Last February, I quit as a director in M&A at a big investment bank as I could see the writing on the wall and hated my job anyway. I joined a small outfit that does interesting work with better hours, but I took a 50 per cent pay cut and, since my bonus expectations are muted, I took in effect an 80 per cent cut overall. I thought I'd get past that and focus on the challenges but I find I resent my employer and myself for being so stupid. Should I quit and sit on the beach like everyone else?
First, I want to salute your courage in admitting that money matters to you. This unfashionable view has so got up the noses of Financial Times readers that they have quite forgotten their manners in the responses they left on FT.com。
This week the outgoing head of Shell put forward a more palatable view when he claimed that a 50 per cent pay cut would have had no effect on his work. Yet he hasn't put his goody-goody theory to the test – and you have. You found that halving your salary cut your enthusiasm. I am sure it would reduce mine, too。
I think much of what is making you cross is your own failure to predict how you would feel in this new, badly paid job. Yet I don't accept that your experiment has been a disaster, as you learnt two important lessons: first, you don't like feeling underpaid; and second, jobs that promise to be interesting often aren't。
Your best course of action is to jack in the new job at once and head for the beach. This too may turn out to be a mistake but if so, you will learn a third, even better lesson: how much having a job matters to you。
My guess is that you will be no happier on the beach. You will resent the fact that you are being paid nothing at all to watch other people sitting on the beach being paid nothing either。
Once you have learnt that not working is not fun, you will be in better shape when things pick up again. By then you may find it's rather nice taking home a fat salary for doing something that, by the sound of it, you are really rather good at。