Ditched my secure, nicely paid easy job in Sept 07. I was a project manager at Vodafone and had been with the company for 8 years. Although well paid, I was skint anyway, commuting 110 miles a day and although I worked with great people in a beautiful office and a great restaurant/canteen on site I was sick of it and spent a lot of my time on this forum as a result.
Sitting at my desk one day and looked at my to do list for the day. Although it involved some new projects I realised that every day it was exactly the same nonsense I had to deal with and no matter how good something was - be it 3/10 or 10/10 quality wise, the reaction/enthusiasm of my boss was fixed at 4/10. A thankless task.
So deep in debt, with a wife and 2 kids to support I decided to quit and join the fire service. Madness.
However nearly 17 months later, and with a second job of painting/decorating/home improvement working for myself I have never been happier. The money works out the same, I see more of my kids, I am flexible as to when I have to work and the 110 mile motorway commute has been replaced with an 18 mile round trip along the Thames by bike.
I enjoy my work for the first time since I left Uni in '93 and managed bike shops for 4 years. I love going to work - I actually look forward to it.
I must be honest though - I did question my sanity at the time, but purely because of the financial pressure it would put me under, and with the economic situation of the last few months, it has been hard at times, but thank God I made that decision.
You need to keep some key things in perspective from my experience.
1. Don't stay where you are because of the people you work with, no matter how well you get on. You need to put this to one side. Friendships will last if they are as good as you think.
2. It's only money! . . . and I don't mean to sound flippant about this, but I was in the $hit big time when I left with debts mounting, but like most things in life there is usually a way through it. It takes a lot of planning and self discipline, but it is achievable. I was approx £30k in debt at the time and my job change equated to a £17k per year pay cut! Amazingly I am better off now.
3. Think how it will mentally change you and the effect this could have on those close to you - wife, kids etc. Talk it through in detail with those concerned and look at the worst case scenario. If you think it's still do-able, then go for it.
4. Write a list - pros and cons. Ignoring money - write down what you like about your current job and what you might miss if you left.
5. Think longer term. You current job may have changed to the point that you hate it now as it bears little resemblance to the one you started. This could always be the case again with your new chosen career.
All I know is that I am a different person today than I was little over a year ago. I felt lost with little ambition in life and was in a position where I felt I was unable to do anything for fear of finacial meltdown. My thinking at the time was that I just had to do something. Something in my life had to change.
I used to sit at a comfy desk surrounded by lovely looking women, with fresh coffee and croissants on tap, and got to stay in some lovely hotels and was paid nicely in return.
Yesterday at work it was 6am,and I'd had about 3 hours sleep. It was -5 degrees and I was standing in a ditch up to my knees in freezing water cutting somebody out of a car with horrendous facial injuries. I was there for about 2 hours in total. We got her out and off to hospital.
Think I made the right choice.