26 thoughts on “Why I quit my job as a high level manager”

  1. I am being pushed into management right now and am resisting with all my might. I’m really glad I read this as I am more certain than ever now that I am doing the right thing. I am not built to be a manager, but conversely I am not so great at being managed either. End goal is to quit asap and do my own thang… which it kinda sounds like you have done. From what you say you are still currently employed by a company but you get to do it from home, is that correct?
    It would be great to find out a little more on how you scored this current set up, which a lot of people would love to have.

    A few further comments:

    “Maybe actually doing the work is a lot more satisfying than managing it.”

    This is sooooo spot on in my opinion, I like to build things, not tell others how to do it!

    “…wonderful feeling of utter indifference towards promotions or bonuses…”

    Yep, nodding my head again here in agreement. I’ve mentioned a few times in Yearly reviews over the last couple of years that I don’t really care about the money. Get the feeling that they never believed me but hey…

    It is a shame that it took you 10 years to come full circle but you cannot have a revelation if you have not gone through it! Again, I guess I did a similar thing (without quite making it up to the management level) simply by just working working working without really thinking about an end goal (which is possibly worse than what you’ve done anyway!). I think most people fall into those two categories, they work because, well that’s what everyone else does, or they work to gain promotion, and again, as they have a drive to get to the top. Only a very small percentage of people will question these two norms and attempt something different such at retire early or just not play the game at all.

    1. Yep, I’m still working, but I get to work on purely technical projects entirely from home, which gives me the freedom to pretty much work when I want. It’s the perfect gig for my lifestyle at the moment. I knew someone who works for my company, so he was my “in” for this current position.

      Networking is so very important in this business. The more people you know, the more opportunities that you’ll get. I’m not a natural “networker”, though – but over the years, I’ve met enough people to open up some of these opportunities.

      I gotta run, but I’ll try to expand later through another comment. 🙂

      1. Cheers Steve, appreciate that, and will look out for another reply!
        Agree that Networking is important, I personally can’t stand doing it and have therefore left myself a tad short in that department, but I’m doing “ok” nonetheless.

        Enjoy the new year celebrations tonight 🙂

        1. Hi again! Wow, that took much longer than I had expected (I was vacationing in Sedona, AZ at the time and just got back into town).

          It did take me 10 years to realize that management wasn’t for me, but honestly, there’s no way to truly recognize where you truly fit in life without going through a lot of it yourself. Without being a high level manager for those months, I never would have realized how little I truly want that life. But also, I now have a new-found appreciation for what managers go through. It is certainly true that managers make poor decisions, but they also have so much more to deal with at that level, and it is almost always easier to critique a decision than to make the right one yourself.

          If you value your freedom and stress, then you are wise to resist the push into management. While it might be a new challenge, we all must weigh how important that challenge really is. If it doesn’t make us happy at the end of the day, my view is it’s not worth it, plain and simple.

          Keep your eye on the prize and continue chugging along the path towards financial independence and early retirement. Management or not, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to retire early. It does, however, take motivation and someone who has completely taken control of their life and made it their own.

          Happy 2015!

  2. Great post, Steve. I stumbled across your site and am interested in reading more.

    Out of curiosity, what type of work do you do? I’m curious what job you can do entirely from home.

    1. Hi Paul,

      I do database-related work for an IT company here in the United States. It’s purely a computer-based job, so as long as I have an internet connection, I’m good to go! 🙂

      1. Interesting. Not to hijack the comments section of this post, but do you like that work? Is it fulfilling? Does a person need a degree in that area to get started in it? I’ve got a bit of a technical background, and am always considering what my next career will be, so I’d love to get your thoughts.

  3. Seeing what managers do all day, I wanted no part of that. Unfortunately, my last company had internal policies that required engineers to assume increasing levels of quasi-managerial responsibilities as they moved up pay grades. These were usually not published in external job descriptions, but were clearly codified within internal documents for grade level expectations. Which struck me as overkill for a company that was already management heavy compared to other tech companies I had worked for.

    This could result in so-called “senior” engineers (that were still quite young biologically) with barely 10 years of experience involuntarily transitioning from development to team lead or project-style management as the bulk of their duties. Some quit, since they hadn’t intended to become, for all practical purposes, almost full time managers. Even though they were still titled as engineers.

    Hired from outside as a senior engineer, these expectations soon hurt my performance ratings, as I felt unable (and certainly unwilling) to perform said duties for systems I didn’t yet understand as a new employee, thanks to almost no training, support or mentoring. Eventually, this would lead to my involuntary departure.

    1. It has always amazed me how often technical people get promoted, through no fault of their own, into management positions. In my opinion it is tough to find good engineers these days, and keeping the good ones in place as engineers would seem to make the most sense. But then again, I suppose companies need to rationalize higher and higher salaries with higher and higher levels of responsibility, and eventually management is the only place to move to.

      It’s a wicked cycle.

  4. This one strikes such a chord with me. Same deal as you — we both worked our asses off for years to get promoted, and we’ve both gotten what we think of as our last promotions, to senior vice president. And it comes with everything you said — more pressure, more accountability, more travel, more stress. We’ve made some choices, namely moving to a mountain town, that limit our other job options, so we are sufficiently golden handcuffed to want to stick it out for two more years. Not that we wouldn’t LOVE to get demoted — we jokingly talk about it all the time. (Jokingly only because we know it’s impossible at our companies.) But at this point the finish line is close enough that we feel like we can handle the pressure a little longer. Can’t imagine wanting to do this forever, though! People who keep climbing and keep climbing… we’re just not sure what they’re looking for.

    1. I’m looking forward to your post-retirement blog entry about just how soul-sucking your positions are. I’m curious what your responsibilities look like and what your organization is demanding of you. Do you guys have to conduct performance evaluations too? Give PowerPoint presentations in front of higher level muckety-mucks?

      It seems like what you hate the most is all the travel. If I were traveling on a weekly basis, I sure would too. Air travel is the absolute worst in my opinion.

  5. I had some moments of sheer frustration at my last job of how to ever get to management. Many of these people were 10-15 years older than me and on my path at the time, no one was close to letting me near managing. I wasn’t going to be a senior manager, much less director or VP of anything in 10 years.
    In an odd twist I had the opportunity to manage a small project, which I enjoyed, until a senior director got skittish and went to the site president claiming doom gloom and pandimonium, causing the project to come to an abrupt halt.
    Then came the temp experiment. My boss hired him, with no input and then was too busy to manage him, and I was given the task. Between training and finding tasks for him to do, my productivity dropped which was a negative in my review with my boss. Then I went on a vacation, left the temp with enough work, to include time for others to use his time as support. I actually listed specific things per day for the week,. He did everything early in the week and asked others what to do the rest of the week, which was according to my boss also my failing. The temp wasn’t self motivated & as not his actual manager, I had no leverage to motivate . Crummy situation all around.
    I am very glad to be in a new job at a different company. The experience gave me a different perspective on management and if ‘FI -RE’ is my goal, in 10-15 years I won’t be working – so being a VP, or that as a goal is a moot point. 🙂 Whew!

    1. It definitely sounds like you were stuck in the “middle management” rut, where you don’t really have all that much true authority in either direction, and you keep getting dumped on both from above and below. That definitely is a tough situation to be in, no doubt.

      Glad that you found a better working relationship, now, with your current company! 🙂

  6. Steve-

    This all sounds nice, and there are definitely pointers worth implementing in my life, but can I ask in what part of the U.S. you live? Location can have a lot to do with the amount of money one can invest. Additionally, how much family money is involved in you and your wife’s early semi-retirement? I’ve come across many people who come from a background of wealth and don’t delineate that as part of their blog posts. Lastly, do you own your home? Rent?

    These questions/comments are not meant to be disrespectful in any form, but I feel that your responses may help me to determine how applicable your situation is to mine.

    I appreciate your time,


    1. Hi Michael,

      Currently, I live in the southwest United States (Tucson, AZ). But, I’ve also lived and worked in Virginia and Tennessee. Very little family money involved, though I believe my wife had a small inheritance many years ago. I’m not even sure how much of this money is left, but I can assure you that this money isn’t an integral part of our retirement…though every dollar helps! While my dad did fairly well in business, I certainly didn’t come from a wealthy family. If I had, I’d probably be retired *NOW*. 🙂

      We own our Airstream that we live in full-time. I’ve rented and owned traditional homes in the past. I’d never, ever own another sticks and bricks home again.

      Hope this helps!

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