3 high-earners share when they knew it was time to quit their 6-figure jobs: ‘It was literally driving me to the edge’

Three high-earners quit six-figure jobs to prioritize their mental health.They struggled to manage high-pressure workdays and lack of support.They found new careers that offer flexibility and better work-life balance.

Six-figure salaries can come with extremely demanding workloads and higher stakes. This can feel unmanageable without a supportive work environment, and in some cases, employees are left to choose between their paycheck or their mental health.

Business Insider spoke with three high-earners who left their six-figure jobs to save their mental health. They each started their careers eager to make a splash in their industry, but were quickly disillusioned by the high pressure, exhaustive workdays, and tough feedback.

When their mental health plummeted, they were forced to quit.

Jean Kang was overwhelmed by her company’s ‘hustle -culture’

Thirty-one-year-old Jean Kang initially loved the perks that came with her six-figure salaries at her different jobs in Big Tech.

“I was spoiled with tech benefits in every role — great pay, free food, remote work, gym memberships, massages, and more,” Kang told BI.

Despite the unique perks, Kang said that she felt immense pressure to overdeliver and outperform competitors — a virtue of the ‘hustle culture’ that dominated her workplace. Kang said she struggled at the realization that she’d given her life for a job that was ultimately just making big companies more money.

After a mass layoff in 2023 forced her to acknowledge the fragility of her job, Kang saw an opportunity to leave Big Tech for good. She said she’d been juggling a few side hustles after work and finally took a risk on herself by leaving her $300,000 paycheck to become a full-time content creator and career coach.

“My biggest fear was failing, but I knew I’d regret not betting on myself and could always land another job after I tried this,” Kang said.

She was happy to share that her anxiety and ‘Sunday scaries’ disappeared once she became her own boss. She felt liberated to work a flexible, remote job.

“I now choose what projects make me happy and don’t give myself too much pressure to succeed. I work 30 to 40 hours and some weekends now, but not because I have to — I want to.”

Eric Yu suffered from panic attacks at work for six months

Twenty-eight-year-old Eric Yu told BI that he spent his first two years working at Facebook as a starry-eyed recent grad excited to be pursuing a career in tech. But, as the novelty faded, anxiety took its place.

Long work days of intense coding turned into long nights of worrying about what needed to get done. He stayed late to finish tasks but still faced tough criticism from engineers. He told BI that his overwhelm manifested into panic attacks — which continued for six debilitating months.

“I was at the lowest point in my life. Every day felt like a grind: I didn’t know what I was doing or why I was still working,” Yu said.

It wasn’t until his boss seriously questioned his work output that Yu made a pledge to himself to quit tech. Yu quit his job after brainstorming alternative income streams with his then-girlfriend (who became his fiancé), Wanda, and settling on house hacking.

“I know it sounds crazy to leave a $370,000 job, and staying at Meta for the rest of my life would have ensured financial security, but I knew it wasn’t right for me.”

He’s now making passive income from real estate and using his extra time to explore what he really wants in life.

A former McKinsey employee had to go on mental-health disability leave

A former McKinsey employee, who chose to be anonymous due to privacy concerns, told BI that he knew his associate role would be tough. Still, he was willing to stick it out to sharpen his analytical skills. He didn’t expect, however, the all-consuming nature of his work.

He told BI that there was a lack of mentorship, exceptionally high standards, and mean coworkers, all wrapped up into gruesome, 16-hour shifts.

“And it was pedal to the metal — I didn’t leave my desk, forgot to eat, and dropped tons of weight,” he admitted. “I barely remembered to go to the bathroom. I only remembered to get up when I noticed my dog looking at me sadly.”

After a year, he reached his breaking point.

“It was literally driving me to the edge. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was crying more and taking anxiety medication at a higher dosage than I had ever needed before joining.”

Despite his $200,000 salary, he decided to take a three-month mental health disability leave.

His time away from work only confirmed the severity of his condition when he found it difficult to take care of himself or even leave his home. He decided to quit McKinsey to focus on his mental health.

A year after quitting, he shared that his mental health improved, and he was ready to reenter the workforce.

“As I look for a new job, I’m looking for companies that care about their employees, value inclusivity, and treat everyone with respect.”

If you quit your job due to mental health concerns and would like to tell your story, email Tess Martinelli at tmartinelli@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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