The Curse Of Making Too Much Money And Not Pursuing Your Dreams

Photographer With Big Lense

There is a curse of making too much money that I want to talk about. So many of us are caught up in this cycle of wanting to make more and more. This desire is making us unhappy. We need to learn to let go.

The luckiest people on earth are perhaps those who don't make a lot of money. They've got very little downside and can really pursue their childhood dreams.

Imagine if from the moment you graduated college, you landed a plum corporate job that paid just enough to keep you motivated, but not enough to enjoy your freedom.

The longer you work the more you realize there's really no escape, because there's simply too much at stake. This is the problem that plagues my friend, Lyndon.

The Curse Of Making Too Much Money: A Strategy Consultant Who Makes Bank

Lyndon just turned 30 and is having a mid-life crisis. He's worked for eight consecutive years at McKinsey & Co, one of the prominent management consulting firms in the world, and makes roughly $300,000 as an “Engagement Manager.”

Obama says he's rich, but Lyndon isn't buying it when his 1,200 square foot, two-bedroom apartment in New York City costs $5,000/month. If he wanted to buy the condo, he'd have to shell out over $1,600,000. To add further injury, $300,000 is really only $180,000 or so after federal (33%), state (7%), and city (4%) taxes!

All Lyndon ever thinks about is being a National Geographic nature photographer. Every single vacation is planned around some remote destination that takes two days to reach, and therefore another two days to return. Yet as a consultant, Lyndon is at the mercy of his clients. Instead of traveling to Mt. Kilamanjaro, he's on a plane to Minneapolis in the middle of winter.

In five years, Lyndon knows he'll probably continue to make more money and perhaps make millions as a partner in his 40s. But what's the point if he's not completely happy? The 65 hour work weeks and minutiae are wearing his soul thin. He wants out.

Yet, how does a 30 year old, who's on a straight path to multiple-six figures rationally decide to quit his job and try and make it as a nature photographer?

No Sympathy

An ant is playing the world's smallest violin somewhere underground. While millions are unemployed, Lyndon is on a path to financial freedom, with one of the most prestigious companies in the world. Yet he's still unhappy. He has the curse of making too much money.

He see the less fortunate as those in temporary dislocation. Everything to Lyndon is logical. When markets crumble, people get dislocated, but eventually get relocated when the markets rebound. Oh, how Lyndon too, wishes he was dislocated.

Unfortunately, nobody will give Lyndon much sympathy, except for his fellow well-to-do friends.  Ironically, it's the sympathy that Lyndon seeks, which makes him only hang out with people of his same socio-economic class. He understands that most of America won't understand him so he shuns most people.

One Temporary Solution

In two years, Lyndon will have served 10 years at McKinsey, a long enough period of time for him to not feel guilty about taking a sabbatical. He's never taken a 2 week vacation at once, and he's never taken more than 4 weeks off for the entire year. How could he, since the firm is paying him so much?  It wouldn't be fair to his clients he justifies to himself.

The problem with taking a sabbatical in two years is that he still has to work for another two years! He wants to see the world now. He's restless, with unwavering confidence that he can always come back to the industry of advice and fortune. If he can't and ends up spending most of his money, he can always get a temporary loan or work part-time to extend his dreams.

Walking Away

Lyndon decides that one of his New Year's resolution is to reboot. After his bonus hits his bank account, he wants out, but is afraid to pursue his dreams.

He'll have $250,000 in savings with no debt to his name if he quits. Remember though, that if he works another year, he'll save another $80,000, and then another $80,000+ every year forever. The key issue is the word “forever.”

Lyndon has broken free from the curse of making too much money. Now he will live life on his own terms.

Related: Overcoming The Downer Of No Longer Making Maximum Money

Solutions To Lyndon's Dilemma

Build your brand online. Lyndon should start his photography website ASAP before he negotiates a severance. Own your own brand online through your own website and potentially reach 3+ billion people online. I started Financial Samurai in 2009 and was able to make a livable online income after 2.5 years to permanently leave corporate America.

If you feel you're not getting paid what you're worth and want to boost your income, start your own business online on the side. It used to cost a fortune and a lot of employees to start your business. Now you can start it for next to nothing with a hosting company for under $4/month and they'll give you a free domain for a year to boot. Skip all the unnecessary add-ons.

Connect with like-minded people, find new consulting gigs, and potentially make a good amount of income online one day by selling your product or recommending other great products. Not a day goes by where I'm not thankful for starting Financial Samurai back in 2009.

Blogging For A Living Income Example: $300,000+ - curse of making too much money
A real income statement example from a blogger. Look at all the income possibilities. CLICK the graph to learn how to start your own site in under 15 minutes.

Negotiate a severance package. After 10 years of working at McKinsey, it's clear Lyndon is on good terms. He should be able to negotiate a severance package worth 20 – 30 weeks of pay, or up to $130,000. I negotiated my severance after 11 years at one firm, which paid for six years of living expenses. Never quit your job, get laid off instead!

Updated for 2020 and beyond. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's that tomorrow is not guaranteed. It's time to live our lives to the fullest. I just want to say that even in 2020, I feel the curse of making too much money is still around now that I'm a parent. I need to learn how to relax more and let go. Don't always try and hustle and keep growing FS.

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 100,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. Everything is written based off firsthand experience. 

180 thoughts on “The Curse Of Making Too Much Money And Not Pursuing Your Dreams”

  1. When I was in uni all I wanted was a job, I would have worked for free in my final years. When I graduated I got ‘lucky’ (proved myself) and got a job as a developer. I was making 50k/year but that was a huge amount to me compared to 0k/year. In less than a year I got ‘lucky’ (worked my ass off) again and weaseled (negotiated) my way to 100k/year as I took on more responsibility and started working more hours.

    I might just be having a bad day as I stumble across this website but right now I’m miserable. I feel like the stress has already gotten to me after only a few years. The late nights, the ass kissing, the dealing with incompetence while braving a smile. I feel people where I work look down on me because I’m young and I drive a nice car in a key position. All they see is my suit and nice car and don’t think about how much shit I had to eat to get to where I am.

    Now I sit here and I ask myself why the f do I bother? I can live an easy life with not much money. I have goals but I feel like my emotions are more powerful than my aspirations. I just bought a house and can afford the repayments for the next 2 years on my own. Maybe I’ll quit, re-evaluate when I’m poor again, still technically poor compared to Lyndon.

    1. I hear what you mean. I was getting miserable in my finance job for years, so I finally decided to negotiate a severance in 2012 and pursue my own dreams.

      It’s 2020 and I have to tell you i don’t regret making way less money to focus on Financial Samurai. You only need so much to survive and be happy.

      Good luck!

  2. I’m a Lyndon. I am a young partner at a large professional services firm making $500K a year. The raises keep coming, and in a few years, I will be making $1M a year, which is the average salary for a partner at my firm. I love what I do, but I hate the stress that comes with being “on call” 24/7. It’s easy to say “just quit,” but when you are providing for a family and maintaining a certain lifestyle, you are literally trapped. Would I love to walk out tomorrow and pursue my dreams? Yes. Am I prepared to give up a salary that most people only dream about? No. Maybe things would be different if I didn’t have a family to provide for. I understand why someone might say “shut up and be grateful for your financial freedom.” But my mind is consumed on a daily basis by thoughts about being absolutely miserable and wishing I could find a way out.

    1. Get to the peak. Earn a mil for several years, bank as much of it as you can, then retire early.

      I have NO regrets leaving FT work grind at age 34 in 2012. Time is so precious. I love spending time with my family.

  3. I can’t believe what I just read…but maybe I can. With that type of money why not just by a house in another state somewhere then get a different job?

    If you don’t like your job and make that much just save up enough to quit…seems pretty easy to me.

    People think money is everything until they have it and realize that you don’t need much money for survival you need food, water, and shelter for survival…after you have enough money for desired food, water, and shelter the extra money might not matter much at all.

    He won’t go homeless if he quits his job so he should just do it…I’m sure lots of other people would love to be his position making the same income and I’m sure lots would love that type of job.

    I don’t really like my job either it pays ok but once I save up enough I’m just going to see what happens…

  4. Traded my time for money as well. I m 41, make a decent 6 fig income, but have never enjoyed my work. However, I don t feel trapped. I ve had an epiphany a few years back, where i started to “work on myself”, improve myself etc.. I think it gave me the confidence I needed ; allowed me to acquire qualities that now I know I could use in every situation to make a living. It s liberating to feel that you have enough resources in yourself to pull out of any situation. It means I don t have to aim for the mythical amount of cash to achieve “self-sufficiency”. And social status means increasingly less now that I m unafraid to be poor. That s the key i think. Imagine that something happens that wipes out all your material possessions in one big swoop. Just imagine that this thing that you fear the most is happening *right* now – if you can face this with equanimity, and stay cool headed, then you have achieved what you needed the most and no amount of extra cash will make you feel any better ; feel the social expectations you’ve heaped upon yourself melt away and embrace the moment..!

  5. I’m kind of trapped as well. Today, a colleague that leaved the firm and entered again this year (few months later after quitting), was promoted over me. I stayed, worked hard, earned my position and was the next in line, and he, who was supposed to start from zero, jumped to a position too high for his lack of loyalty.

    I felt they just have kicked me in the face. I’m considering to quit…but I need the money, not just for paying rent, but also to save for a master’s degree… I feel I will have to swallow it about 7 months just for the money….but in the meantime, I feel drained…I feel walked over and must definitely underpaid.

    I had a rough morning today, when my managers called me over to the office to tell me this…I cried in front of them and said it was not fair. Then I cried in the bathroom, then on my desk, I just could not get over it. Eventually I was allowed to come home… and now I’m writing this, because this whole “meritocracy” thing, is just lies. How could I remain in a company that let me down like this, and showed me this lack of professional ethics and thoughtfulness for their workers?

  6. No sympathy from me. There are a billion people who don’t even have access to clean water, and this guy is complaining about living the high life but doesn’t like his job? So quit, you are not trapped. We live in a free society, you don’t have to work in any particular field – or work at all for that matter. You have to lay in the bed you make. It’s all about choices. Do I love my field? No, decidedly not. But I love my family, I love being able to provide for my wife and kids – and being able to provide little luxuries like nice vacations. I could have my dream job and take a 70% paycut. While I could live like that (I am still a poor college student at heart), I wouldn’t want my kids to live like that. They’ll have to face the real world later. Let them have fun now. Get ahead – get that xbox game you want, it’s on Dad.

    1. Exactly. The writer of this blog gives awesome advice, but makes far more than most people – that he really can’t relate to the true Average American Joe. I love this blog, and I make a 6-figure salary myself as an entrepreneur; and as much as I love the advice given, I also understand the reality of most people’s lives :)

  7. Venture Philanthropist

    How does one negotiate a layoff? I’m approaching my 3 year mark and am ready for a change. My bonuses are based on employee performance, but I have no control of who gets hired or let go of, and we have huge turnover which makes it hard to operate effectively or plan. I’ve got heaps of savings, real estate, etc as well as an employment opportunity that should allow me to find better balance yet stay within my field (wealth management). My department and role are quite important, there’ll be no downsizing.

  8. Old post but I’ll type out my thoughts anyway maybe to clear them up for myself. It’s a tough situation and you won’t get any sympathy, and worse you won’t even get understanding from most people. Even people close to you don’t understand the pressure. And you just can’t go talking about getting out to co-workers that may understand but may just think you’re gonna quit and start finding your replacement.
    Making mid six figures means (I think) your job is stressful. Nobody is going to pay you half a million outside of entertainment to do something that’s fun. There are parts of my job I love but really after 9 years the stress is taking a toll on my health. So now you’re mid 30s and want to do something else. I could certainly do that, at a much lower pay scale but you have people depending on you. Colleagues that would have to pick up the work load. Wife, that says it’s no problem but likes not working, spending a sh*t ton on lamps (seriously it’s a lamp should be like 80 bucks max right?), big house, vacations. I’d trade all that but it’s not just me. I’m trading that life for my kids and wife as well. And kids… That’s another thing. I look at my kids and don’t want them to be burdened with loans and all that. I don’t want them to wonder how they’re going to retire and kill themselves with stress. Basically I don’t want them to do what I’m doing. So I need to make enough to get them out of the race too. So you’re stuck. Not the best for you but again, nobody cares to hear you complain.
    So for what it’s worth I live “frugally”. My wife and kids live nice off one paycheck a month, the second and any bonus goes to real estate and investments. I drive a 11 year old beat up car (get a lot of comments on that from co-workers), wear old clothes when not at work and have a hard stop date at 45yo that I hope to hell I can stick to. One older mentor with a lot of health problems now who’s on his way out just laughs and says “yeah I thought that too”. It’s scary cause you how it can end but the beach house and the Maserati are calling. Trying to stay strong. Financial freedom for myself and my kids at 45. So far so good. Just 10 more years. Just 10 more years.

  9. Some of the posters here are fools. There is no way Lydon would fit in with McK&Co culture by “renting a studio in Queens’, and many have obviously never had high pressure jobs. I get why a guy in his shoes would be digging a change. Retire forever at 40 or lose your 30s? Hmm, I guess it depends. I’d like to cross-reference the posts that recommend he gut it out and stay miserable against poster age and true net worth. I bet there are many here who aren’t as far along as they’d like to be and feel that “retirement at 40” and “making a lot of money when you are young” are indeed the most important things in life. I personally make a buck and a half running a software application, work 40-50 hours per week and don’t feel the need to strive to make $200-$250K like my MBA classmate, who is now burned out after 2 years at EY and trying, but so far failing, to conceive a child (due largely to stress). I’ll bet most of those who “have no sympathy” have never earned CLOSE to what Lydon makes nor had that opportunity. With that kind of income comes a stress and need to kiss so much ass that not many can take. I for one understand Lydon, and while I wish I wish that I wanted that kind of job, I would rather work/save and enjoy my life. You know, a little thing called BALANCE. Sounds like Lydon’s out of balance and needs to find his center. Good luck to him. And to the rest of the jackrabbits who “hate”, worry about yourself first, not some hypothetical strawman that FS set up for you to tear down, knowing in advance what your responses were likely to be so as to validate this blog.


  10. Funny, it is almost as if you wrote that article about me. I work in a job I hate and have saved pretty much exactly the mentioned amount, 250.000 (CHF). The only serious goal I have is getting out! I have already taken a sabbatical (8-9 months) to recharge. Amazing how guilty I felt the first 2 months or so for not being productive. Productive in a sense that I have spent enough time in an office to bill it to an employer. Not productive like producing something of value, because my IT jobs seem to consist of 80-90% sitting and waiting and maybe 10% producing. I have great sympathy for Lyndon, I hope for him he can make the transition to a meaningful life soon.

    Btw, how much savings is enough to live off passive income? By my calculation 250.000 will not be sufficient.

  11. No, I don’t have sympathy for Lyndon. I’m sorry. There are millions of people working jobs that are not their passion. People don’t grow up wanting to work at McDonald’s. People don’t want to be janitors, garbage men, maids, etc… And they don’t make $300,000 a year, but they do what they have to do. This guy pays $5,000 a month for rent. Most Americans don’t make $5,000 a month. It sucks that he isn’t working his dream job, but he’s not broke, homeless, in debt, or starving. So I think that he’s truly blessed to have all the things that he has.

  12. Wow. Some of the stories here are really moving especially the one by Tim, I do find it heart-wretching and respect that you bear so many responsibilities and sacrifice your choice for them.

    I am turning 29 in a few days and just got a job paying a six figure base salary. I am an Asian immigrant in Australia and doubled my income since landed on a sales job 2 years ago, and my plan is to double my income again in another 2 years by entering this tier 1 mining consulting firm on a business development role. Haven’t thought too much about my savings plan but I do realise my spending has increased as my income grows. Looking at stories here is great as it reminds me to remain humbled and plan for the long term. It also reminds me that there are so many things in life that are way more important than the earning-spending consumerism circle which will end up in vain.

    I used to save rigorously and largely compromised my lifestyle and social life. As income grew I found myself letting it go for a few reasons: 1, to compensate what I haven’t been able to do. I like being generous with people and not having to worry about money at all. 2, optimism that future income will grow further. 3, bad investment environment (high property price, slumping commodity prices, unstable stock market, doomed world economy) makes saving a bit aimless, and inflation will make my previous savings effort look like a joke. 4, hidden hope that finding a husband will reduce or remove the need for me to save. Shame on me I know, but which girl doesn’t?

    I realised when reading above posts though, that an overly extravegant lifestyle, unlike how we were made to believe by movies and ordinary people around us, is nothing to be proud of. It is short-sighted, unthoughtful, and sometimes desperate. It marks either an inherited or suspicious source of income (neither to be proud of, again), or a lack of ‘future intelligence’ which if hasn’t then will result in failure.

  13. To borrow a turn of phrase from Mr. Money Moustache: “Call in the waaaaah-mbulance….”

    Sorry, but I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Lyndon. He needs to decide what his real goal is, and then make a plan (financial as well as otherwise) for reaching that goal. Some questions to ponder:

    1) Overall, his savings rate is ridiculously low given his income. Doesn’t say if he has a spouse or kids, but if he’s got $180k post tax for just himself he could easily save half of that or more. He just isn’t trying very hard.

    2) Example of #1: Why spend $5000/month on an apartment in Manhattan if you are travelling most of the time anyway? Rent a studio in Queens, dude, and learn to take the subway. Or splurge on car service — you’ll still save more in rent. Better yet, use some of that cash nest egg to buy a place in Long Island City, Astoria, Jackson Heights or another relatively close in gentrifying neighborhood. You’ll reduce your out of pocket costs and those neighborhoods will continue to appreciate. You will make money if you buy a good piece of property in an up and coming neighborhood, and Queens is the next Brooklyn.

    3) Another example of #1: If his goal is to be a nature photographer, why does that necessitate making trips to remote and exotic places? He could perfect his nature photography by taking a trip on the subway to Central Park, Fort Tryon park, or the Bronx Zoo. Nature is everywhere. He needs to develop his technique first anyway, and that can be done just as easily in his backyard as halfway around the world.

    4) Given the amount of travelling he likely does for McKinsey, if he does still want to make a trip or two a year to a more exotic place he could totally be doing in on earned miles. He needs to run, not walk, to the Art of Nonconformity blog and get a primer on how to max frequent flyer opportunities.

    5) He needs to find different friends. Hang out with/learn from people who have similar interests and manage to have fun and rich lives without spending lots of money. He should look for hiking clubs, etc. where the focus is on nature (something he loves) but not necessarily with a lot of gadgetry (photography clubs are dangerous that way). Then again, if he starts hanging out with a bunch of rich photography buffs and control his impulses to be an early adopter, he could score a lot of lightly used, high end equipment as they trade up to the latest model and he picks up their second-hand stuff.

    6) He should start now practicing not just how to ply his craft, but how to teach it. That will be a second income stream he can rely on in addition to selling his photos. And he can explore other things around the margins — printmaking, graphic design, writing stories to go with his photos.

    7) Start developing networks that will help him in his new career. Get to know food/travel writers who work in the exotic places he wants to go — they could be possible collaborators on future stories. Get to know some travel outfits that plan tours to those same places who might be interested in offering a photography-focused tour (see, here’s a place where those teaching skills come in handy).

    Heck, I don’t make $300k a year and now I’m thinking I could have a nice second career at this! he can totally do this, but he needs to be realistic, cut way back on his spending, and have more of a nest egg before he tries it. Not that hard on his income, assuming he’s single. If he isn’t it is a whole different ball game — hard to have stable relationships/family situation if half the couple is gallavanting all over the world all the time. There are other ways to work it, though, like setting up a base overseas in an area he wants to work and branching out from there. Anything can work if you plan it right. But he should do a much better job of exploiting his current gig and saving all he can. That two year timeframe might not be a bad short-term goal. If he’s focused and makes a point of cutting his expenses to the bare bones he should be able to grow his current nest egg to at least $500k through savings and investment. That isn’t enough to be FI, but it is a good safety net while he explores the new career option. But he shouldn’t be starting from dream vapor there, either.

    Lots of work to do in two years, but better to take positive steps than to continue to ride on the “whaaaa”-mbulance, no?


  14. Sympathy? No.

    Lyndon has two things that a lot of people do not have:

    1. choice – the option of staying in his high paying job or taking a break without breaking the bank

    2. opportunity – the opportunity to either stay in a high paying job and become financially independent at a young age or to pursue his dreams for a while (but not for that long – his savings aren’t high enough).

    As a lawyer I havr been where Lyndon is. I opted to keep working until I had enough to retire forever. Having a wife and two young children and chosing to live in a very expensive city (Hong Kong) has meant that I will not be retireing until next year when I am 47 – not exactly young but young enough to pursue my dreams. Sure, it would have been nice to go (much) sooner, but if I had I would have been forced to look for work eventually with no certainty that I would find another high paying job. Like Lyndon and many others – I had choices. That’s not something to complain about.

    As the saying goes – you can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything you want.

  15. I am somewhat in Lyndon’s shoes, but at the age of 48. I have finally reached a senior level position in a major corporation. My base is about $300,000, my annual bonus adds another $100,000, my LTI adds another $200,000 a year, a cash balance pension plan in which the company puts in 15% of my base, and a host of other nice perks. I have no debt, a paid off home worth $700,000, and over $2 million in savings. The problem is that I hate my job (due to a number of changes I will not go in to). I would love to let severed as the severance package is great, but that is not going to happen at my level and my position is critical to the business.

    My dream is to start my own company and it would be no problem to get the financial backing. However, several items hold me back. I was diagnosed with a melanoma 2 years ago. Getting insurance would be difficult. With a fear of a reoccurrence, it is great to have my current executive life insurance benefit that supplements my own term policies. Also, I have 4 kids to put through college (1 in already) and I also provide some support to aging parents.

    For now, I will put off the dream for another 5 years and then reassess.

    1. Jim,

      Thanks or sharing. That is a great story, and hard to leave. I found a surprisingly no change in lifestyle after losing my income.

      You can absolutely engineer your layoff. See the book on the above right. You have more power than you think!



  16. Not sure i get Lyndon. If he is so confident he can return to work and make the same or more $$ after a two year sabbatical, what’s his problem…or is it that he is afraid he WON’T be able to resume his prior earnings path?

    I am 53, have saved a chunk that is well in excess of anything in any of your savings charts on this site but still have a problem walking away. I recently made a deal with my company to take a 30% pay cut in return for less responsibility and more personal time but still have this craving to completely walk away. I think one reason for the inability to do so is simply the fear of what can go wrong after you give up a regular check (i wouldnt get it back at this point). I’m also a NYC resident so even though I’ve saved a lot, I would still need a pretty high yield to live more than a frugal existence (without taking on significant risk). $80k wouldn’t cut it without a significant lifestyle downgrade. Yeah, ok i’ll move to a big college town that has the best of culture and lower cost of living. I’ve read the MSN and Money slide show articles of best towns to retire……I don’t live in Magazine world… we dont all want to move to Austin TX or Madison, WI….

  17. FS you mentioned “I’m definitely curious, as $1.6 mil can provide $54,000/yr in risk free interest income at 4% now. ”
    Where can you get risk free 4% nowdays? I really need to figure out how much I can save and just live of interest. If I can live of ~50K/year how much do I need in savings. 5mil?

    1. The fact of the matter is, you can’t without risk. I have 7 year CDs at 4% and 4.1% that have 3-4 years left on them. I will cross that bridge when they expire. The environment can be much different then.

  18. retiredearly

    I never did the calculations to figure out what exact % I saved, I would guess 60-75%. I have always been frugal so I just kept it up and did not buy extravagant things. I travelled often with work and would try to add a day or two to these trips. I have been fortunate to see 30+ countries, most of these tied to work.

    It helps that my wife is more frugal than I plus that we spent most of the time living in poor countries. We have a child that occupies lots of our time so boredom has not been an issue. Also, I have easily dropped the extra pounds and am very active these days. Several health related issues seem to have disappeared…

    I was very fortunate and was paid well but I know many in the same boat that still slave away as they did not save…

  19. retiredearly

    I started working for a Big 6 firm out of college and it ultimately led to a job in their overseas office. I made partner in 10 years and made a lot of money. I did not hate my job but certainly never loved it, seems as if I hardly liked it much of the time.

    I saved a huge chunk of what I made and retired at 40 and love it.

    I do not feel sorry at all for Lyndon. If he can resist the temptation to increase his lifestyle in sync with each raise/bonus, he can set his goals and get out while young.

  20. Making a lot of money or having excellent employer benefits can certainly be golden handcuffs. But life goes on, and unless you’re OK deadening your soul, it’s wise to work your dreams into your lifestyle.

    The lifestyle business trend is all about developing a way to earn a living while pursuing your dreams. By creating work that pays the bills AND gives you the freedom to pursue your dreams, you have the best of both worlds. Typically, most people who pursue a lifestyle business have work that allows them to work when and where they choose–even from a cafe in Morocco–without having to put in crazy hours.

    One of the easier–and more profitable–ways to build a lifestyle business is by consulting, since a consulting business has:
    –>low start-up costs,
    –>flexible hours,
    –>high hourly pay rate, and
    –>you likely already have the expertise to get started.

    I’ve found that fear often stops aspiring consultants from starting a consulting business, and on my blog (, I talk about how to overcome those fears. I also talk about practical, concrete things you can do to start and run a successful consulting business, along with tools, tips, tricks, and techniques for automating your business and keeping costs to a minimum.

    One of the neat things about becoming a consultant is that you DON’T need a pile of cash to start a consulting business. For example, you can create a professional website for under $100–typically in an evening (I have a free ebook that shows you exactly how to do this, even if you’re not a techie).

    I started my consulting business over 4 years ago as a part-time way to make extra cash, and it’s grown into my full-time endeavor, where it’s the sole income for my family of 4 for over 2.5 years. I make several times what I used to make at my day job, and have much more flexibility.

  21. I’ve been there and I’ve done that. Owned a real estate company for 18 years, made great money, but really felt trapped. Everything depended on me being there or being involved even on vacations. Sold the company and followed my dream as a trainer, coach and mentor. Happiest I’ve ever been!

  22. great post and responses. i’ve been spending the last few weeks debating whether to travel before grad school or spend the next couple months saving. this has definitely helped me put things into perspective…i don’t sympathize with his situation –but i definitely understand it– because he has the power to change it.

    i’ve decided that it’s probably less risky for me to take the trip now before i accumulate more school debt and have a time/life-consuming 9-5.

  23. Good stuff man. There are plenty more out there with practically no savings who quit their jobs and follow some dream, so with 270k in the bank, you should feel great!!

  24. Life Coaching

    Yes, I totally feel sorry for him.

    Before he started this job he probably believed that if he worked hard and made lots of money, that would in turn bring him happiness. But he’s now realised that it didn’t – so he’s now asking himself ‘what’s the point of it all’ and ‘what DO I have to do to be happy’. He has the beautiful home and the money in the bank, but his life still sucks! He’s finally realised that it’s not all about the things that we can by and to make it worse for him he’s working in a job that he doesn’t even enjoy!!

    This is actually much more common than we think. How many people do you know that seem to have lots of lovely material things, but they are deeply unhappy? How many people do you know that really HATE their job.

    The reason that this is so common is because people spend more time planning their weekly shopping list than they spend planning their life! If you don’t plan, things tend to happen by accident and probably not the things that you wanted to happen. Because they weren’t clear about what they REALLY wanted or what was truly important to them, they got what they thought they wanted (‘I want money’ ‘I want a new car’ etc). I did it too for many years, until one day the reality of this hit me!

    It’s not difficult to plan for your future. Just google the ‘be do have’ coaching method and give it a go. It will take you no more than a couple of hours maximum.


  25. I’m only 27 but am I’m kind of in a similar situation and this post thread has brought some inspiration and perspective. I was doing B2B phone sales for a large and popular internet company. benefits were unbelievable and they did 401k matching. However, as time grew on I began to realize that I was living the middle class trap. I would worry about work when I was not at work and my level of fitness declined.

    During the same time, I was hit by a car. Luckily I got out in one piece despite 2 years of pain and suffering. but point is I wounded up with a settlement check of $280k. I have around $270k to live off of and let me tell you, getting this lump sum of money all at once can create fear and lots of other mixed emotions. fighting these emotions is one of the hardest things, which is why I think so many lottery winners become bankrupt.

    However, the “young” and youthful part of my brain says I now have what I need to pursue my own dreams. I took the biggest leap of faith I ever could do in my life by quitting a good job, rejecting offers for other high paying jobs and instead took a job paying minimum wage, but it does have potential to earn me more. Subsequently I can now take classes for my own interests that can lead the way to owning the business of my dreams in 3-5 years. Hopefully as I build up with my new job I can earn some income off investment capital.

    But at one level my heart feels a little more free and it gives me an outside perspective from how many people just go by and by working 8-5 every day without really stopping and thinking much.

    if anyone has advice for me that would be much appreciated!

    1. Hi Tony! Thanks for sharing your story! Are you physically all good now, and still have $270,000? If so, do you feel you are better because of the experience? If you knew you would get $280,000 before the accident, would you be willing to go through the experience again?

      My advice to you is to do exactly what you want to do. Try it out for the next 3 years and see where you go. If you go nowhere, you still have the money and then can find something more practical to do. Good luck!

      How did you find this post btw? Thnx, Sam

      1. haha! Would I do it all over again? Hmm, well I certainly wouldn’t jump in front of a car hoping to get hit and bounce off the hood, we’ll out it that way, lol.

        Yup,, I have most of the money still, but am living off of it right now since I did the crazy thing and illogical thing by quitting my 8-5 job as a cubical monkey. Right now, I’m focused on getting some part time work doing what I want to do and learning about investing so I can have some of that money grow.

        I found this post one frustrating afternoon by going to yahoo and typing in making a lot of money vs following your dreams. Put it this way, I gave up some very very good and lucrative sales jobs and go with my own conviction. Is it scary? Yes very, but I am banking on that I will look back 3 years from now and will be happy with my decision. Thanks for the advice!

        1. Good stuff man. There are plenty more out there with practically no savings who quit their jobs and follow some dream, so with 270k in the bank, you should feel great!!

  26. Sympathy for Lyndon, because I’ve been there (entry-level job in similar career).

    A kick in the pants for Lyndon for wasting 8 years in his state of paralysis. The lesson I learned is you decide to enjoy your current career until you’ve got a real alternative (which he has not yet); then you decide which of both careers you’re going to enjoy next.

    So try out that photography career, preferably while still at McKinsey, or quit if necessary(I’d think you can get back to your old career but you might have to take a step back on the career ladder). I don’t really like the option to wait 2 years for the official sabbatical because I believe you get most out of life if you “fail fast and often”.

  27. Sympathy for Lyndon because I’ve been there too (entry-level in a related career).
    He also deserves a kick in the pants for not making a decision for 8 years. You get most out of life if you follow the adage “fail fast and often.” It’s about time Lyndon decides to either enjoy his current career or go do something else – ideally he would have done that 7.5 years ago, but it’s never too late.

    I guess Lyndon’s problem is that he can’t make a decision because photography is still a dream and not a real option. He has never tested that career, which is what he should do IMHO if he wants to make a good decision. Preferably while working at McKinsey. But even if he decides to quit, there’s always a way back in (into management consulting), assuming he’s prepared to take a step back on the career ladder.

    My advice: Lyndon, enjoy your job until you’ve got a REAL alternative; then decide which one career you’re going to enjoy next.

  28. No sympathy money wise, but some sympathy life and dream wise… I think he is slightly cursed. Society puts so much focus on money that dreams and being happy fall by the wayside. Since the grass is greener on the other side, almost everyone else around him won’t understand his plight as they are green with envy for his bank. However, he does have a choice. He can slowly ween himself off, take a lower position or maybe use his weekends to pursue his photography dream. It almost seems it’s all in or all out. Why not find a happy medium? The story does illustrate that money can’t buy happiness. Good lesson for everyone, except for poor Lyndon. Can’t wait to read the update. :)

  29. It really depends on what’s more important to him, money or happiness. I for one always follow happiness, but I’ve never made that kind of money a year, so I can’t really say if I’d leave the job or not. However, if he’s miserable, then I’d say go for what he’s always wanted to do. He has money saved to fall back on for a good while.

  30. Sympathy for him? Yes. It is very difficult to be in such a position, what when you have surrounded yourself with family and friends who only know one way of living. Plus, you earn a LOT of money… but rarely get the time off to enjoy it. Well, he has to wake up and face his fears. I can really relate to him, being 30 myself, single and has had a long corporate stint. It took me 10 yrs to realize I’m the only one who’s keeping myself in prison.

    BUT… there’s a lot of truth in that zen saying “Leap and a net will appear.” It just takes a lot of courage and people would rather be where it’s comfortable. Life is challenging for a freelancer/artist/researcher — whatever project there is to conquer — but you know you’re in a good place when you have no time to complain coz you just love what you do and you’ll do it for free if only you didn’t have to eat. =)

  31. Destination Weddings South Florida

    Nice.. I wanna be like Lyndon, a photographer while earning big chunks in some certain corporate as big wig.

  32. loan calculator

    SAM!I feel sympathy for him. No matter how much money you make or have, if you’re truly unhappy, that just stinks beyond belief.thanks for share your views…

  33. EveryPesoCounts

    Just like uncle Ben in Spider Man said.. .With great power comes great responsibility. I feel for him as I find myself in the same trap. Yes, I get a decent salary over local standards but in my heart, I wanted to do more than just earn from what I currently do.

    I figured out that the more we earn from a high paying job, the more scared we get in pursuing our dreams. I try to get away from this thought. I want to believe that I’ll be free someday. It’s like going out of the matrix. It’s a mental challenge.

    At 25, a friend told me that I was already in midlife crisis. But I guess I should be happy that I’m realizing this early and there’s so much that I can still do about it. Every second, every hour, every day to me is important. I know that if I don’t act now, my dreams would forever be just a dream. I guess for Lyndon, he could keep himself motivated and optimistic towards his dream if he could find people who are there and has the same passion. Somehow, I think the windows of opportunity will open and get him there.

  34. Great post! Hits home with me. I remember an internship I had in the finance world and I learned this lesson then. The gusy around me were pulling in mid-six figures and up, some in the millions. They kept saying they’d quit once they made X or hit a certain age and then relax, coach high school sports, etc. Then the guys who were in their 50s and 60s said they’d thought about that once too but then this life became the only life they knew and it was too scary and lonely to leave, so they just kept on doing it. What good was all that money then?

    1. It really really is hard to leave all that money behind Jon. If you’re making say $500,000-$1million a year, all you gotta do is work 12 more months and collect that extra 500K-1mil! Hence, people just stick with it, b/c the money is too great to pass up! That is why I write it is a “curse”, but not really.

      I think most would be happy to make that much money!

  35. This is a great topic and one that my wife and I recently discussed. I did it. I walked away from a stable job with health insurance for my family to go and pursue my dreams. I’m still in the midst of it and it’s not easy but I’m hopeful that it will lead to success. It’s a risk but isn’t anything worthwhile a risk?

    1. Jerry, good luck in your new venture! How long were you in your stable job for, and what was it that made you take the next step? How long were you thinking of doing your own thing?

  36. I thing working for 12 more years and retiring early is not going to make it for Lyndon. After that time, he’s so well adjusted to his lifestyle that he would have trouble filling the hours. I like the suggestion someone else made – make a commitment to have a photo portfolio in, say, 6 months. Make an idea to photograph something – like the effects of the housing bust, or something less obvious – and offer the series somewhere. Open a photo blog and see if that takes off. He could even write about his job – privately, or anonymously in a blog – just to clear his thoughts. To me, the situation sounds like he has not given it yet enough thought.

    I find it really weird that one could not start a passion as a hobby and later decide what to do. This way, the two years for sabbatical will be easier to bear.

    In any case, the guy needs a hobby ;)

    Ps. If someone is really, really fed up, there is no need for decision. Then, there will be only one choise.

  37. financialspreadbetting

    Interesting theory. But I guess out of all the curses you could have it isn’t the worst. I think it is similar to a lot of things in life you need to strike the right balance. Potentially more money equals more dreams.
    .-= financialspreadbetting´s last blog ..Financial Spread Betting Companies and Accounts =-.

  38. Lyndon doesn’t get a single bit of sympathy from me. Personally financial freedom is first. Put the money away THEN i’ll do what makes me happy, when i work that out. At the moment I’m 29 and 2 years away from owning my house outright. By 40 no paid work required for me!
    .-= Bankruptcy Ben´s last blog ..FFJ – 44 Ways to Save Money =-.

  39. Lyndon is thinking in a binary fashion. He sees only two options: Quit, or, Stay. These are the extremes. He needs to consider option 3: Modify. He should see if he can negotiate an arrangement where he gets paid less but only works part time, in bursts. I.e. work for a month, vacation for a month. Work for a month, vacation for two months. or something similiar. Perhaps he can do this within McKinsey, or perhaps he would need to do it outside of McKinsey as a freelancer. Either way, has he considered this option? Would his work lend itself well to this project based format? It would seem to solve his quandry.

    Another thing: Does he need to be in New York to do his work? Is it possible to leverage the internet to enable him to work remotely? He could work 65 hours a week as he traveled (theoretically).

  40. Lyndon- you are describing my jazz musician turned corporate lawyer brother in law. At 30 he had a good amount in the bank working for a great bank. At 40 he and his wife lived the high life (with the bass in the closet). At 50 he was dead. My sister now lives on the money he made- taking pictures of the cactus in a new backyard.
    Be careful about making it all about money!

  41. I am in a similar situation. Like Lyndon, I don’t expect other people to understand. While my job is not fulfilling, I don’t have a burning passion to fill the void. But I am still committed to getting out and making the most of my life. Many of my colleagues are in the same boat. Some have golden handcuffs; others have analysis paralysis.

    I decided to make a plan. Currently, I have ~$200k in non-retirement funds and ~$100K in retirement funds. I plan on significantly cutting living expenses so I can save $70K a year in non-retirement funds and $20K a year in retirement funds (likely going up every year). I am currently in my late-20s and anticipate living expenses under $30K a year. At a 4% withdrawal rate, I should be able to sustain myself at $30K a year until retirement age with a nest egg of $750K in non-retirement funds. says I can. I should be able to hit $750K in five years. When I hit retirement age, I expect that my $100K plus whatever I put in the next five years to grow significantly until I am 65, which hopefully will last for the rest of my life.

    Now people are undoubtedly going to say: what if you get married / have kids, etc.? I’m fine with working. I just don’t want to be tied to a high paying job I don’t like. If I have kids, I’ll work a $30K per year job and save everything I make and put it towards the kids. Hopefully that will be a part time gig so I can enjoy myself at the same time.

    There are other things I want to figure out. For example healthcare. Maybe I want to start a HSA with my employer’s high deductible plan now so I will have a decently sized HSA after five years.

    At least with this plan, I will have a solid financial foundation to pursue other interests.

  42. There’s no sympathy for Lyndon. Nothing on earth can satisfy you like your passion. What matters most is the satisfaction you get from what you do. I always go for what i love and believe in it. My passion has always brought out the best of me and it has always promised more revenue
    .-= innocriss´s last blog ..Internet Secrets of a Successful Online Entrepreneur-How to Obtain the Success You Always Wanted =-.

  43. There’s really no point in asking whether or not Lyndon deserves our sympathy. Really, does it matter whether or not we feel sympathy for him? It doesn’t change his situation.

    Even if Lyndon becomes a very successful photographer, he will never make $300,000 a year. Is he willing to give up such a huge income stream, or not? That’s really all there is to it.

    If he wants to find out, he can gradually ease himself into photography by going to photo shoots, classes, etc. But sitting around feeling angst for himself and sympathy from others isn’t going to help anything.
    .-= Kelley´s last blog ..The Epic Battle of Salt vs. Pepper =-.

  44. I have a friend that makes about 500 thousand a year, still te unhappiest person I know, which is sad. Complains his job is so demanding he doesn’t have time to date, find the right woman n he’s lonely. I was making about 40 thousand a year n still saving over half my check and I’m happy to go to work everyday. It’s fun for me because I love what I do. I’m in the Navy for 8 years now and it’s a dream life. I couldn’t complain. Wish my friend would do what he loves and open up a gym.

    Lyndon should just go and worry about the consequences later. You don’t get back time.

  45. I know a Lyndon. I have sympathy up to a point; most of us go through stages of not knowing what the right choice is. But my friend “Lyndon” has been complaining about his job for as long as I’ve known him: 10+ years. For at least the last 5 he’s been saying next year, next year he’ll leave. Bitch and moan, whine about his $100k+ and his travel and his show-biz perks, ignore or shoot down all advice and helpful suggestions. I’ve long since run out of sympathy. At some point a guy’s gotta put on his big boy pants and take responsibility for his life. Hate the job? QUIT. Don’t want to quit? Then man up and quit bitching!!

    IMO $250k is plenty to start over in a new life, and FAIL. Repeatedly. He’s still young and single, he can do anything he wants! He might end up sorry if he leaves, but if he stays then sorry is guaranteed. Is all that money worth getting to the end of your life and knowing you never even tried to do what you love?

  46. I am a high earner and once in a while, I’ll declare in moment of frustration that it’s time to bail. Then my wife will slap some sense into me as she won’t have me lounging around the house doing nothing. The reality is I am a driven person and I am already doing the job I want as I’ve known I wanted to work with computers since I was 15.

    The advice I will offer is to cut away at the fat. There’s so much wasted money, time and effort on things we do just because of expectations and image. For example, we used to live in a 600sf apartment in San Francisco — while raising 2 kids in this space. People think you immediately more space once you have kids incoming and yet I feel like it was easier to keep track of them in a smaller space. (Does somebody single need 2 bedrooms 2 baths?)

    Not spending money on things we don’t care about let us saved up capital to pursue the avenues we do care about.

    1. Edward - Entry Level Dilemma

      My wife and I are in the process of involuntarily downsizing from 900sq ft to something in the 700-800 sq ft range, because this is the only complex in town in our price range of this size, everything else is just a bit smaller. It’s going to require getting rid of our nice big comfy sofa. :(
      Now do we need 2 bedrooms? Not really, but it does make things a little less cramped. I can’t imagine 4 people in 600sq ft.
      .-= Edward – Entry Level Dilemma´s last blog ..You need a mentor =-.

      1. I guess it depends on how you grew up. I came to the U.S. when I was very young and in our first apartment, we were stacked 6 into 300sf maybe. (We had our own toilet but had shared showers in the building.) Yet I don’t remember it being an unpleasant time. I remember running around the complex with other kids in the building exploring & playing games and waking up Saturday mornings to watch cartoons — it was a fun time. Of course, we must have been terrors for our parents with so many packed in a small area. :)

        In any case, I do live in a larger space now (bought a 1500sf condo overseas) and the reality is we don’t use half the space. We could live just like any local family here in 750sf and be just fine. But living in 600sf for the first 6 years let us save a nice chunk of money to give us the possibility to be in this position today.
        .-= MossySF´s last blog ..Tour group vacations =-.

  47. I’m going through a similar decision as Lyndon at the moment. However, after my contract is done at the end of this month, I am going to take a couple months off and work on my own projects. I make considerably less money than Lyndon but have about 12 months of expenses saved up to offset the risk.

    I have done freelancing before though, and since I live modestly, I can work part-time to cover my living expenses.

    This really comes down to a values decision for Lyndon. Right now, he values money more than his time and happiness. This is backwards as most people acquire money so it can be exchanged for time and happiness. Why not just skip over the middle part?

    If he’s worried about getting out of the “game,” he should try to line up some part-time consulting work as others have mentioned. If he is going to make the decision to quit, perhaps he can even approach his boss at McKinsey and offer to go part-time. If they reject, then he has nothing to lose as he was going to quit anyways.

    A book I recently read that helped me make this decision was “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World” by Harry Browne. This book may help him as well. The author address the “Career Myth” that we have been fed our whole lives that may be holding back Lyndon from making the right decision.

    Best of luck to him.

  48. Well I know exactly how he feels. But when I felt that way, I made a plan to escape. I started socking away some of that money so if I got really miserable I could leave. In the end, I decided I would be happier with a downsized life, living off the money I saved while unhappily working, and retired at 44. I still feel young and like I have my whole life in front of me. And Lyndon could be starting way before I got serious about escaping, getting out at an even earlier age.

    The trick is to keep the lifestyle inflation from creeping up while you work on your escape. It’s easy to use the money to self-medicate to treat your unhappiness. But if having the freedom to pursue whatever really thrills you is really important, you’ll be able to keep the focus.
    .-= Retired Syd´s last blog ..Living Well in Retirement =-.

  49. None of us can judge Lyndon for what he is going through. We all have our own unique experiences. Reading the post, (a great post, by the way), shows that Lyndon already knows what to do.

    He is expressing his desire to do what he dreams. He’s been on the other side of making great money, but that isn’t fulfilling for him. The unknown of pursuing a career in nature photography can be daunting, but taking a leap of faith for his dream may pay higher dividends than the career he currently has.

    I wish Lyndon the best in his decision making.
    .-= Kristine´s last blog ..Financial Freedom Resources – Tools to Help You Maximize the Assets Around You =-.

  50. Feeling stuck and trapped is something that can happen to anyone and everyone despite their income. It’s very easy to live your life full of ‘shoulds’ instead of what you actually want to do. It takes overcoming fear, doubt and a whole lot of commitment to take a chance.

    I certainly sympathize, though I do agree that sometimes a dramatic change is not always necessary, sometimes its just what you need.

    I just put in my 2 week notice at my job, and and first I was scared about not having work. Instead, I have 4 prospect jobs for something that I would be happier doing and my current job is offering me more to stay. Having choices and getting out of your ‘comfort zone’ and rut is much better than just saying what if year after year.
    .-= Ariel´s last blog ..How to Save Money Dying Your Own Hair =-.

  51. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

    I sympathize with him on the tough decision he needs to make, but it seems pretty straight-forward to me. If Lyndon prioritizes his life’s goals, his decision would be much easier.

    For example, my husband and I want to retire by 52, so most of our decisions are based on aiming for that and balancing our values to match. We love time at home, so we wouldn’t force ourselves to work 65-120 hour a week jobs. We love our home and hanging with our friends, so we probably wouldn’t move unless we were offered double what we make now. We save nearly 40% of our joint income in order to like our lives now and save for our main goal of retirement in about 25 more years.

    I’d think that Lyndon may want to save a few more years (maybe until he was 35 or even 40 if he can make it), then I’d suggest moving with his nest egg to a lower cost-of-living area and travel from there. He’d have a bunch of options with a big nest egg and low expenses.
    .-= Budgeting in the Fun Stuff´s last blog ..Determining Our "Allowances" =-.

  52. Yes, I’m sympathetic. It’s not easy to take the path less travelled, especially when you’re used to being an “achiever” – always have the grades, the title, the job offers, the salary, etc – and time goes past very very quickly when you’re dithering. You look up and you’re 25, 30, 40, whatever. But without quitting the day job tomorrow he could be making moves to free himself. You absolutely do NOT need to pay $4,000/mo to live in NYC, or pay $1mm for a place. Sock some of that cash away bud! You can take vacation even at McKinsey. Get away and clear the head!

    But assuming he’s a real person and not a device, a reason he may not be jumping is the unreality of his dream, which is almost cliche. It’s like saying you’d love to be the Yankees shortstop or something – sure technically not impossible, but a helluva climb for anyone, especially an older guy with limited exposure to the field. There are any number of photography/nature/journalism type jobs which may be closer to the dream than management consultant. Is he jeopardising any move by aiming so high? Does he just want to be the gold star/best in show/mother’s boast in another field and nothing else would be acceptable?

    I went on a long adventure/nature trip in an exotic location a while back. It was a real dream vacation and I went into it really envying the birders, guides and photographers who worked for the group. They had found a way to follow their passion and worked with wildlife every day. But when they opened up to us they were as worn down as we were in our corporate jobs – they had to leave partners and kids for long periods, minister to wealthy american jerks, and they made almost nothing. That was educational. The grass is always greener and all that!

    1. It’s definitely not cheap living in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom in NYC that’s for sure! Many who do will attest to the $4,000/month figure. Some friends pay $5,000/month as well, so $4,000 is not that egregious in that circumstance.

      Lyndon is definitely real, and many of my other friends, including myself have to some degree have thought like Lyndon, and it’s a difficult situation.

      thanks for sharing your thoughts on the nature guides and their thoughts!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Sometimes Saving Money Is About Principle =-.

  53. Hi, Sam,
    Interesting article, thanks for sharing it!
    I think that your friend is choosing his path.
    I don’t see his situation as a curse. The key point is realizing that we are making decisions every single minute.
    Your friend is deciding each day that he will work for that company for one more day.
    A lot of people decides to start “living” when something happens: when their kids grow up, when they pay 100% of their mortgage, when they get married… and your friend is deciding to start to live in two years.
    In the process, something could happen and that condition might not ever arrive!
    For me life is very simple, and one of the conditions for being continuously happy is committing to do what you love every single day of your life…
    Great blog, I will return to peruse your posts.
    All the best,
    .-= Boris´s last blog ..Two halves don’t make a whole… =-.

    1. Hi Boris – I think you hit it spot on when you write: “A lot of people decides to start “living” when something happens: when their kids grow up, when they pay 100% of their mortgage, when they get married”

      Perhaps nothing has ever happened to Lyndon except for continuously taking the “right” steps, and now he’s wondering when the road will ever end.

      Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to seeing you around more and checking out your site as well.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Treat Your Job As If You Won The Lottery =-.

  54. @Karl
    Just because one has fantatstic critical thinking skills doesn’t make such a decision less difficult. Look at how many affairs people have, the draw of the other person is so great, that critical thinking skills goes out the window.

    @Mike Hunt, Darren
    I could stare at a white wall for a couple years myself or $2 bucks a year!

    The breadwinner burden is VERY stressful. This is something a lot of people don’t talk enough about. If you have time, please read this article:

    I think many of us wish they could go into a time machine 20 years ago and bought a nice $100,000 house in Suffolk!

    1. @admin
      I think many of us wish they could go into a time machine 20 years ago and bought a nice $100,000 house in Suffolk!

      Actually, I rounded up. The exact price was closer to $87K, and it was an 800 sq ft 1-bedroom upstairs apartment in a mixed co-op/rental apartment complex. But it’s been home for 20 years, and would now sell for around $150K. (And with 10 years left to pay the last $24K on the mortgage, why move?)

      But (sigh) no comments from admin on any of my other brilliant insights . . . . ? (lol)

  55. If you were a client of McKinsey’s and therefore paying top percentile consulting fees, you’d deserve a consulting team that were highly motivated- something Lyndon clearly lacks.

    You would also question Lyndon’s critical thinking skills, if he is unable to make a tough decision such as the one outlined.

    So Lyndon is being unfair both to his present clients and to his future self.

  56. Darren,

    1k per hour is 2 million per year… I think I could manage to stare at a white wall and daydream to keep my mind active for 3-5 years and then get out of the staring at the white wall business.


    1. Hey Mike (and Samurai too),

      Well, similarly, Lyndon could consult for a couple of years, make a ton of money like he already has, and also get out of that business. I guess the point I was trying to make is that you’re not enjoying, or even feeling miserable, about that work while you’re doing it. Hence the desire to get out of the business. Why doesn’t Lyndon do the same?
      .-= Darren´s last blog ..How I’ve Managed To Stay Out of Debt =-.

      1. Two more years, just two more years. You’ll suddenly wake up and it’ll be 30 years, and you start wondering where your life went. That’s the point of this article.

        In two years, he will probably make even more money. It’s a never ending cycle.

        1. I completely agree. That’s why I think he should get out as soon as possible, just as the person in my hypothetical example should as well. In two years, he may be more accustomed to his unhappy lifestyle to the point that it’s just habitual and he doesn’t know what else he can do.
          .-= Darren´s last blog ..How I’ve Managed To Stay Out of Debt =-.

  57. Should we have sympathy for Lyndon? In my opinion, yes and no.

    Yes, because from what you’ve written, he clearly doesn’t like his job and would rather be doing something else. That’s not a good place to be.

    No, because a person of his credentials (I’m assuming he’s a pretty intelligent person since he works at McKinsey and makes six figues) should have other options, or at least be able to come up with some.

    This story re-confirms to me that all the money in the world is ultimately never enough compensation to do something if your heart and soul is really not into it. If someone paid me $1,000 an hour to stare at a white wall, as much money as that is, I would have to decline that offer.

    Like others have advised, I would encourage him to create some time to reassess his life, his passions, and simplify his life and expenses in order to discover what he really wants to do. I might even encourage him to quit his job and think about these things for a year, since he has a large amount of savings and no debt. If he’s really that talented, I’m sure he wouldn’t have a hard time finding another job a year later if he really needed the income.
    .-= Darren´s last blog ..How I’ve Managed To Stay Out of Debt =-.

  58. It’s hard to sympathize because he makes so much money, more than most people will ever make per year. However, they don’t call it “golden handcuffs” for a reason.

    I know many people, mostly men, who feel trapped in their jobs because they support a wife and kids. On a side note, I think it’s harder for women when both husband and wife works, but easier on the men because they can carry less of the breadwinner burden. Lyndon is fortunate that he doesn’t have that yet, or maybe he’ll marry someone with her own career. If he wants to make that leap, he should do so soon.

    I agree with many commenters that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. He can take longer vacations, work less and try to build a portfolio etc.. It’s tough out there for freelancers and he may be idealizing the lifestyle.
    .-= oilandgarlic´s last blog ..Carnival of Money Stories Is Up At Simply Forties =-.

  59. Successful people often are prisoners of their own talents.
    Society propels them to a high position and they rationally assess their next best alternative as being inferior to their current role, so they stay put and, in some cases, stay miserable.

    ‘Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.’- Ben Franklin.

  60. I have little sympathy for Lyndon either. By isolating himself from anyone but his equally affluent friends, he cannot possibly have any understanding of what it’s like to care for a family of four at 1/5 his income, or what it’s like to be unemployed for a year or more. The “logical” idea that everything will rebound when the markets rebound is not borne out by the facts. The Dow has roared back since March of 2009, yet businesses aren’t hiring because employers are finding they prefer to run lean and mean, and many jobs are being permanently lost to automation and outsourcing.

    I’m not suggesting Lyndon ought to dress in rags and hold out a cup on the corner of 6th Avenue and 48th, but if he had sufficient courage, he would join this discussion, or at least try to speak to people who aren’t fortunate enough to be in his no doubt very expensive shoes. What irks me most about Lyndon, however, is how he seems to be painting himself as a victim when in fact he’s extraordinarily fortunate.

    At this point at some others have said, he could certainly stand to cut back on expenses. I don’t buy the million dollar condo thing for an instant. He doesn’t have to live in the most expensive neighborhood; he could find a nice 1-bedroom in Queens or Hoboken or Nassau or even a small house, buy it for $250K or so, and commute. Heck, I’m twice Lyndon’s age and I spent 3 years commuting 75 minutes each way to Manhattan from a perfectly nice 1-bedroom co-op apartment I bought in Suffolk County 20 years ago for $100K. But then again, I’m not making $300K a year and don’t have to keep up with the Joneses.

    As for the photography thing, he’s got to realize that it’s never going to make him any money and he has to decide what really matters to him – money or art. Artists rarely make more than $40-50K a year, and who knows if he could be hired by Natl Geographic. His best bet might be to build a portfolio, submit entries to photography contests like Jen Bekman’s, hang around in museums that emphasize photography like MoMA, or get familiar with others in the field. He’s got enough already saved that he could live comfortably for quite some time.

    But he’s got to drop the self-pity and illusion of victimhood before anything else.

  61. Hey there Jeremy! Some genuine thoughts you have. Can we revisit your first paragraph’s last statement: “Man this guy has a problem”? Just wondering what you mean by that. Does he have a problem b/c he has $250K in the bank, but is unhappy? I’m thinking that’s what you mean since you compare it to yourself, but I’m not 100% sure.

    I don’t think you wasted 9 years of your life AT ALL Jeremy. In fact, you probably did a number of wonderful things. Get a paper and write em out, or type em out. I bet you’ll be surprised how awesome your 20’s were! And good for you for getting on the savings/planning for retirement bandwagon. Better later than ever.

    Hope to see you around more often.

    Best, Sam
    .-= admin´s last blog ..An Opportunity To Speak With Consumerism Commentary =-.

  62. I am a Lyndon

    I am a Lyndon. It can be done.

    I do have sympathy for him. Part of the reason Golden handcuffs are hard to deal with is the lack of sympathy from most of society. Money does not make you happy (but most people think it should).

    Lyndon is young and does not have a family to support (AFAIK). If he does have a family/kids it can still be done but is a bit harder.

    First of all, my hunch is that Lyndon might not want to be a nature photographer. I have come to believe that there is a pleasure exoskeleton that forms on people when they are in stressful, unrewarding careers. The longer you stab at your work, the thicker it becomes. Lyndon wants to escape from his drudgery and he *really likes* photography. He needs to figure out what he really wants to do. There is a difference between “doing what you love” and “doing what you are”. The latter is way to go.

    Here is my 12 step for (The real) Lyndon:

    1. Lyndon needs to drastically reduce his expenses. Maybe become a commuter for awhile and buy a modest home (Modest for a Nature Photgrapher, not a 300k/yr Engagement Manager). He should simplify his life and jettison as many high recurring expenses that he can.

    2. He needs to make a “What’s the worst that could happen if I quit my job” list. All sorts of junk will probably spew forth that would highlight some of his fears and also make him realize that many are unwarranted.

    3. Lyndon needs to max out his 401(k) / IRA and save as much as he possibly can.

    4. He needs to define his purpose. This is the “What do I want to do to help others?” cosmic question. Does not have to be grandiose but he needs to figure this one out.

    5. He needs to figure out what he really wants to do. What his talents, skills and desires are telling him. This takes a bit of alone time, unplugged from work and the world. If at the end of this “Nature Photography” bubbles up then…

    6. Lyndon needs to become the best damn Nature photographer in the world! ASAP. He has one advantage over most phtographers, An income and some capital. If he can’t fly to Malaysia because of work demands, He should go to the zoo. If he is in Minneapolis he can put on his cold weather gear and hunt Elk with his Nikon. Opportunities are everywhere, even in NYC. He can buy books, videos, cameras. He can take classes, courses and maybe even hire a professional photographer as a tutor.

    7. He needs to start a business based on passion and figure out what product or service he will provide to the marketplace. This business will lose money at first but will provide a nice tax shelter for his day job and force him to see if he has what it takes to compete in this field. He should contact SCORE ( and get a mentor.

    8. Once he has done these things, he should mark his “Quit date” on the calendar about 1 year hence.

    9. He is probably a good “Engagement Manager” so he should make sure he buttons down his resume. Renew any trade affiliations, Recertify if that is appropriate to his career. This is for peace of mind and a for possible re-entry into his current field.

    10. When the year is up (It will be much faster than he thinks!) He will have his business already primed (LLC formed, Taxes, Biz License, etc) and should be ready to go in his new adventure.

    11. He may decide that running his own [Nature Photography or Whatever] business is not for him and may pursue employment as one. He may also want to dip his ladle back in his previous career to raise capital. That is always an option. (re-read #9)

    12. Rinse and repeat.

    Lyndon, Start where you are and go for it!


    1. Fantastic thoughts “Real Lyndon”! I especially like this line of yours, “I have come to believe that there is a pleasure exoskeleton that forms on people when they are in stressful, unrewarding careers.”

      Pleasure exoskeleton… never heard of that one before. I think in addition to his savings, he’s got $100K in his 401K or so, but it’s untoucheable anyway until 59.5, so it doesn’t really matter to him.

      Mass society doesn’t understand golden handcuffs, giving the distribution of income in America. And so, he just hangs out with people like himself.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Best, Sam
      .-= admin´s last blog ..An Opportunity To Speak With Consumerism Commentary =-.

      1. Aaron @ Clarifinancial

        Sam, if he doesn’t think he can touch the money until he’s 59.5, he should check out IRC 72t

        1. Aaron,

          Explain what this IRS statement means. It appears you still have a
          pay a penalty?
          .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..Weekend Reading for February 28, 2010 =-.

        2. Aaron @ Clarifinancial

          Uh oh, tax advice from me? My understanding is that as long as long as the distributions are “substantially equal” or taken over his life expectancy, then the 10% penalty does not apply. Of course, doing something like this should require council from a qualified tax professional first (not me).

      2. I am a Lyndon

        The tax implications of his 401(k) are a minor issue. He could change his strategy and only invest in his 401(k) until he taps his company Match and then put $5K in that calendar year in a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA

        The Major issue is what I would characterize as “Trading Down to Wealth”. That is, getting rid of any and all expenses that would not serve him in the defining years of his new career. Many of these are ancient kernels of wisdom we have been hearing forever. Boiled down to it’s essence it is “Own your own home, Start your own business and Live frugally”. The tax benefits from these 3 activities are enormous. I’ll briefly explain why:

        1. Owning your own (modest) home is still a ginormous tax shelter. As a budding photographer he can stylistically get away with a single family home in a decent neighborhood. The very generous Mortgage Interest Deduction, Capital Gains benefit and Property Tax deduction are just a few homeownership benefits. There are even more being announced today (energy incentives for instance). Now is a great time to buy a home. If he rents out a room or two he can practically live there for free which would give him some room to go on safari (so to speak). Hint: Don’t rent your rooms out to fellow artists, go with The CPA types, they tend to empty the dishwasher without complaint.

        2. Owning your own business is a benefit in several ways. Obviously, his priority should be to make a profit but most businesses do not reach this magic state for many years. There are huge tax benefits to starting and operating a business, especially a business based on a personal passion. Tax bennies aside, owning a business based on your passion tends to make you aware of your chosen industry in ways far superior to simply being employed in said industry. As a matter of course, you gotta know what you’re doing. I would guess that he already has expertise in certani aspects of Nature Photography. Forming an Entrepreneurial entity around this will accelerate the acquisition of his knowledge in tangential areas as well. As Joseph Campbell wisely opined: “Follow your Bliss”

        3. Living Frugally is the best tax shelter there is. As Andrew Tobias expertly explains in his book -The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need-, “A dollar saved is *TWO* dollars earned”. Most of us have to earn much more than $1.00 in order to spend $1.00. Taxes and Inflation gnaw at every post-tax expenditure we make. Furnish your house with Craigslist, Drive a ‘beater’. Essentially – “Buy used and get rich on the difference.”

        I want to reiterate that I have heartfelt sympathy for Lyndon. Society does not want to hear the “problems” of a very high earning person. Even with the expense breakdown to show that he is nowhere near the ” lighting his cigar with 50 dollar bill” stage, many people have difficulty with this. Current Friends & family might think he’s crazy for thinking such a thing and the like-minded “Golden Handcuff Club” could be an even more unproductive whinefest. Some people just like to complain, Hopefully in Lyndon’s case, he really wants to take a chance on following a dream.

  63. Sympathy, maybe not, but I do feel that I can empathize with him and understand his position a bit. Doing our own thing is good, and anyone who does that successfully is really gutsy, smart and lucky, but unfortunately not everyone is like that. And the costs of failing or the fear of failure is sometimes so great that it holds us back forever.
    .-= Manshu´s last blog ..Personal Income Tax to go down after the budget =-.

    1. Hey Manshu – Good choice of words, empathize, rather than sympathize. This is the cost of making a little too much money indeed… hard to leave, hard to quit, hard to start something new. And this goes back to my original sentence “the luckiest people on earth are the ones who don’t make a lot of money”. thnx for stopping by!

  64. Edward - Entry Level Dilemma

    Money is the root of unhappiness. He would be much happier if he gave his money to me! Seriously though, I don’t agree with your assessment that the luckiest people on earth are the ones that don’t make a lot of money. I don’t have a lot of money; heck, I don’t have any money right now. And it causes a lot of stress because it means that we are limited in our choices of where our next apartment is going to be. We don’t have enough money to buy my wife a car, so we have to live within walking distance of her job. No, the lucky ones are the ones who know what they don’t need, how much they need, and make just enough to get it.

    The first thing he needs to figure out is what exactly he doesn’t like about his job. Is it the high-profile? The constant travel? Is it the actual work? If he likes the work but not the job, he could move to a smaller firm that has less stress.

    I have a friend who was in a similar position a few years ago. He had a $4000/month apartment in midtown Manhatten, high profile job, expensive car, etc. Now he lives in Edgewater for a quarter of the cost, works for a smaller company, and takes the bus to work. He’s much happier now.
    .-= Edward – Entry Level Dilemma´s last blog ..Interviews =-.

    1. Hey Edward what a great sentence you write “No, the lucky ones are the ones who know what they don’t need, how much they need, and make just enough to get it.”! That is pretty spot on, the problem is getting to that spot.

      Choices can be a blessing or a curse. I wish I had a lot of choices and knew EXACTLY what I want each step of the way but it’s hard. It must be the same for Lyndon and many others.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and see you around!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The Katana: Happy Chinese New Year! =-.

  65. Really? I feel sympathy for Lyndon (am I the only one?)

    Being tied down and not being able to follow your life’s passion is difficult for anyone (albeit if they’re making six figures a year). Him not being able to take two weeks of vacation at one time (eek! That’s like soul death for me– but that being said I am like those National Geographic types too but maybe not to that extreme).

    I think sticking it out for another two years and asking for a sabbatical is a good idea, or is he able to ask for one now? If they value his work, maybe they will allow him to have three weeks off a year, and he can be responsible to do his duties while he’d away?

    Yeah, I guess you can’t have your pie and eat it too, in this world, can you? =)
    .-= youngandthrifty´s last blog ..If You Had a Million Dollars… =-.

    1. Edward - Entry Level Dilemma


      Personally, I can’t imagine wanting to take two weeks of vacation at once. Heck, I can’t imagine wanting a week off all at one time. I prefer my time off in 3-4 day weekends.
      .-= Edward – Entry Level Dilemma´s last blog ..Interviews =-.

  66. Wow, Lyndon’s situation has generated a lot of discussion. I don’t feel sorry for him because he’s fortunate to be able to make this type of decision. He doesn’t have to work at a crummy job just to survive.

    I think he should work on his photography skills and experience for two years and then take a one year sabbatical. For all he knows he won’t like photography once it becomes “work”. Yet, he can step back in his job without losing too much.
    .-= Bucksome´s last blog ..Is a Phased Retirement for You? =-.

  67. My thoughts are really quite simple FS. If Lyndon is only 30 and has climbed the ladder to end up where he is now, making that much money, AND has 250,000 in savings….why is he worried about quitting his job? He has $250,000 and it sounds like his expenses are rather modest.

    Hasn’t he earned enough prestige and respect doing what he’s doing now, to come back to a job in the same industry if he were to ever “fail” at the photography gig? Even if he couldn’t, HE’S GOT $250,000 IN SAVINGS!! If he invested intelligently, he would have no worries for the rest of his life.

    Do I feel sorry for him? No. In a mean way? No. There are so many people, including myself, that have far more to lose by quitting their job to pursue their dreams. Maybe it’s not money, but there is definitely more risk for someone like me to do it.

    Does that mean he should drop everything he is doing RIGHT NOW? No, what he needs to figure out is what he’s going to do, how he’s going to do it, and jump on the train to DO-IT-VILLE. Maybe that means Lyndon quits 6 months from now after he has figured out how to make it work.

    Regardless, I think it is better to live your life doing something you love, even if it means to sacrifice the extra income, and in his case is a ton, rather than flopping along tirelessly hating the very thing that takes up most of his time. That to me sounds like it entails a life of regret and wondering whether or not he should have stepped out of hiscomfort zone.

    I say just do it Lyndon! Successful people don’t dream, THEY DO!
    .-= Brad´s last blog ..Manage Your Money Pre-Challenge Post: On Paper On Purpose =-.

  68. I’ve taken the route that Lyndon wants to take twice – once in starting my own business and the other to follow my lifelong dream of being a writer – equally kind of unrealistic. I also took the vow of poverty to do it both times. :-) I do slightly regret doing that, but when you’re younger you don’t see the plethora of options out there sometimes.

    What I also didn’t realize at the time was how quickly you can burn through your savings before you show a positive return, even if you are very frugal and conscious of where you’re spending your money.

    I chose to find jobs that I really liked with people I really liked that had some of the aspects of my dream careers – the autonomy of the self-employed and the skills/abilities of the writer.

    I think one thing that I haven’t seen mentioned in the above comments is that Lyndon could do what I do now in semi-retirement. In my case I got a great gig that pays the equivalent of over $300k/year (only I’m not working enough to make that much). I only work an average of 10 hours a week, so make less than $8k/month usually now.

    So I would do what I’m currently doing to balance the two if I were Lyndon. He should focus this next year or two on positioning himself to find contract work. If he’s good, it will be out there. I’d work for 3 months or so every year, save like crazy (ie not pay $4k for an apt.), not have to pay such huge taxes, and use the rest of the year to follow his bliss.

    I just don’t see it as an either / or proposition. Have your cake and eat it too.

    He’ll probably enjoy the 3 month stints working and using that skill set and enjoy the time off too even if his dreams never come to fruition. And if he ever decides to get back in the game in 5 or 10 years, he won’t be SOL.
    .-= Single Mom Rich Mom´s last blog ..What to do when you’ve lost track of your spending =-.

    1. You have some good advice. Either or doesn’t seem to be the best way to go about it. A slow transition sounds better.

      Gosh, it would be a dream come true to work for only 10 hours a week and make $70-80,000/yr! Maybe you can share us your secret!

      1. I think it’s due to a lot of luck and being pretty specific about the opportunities I’m looking for are.

        It was a far bigger challenge for me to focus on escaping from my previous underearning mindset than to focus on living below my means. I had to overcome being afraid to charge what I was worth. I changed jobs regularly, always going after the higher earnings, and found to my surprise that where I could earn more, I always enjoyed the job more. I think because the work was more challenging, it involved managing people, which I enjoy, and provided much more autonomy. Punching the clock is for receptionists.

        I have many friends (women are really bad at undervaluing themselves it seems) who will see a job posting and feel that they don’t have the experience or skills to do the job. I’ve seen so many men fake it til they make it or know that they can learn the job on the job if they put the time and effort in. I think I’ve been fortunate in being a single mom for the last 21 years in that I only had myself to rely upon.

        The key (for me) is to be in a field where the competition (ie. big accounting firms) charge quite ridiculous rates for the same work. So in comparison, my $150/hour rate looks cheap in comparison to them. I just don’t have the overhead. Then spend lots of time building up your network. There’s always 3 or 4 people that seem to know about every job and every opportunity around. If they get you a contract, it’s pretty cheap to take them out for an expensive meal and return the favor where you can. And I guess the #1 thing is to be pretty good in your field. That’s probably the easiest part.
        .-= Single Mom Rich Mom´s last blog ..Yakezie – Lowest ranking, highest earning and savings? =-.

  69. the cynical customer

    Very good post and comments too.
    I wonder whether Lyndon really exists – the story is too good – not that he could not as I am sure there must be someone like Lyndon in the world, actually many of them.

    1. @The Cynical Customer – you might be amazed – there’s swarms of them.

      It happens because talented, driven people who earn a lot of money usually have at least 1-2 passions that they aren’t fulfilling in work, and that unlike most people they have a reasonable shot at pursuing.

      I guess a bit like young blue collar workers (if that phrase still holds anymore) who all think they have a crack at playing sports even as they start their real jobs. Except much more realistic. (Lyndon could probably be *some* sort of photographer, and maybe even eventually do 1-2 NG shoots a year, presuming he’s good. And a lot of their passions are more realistic (became a small farmer / travel world / teach diving / become a doctor / etc).

    2. Well that’s quite a cynical comment, regarding whether Lyndon really exists, isn’t it? Just poking fun given your Alias :) Yes, there are “swarms” of them as Monevator says. All those hungry go-getters who never had a chance at freedom, b/c they were so focused on their careers, making money, and doing what society tells us we should do. Thnx for stopping by!

  70. If he’s got the talent I’d say it’s definitely worth a shot. He probably will have to make many sacrifices to take such a different route, but life’s short and he can always make another change later if things don’t work out the way he wants. It sounds a little weird but fear of success can often hold us back and keep us from our true potential. Good luck Lyndon!

  71. I have no sympathy for him, Sam. But let me just say, I can relate to his situation. Although I do not make $300k per year, I do make a significant amount of money in my job.

    Although I don’t dislike my job, I would much prefer to spend my days working at my avocation – unfortunately that path would be fraught with risks at this stage of my life that I am not willing to take right now.

    But that is my choice. Nobody should feel sorry for me. I’m a big boy.

    And Investor is correct. To say one is luckier to be making a minimal amount of money is clearly hyperbole – at least in the case of most people.

    That’s my $0.02.

    Another great topic, Sam!



  72. The big debate… work your tail off, first in-last out, until you are set for life or take the Ferris method of life-long semi-retirement doing what you love…. Only your friend can decide for himself. My personal values are to work hard now so that I don’t have to later in life. But I must also enjoy what I must be challenged. If not, I’m packing my bags.
    .-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..Combat the Closing Techniques – The Power Of Suggestions =-.

  73. “makes roughly $300,000 as an “Engagement Manager”. Obama says he’s rich, but Lyndon isn’t buying it when his 1,200 square foot, two-bedroom apartment in New York City costs $4,000/month.”

    Smallest Violin indeed! It’s not just Obama that says he’s rich – the man has more money than 90%+ of the ENTIRE WORLD!!! He lives in one of the most expensive places in the world, and his big problem is whether he CHOOSES to keep making bank or CHOOSES to do something he enjoys more.

    Boo friggin hoo

    I have sympathy for people in hard positions not of their own making.

  74. Don@MoneyReasons

    First, I think your friend if fortunate to have this choice (and it truly is a choice).

    I feel sympathy for Lyndon, not because of his situation, but because he has the classic “it’s greener on the other side” symptoms. My question for him would be 1.) Are you willing to give up your friend and prestige to follow this dream? Is it truly worth the cost?

    At one point, I would have loved to be a marine biologist, but I wouldn’t make near enough money at it, plus I might find that I actually hate it after a year…

    I have a feeling that he’s more content than he realizes, but he thinks he could be even more happy (IMHO, sounds like classic “grass is greener”!).

    On the flip side of the coin, it sounds like he has skills! Maybe he should take the plunge and try it out. If it doesn’t work for him, perhaps he could come back to his job or a similar job with the same firm… Apparently, they are impressed with him!

    Even if they didn’t hire him back, and if he has skills, I’m sure some other prestigious firm would hire him. Maybe at a bit less money, but it would still be better than the average pay!

    He might end up with less money this way, but then again… money isn’t everything!

    It’s better than being 65 wondering “what if I”…

    I wish him the best of luck with either path he goes with!
    .-= Don@MoneyReasons´s last blog ..Wealth Tip #4: Invest Money Saved on Food and Other Products =-.

  75. I do feel sympathy for Lyndon. However, before he up and quits his job, he needs a little bit of a reality check. I was a photojournalism major at a top journalism school, and interned at a prestigious photo agency that represented National Geographic photographers, before I left to take a job at a consulting company. Here’s the truth – saying you want to be a National Geographic photographer is like saying you want to be a pop star (theoretically possible, yes; likely to happen, no) — except you’ll never make any money. First off, thanks to the economy and the disjointed nature of the profession, very few staff photographer positions even exist anymore. Most photographers (that are good) are represented by agencies and do stuff freelance. Neither position makes much money, and both are ridiculously competitive. Lyndon would actually be very lucky to get a position as a photographer making $30K per year, or make that much as a freelancer, even after several years of unpaid internships and portfolio-building. It’s just too competitive, and there’s no money in media anymore. Most successful photographers actually make money shooting weddings, events, etc.

    Maybe he already knows this. But he definitely shouldn’t quit without knowing what he’s getting himself into. I think what he should do is look at transitioning his skills into another high-paying (not as high-paying) but less demanding profession (and maybe a cheaper city!), so he has time to take vacations, pursue his hobbies, and have a life. Or he could move abroad somewhere where his money will last forever because of the exchange rate, teach English, take photos and write a blog on the side. There are lots of things he could do, but the “National Geographic photographer” thing is a red flag for me.

    He feels pressure to make a lot of money right now, but I think there’s also, especially in self help books and on the internet, a way too much talk about making your job your passion and that being the only way to achieve happiness. That is just not true for every single person. For me, job happiness is about liking the people I work with, feeling like I’m doing something important, and feeling valued. I still love photography and do it in my spare time, but I’m happy every day I didn’t pursue it as a career because I probably would have ended up hating it if I had to do it to earn a (shitty) living.

    1. Sarah, your comments are EXCELLENT! Absolutely spot on, and real life advice from someone who’s done photography school, but funny enough joined consulting.

      Your last sentence could be very true. If you change your hobby into a job, you may end up hating it. This is something a couple professional bloggers have told me as well. It’s not so much fun any more, but a source of primary income.

      Yes, being a National Geographic photographer is like winning the lottery indeed. I think he’s realistic and doesn’t expect to become so… but he’d like to do so for another publication, or freelancing, all the same.

      Wonderful insights! Thanks!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The Government Is Sexist And Nobody Seems To Care =-.

    2. Thank you, Sara, this was going to be my point also. His dream seems pretty unachievable. Unless he will be happy with some other kind of photography, like doing weddings, he may never work as a photographer. Seems like he might need to go back to school, do internships, something. Maybe he can get a less demanding job while he does that stuff? Up and quitting seems a bit rash, but I know sometimes you have to do something rash to be happy.

      1. Hi VC! How’s life? Good to have you hear. The last time we conversed was on Flexo’s site.
        Hope the writing world is treating you well, and I would love to read some of your stuff on the NYT’s and other major publications!

    3. This is all bang on the money, Sara. I know several photographers, including a reasonably active but not superstar fashion/portrait photographer here in London. None make a reasonable income on their ‘passion’ photography alone. They spend more than half their time doing either weddings, corporate stuff or paparazzi type news stuff – and they’ve had to grind for years to build up those profiles, too.

      Normally I get a rap from Sam for being negative, so glad someone else is laying down the truth this time! :)

        1. I know that I am reading and responding to this post 2 years later because I have just found your blog but I have to reply to these last few string of comments. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Sara did it the other way around. Sounds to me like she was broke first. Lyndon’s issue is the exact opposite. While Sara’s point is well taken, it is clear from her comments that her financial position was not the same as Lyndon’s. IMO, his decision is purely financial. BTW, it’s 2 years later now. What did Lyndon decide to do?

          1. Hi Ty,

            Two years later, Lyndon decided to hang up his boots and join me in pursuing his dreams. He’s currently traveling and working as a freelance photographer making peanuts, but is very happy!

            Good to have you on board!

            Best, Sam

  76. Great story. I lived a similar life, except I really didn’t know what I wanted to do until now. All I knew was that I was just showing up for the paycheck. I convinced myself enough about my “career” that I stayed at it for 10 years. And I see nothing wrong with this. Getting a paycheck and contributing to society should be respected and Lyndon shouldn’t feel like a sell out for doing what he’s doing. He’s lucky. He knows what he wants to do. Most people never get there…or when they do know, it’s too late. Lyndon should take the money and run at this point. $250k is enough to do whatever he wants. He’ll need to ditch that apt though. :)
    .-= PT´s last blog ..Question of the Week: How do You Budget? =-.

    1. Yeah, that apartment is a killer. And he will ditch it, if he quits his job.

      I don’t think $250,000 is enough on at all to kick back and chillax. I’m of the opinion he should probably work 5-7 more years, save up $1 million and then see what’s out there at the age of 35-37, which is still young.

      1. Ha, thnx. If I ever become as big as Oprah, I will personally give each Yakezie member $1 million in cash. Looks like that would be about $40 million bucks! Ouch, but a promise is a promise.

        I tell ya, what bums me out is when I visit another site, share some thoughts, and the sitemaster doesn’t respond or anything. Like hosting a party, and the host doesn’t talk to ya.

        It’s great that people are getting to know each other hear and responding to each other though!

      2. Aaron @ Clarifinancial

        It seems like it’s a question of trade-offs. Most of us have been in or will be in a similar position, and we just need to figure out how much more important something is to us than something else.

        Some people retire on less than $250k. Even without SSI, he could work as a greater at Wal-Mart and still feed himself and lead a low-stress life. I guess it’s a matter of finding work he wants to do and figuring out how important the “stuff” in his life is to maintain.

        If stuff is unimportant, I say find a job as a photographer’s assistant or teach at a community college.

        If stuff is important, then he needs to stay in his job (or similar) and stick it out for quite some time.

        Ultimately, it just boils down to the relative value he assigns to these things, so he knows where the trade-off point is.

  77. I wasn’t even close to making what Lyndon did(*), but on the other hand, I probably saved relatively more than he did given the comparable sizes of ours savings. My answer: I quit my career. You only live once and the more money you have, the less additional money means. You only have to find out when enough is enough. It is the exactly the point where the marginal cost of your “soul” exceeds the marginal value of increasing your portfolio by another 2%.

    (*) However, I was in academic research where people also work 100 hours a week (and as a result effectively makes about minimum wage). The problem is, you can’t just take a vacation. If you do, your competitors, who don’t take that vacation, will coup you and get maybe 0.5 additional papers published each year (In academia, publications rather than salary is the gauge of prestige and the gauge that determines whether you will advance or be shut out). Neither can you leave work at work. If you are not constantly thinking about work, you’re losing, because someone else is. This is the problem for any “winner takes all” “up or out” career track which is the case in academia where only 1 in 10 makes professor or in corporate where only a fraction makes partner. So I have a lot of sympathy.
    .-= Early Retirement Extreme´s last blog ..Your budget is like a leaking ship =-.

      1. Of course it depends on your level of ambition, but landing an assistant professorship at a top tier or even a tier two university is extremely hard. Not because it is qualitatively challenging as much as because there are a large amount of qualified people. We may be talking 500 applications for one job. (If you’re a white male, you got that working against you too.). It also depends on the field. It will be comparably easy to get a professorship in engineering or economics. Getting one in biology, math, or physics is extremely hard. The problem is that over a career each professor turn out 10 replacements that each have to fight each other for his position.
        .-= Early Retirement Extreme´s last blog ..Your budget is like a leaking ship =-.

  78. Also what that income, even after taxes of 180k lets say, he should have MUCH more than $250k saved. It sounds like he’s also blowing away a lot of his $$ on crap and not saving for his ultimate goal. If I was him (I assume single in his case) there is NO reason he couldn’t save $125k annually. So without any increases in salary, and not factoring interest he would have 1.25 million. I think he could survive on that.
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..Is Owning a Toyota Risky?? =-.

    1. It’s pretty certain he didn’t start off at $300,000/yr right out of undergrad. More like the standard $65-75,000 right out of school at McKinsey. Can’t save much more than $10-20,000/yr on that salary in NYC!

      So actually, having $250,000 at age 30 is pretty darn good imo.

      Sure, give him another 8-10 years, he can reach $1.25 million when he is 38-40, but that’s the whole debate, as he’s not entirely sold on the idea of continuing.

      Good luck on finding your new business venture. Just being able to deduct everyone alone is reason enough to start your own business I would think!

      1. At least from “Millionaire Next Door” he should be better off. I have the forula in my blog post.

        According to the formula he should have 900k. Granted the formula doesn’t account for recently increased salary (which is one of it’s flaws IMHO)

        Either way he definitely fits into the IA (Income Affluent) category as Thomas Stanley puts it.
        .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..Is Owning a Toyota Risky?? =-.

        1. The formulat doesn’t work for the first part of one’s career. Maybe from 30 onwards, after a steady state is built, but not at the ages of 22-27 I don’t think.

          He “shouldn’t” have any more than he should. His 8 year average income is probably $180,000/yr. You’re telling me, he should have at least 900k in savings after earning $1,440,000 million? That doesn’t work b/c $1.44 mil = $1,008,000 based on an effective tax rate of 30%.

          He’s supposed to live off $108,000 over a 8 year period, of $13,000 a year in NYC? I don’t think so. Come on. You know the math doesn’t work. Don’t just blindly follow some book.
          .-= admin´s last blog ..The Katana: Happy Chinese New Year! =-.

      2. Re: new venture.

        Hence why I also started blogging ;-) At least network with others online
        and who knows I might turn it into a real business.

        To make a long story short, I found a technology I really liked. I
        I didn’t create it but spoke with the creator. It eventually lead to a consulting
        gig for which I had hopes it would turn out into a ground floor with a high level

        Unfortunately for quite a few reasons they didn’t want me, I got the shaft.
        So as of now I’m back to square one. But I still have an existing and
        profitable business, so no violins for me ;-)

        One lesson learned from the experience is not rely on others! I would recommend your friend to do the same. If he really wants to go down that path,
        do everything to plan for it and things in baby steps. Instead of daydreaming about it.
        .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..Is Owning a Toyota Risky?? =-.

  79. Do I personally feel sorry for him? No. If it’s a means to an end, than be aware it’s that and do things outside of work to move to your real goal. (like you FS creating this blog) Even if he was married and properly saved, it would be possible. Obviously it becomes harder with a wife and kids but not impossible.

    I was in the same situation 10 years ago. The basic question you have to ask yourself, is when I’m old will I regret not doing something? For me the answer was obvious and hence why I started a business. With the retrospect of now 10 years, I would have to say I’m overall much better financially too than if stuck to the original “working for someone else” path I was on.

    The problem I’m now on is looking for my next business opportunity. I would like to move onto do something else. I’ve tackled that area of business, and for me it’s somewhat boring. The something else I’m just not sure what it is.
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..Is Owning a Toyota Risky?? =-.

  80. I feel sympathy for him. No matter how much money you make or have, if you’re truly unhappy, that just stinks beyond belief. However, he knows what would make him happy, so he does have an out. He just needs to be courageous enough to jump at the opportunity to leave.

    I can understand what Lyndon is feeling. When I first graduated college, I took a job at a corporate company. I quit within 9 months, I knew it wasn’t for me. I was making a 1/10th of what your friend makes, so it was an easy decision. However, that trapped feeling is suffocating. No one would want to be in his shoes.

    P.S. Working for National Geographic is a dream I share with Lyndon, so good luck to him! I hope he follows it sooner than later.
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..How to Find the Best Place =-.

    1. It’s fun to dream big, isn’t it? He realizes he’ll probably never get that job at NG but perhaps another one. Yes, maybe he’ll make only $30,000/yr… but if he moves out of NYC, his expenses go way down too.

      Courage is hard when so much is at stake.

  81. Lyndon has to decide what is important to him, right now it seems like it is the almighty dollar (or has it been downgraded yet to the semi-almighty). Does he have to continue working for the prestigous company? absolutely not.

    I have a neighbor, also in consulting…this guy was almost bred to be successful (naval academy, fighter pilot, warto) he was making BANK but every other week he was off to Dubai and when he came home his little baby cried when this stranger went to pick him up. So he decided (just recently like last week actually) to apply for slower paced jobs for a little less money. So he jumped off of his 250K gig to a lower amount but he gets to see his kid and wife.

    Why can’t lydon do the same thing? Downgrade the job and live a little? Or alternatively BANK everything then do it in 2 years. Anyone can do anything for 2 years if you know you have an exit point.
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..Picking Dividend Aristocrat Stocks =-.

    1. The problem with the “in 2 years” mentality, is that in two years he may still think that. It goes on and on and on… and gets HARDER to leave given he probably makes more money in 2 years.

      Just think in 2 years, if you worked another year, you could save another $100,000 in cash in the bank. Wouldn’t you at 33 years old?

  82. I think he should endure it and do photography as a hobby- that is unless he continues to feel bad. Funny enough at age 30 I had about 250K in the bank, and now at 36 have about 1.4 million. I make about $260k per year and work a pretty long work week- live in a low cost area so can bank 150k per year… I’m probably going to do this till I’m forced / bought out. However my idea of fun is more hiking and being around nature- I live far from that in an urban setting so the only escape is in my mind or on vacation.

    Somehow I still find I’m happy at least a few days a week. It’s all a state of mind.


    1. Mike, can you share with us how you managed to save $1.15 million in 6 years? That’s roughly $200,000/yr in savings on a $260,000/yr gross income salary.

      Tell us your secrets! cheers, Sam

      1. Sam,

        Basically I moved to Asia on an expat package that provided a great salary, bonus and lots of benefits like housing and car allowances. I took as many benefits cash as possible and earned (and paid US & Foreign tax on) about 450K a year for 2-3 years, so that’s when I’ve done the majority of my cash savings…. Secret was got lucky, took it, worked hard, and lived frugally in lucky times. Now I’ve taken a pay cut so the savings rate is lower barring a big windfall from within the company.


        1. Excellent. There is this first US$80,000 of income tax free benefit no? How much is enough for you? Do you have an age goal to retire, or a dollar saved goal? I’m definitely curious, as $1.6 mil can provide $54,000/yr in risk free interest income at 4% now. Thnx.

        2. Sam,

          Yes- the foreign income exclusion is up to $91K USD for 2009. And any foreign taxes paid can be offset against tax you’d need to pay Uncle Sam. The country I live has higher taxes (top rate is 37% and this kicks in above $120K per year, 30% tax rate over $30K so I have a big foreign tax credit) so if I work in a low tax country like Singapore or Hong Kong I can keep more take home and apply the foreign tax credit instead.

          It’s a bit tricky at first but you can definitely save money with getting a nice ex-pat package and living frugally.

          My NW is 1.8 million right now and my yearly living expenses for the wife & I are about $35K a year, so we have about 55 years worth of savings. I’d like to get that number up to 200 – 300 years before officially retiring since I can’t be sure about future inflation rates. I’m shooting to get to 8-10 million by age 50 hopefully- if not I will work longer.

          No kids as of yet and that may make me adjust the financial equation.


    2. Don@MoneyReasons

      Hmmm, interesting name there Mike, say weren’t you in Fast times at Ridgemont High… hmmm
      .-= Don@MoneyReasons´s last blog ..Wealth Tip #4: Invest Money Saved on Food and Other Products =-.

  83. What would you do if you were Lyndon?

    I was Lyndon. I was in a corporate job that didn’t challenge me and, every time I was ready too quit, they would give me another big raise. No one has ever complained as much about obtaining big raises as I did!

    The trick is in keeping your head. Lyndon can put aside money into a Financial Freedom Fund. Then he can use it to do what he loves so well that he will end up making even bigger bucks on the other side. He’s got to love it enough to come to possess the courage to take the unconventional path.

    I do have sympathy. Sympathy doesn’t cost anything and this sort of step is a hard one to take.

    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..Larimore Acknowledges Errors in Bogleheads Guide, Then Retreats into Further Defensiveness =-.

  84. Lyndon’s story is why I started my blog. Be smart with your money and follow your dreams is what I preach. For me it’s semi ridiculous that this is a debate.

    When you die you’ll either have regrets or you won’t. Lyndon, continuing on his current path, will, which will be a very sad moment for him.

    He’s got $250,000 in the bank at age 30. That’s better than the vast majority of 30 year olds. Live like a starving photographer (because that will be your new network) and let your retirement money snowball so you don’t rely on your money cushion. When you’re sitting in the Sahara photographing lions or walking the markets in Bangkok you won’t need your super expensive condo in New York or your fancy car.

    I have no pity for Lyndon… I went through this when selling real estate during and shortly after college. I would much rather be poor and happy than in a prison of cultural norms and regret. Take the leap Lyndon, because honestly, besides not being super wealthy, what’s the worse that could happen?

    1. Ryan, good thoughts and initiatives. However, it might be different for Lyndon b/c he has already worked 8 years so the mindset and eagerness could be different with you.

      How do you know what it’s like to be in his shoes? Does it not take someone who starts off with nothing, and then with a lot, for someone to emphathize with Lyndon’s plight? Maybe.

  85. I think he should make the move now before he is really stuck. Once you have a family it is hard to make changes pursue dreams because you think more of making money for them. If he has skills then as someone mentioned prepare a portfolio and get ready, if no skills get some and get ready. make the move. He has to make a serous move though because $4000 in rent will eat up that savings. Cut back to live on less, like what he would be making when he is a photographer and prepare but do it NOW.

    1. That’s a good idea. Make the money he’s making, but cut back on living expenses like he’s only making $80,000 a year or something. I emphathize with him b/c NYC is expensive. It’s expensive b/c people make so much… catch 22.

  86. Lyndon is an idiot! He’s entitled to have vacation time! If he hasn’t taken one, it’s not because of his work, his clients, or whatever nonsense you want to blame it on… it’s because of him! Because he can’t delegate. Because he can’t have someone else take over his work for a few days… What will happen when he gets sick? Will he work in his hospital bed, because his clients demand him to??? YES HE WOULD, but because of himself, and himself alone.

    So yeah, in summary, he is an IDIOT! There’s no simpathy to be had for him. The world won’t end if he takes a vacation… REALLY!!!

    1. Thanks for the comment. I have a feeling this is why higher socio-economic class folks tend to just stick together, as do all other socio-economic classes.

      He realizes it’s a lot of money and he’s in a good position, but he would like to do something different. In his mind, it’s not a sin to do something else, but he’s “cursed” with this opportunity.

      “Unfortunately, nobody will give Lyndon much sympathy, except for his fellow well-to-do friends. Ironically, it is the sympathy that Lyndon seeks, which makes him only hang out with people of his same socio-economic class. He understands that most of America won’t understand him so he shuns most people.”

      1. He has no sympathy from me either, and with COL adjustments I’m about where he’s at. Except I still love my job.

        The only reason for doing something like this continually is that you WANT to do it more than you WANT to do something else. So as miserable as he is, he must want the money more than he wants to go photograph right now.

  87. As a grown adult, Lydon surely knows as to what he has gotten himself into. I think that deep down, he knows that sacrificing his ‘personal pleasures’ in the outdoor world for long-time betterment. There are people that would love to be in his position. As with everything in life, people have to weigh out if such a decision is worth the sacrifice. If he knows he can retire in his forties, that is a good thing – and maybe its worth hanging in and trying to approach each day differently. Ultimately, its a personal choice of course.

    Nice thread. Makes you think!

  88. Sam, you know I love you, but it’s clearly ridiculous to say: “The luckiest people in the world are those who don’t make a lot of money”.

    Lyndon could join them tomorrow. His suffering, if indeed he is suffering, is entirely of his own making.

    I’ve seen City people here in the UK whine on for years about how they’ll just do five more years and then they’ll quit to farm llamas or whatever. By the time the five years are up, they’re making three times as much money and they’re actually working LESS hard. (It’s quite cunning the way the banks do this). And so it goes on.

    The unluckiest people in the world had bad breaks early on in life and have very few choices now. Even they can usually change their situation.

    I feel sympathy for Lyndon as a fellow procrastinator! But none at all on an intellectual level.

    To answer your question, he should buy his NY condo, do five years, then sell the lot and move to somewhere pretty and full of wildlife. Maybe Central America.

    But we both know he won’t.

    1. Do we really know he won’t? Guess we’ll just have to find out.

      I didn’t write “the luckiest people….. are those who are POOR”… i wrote “not a lot” i.e. average median income, whatever that is in your home town.

      Nor did I write “the unluckiest people”…. I wrote “the luckiest people”… that’s a different mindset.

      Lyndon is by no means a procrastinator at all. If he’s thinking of quitting, there’s no way he should take on debt and buy his NYC condo! There’s no guarantee in 5 years he can sell it for a profit.

      1. He is thinking of quitting all the time.

        He has been thinking of quitting since he was 23.

        He thinks he should have done biology and become a vet.

        If he is like any of the high achieving types I’ve seen, he’ll always be thinking these things.

        That’s the curse as you say of options, but it’s a better curse than being poor.

        Of course, Lyndon might be the whistling happy go lucky yet still Alpha male and driven McKinsey type I’ve never met who could quit his job in a heartbeat, true. Hard to believe given what you’ve said about him, but possible.

        I don’t know the guy but I have seen this story dozens of times. He might be the exception.

  89. Hey Sam,

    I can see where Lyndon is coming from and I feel like his situation is more common than most people think.

    Almost all of my friends who are bankers or consultants are torn between the prestige and money that come with working in financial services and their own personal lives – including myself.

    At what point do you decide that you have “enough”? It’s a very difficult decision.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..3 Reasons Why the Average Joe is a Bad Investor =-.

    1. That’s the question indeed. How much is enough. And the more one makes, the harder it is to walk away.

      Sounds like you have a bunch of eager beaver SMB-type friends. Are you on a similar banking/consulting track?

      1. Wow! I am slow with my responses.

        Yes, I’m on a similar track – currently employed as a consultant.

        I’m thinking about jumping over to banking next year if I can but we’ll see how the job market is doing.

        Haha – we are an eager beaver bunch. I’m still impressed that you coined SMB.
        .-= Mike´s last blog ..Automation: Why You Don’t Have to Feel Bad About Spending Ever Again =-.

        1. No worries. I think there is a “subscribe to comments” button you can click to help you keep track. Not sure if it works b/c I subscribe to all comments by default.

          It’s interesting that as a consultant you are looking to go into banking. Is it the thought that you want to make more money, given bankers are closer to their clients and can extract more fees?

          I guess if Lyndon was a banker, he’d probably be making $500,000 in a normal year rather than $300,000.
          .-= admin´s last blog ..Treat Your Job As If You Won The Lottery =-.

  90. Mr. Finance

    Sam, I think when it comes to his financial state there is no reason to feel slightly sorry for this guy. but when it comes to his understanding of what happiness really is, he is lost. In fact most people are lost because they have hope and dreams to make a certain amount of money or attain a certain success in a monetary way. Then when it is attained there is nothing but emptiness.

    Enjoying life has a lot to do with the little things, and doing things for others rather than looking out for ourselves as number one in every situation.

    You can have all the money in the world, but unless you have good friends you care about, who also care about you, experiences can feel bland on occasion. Once a person realizes its not about himself or herself then they will begin to appreciate life more.

    Being thankful for what we have rather than what we don’t have will help us look at things with more appreciation for the current situation in life.

    By the way, I am writing this now while on a skiing trip with friends. A great experience skiing, but even a better experience spending time with the people you care about.


  91. David @ MBA briefs

    Sorry Sam, I don’t feel much sympathy for your friend Lyndon. He’s a perfect candidate for your 20 year retirement plan since he could easily retire in 12 years with enough money to support his new lifestyle. He’s blessed to have a good job, my only would be to stick to his guns and make do with his photography mini-vacations.

    I think you hit on a good point, most of us are going to be unhappy no matter we do. I guess the trick is finding happiness wherever we can.

    I’ve never made $300k before but I can say I’ve made a LOT of sacrifices in my life, relocating to places I would have never dreamed of living, traveling to wherever Uncle Sam sent me, taking less than fun jobs in order to stay marketable and have health insurance. You do what you have to do to get by. I don’t regret anything (much) because at least I can say I’ve had an interesting life.

    As the Arabic curse goes “May you live in interesting times.”
    .-= David @ MBA briefs´s last blog ..Do mass firings improve performance? =-.

    1. Dave, yes he is a perfect candidate for the 20 yr retirement plan, however by the time he turns 40, if he sticks with his job, he’ll probably have to contend with getting out of the game when he’s probably making $700,000-$1 million+ a year! He may have a family by then, $40,000/yr tuition payments in Manhattan, whatever it may be.

      Ironically, it may be even MORE difficult to retire in 10 years than it is now. That is the curse. What to do then?
      .-= admin´s last blog ..An Opportunity To Speak With Consumerism Commentary =-.

      1. David @ MBA briefs

        You make a good argument Sam, but I think I would stick with your 20 year plan and take the and take the money and run if I was your friend. At least, that’s what I would do if I was in that situation. Luckily he’s in a good place in his life where he can make a 10-year plan and communicate his future goals to his friends, family, and maybe co-workers.

        BUT, if he has a family and tuition payments, giant mortgage, alimony, child support payments, etc., then it wouldn’t be so much choosing between career/money and lifelong dream as choosing between his family and his lifelong dream, which MIGHT be reconcilable if he plans ahead. Make sense?
        .-= David @ MBA briefs´s last blog ..Do mass firings improve performance? =-.

        1. Yes, if it’s between choosing for himself, or choosing for his family, most would choose family. He has no family now, no debt, no dependents. The real cost is millions of dollars in potential lost income right now to pursue his passion.

          It’s easier when you just make $30k/yr to give it up… but 300K/yr? Donno.

  92. I Think it’s totally fine to feel bad for him – he’s unhappy, that sucks! I feel bad for all people who are sad regardless of money. It doesn’t mean they cant DO something about it, just that we as humans have compassion. There’s not one of us who wishes we couldn’t change something about our lives…

    Would be could to see a follow up in a year or 6 months though :) I bet he acts on it.

  93. I really think Lyndon should use 2010 as a way to get out of where he is working at. If photography is his passion, he should see if he can start the transition while working. He may not be able to go to remote regions, but perhaps he can build his photo portfolio during business trips. It will take some creativity, but if he has the talent and the hunger, he can start down the path of following his passion.
    .-= Elle´s last blog ..Double Check Your Monthly Bills =-.

    1. I agree. Build his photo portfolio, test it out for a year or two, and THEN make the decision. Don’t just risk it all now….. but perhaps. When one has $250K in the bank, it makes decisions easier.

  94. Bytta @151 Days Off

    “An ant is playing the world’s smallest violin somewhere underground. ” :D
    Gosh, things I would do to see this act.

    You didn’t mention whether he has photography skills or done it before.
    It seems like he’s looking for an excuse, a way out, an escape. I’m afraid that he might end up not liking being a nature photographer. A test drive is a good idea.

    Should we have sympathy? No, as you said, everything is logical. Obviously he stays in his position because he wants it. He wants money and will never feel like it’s ever enough. Unless the pain of staying is bigger than the desire to make a gazzilion dollars, he’ll never quit.

    What does this tell us about the human condition? We’re a miserable bunch.

    Have you ever experienced something to what Lyndon is experiencing now? I’m experiencing it now. I may not make as much, but it’s proportionally close since I don’t pay $4000/month for housing. And yes, I have an exit plan this year and will never look back (hopefully).
    .-= Bytta @151 Days Off´s last blog ..Day 19: How to Pay Off Your Mortgage in Record Time =-.

  95. I can’t say I have sympathy for him, but I won’t be too harsh in judging him because I see it too much.
    I think most of us have battered workers syndrome, especially in this economic environment. We despise our current situation, but are terrified with the alternatives.
    Lyndon is stuck–and despite the big pay check–he’s no better off than a teenager at a fast food restaurant.
    It’s not a money thing, it’s a mental thing.
    I agree with david m. Follow your dreams.
    .-= Matt S.´s last blog ..Wealth Hackers: How Flow and Info Master Money =-.

  96. Should we feel sympathy for Lydon – absolutely not. It’s his choice and and his choice only whether to be happy or not.

    When I graduated from college I worked for a big 8 public accounting firm but was laid off after 2 years. I quickly found a job as an accountant and was unhappy with this new job from the first day. I took the job because of who was going to be my supervisor – however, the first day I arrived, they informed me she was leaving for another job.

    After a month, I realized that I could not continue in this job. I went into the Comptrollers office early one morning and told him that this just wasn’t working out and that I was going to quit. His response was that this was a very bad decision and that I should rethink it. I told him there was nothing to rethink. I stayed 1 more month and trained my replacement.

    I went to Europe for 1 month and then temped for 3 months when I returned. During this time I applied for a job as a Federal Government auditor. I was told I was first on the list and when someone left I would be hired. Well I have been working for the US government as an auditor for 19 year now and I love my job.

    Lyndon – if your job makes year miserable – QUIT. Follow your dream buddy!

    1. You are lucky to love your job. How many people can really say they love their job? 30%, 20%, 10% maybe? What if he quits, and finds out he doesn’t love photography when he’s doing it full time? And that his old job was pretty darn good?!

    2. Sure you like your job! You leach off the federal govt and probably have about 30 minutes of work per day.

  97. How long has it taken Lyndon to realise he is not enjoying what he is doing? The school of thought of doing what you love and the money will come is advice that really should be implemented as young as possible. To reach that earning level and the reduce that maybe 10 fold is something that will take more than just a little adjusting to get used to.

    Money, however, only benefits how we live our life and shouldn’t be the reason we’re doing what we’re doing. What Lyndon needs is some sort of plan. If i quit my job what do I want to do? How much money do I need to do this? At what point do I give up? There is always the option to move back into the industry if times get seriously tough (a back up plan). You only live once and shouldn’t do it with regrets.

    I myself have recently graduated (civil engineering) and have taken a job working in the mining industry. You are paid for the lifestyle (12 hour days, 15 days on, 6 days off, remote location). This is, in my eyes, not sustainable. I see this as a means to and end however. Once I have earned enough to live off for a year or two, and have a better idea of what I want to do with the rest of my life I will pursue that. I have a strong interest in opening my own business and as I become more knowledgeable on the subject I feel that I will be confident leaving my current position.

    Lyndon must set some goals and have a plan. It is all good and well enjoy photography but he must be aware of what he needs to get anywhere in this industry. Otherwise if he is not willing to sacrifice a lot then keeping this as just a hobby is really his only option.

    1. Not sure how long PJ. Perhaps a couple years of wanting to do something else? I guess this is one of the main reasons why some go to business school. To reboot and rediscover.

      Good luck with your civil engineering job!

      A plan is a plan indeed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The Katana: Happy Chinese New Year! =-.

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