I quit my well paid but stressful job in search of a happier life.

I am on less money but I work with amazing people for great causes and I am so much happier. That year off gave me time to find hobbies which I would never have made time for before- weekends had always been to catch up on sleep and recover from burning out.

Phillippa Koushk-Jalali

Tell me about yourself

I'm in my early thirties, I live in the Midlands and I love the outdoors, something I discovered after I left the big job. I like to think I have a good work life balance now which has taken me over a decade to find. Some weeks are very busy, others not so much.

I used to work for a big company doing PR and communications within the professional services industry. I had been promoted and was working towards another promotion. It was highly stressful but very well paid, with packages and a bonus scheme. I quit with no job to go to. I had saved about Β£12k. Took a year off to volunteer (just in the UK, no travelling) and decide what I really wanted to do and for me a huge part is helping others and having a work life balance.

What was so stressful about the job?

I was a manager. It was stressful because it was a lot of crisis management - dealing with potential brand reputation issues and things being leaked to the press. Some of the ethics didn't sit well with me and on top of this my boss was a nightmare. Very passive aggressive and I found it exhausting to navigate the politics of my boss as well as the day job. I would also see them also working through their holidays and days off and being really stressed too which made me think that heading up the ladder wasn't even appealing. I was on the path to another promotion and I just thought, I don't want that life.

How did you make a plan to quit?

The wider department had a really high turnaround and I'd seen people go over the years. A really close colleague of mine was being treated appallingly and when she finally left I was gutted that they had never supported and empowered her. She was fantastic at what she did and I felt it was a huge loss to our team. This prompted me to think about what I wanted. My workload got even more intense as she wasn't quickly replaced and my boss kept disappearing for days at a time. I was burning out. I had been saving through a sharesave scheme and after having lots of talks with family, friends and my partner, we decided that I could afford to take some time out. I feel very fortunate to have been in this position as I know not everyone has the opportunity to save and with the current climate now, if I was in this position again it may well have been different.

What was the final straw and how did your boss react when you handed in your notice?

One week it was the financial year end and we had lots going on. My boss was completely absent and I was juggling directors, financial reports, a new member of staff as well as day to day things. It felt like the final straw and the following week I handed my notice in. My boss was shocked but also really rude about it. She said: "are you leaving or are you pregnant" and went on to tell everyone I was having a midlife crisis and that's why I was leaving.

What did you spend your year off doing?

In my year off I made the effort to visit family and friends that I hadn't seen for a while and I signed up for loads of different volunteering positions. I also got back into fitness and started looking after my health. I ended up doing lots of running races, triathlons and open water swimming. All of which are still in my life. I started planning out what I wanted to do and decided I wanted more than just one 9-5 role and perhaps something that helps others.

What do you do now?

I now have three jobs- two part time and one self employed. I am on less money but I work with amazing people for great causes and I am so much happier. That year off gave me time to find hobbies which I would never have made time for before- weekends had always been to catch up on sleep and recover from burning out. Now I work 4-5 days a week depending on what's going on. I work for two small organisations. I do business support for a consultancy whose values align with my own, and I bring all of my experience from the world of PR and marketing. I also work for a charity and help them with funding applications and the management of hundreds of volunteers. I absolutely love both and work for lovely people. As well as this I am a qualified executive coach and support senior leaders with things like confidence, self esteem and new management- in a way I think of all the back leaders and bosses I used to have and like to think I'm helping empower people to be better leaders...πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

What does you financial situation look like now/do you feel financially secure?

I do feel financially secure but I am very thrifty and I have been good in the past with switching banks etc. and making my money go further for me. I don't go on holidays abroad anymore and rarely make big purchases- that was also the trap I fell into in the big job; the culture was all designer bags and clothes! Sometimes things do feel hard and I have to pay more attention but overall I am so so much happier in myself and I feel like I have more of a purpose than defending very large, wealthy businesses.

How do you feel about the cost of living?

I think it's scary and I am nervous. I know a lot of people who are going to struggle. It's definitely easier because I split costs with my partner and if I was alone I would struggle a lot more. However, we've both been very smart and fortune with money over the last decade and we have a lot of savings that we can go into if we need to. We've made a bit of a plan and I think we're lucky enough (at the moment) that we'll be ok. I might never be on the same money I was before, but I'm actually doing a lot better than I had expected when I first made the change. It's just taken time and thought.