I spent several years in Investment Banking, the work was interesting, money was good but ultimately left after 8 years and never looked back. Why did I leave? I honestly did not like the person I was turning into.
It is so easy to get caught in the money and status, it really is a different world – very materialistic. Everybody is trying to keep up with each other – who has the best car, makes the most money etc. One can grow to become incredibly arrogant (there is a fine line between confident and arrogant).
I had friends who were consultants and did well for themselves but they lived in a neighborhood with lots of investment bankers and I could see them comparing themselves to these bankers. I told them that should feel proud of what they had accomplished and should not compare because investment banking is a different world.
While I was able to stay relatively grounded, I felt myself changing and getting caught up in the whole lifestyle. It was not until I caught myself behaving incredibly arrogantly with a friend did I realize how my personality was changing – I had to get out of the industry. This was a huge turning point as I did not like what was happening.
Friends have asked how I was able to see this change in myself. I honestly did not know how to respond. I have always been very self aware, analyzing my personality and surroundings etc. but credit has to also go to my parents and upbringing as well as my wife who helped keep me grounded.
I have always tried to be a good person and leave wherever I am or the people I am with, better off by knowing me whenever possible. Therefore as soon as I felt like I was going against my beliefs, against my grain so to speak, I knew something was wrong and had to change. It was just a a matter of understanding what.
There were other reasons why I left of course like the amount of hours you would work – I wanted a family and did not see the point of having kids if I could not spend time with them and enjoy them growing up (not everybody has this luxury though) but these were not as eye opening.
In the end I think as long as we are true to ourselves and appreciate what we have then happiness follows. There will always be somebody with more, but there are many others with much less …