Has anyone purposely taken a step back in career for more free time and less stress? If so, how did it go?

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I left BDO and I went to a small firm no one's ever heard of that doesn't have a busy season. Same position both at BDO and at the small firm. I just do my job, go home, and don't think about work again until the next day.

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And I should add, I feel more valued at the small firm. I actually have some leeway as to what projects I work on. In the summer, I can actually work on non-chargeable projects and I am not penalized for it. The partners understand you need to match up talent with projects of their interests and if that means utilization dips in summer months, that's OK. My Big 4 office had a utilization goal but if you just meet your goal and don't blow it out of the water like some other folks, then you were being viewed as low contributor (when in fact you're more efficient with your time and/or other people's jobs were not appropriately staffed, hence, their higher hours). This was just my experience. I know a lot of people make it at Big 4 and they seem to be happy. For me, I wasn't seeing myself "making it", I was always stressed, unhappy, and frustrated no matter how smart I worked, it wasn't ever enough.

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I quit (retired) in the middle of my career in leadership. Yes, I made great money along the way and was fortunate enough to save. But if stayed til normal retirement I would have accumulated significant wealth. Gave it up to leave the grins and have a less stressful life. Sometimes I have regrets, but more often I am happy with my decision. I do some part time consulting.

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Yes. I've honestly never been happier. It was weird at first putting aside my pride and preconceived notions of my worth being tied to the prestige of my job, but after a month, my marriage, my relationship with my kids, my satisfaction with my life on a day to day basis, all improved so much that I would never go back to what I was going now.

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I was 5 years deep into an auditing career and could have made $100k in industry or another PA firm, but I saw the writings on the wall and realized it was only going to get worse and I didn’t like the work anymore. I took a step back and became a tax associate for $65k. I absolutely love the work I do now and last year I took a 100% remote job with CA wages and now I have more time and doing work I actually like.

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I think of this all the time now. Would I be happier in an industry position or will I be just as miserable? Should I career pivot all together? I have so much time invested into getting a CPA and CISA that the thought of having to make a decision stresses me out

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Yes i took a step back, but i get paid more now as an associate ironically.. from audit senior to hr associate 😬 i now work remotely and get off at 5 whereas in audit i would work til 11pm during this time

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And people wonder why people leave audit….

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Oil and gas is great if you survive layoffs.

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That’s awesome.

I love hearing everyone's opinions. I'm about to take a new position in industry fairly early in my career but I think itll make me significantly more happy with additional free time.

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I got on a reduced schedule. Most firms are willing to work with you to try and keep you. They’d rather have someone good at 40 hours/week instead of no one. With the job market the way it is now, you should be able to work something out with you current firm. And if not, have plenty of options likely for more money. DM me if you want more info.

I was a senior manager at another firm, went to the firm im currently at as a senior associate and took a pay cut (was not substantial after tax). I got promoted in 6 months and I’m much happier. I did it for the long term opportunity and to work with younger and more driven people, so it’s working out well.

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