Editor's note: This article originally ran on the personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly. It has been reprinted here with permission.
Earlier this year, my husband and I made a decision that will change the course of our lives, for better or for worse. After 10 years in the mortuary industry, we decided that it was time for my husband to make a change. He was frustrated, burnt out, and tired of working weekends, late nights, and holidays. He began to wonder if there was something else that he could be doing to make a living, and started combing over job postings online. One day, he found something that he thought could work.
“I want to work in sales,” he said. I looked at him in disbelief. It was hard for me to picture my husband selling anyone anything. After all, when I worked with him at the mortuary, I would often hear him steering people away from all of the expensive options. Instead, he would listen to their needs and suggest services that wouldn’t require them to spend any more than necessary. And, he never put an ounce of pressure on anyone. It just wasn’t his style.
“Are you sure?” I wanted to be supportive, but I also wanted to be realistic. Greg has so many amazing qualities but I didn’t think that a knack for sales was one of them. But, after talking for weeks and months about his potential career change, I started to wonder if it was the right move. After all, if he succeeded, he had the potential to make a lot more money than he was making as a mortician. And to be honest, the thought of my husband getting a huge raise started to sound pretty darn good. So, I gave him the green light. “You’ll never know unless you try,” I said. And, he did.
He started training to sell life insurance and investments at the beginning of June by studying and preparing for the various licenses that would be required. Then, by the beginning of July, he started the classroom portion of his training. And while I thought that things were going relatively well, I could tell that something was wrong. He looked tired, stressed, and unusually miserable for days at a time. So, after several weeks of training, I confronted him. “Honey, what’s wrong?”
The grass isn’t always greener
“I absolutely hate it ” The man I love was absolutely beside himself with worry and shame. “I’ve ruined our lives,” he cried. “I don’t know what to do.”
So, we talked for hours and tried to figure out exactly what he hated about his new job in sales. And the truth was, he hated all of it. His new job required that he call 40 people per day on the phone in an effort to set up appointments. And while he knew that ahead of time, he found that theidea of it and actually doing it were two entirely different things. He hated calling people he knew. He hated calling people that he didn’t know. He just hated calling people. Period.
He hated it so much, in fact, that he didn’t want to go back. And we decided that it didn’t make sense for him to continue. Since it was a sales job and 100 percent commission, he wasn’t getting paid to be there anyway. So, the following Monday he went to his new office, packed up his belongings, and came back home.
So, there we were. At age 34, my husband left his stable and well-paying job at a mortuary in search of greener pastures. And unfortunately, the greener pastures turned out to be just an illusion, and simply out of reach for someone with his personality and temperament. And since his old employer had already hired someone else to replace him, we knew that there was no way to get his old job back. So, he decided to look for a new job, a different job. And we put our heads together to figure out what his next step should be.
Back where we began
After briefly looking for jobs in another industry, my husband had some sort of breakthrough. He began to miss directing funerals. He missed helping people. And, he missed the industry that he was entirely sick of not too long ago. Sure, working in a mortuary isn’t perfect. As we all know, no job is. But, while it isn’t perfect, it is reliable and well-paying. They can’t ship his job out of the country or force him to relocate. And unless people stop dying altogether, there’s only a slim chance that he could ever get laid off or downsized. It’s also a job that comes with a lot of perks that have nothing to do with money, like the ability to help people who are often experiencing the worst day of their lives. And, while my husband is awful at sales, he’s amazing with people who are hurting, afraid, and stressed out. Like it or not, the mortuary business is where his heart is. It’s where he belongs. And we’re lucky that it’s an industry that is almost always hiring.
After a week of looking, he was offered a job with similar pay, hours, and benefits about 30 minutes away from home. After what amounts to a three-month hiatus from the working world, we’ll soon pick up almost exactly where we began. That is, of course, except for one large, life-changing exception. We have to move.
Big mistakes have consequences
Since Greg’s new job requires that he be on call part of the time, we have to move. So, after countless tears and seemingly endless heartache, we put our house on the market. Because of the decisions we’ve made, we have to leave the home where we brought our daughters home from the hospital for the very first time. We have to leave the house we love, and the place where nearly all of our memories from the last six years have taken place.
And although we know that we’re only human and allowed to make mistakes, we now know that big mistakes, like this one, have consequences. We’ve learned that the grass isn’t always greener, and that sometimes you just have to learn to be happy with what you have, whether it’s your career or your car or your house.
The silver lining
The good news, I suppose, is that the move will take place before my oldest starts kindergarten next year. We’re also moving to an area with some of the highest rated schools in the state, and a place that I happen to like. In fact, it’s a place that we’ve often fantasized about living, but couldn’t because it would be too far from work.
My husband starts his new job next week. And he’s starting it with a new appreciation for everything that he has. No, his job isn’t perfect, but no job on Earth is. Every job has its perks and its downfalls. But sometimes it’s OK to be happy with what you have, instead of wishing for something different, or something more. We know that now, and we’re excited to put this all behind us and move on. And, at the end of the day, sometimes a job is just a job. We have each other. We have our family. We have our health. And, truthfully, those are the only things that ever mattered anyway.
Have you ever made a bad decision that altered the course of your life? If so, would you go back in time and change it?