October 26th, 2018: The Day I Quit
October 26th, this day one year ago I decided to quit my job and hop on a flight, halfway across the world to India. I remember the emotions I had when I emailed my resignation to my boss at 9:00 AM on my way to the airport, stopped at the traffic light, outside of my office that I came to every day to for a few years. I was scared, excited, nervous, a jolt of adrenaline was running through me all at the same time as I hit the send button. My heart was racing, my phone rang - it was my boss. Ex-boss as of five minutes ago. “Pooja, is this a joke? You have been here 10 years!”, I said “No joke, I RESIGN”. Words I have heard others use over the years, but I never thought I would use in my lifetime. He was trying to do what he could to stop me from going, trying to scare me from not taking this major step, telling me “come back, we can figure it out.” But in my heart, I knew there was no going back.
I did not share the news of my departure with my family, friends, or colleagues, I just left. An announcement went out later that day, after which, I got a flurry of calls and text messages asking if it was true. I remember standing in line at airport security with my phone buzzing, text message after text message. The TSA Agent asked how I was doing, I said “I am doing FANTASTIC! I quit my job today and I’m flying to India to start my next venture!”. He looked at me with a smile, said “Congratulations and enjoy your flight. Next please.”
I realized at that moment, that all of this would not have been possible if I did not work to make it happen the last 14 years of my life in a “Corporate Job”. If I didn’t plan to cut back and make some additional investments and savings, I would never have had the satisfaction of saying “Time to Blow this Popsicle Stand”.
Like many others, I was tired of the “Sales Hides All Sins” environment adopted by many financial advisory firms. Placing the sale first, neglecting employees, who oftentimes received the short-end of the stick dealing with unhappy clients; management didn’t meet “sales goal”- but you made your sales goal - you get no bonus, executives sweeping unfair practices complaints in the trash while collecting hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in bonuses, that’s ok. I decided, enough was enough, management wasn’t listening to me, time for me to exit this toxic environment. To me, my sanity, happiness, and doing the right thing for my clients and their relationship, was more important than hitting “sales goals” for a company that did not appreciate me.
Since my first job when I was 14 years old, I started putting money away in a savings account. Initially, $10 leftover from allowance, $50 per paycheck on a systematic direct deposit bi-weekly, or $300 from a tax refund. Tapping into for emergencies only. Over the years, I had accumulated a good cash savings that I would now use as income to get through as an entrepreneur. If I planned on working for someone for the rest of my career, I would never have the courage to get out of the rat race and be happy in my life. I did not want to be a “Yes Sir” or “Yes Ma’am” for the remainder of my career. If I did not do this now, I never would, even if that meant not knowing where this decision would lead me. I took it regardless…
Before making this life-changing jump, I had to:
Be real with myself, assessing where I stood personally and financially. Did I have enough money to live on, would I be able to dine-out occasionally, or was it going to be Ramen or Maggi noodles for the rest of my life?
Think about my goals: what did I want for myself. An important goal for me is to be healthy, mentally and physically. I was in a bad place mentally that affected my family life and I had missed out on a lot of important events. I wanted to be present for my family as much as I could, and be an active member of the community. Healthwise, it was important for me to set realistic goals: lose 100 pounds in a year wasn’t realistic, but losing 10 pounds in 3 months was.
Plan for the hard days: I knew I would have to go without receiving a steady paycheck, but for how long? Would it be a week, a month, a year? Would reality set in a few weeks after my resignation, would I say to myself, “wtf was I thinking? I need to go back”. I splashed cold water over my face, looked at myself in the mirror and convinced myself it’s worth it! Keeping myself motivated mentally and emotionally working every day towards my goal.
A great quote by Richard Branson- “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” I am true a believer in this quote. Things don’t always go according to plan, a sure thing becomes one of your biggest learning opportunities, testing you. Allowing you the chance to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with asking for guidance, I think of it as a positive critique that I have a choice to take or not take. A chance to look at a problem from a different angle, to solve with another pair of eyes. Hence, I take every failure as a learning experience, you learn from it now or later. I am a true believer in things happen or don’t happen for a reason! Trust yourself: if you don’t, why would others…
Celebrate achievements and experiences: I had never worked this little and/or hard in my life. Once my system rid itself of the 9 to 5 routine, I found motivation at 11:00 AM working straight through until 4:30 PM, late nights and early mornings around 3:00 AM. My brain would race to finish emails, projects or reports in the quiet hours. But, all work and no play? One of the major things that I needed in my life was having the freedom to work and take much-needed personal time away from my windowless cubicle life. The retreat not only serves as a getaway from the office but a time to reflect. How could I develop personally and professionally…
Evaluate and set the next milestones you want to hit: Reaching revenue goals or a goal weight. Then what… Evaluate “the plan,” make some tweaks, connect with qualified professionals to help you attain your goal? Can you collaborate with others to tackle an issue?
As I write this, I look back on the hours I have spent in traffic, rushing to meetings that could have been an email or conference call, instead of an 8:00 AM meeting or 4-hour “kumbaya” retreat. People commonly ask what you do for a living, but seldom do they ask if you’re happy? I can proudly say, my name is Pooja Chawla, I’m a Partner and Private Wealth Advisor with Samra Wealth Management, and I’m EXTREMELY HAPPY I joined a longtime friend and colleague, Indy Samra, at Samra Wealth Management, and I wish I would have joined the team sooner.
Pooja A. Chawla
Private Wealth Advisor
To learn more about Pooja and her journey, call to schedule a time to meet: 212-517-0850