your peers. I’m technically “behind” my peers for my career, but then again I also have active duty military experience, second language proficiency, and adult children, none of which my peers have. So I simply made different choices in my teens / 20’s than my peers and as a result I’m just a bit older than most other people at my level, and that’s okay.

  149. Tib*

    I took years off from work to raise my children, which you could consider a passion project. I also took on side projects, some paying, some volunteer. Now I’m returning to work and it’s tough to get back into my field after so many years away. I don’t regret my choice, but it wasn’t really suited to my personality. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD which explains a lot about what I was and wasn’t able to accomplish during my years away from my career. I’m not able to create structure for myself, so it was very hard to look for and take on side gigs, even though I had plenty of time and desire. I took what fell into my lap and always intended to do more, but children…housework…social media…etc. I’ve lost the ability to focus on one thing for long periods of time because I could structure my days to suit my easily distractable brain. My mental health has suffered as well. I believe my general anxiety and social anxiety/lack of social skills are worse because I’ve been home so long.

    So some things to think about…
    -How self-directed are you? Would you actually pursue the projects you want or would things get in the way of your good intentions?
    -How much do your passions bring you in contact with other people? How much do you need the socialization that goes on in your workplace? Do you like the sense of being part of a team? Do you have a strong social circle outside of work and resources for building the circle you need when you’re no longer working?
    -What happens if the unthinkable happens: like a divorce, death, job loss, or serious injury? What’s your fall-back plan? Do you have important money in just your name? I don’t mean lots, I mean retirement funds, a bank account, maybe even savings. If you had to be, could you quickly become financially independent and not have to rely on a soon to be ex’s generosity, a divorce decree, or probate to be able to support yourself for a month or three? If your husband became severely disabled or unemployed, do you as a couple have savings to tide you over while you put the necessary pieces into place? If you’re no longer earning an income, where will money go? Will any of it go into accounts in your name, or will it all go into accounts with his name, because that’s easiest and of course it will be shared? (pro tip: make sure money still flows into your retirement plans, it’s not about your husband, it’s about the world we live in)
    -How will you and your husband feel and act if you are no longer contributing to the household financially? Would you continue any services you outsource, like housecleaning and cooking, once your time is more free to take on those tasks? Would you be expected (even subconsciously) to take on those tasks since you’re “home anyway”? I’ve always felt much more comfortable spending the money I earned and have been reluctant to spend money on myself because I don’t contribute much financially. I don’t expect to match my husband’s salary, but I’d feel better if I made a more significant contribution. And while we could have easily afforded housekeeping services, it never made sense to me since I was home anyway, but that takes time away from projects.

    And this isn’t an either-or choice. It feels to me like this is about your job, and not about the call to pursue your passions. So maybe you could choose to find a different job; one that makes you happier and more fulfilled. Your new employee wanting to work with you is a huge complement, but you don’t have to structure your life to make her happy. You could look for something part-time so you have time for side projects, take a sabbatical, or many other combinations of working and not.

  150. Klio*

    If I were independently wealthy I’d do it. But if wouldn’t do it if my wealth dependent on someone else.

  151. Countess of Upstairs Downstairs*

    There are a ton a good advice here but I feel like the the advice to take unpaid time off or drop to part time isn’t likely to be a realistic option? Maybe it’s industry dependent, but in my industry, employers typically won’t allow people to take an extended leave to “find themselves.”

    Of course people can take an extended leave under FLMA for the applicable reasons, but if I were to go to my boss and say I want to take 6 months off unpaid to explore my options, Boss would say no – I can take a few weeks vacation time, or quit. Boss would ask: who do I think would cover my job duties while I’m gone? I would be told, basically, poop or get off the pot. They won’t hold the position for someone who is highly likely to not return at the end of the self-exploration leave.

    Typically, if the job is configured to be a full-time position, it usually isn’t an option to just make it part-time, unless there is a business need. Same with taking unpaid time off. Employers won’t entertain these requests because it means some other employees would need to take on extra work, or have to hire temps to cover LW’s job duties. Many jobs, especially at a management level, aren’t conducive to using temp staff coverage. If the scenario is LW’s extended absence at a job had no effect on the employer, that’s just evidence that her position isn’t necessary and should be eliminated.

    Another consideration is LW said she’s already at some disadvantage due to office politics, I don’t know exactly what the politics are, but if she has political “enemies” at work, she might not have enough social/political capital to get this request granted.

    1. Colette*

      It really depends. I know people who’ve moved from a full-time job to 80%; I’ve worked places where you could take unpaid time off. But if she can’t work part-time where she works now, she can instead look for a new job that is set up as part-time. Her choices aren’t keep her current job or quit paid employment altogether.

      1. Countess of Upstairs Downstairs*

        Yes totally agree with you here. In a previous job I’ve dropped from full time to 90%. It took some negotiation to get that. I’ve also let staff move to part-time (<70%). It does depend but never a "Oh I don't need the money so I'll just stay but go part-time!" as a fait accompli.

  152. Meep*

    I’d quit, but also use this time for something productive. Lounging around doing nothing will get old really fast. But there are plenty of things one could do with one’s life that one can’t do while working full time and that are very productive and intellectually engaging. Going back to school for something that interests you? Doing volunteer work in an area that’s meaningful to you? Being engaged in your community and involving yourself in some sort of activism? Starting a business and seeing where it goes?

    Paid work for a corporation is not the only way to add meaning and purpose to one’s life. I would even say it’s nowhere near the best way to do so. If you don’t have to work for a corporation, then don’t.

    (FWIW, I followed the “starting a business and seeing where it goes” advice when I was unemployed and well-funded, and I’m very glad I did).

  153. ElleKay*

    A) You cannot be responsible for your report’s feelings. People leave jobs; whether you quit now to explore other options or get head-hunted in 6 months or 2 years doesn’t matter. Her happiness/success can’t (shouldn’t) be reliant on your presence and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that
    B) If you leave, what would you do? You mentioned some interests; how would you pursue them? How long would they keep you busy for?
    B.2) (Is this burn out? Do you need a months-long break before you make a permanent decision?
    C) Talk to your spouse. I know it sounds like they’re supportive but that’s been a big-pciture/pie-in-the-sky discussion. If you *really* *actually* stop working what would that mean? What are both of your expectations? If you have kids will it change the care structures for them? If you have a prenup would it have implications? Does your partner have expectations for what you’d do with all your new “free time” (I saw someone on reddit recently who was going to stay at home fulltime and discovered that her partner expected this would mean she’d take over all cooking, cleaning, housekeeping & child-rearing tasks, which had been 50/50 before) etc.
    THEN D) take a break (go on vacation?) and let things settle before you make a decision.

    And remember, quitting now doesn’t mean quitting forever. If you find that you miss work you can go back! Maybe not to the same job, role, employer but this isn’t a one-or-the-other decision

  154. Pinkie Pie*

    My spouse has a great job. I’m working part time to keep my skills current because he also has high blood pressure and we have two kids. I homeschool them and am very active in their lives. It’s crazy- because I work part time, I have gotten several gigs and earned skills that have made me in demand in my field. When they get older, I will return to the workforce full time. I don’t regret taking the other path.

  155. Zennish*

    My view is that if you can comfortably quit to pursue your own interests, do so. The one thing you can never earn more of is time.

  156. DefinitiveAnn*

    I also see this as a retirement-type question. When I retire, I am going to do part-time for a few years and the company will pay me just for billable hours. LW might want to ease out if they can, and fill the free time with planning and ideas for new ventures as described by so many great comments.

  157. Erin*

    Quit your job!! Make tambourines or friendship bracelets or whatever you want to do, and enjoy it! I would happily quit my job if I didn’t have to care about a paycheck.

    If the new hire can’t live without you, welp, they have bigger issues to contend with.

  158. atgo*

    I had a similar opportunity and left a job that I was burned out at because I didn’t need the money. I was unemployed for 2 years. In that time, I got a lot healthier in many ways and made some progress on creative pursuits, but I did find that without the structure of a job/pressure of income, it was hard for me to stay focused and really dive in on those things.

    Everybody’s different, but my advice would be to try to get clear on what you’d like for your life outside of work before you take the plunge. What are your intentions? What’s important and meaningful to you? What are you afraid of? And build out some frameworks for how you’ll function. For me, I really loved the spaciousness that I got from not working. I read a ton, I got into really good meditation/journaling/exercise/cooking habits.

  159. GJWork*

    Why worry about being “behind your peers?” Do what is best for you – if you don’t love your job or need the money try something new. You can always come back, you won’t have advanced as far but so what. You are in an enviable place where you can take risks and try something new. That is way ahead of most folks.

  160. CM*

    This isn’t a binary choice of “meh” current job or trying to turn creative pursuits into a paying job. If you want to make sure you keep developing skills and don’t necessarily want to monetize your creative pursuits, you could think about what kind of job you would feel more passionate about, that would also suit you in terms of hours, skills, location, work environment, etc. This could be a great opportunity to transition into a different career you enjoy but haven’t seriously thought about because it doesn’t pay enough, you need extra training, etc. — those obstacles aren’t in your way anymore.

  161. Fernie*

    No new advice to offer, but reading through the comments I think it’s so interesting what a high percentage advise the LW not to become wholly dependent on their spouse’s income. It caught my attention because in the last few weeks I noticed a few different men in conversation using the phrase “provide for my family”, and it reminded me that many men grow up expecting to have to support numerous people on their salary alone, and how for me as a girl growing up the idea never occurred to me. The comments here suggest those old gendered assumptions are no longer holding, and that more people expect, plan to, prefer to be able to support themselves independently.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      These days it’s both often unrealistic and often undesirable to have a single income, and if not two incomes, then significant savings on the part of the person without. On the depressing side, we learned all the ways the (artificial and not as universal as it sounds*) single income family restricted choice and restrained people, we know all the stories of families dropped into deep poverty by a sudden death of the partner with income and we now know financial abuse is a way abusers keep their partners from running.

      * A lot of people point out that even in the richest part of the fifties, the very poor, and minorities, and especially families who are both, still weren’t single income, and when they were it was often a single woman’s income.

  162. Elizabeth West*

    God, I’m jealous. So, so jealous. My future is probably forever alone behind a dumpster fighting with rats for scraps. Hopefully, it’ll be someplace warm. :P

    That aside, I wouldn’t quit just yet if you don’t know what you want to do and the creative pursuits aren’t anything you could channel into a career of sorts. I mean, if they’re just hobbies, you’ll get bored quickly when they don’t go anywhere, and you don’t sound like you’d be happy just puttering.

    But I would start exploring options; you’re clearly not happy with the job as it is. Maybe your current skills could be used in a different career that’s more engaging than what you’re doing now. Or you might find an aspect of your current field that you never considered before.

    I wouldn’t worry about your report. If you end up leaving, it’ll likely take time for you to transition out, and I’m sure they’ll be fine. It’s business, not a relationship or leaving a chick in the nest.

  163. Bella*

    Good lord, GO. Go do something amazing that you don’t get paid for. Go volunteer. Go make art. DO IT FOR THE REST OF US!

  164. Londoner*

    My husband had a well paid job and I thought twice about if I needed to work full time as I had no help from him with the kids. Ten years on I’ve become the only wage earner through no fault of his. I’d make sure you don’t burn all your bridges

  165. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Volunteer in something that uses real skills!

    Personally, I volunteer with (though I sadly cannot foster for at this time), a type of baby animal rescue. I won’t say what as they’ve gotten a LOT of area press coverage.

    So far, even part time, I’ve learned basic vet skills (give meds, vaccines, check vitals and temp, get rid of parasites), digital marketing and analytics, grant writing and outreach for donations, and a lot of animal care skills that go beyond “just feed and don’t kill it.” The caring for neonates also gives me a leg up on future baby care. Also, I’ve been media and politically trained in my life, and teach others how to speak effectively and do well in the press. Of course, they are illegally tiny and cute, so adoptions aren’t hard. But the vet bills are!

    In the fall, I also attend a language “crash course” of sorts for a week and study on my own or over Zoom during the year. It’s really useful for work, and I’ve suggested the people running the course add “business/legal German.”

    So I think if you want to quit and follow a passion, do that! But, make sure that you have skills to grow in that time, and work with others, so if you have to work again you can have things to talk about, references, and skills.

  166. Raida*

    first up you gotta learn to not compare yourself to others – that’s clearly pissing you off, and you’re doing it to yourself.

  167. ronda*

    When I left my job (laid off rather than my choice), I was very nervous for a couple of month because this was such a big change to my schedule. But after a while, I adjusted to it. So if you do decide to do this, do know that change is going to bring some anxiety, so dont get too wound up about it, you will adjust.

    I did actually get a job after being out of work for 2 years, but I only stayed at work for about 2 more years, cause I didnt really need the money and they just wanted all of my time. So now I am officially retired early.

    I am not really self motivated to do stuff, but I am not unhappy about that quality of my life, so I am doing well.

    If you decide to leave your work, you may like to tell people you are on a sabbatical, cause many people can be pretty judgy about what others are doing with their lives.

    These topics are discussed a lot on FIRE (financial independence/ retire early) blogs that I started reading after deciding I would not keep looking for a job.
    I recommend the mrmoneymustache forum for the post fire section for you to see others going thru these same questions.

    and on the marital relations front, I recommend the latest post of the livingafi blog about how his marriage came apart after retiring early. (not that I think yours will, but just to give an an example about what possibly might go wrong. why he thinks his ex-wife was dissatisfied with early retirement is pretty interesting) he also has a blog post with a “get a life” tree that you might find helpful in giving you ideas of what you want your life to look like without a job. (there is apparently a book about that tree process that you might look into if you like the idea)

  168. Tema*

    I think the key is to try as much as possible to take comparison to your peers and abstract senses of being “accomplished” out of your decisions. It’s really, really hard to do but remember there are tons of other people (guaranteed) who would look at you and feel the same sense of lacking in themselves. So, I’d personally go for the creative pursuits, and possibly look into volunteer work or getting on a charity board as well so I’d have some structure
    to my time and see people regularly.

  169. PT*

    I am really interested in how adamantly people are saying “Don’t become reliant on your spouse, have your OWN income that you can support YOURSELF with.”

    You all do realize that a lot of people can’t support themselves with one income, right? Or they work unstable jobs and having a job where they can support themselves without someone else is a pipe dream.

    It just shows the level of privilege among the commenters on here.

    1. FD*

      While I understand where you’re coming from, the commenters aren’t really assuming that every person is able to support themselves. Rather, they are concerned with the risk the LW is taking in *voluntarily* making themselves 100% reliant on another person’s income.

      Obviously, many people don’t have a choice, but they aren’t the ones who are writing in. This is a case where the LW at least has income right now that they can rely on (whether it would be enough to support themselves independently or not), and they are considering stepping away from that income.

  170. RiverGirl*

    I will tell you what I did when I was in your situation some years ago. Before I made changes to my career, I spent a significant amount of time creating goals for myself. I used the Phoenix Journal off amazon to help me think through those goals. However, my nature is such that I get bored if I don’t have a purpose. Don’t rush to quit. It’s easier to leave than return. Good luck! Ultimately, it’s a wonderful problem to have.

  171. Brain the Brian*

    Don’t quit. I hate to be an Eeyore here, but you never know when a marriage might end — whether due to a divorce or death / serious illness — and you should have a backup plan if you need it. That backup plan might not be to fully support yourself on your own income right now, but to have relevant experience that would allow you to move into a fully self-supporting role should you need to do so. Leaving the workforce would leave you without such experience.

  172. Barbara Eyiuche*

    Do you live somewhere where you would get half of the matrimonial property if you divorced? Worst case scenario, of course. You could live on that without working, if you are entitled to it. If so, I would quit and pursue your interests. If not, I would keep your job, and maybe take time off or a sabbatical to pursue other interests.

  173. aha*

    OP, I’m sorry to hear that you got the wrong end of the stick with those office politics. I know exactly how you feel and it is awful.

    I can also relate to how you’re feeling, but I would advise one thing from hard-won experience: never, ever rely on anyone else for your income. Ever. Not your spouse, not your partner, not your family. Always ensure that you have your own earning capacity. And not just because of relationship breakdown or anything like that, just for independence, or even for the ability to step into the breadwinner role if your husband needs to take leave from work for whatever reason, good or bad, and the financial situation changes from very stable to much less so for reasons well outside your control (such as due to a GFC, which is the hard-won experience of mine I’m referring to).

    But, if you do decide to quit work, and retire early (which is the dream!), I would definitely keep active in pursuing hobbies, volunteering, your own business, or whatever else.

    Perhaps, in the interim, you might be able to take a bit of leave and recharge before your new staff member starts in a few months?

  174. The Other Katie*

    Stop letting your internalised capitalism get in the way of doing something amazing. Give this job the boot and do something more fulfilling. There will always be another mediocre job you can return to if it doesn’t work out.

  175. Anima*

    From someone who currently does it (it meaning relying on the spouses money and not working): do it. I do it to get another degree, my first one isn’t hiring, and it’s great. Having all the time to learn and really study is, in my opinion, worth gold. Husband and I had a lookout of money talk, though, and it’s clear I will join the workforce again when finished. I second everyone else that you both need to figure out how to handle the money, who gets what and I think you should have free access to money, too. Not an allowance or something, what if you want to buy something more expensive and have to ask your husband? It’s the 21. century! Figure that out, then jump into whatever you live to do.

  176. EngineerMom*

    I start with making a list of what matters to you and what doesn’t.

    Do you still want to do the mentoring side of your job, but without some of the other responsibilities? Is there a way you can start doing that, either at work or through other organizations in your area?

    What about making a long-term plan to phase out of this job and into the more creative pursuits you mentioned?

    Are there local community organizations who could benefit from the professional experience you have?

    What were you planning to do when you retired?

    If you lost your current job for reasons beyond your control (due to downsizing, for example), what would you do right now?

    On a side note – don’t worry too much about the person you hired. If you were to drop dead or otherwise become unable to work tomorrow, she’d still be coming into a job where she wasn’t with the manager she’d been expecting. It sounds harsh, but it’s something to consider. If you don’t want to be in this job any more, it’s ok to leave – you don’t owe the company or your employees anything. Giving enough notice for a smooth transition is nice, of course, but given that the company could lay you off at will (assuming you’re in the US and not part of a union contract), there’s no reason to beat yourself up over contemplating leaving.

  177. Lenora Rose*

    When writers who’ve started to make money on writing are considering quitting the day job, the strong suggestion is to have, if possible, a year’s income (Or more realistically, half a year) banked, *even if* you have a spouse who is also working (And in the US especially, has the medical insurance), and *even if* you are making close to and occasionally over your salary in income from the writing. In general, the idea is, have a savings cushion for disaster. Partners lose jobs, disasters happen, emergencies happen, and sometimes a promising income dries up for a while between projects.

    This seems like a reasonable goal: Plan to work (While taking ALL the possible PTO along the way) for a few months more but sock away all the money into savings. It combines several things, as it is both a test run for actually living on your spouse’s income, to see if you can in fact support yourselves on it, and a cushion for the future when you really do only have that income. Set a review date to look over how this has in fact worked, and an end date if the review turns out satisfactory, if only in your mind.

    In the meantime, figure out what you need, if you don’t already have it, to work on your planned projects.

  178. SleepyKitten*

    If you can, talk to your husband about what happens if you divorce! You can stress that you’re not planning on leaving ever, and you trust that he’s not either, but you just want to be prepared for the worst case scenario. If he’s up for it, there’s such a thing as a post-nup. If you don’t want indefinite alimony, you could agree that he would pay a living wage for a couple of years so you can re-enter the workforce, or that you get a lump sum. You should also probably check the wills, but tbh as his spouse you automatically inherit if he gets his by a bus with no will in most countries so it’s not as urgent.

    As for doing meaningful things – you can still do that! Before you quit you can line up a volunteer gig, a training course (heck, if you’ve ever wanted to do a PhD this is the time!), or a job at a non profit. Buy a round-the-world train ticket. Plan a big project and give yourself office hours to work on it.

    And don’t worry about disappointing people by quitting. It’s very reasonable to take advantage of opportunities you’re given! Nobody reasonable wants you to stay in a job you’re meh about when you have a chance to do something exciting. They might be disappointed, but they get over it quickly. Just make sure you tell the friend who’s starting at your company directly before the rumour mill gets to them, and you’ll have fine right by them.

    Good luck :)

  179. OP*

    Hi! I wasn’t able to comment until Friday afternoon so I missed most of the discussion, but I wanted to clarify something:

    *I wouldn’t in any way be depending on my spouse’s income.* We already have enough to retire and 50% of those assets are in my name. I could easily live the rest of my life on the 50% I already have. I should’ve been clearer that this is a “should I retire” and not a “should I depend on my spouse’s income” question. My husband has decided to spend his days working still because he absolutely loves his job, so the question is: how do I want to spend my days? A job I’m “meh” about? Or creative projects that I don’t have guarantees on?

    1. OP*

      One of the commenters above explained it really well – it’s accidental FIRE situation. I’m financially independent (FI) so now the question is: do I want to retire (RE)?

  180. Bubblegum Blue*

    I am a bit late but I wanted to second what others said above about taking time to think about what you want to do and having a plan before you quit. I had to make a similar choice – we don’t actually need my income so I could do whatever I wanted. I have no real career “passions”. I am huge on family and I enjoy my hobbies on my terms to relax. I am not interested in being the next Nigella and having to cook the same things day in, day out as a chef instead of making the foods that pique my interest on that particular day would kill my love of cooking very quickly. It is much the same for my other hobbies. However, without a job, I was bored silly and micromanaged everyone around me. I didn’t even realise I was doing it until my husband sat me down and told me that he loved me but I was driving him crazy. From your comments above about being happiest when work is busiest, you are going to bored very quickly without direction. The first 4-6 weeks are great but then the novelty wears off. Personally, I ended up going back to uni and becoming an accountant (bear with me). It is not a passion but it suits me. Sure, it isn’t glamorous but there is a lot of satisfaction in a great excel spreadsheet or a GST reconciliation that is out by less than a dollar. My job is flexible with making up time if I want to drop kids off to activities or watch a school performance. I really like my colleagues. Non-profits love having accountants as board members (I am not there yet but in a few more years, my kids will leave home and I will have more time on my hands to fill). I think Western popular culture pressures people into thinking that chasing dreams is somehow more admirable but I think there is a lot of satisfaction to be had in a job well done. Think laterally about your skill set and experience. Maybe it is applicable to a different industry or job. You could walk away entirely and learn a trade. You are doing this for personal satisfaction so your career level or income don’t actually matter. You could be a professional student for the rest of your life if you really wanted. What makes you happy might not be the most obvious answer. Take time to think about it.

  181. Elm*

    The fact that you’re even thinking about this tells me that things are probably worse than “meh,” even if you’re not ready to admit it. I worked at a very meaningful job that I loved but was also killing me (mentally and physically), and I pretended I was okay so much that even I believed it for a time.

    Addressing your guilt factor first: Don’t. The ability to work with one person should not be the primary reason to take a job, and if that was why, that’s not on you. That was part of why I didn’t leave, and I can tell you: They’ll be okay. And mine were children, too, not adults–ones who had no choice.

    Here’s where you’re the luckiest, though: You can quit and turn job hunting into your full-time (or part-time) job without worrying about going broke! When my job was breaking me, I quit without a backup plan, and I spent 10 hours per day for four months job hunting and going on terrible interviews where they’d lied in the job listing because I was the primary breadwinner and was too scared to do otherwise.

    You? You can set aside one or two days per week to look for a job if you want to and spend the rest of your time working on your projects. You can work on job-hunting every day but set a time limit. If you have freelance usable skills, you could freelance. Or you can take a “sabbatical” from work as a concept, not from a certain job, and try out your passions for a while. (That’s what I would do, but that’s me.)

    You can also start job hunting now if you are the kind of person (like me) who is uncomfortable with the idea of not having a job at all. If they find out you’re job hunting, what’s the worst that could happen, since you don’t need a job anyway? Heck, they could even make the situation less meh to keep you!

    Good luck whatever you decide.

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