I did everything right. I earned nearly a 4.0 GPA in high school, studied computers and swam Division 1 in college, got my masters degree from Hopkins, and landed a high paying software engineering job at a hedge fund.
My hedge fund job was fantastic. Six-figure salary, annual bonuses, a generous 401k match of 9% in addition to an annual 7.25% profit share. There were free monthly happy hours, free healthy snacks and drinks, and an on-site gym with complimentary daily fitness classes. I seriously could go on and on.
After landing this job, I was stoked. I was eager to go to work every day to learn and master this whole new world of investing and finance. I even secretly wanted to be the CTO and eventually the hedge fund manager one day.
Something’s Wrong With Me
But that excitement wore off over the course of the next three years.
I started experiencing weakness in my upper back that made it hard for me to do my job. Most of all, I could no longer lift weights, swim, or run like I so badly wanted to do. How was I going to fulfill my lifelong goal of completing an Ironman triathlon in this condition?
Dozens of doctors and specialists couldn’t diagnose me. I tired multiple chiropractors and massage therapists. I bought myself a new mattress. An ergonomic specialist assessed my work environment, and a keyboard tray was installed for my ergonomic keyboard and ergonomic mouse. I even tried a $1,200 ergonomic desk chair.
Nothing worked. I continued to experience weakness in my back.
Finally, a day before I was going to quit my job, a neurologist performed an EMG and nerve conduction study on my back. He diagnosed me with a neurological disorder called Parsonage Turner Syndrome. I was simultaneously devastated and relived.
The doctor told me to take three months off of work. During my leave, I had ample time to reflect on what I wanted in life.
I knew deep down that I really wanted to build something great that positively impacted many people. I realize that’s vague, and I honestly still don’t know what it’ll be. All I know is that I wasn’t ever going to get this kind of fulfillment from my desk job.
While realizing this, I decided to go back to work after my time off. I lasted another five months before my symptoms returned to a level that I wasn’t going to tolerate anymore. At this point, the only way to minimize aggravating my back and to pursue my entrepreneurial dream was to quit my job.
So the time finally came where I quit my job—a job that I dreamed about since CS 101.
Quitting a job, especially one that has great pay and all the perks, is not an easy decision. It was a combination of my back injury and my newly realized mission that gave me the courage to quit.
It’s now clear to me that the pay and perks at my hedge fund job were the only things keeping me around. I felt secure there with a fat paycheck coming in every month.
But I knew I had to take matters into my own hands to avoid any future regret.
You’re Going To Die One Day
I hate seeing people struggle through life due to a job they aren’t happy with. Our time on earth is finite. You’re going to die one day—plain and simple. Anticipating the weekend on a Monday is a waste of your precious life.
The thing is, we all have the power to change our current situation regardless of what you’re dealing with. I truly believe that.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be gifted with a beautiful loving family, fantastic friends, and a multitude of opportunities. In fact, some of you will call me ungrateful for quitting my job. There are millions of people who would trade everything they’ve got to be in my shoes.
But I Wasn’t Happy
If you aren’t doing something that you love everyday, then something is wrong. Yes, you’re going to have good days and bad days, but in the macro, you have to be happy with what you’re doing.
When I woke up, month after month, and no longer jumped out of bed to go to work, I should have known something was wrong.
Initially, it takes a great deal of internal reflection to take a step back and realize this. Then it takes a ton of courage to disrupt your life and make a change.
Money Isn’t Everything
I could ask for your sympathy at this point, but I don’t want it.
I see my back injury as somewhat of a blessing in disguise. If it weren’t for this injury, I probably never would have quit my job. More realistically, I would have continued to be blinded by the pay and perks at my hedge fund job and never realized my true calling.
A paycheck is great and certainly necessary for many situations. But for me, someone without any commitments or debt, I knew I could forgo a salary for a few years to pursue my ambiguous mission while doing a bit of traveling along the way.
My New Dream Job
Now that I’m unemployed, I have complete control over my back injury since I’m not expected to be at my desk from 9 to 5.
My short term goal is to write high quality blog posts on this website to give value to people searching for specific topics.
That’s just step one—something that will allow me to be self sufficient. But, as you know by now, I have bigger dreams.
Although my dreams are not well-defined yet, I want to position myself in a place to enable such ambitious goals. That way, when clarity reveals itself, I will be right where I need to be.
I Appreciate You
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. It’s visitors like you, who visit my blog and follow me on social media, that will ultimately enable me to realize my goals.
If you woud like to get in contact with me, then feel free to go here and send me a message.
– Tony Florida