Skip Nav
Personal Finance
7 Tips For the Clever First-Time Home Buyer
Budget Tips
12 Personal Finance Moves You Should Make by Age 30
Get Ahead of the Game! 8 Reasons to Be Early to Work

You Asked: Should I Follow My Instincts or Listen to My Mom?

Dear Sugar,

I am 27 years old and truly miserable at the job I've had for the past five years. It started out as what I considered to be my "dream" job, but has turned into anything but that. I've tried to voice my concerns to my boss to no avail. I've had a lot of unanticipated personal health issues come up in the past few months, which have given me a lot of perspective on what I want out of life.

Since I never got the opportunity to do so before, I really want to travel the world for the next few months. I don't even want to ask my work for a leave of absence — I just want to go and find a new career when I return. But my mom feels like if I do this it'll be a huge mistake and that I won't be able to find another job when I get back. Every time I express my excitement about leaving, she just reminds me how expensive health insurance is, and how my new job could be even worse.

My dad has been really supportive and reminds me that my mom was raised differently. I understand this and know that she does love me, but her lack of faith in me is really crushing. It also hurts to know that she would rather see me unhappy at a job I detest than possibly happy, but temporarily unemployed. Her opinion really does matter to me. What do I do?

— Desperate to Quit Denine

To see Dear Sugar's answer


Dear Desperate to Quit Denine,

I don't think you should assume that your mother's concerns reflect disappointment in you or the choices you've made. It sounds like your mother is thinking about this change from a very rational perspective, and is truly concerned about possible financial repercussions. Not to sound cliche, but she's worried about you because she loves you. Your mother comes from an entirely different generation that didn't grow up thinking that it was OK to follow passion above financial responsibility.

That said, you are a financially-independent and an emotionally-capable adult who knows what's best for you. Perhaps your need for your mother's approval is actually a manifestation of your own fears about abandoning your terrible but reliable job. Whatever the reason, if you're miserable, it's time to leave your job — sometimes taking a big leap of faith is all it takes to get the clarity it sounds like you need.

Consider all your options and make a plan. Create a budget including the time it may take to find a job when you return, and make sure to leave a cushion of three to six months, just in case. Establish what types of jobs you'd like to pursue when you get back. Create a back-up plan — can you take a leave of absence from your job initially and decide whether or not you'll come back when you return? Once you've looked at every possibility, bring your mom back into the discussion. Realize that she still might not be thrilled about your decision, but she'll likely be more comfortable to see that you've thought everything through!


Join The Conversation
karlotta karlotta 9 years
(and also, you will never change you mom's mind. She will only come to accept it in time if you prove to her that your choice didn't hurt your future and your health insurance plan. But even if she doesn't come around, you can express to her that you respect her opinion and feel sad that you are not sharing points of views; that her support would be welcome, and that you wish she could put herself in your shoes. However... stick to your guns, and go on the trip, whatever the end result may be. She'll get over it; she's not going to stop loving you. You, on the other hand, will be madly disappointed (and maybe resentful...) if you don't go. So... go! And go for yourself, and on your trip, read "Eat Pray Love" because that's an awesome book to read when you're changing your life around and travelling at the same time... and by the end of the book you'll understand life is your own journey, and you don't owe anyone anything - certainly not foregoing your dreams and your happiness. Good luck, and have a ton of fun on the trip!
karlotta karlotta 9 years
I quit my high-paying job in finance to go back to my first love - photography. My parents almost died of shock. It's been 2 years and I now make a semi-decent living, even though it will never be what it used to be - but I don't care, I love what I do, and I'm happy every day when I wake up, and that is priceless. My parents? Still having sleepless nights. Still calling with anguish and long speeches about responsibilities. Still reminiscing about the good old days when they were "so proud of me". It used to make me feel very uncomfortable, unsupported, and unrecognized - but then... IT'S YOUR ONLY LIFE. Do what you want with it. It's the only way to live it, in my book : in accordance with yourself, your wishes, your dreams, and especially - following (wait for it... ) YOUR HEART. Hehe.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I would go on a leave of absense if my work allows it and when you come back you can still work there while finding a career that you love. It helps to have money and you won't end up taking a job you didn't want because you have no money left.
petite42 petite42 9 years
You don't say what your health problems were. Are they all resolved? Have you been given a clean bill of health? Or is this going to be a chronic condition that will make it more difficult to get health insurance in the future? Your mom may simply be being practical here. It is a legitimate concern, if you have chronic health problems or a health issue that may return. Ask yourself this: how likely is it that these problems might reoccur during the months you are traveling and draining down your savings (you'll need to pay your own health insurance)? How likely is it that you may wind up unable to work for health reasons? I'm all for traveling the world - don't get me wrong! I think every young person should get that opportunity. But if you have health issues that may reoccur, then you may want to think this through more practically. It's not fair to expect your parents to just cover it all if you should become incapacitated and unable to cover your own health bills down the road. But if you have a solid plan to avoid that possibility, then that's a different story.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
This is your life. You know what is best for yourself. One of the best decisions I have ever made in my life, was to make my own decisions, and not listen to my parents. I love them but they absolutely do not understand me at all.
Sydney-C Sydney-C 9 years
Its hard as we get older accepting that parents just aren't always right. I always take my mom's opinion into consideration, but in the end its my decision. For instance, like you,I was miserable at my last job and talked about quitting everyday. She told me over and over to hang in there til I found something else. Finally, I couldn't take it and just walked out one day. I had a better paying job in the industry that I love within 2 days! Don't sell yourself short. And there are plenty of insurance companies out there that sell premiums that just cover medical emergencies, nothing basic. If you're healty enough now, I would consider going that route. Some coverage is better than no coverage. Or, if you have the money (albeit it is VERY expensive) your parents could always COBRA you on their plan.
vmruby vmruby 9 years
I've always been a big believer in trusting my instincts.If it turns out to be a mistake then you will be the one to ultimately deal with the consequences.I think you'll be fine.As for your mom she loves you and worrying about your decision to leave your job and travel is exactly what mom's do.Good Luck!!!
Brooklynbee Brooklynbee 9 years
Why don't you travel AND work at the same time? A friend of mine who hated her job quit and decided to travel the world - she got a job teaching English in Vietnam and she is loving it!
remedios remedios 9 years
You're not going to have another chance to do this, and you will regret not doing it for the rest of your life if you don't go. No matter what your experience and career goals, as long as you're reasonably intelligent and hard working, you'll land on your feet when you come back. Mom's just worried. That's normal. Don't take it personally. It doesn't mean she thinks you're stupid or will fail. She just doesn't want you to have to struggle, which you may have to do. But the struggle will be worth it, I'm sure.
pixelsugar pixelsugar 9 years
I say go for it! This is coming from someone who has experienced very unexpected health issues this year. I regret not leaving and doing what I wanted, now I don't really have that chance.
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
I say: "Go for it. Travel the world." The fact that you had the same job for FIVE years is amazing. I've never been at a company longer than two years. Of course, I work in interactive marketing... So people begin to wonder if you've been "stuck" somewhere for more than three years and nt been scooped up by another company before then. Bottom line: I think you'll regret it if you don't go and travel the world. And as long as you are prepared for the idea that it could take you a few months to find comparable work, then there's no reason not to go. Plus, yes, you're mom does care about you... But I find mother's can often be quite jealous of their daughters. Especially when their daughters live their lives differently than how the mother did at that age. I think you'd be crazy not to go though. I mean, traveling the world is an amazing experience! Who cares if you have to go and work at Starbucks or McDonald's for a few months when you get back? And, as a hiring manager at my company, I know I would be highly impressed with someone who decided to take a "sabatical" from work and go travel the world. You're not skipping out on your job - I mean, you've been there for five years. You sound responsible... Maybe it's time you had some fun responsible, but incredible, fun.
Schaianne Schaianne 9 years
Actually, from what all I hear from every media and news source - things are really bad and bound to get worse. If you have a job - you may want to triple and quadruple think quitting without anything lined up. Hubby's company was bought out and sold recently and even with 16 years experience - it took him 7 months to find a comparable replacement. So - if you want to quit, make sure you have the finances to be able to live w/o a job for several months when you get back.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
Your mom's concerns are absolutely valid. It's not that you shouldn't leave your job to travel, but you should definitely have a good solid plan A, B, and probably C for when you come back. I don't know what field your career is in, but I do think it makes a big difference whether or not you'll be able to find a job in say, within one or two months before your return. Plus, travelling is really expensive, even if you're just backpacking, so depending on how long you plan to go for you'll need to make sure you won't have debt from the expenses of your trip to pay off when you come back!
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
i think your mother is being realistic, especially in this economy. but there are things that money can't buy and if you tell her that you are prepared to deal with the consequences when you return (and you really are) i think she will be "okay" with you going. have enough money saved that you can live for a couple of months w/o a paycheck. maybe you could arrange to stay with them when you return. have a great trip!
jillerin457 jillerin457 9 years
It's your life. You're the one who will have to live with your choices, regrets, and memories. If you haven't already, start by putting some things on paper. Make a Pros and Cons list, and also create a spreadsheet of all the expenses associated with quitting work to travel (travel costs, recurring bills back home, traveler's insurance, something to live on while you search for a job, etc.). Once you see it written out, you may have a better idea of whether it's doable. Set a goal and stick to it. People who are inquisitive about the world should have a chance to see it, before it's too late!
Kimpossible Kimpossible 9 years
DearSugar gave great advice. Might I also add that you read one of 2 (or both) books as well; "Eat, Pray, Love" and/or "Honeymoon with my Brother". Both of these books are memoirs of people who left their jobs to travel the world. One for more spiritual reasons, one for less spiritual, but both for healing purposes. And the 2nd book (Honeymoon with my Brother), the author actually found his new job while traveling the world. And in that book the whole generation gap thing is addressed as well. His parents were less supportive than his adoptive grandmother and her friends. the older generation were able to look back and see how wonderful an idea it was and that in the big picture the job doesn't mean anything. Good luck in your decision and have fun!!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Work is work, it's not supposed to be fun, but you've worked there FIVE years, which is definitely enough time to determine you've given it your best shot, and gained a lot of experience. I agree with Dear that you need enough $$ for your travels, and then a 3-6 month cushion AFTER that while you look for a job. Also, consider applying to graduate school or looking in a new field. If you are looking for jobs that are just like your old one you could risk not liking it again! And your mom is just worried, after you explain this to her she'll understand. There is less employee and employer loyalty these days, and five years for what was probably your first real job is really respectable, there is nothing to be ashamed about!!
usigebeatha usigebeatha 9 years
Just go! if you don't do it now, you may never get another chance.
tigerlyllie21 tigerlyllie21 9 years
If you are miserable at your job, leave. Having a job is not a good enough reason to stay some at a job that makes you crazy. You are number one, remember that. I recently had a job that I absolutely hated and I kept telling myself it would get better. I talked to my bosses, expressed my concerns, told them how miserable I was and suggested changes that would help me. They did nothing. I brought my issues up again. Still nothing. So I left, I had to do what I needed to do. If you are truly miserable you need to leave. Have you expressed how much you dislike your job to your mom? Your sanity is number one. You are still young and you have plenty of time to work! Go and do what you want; travel, see the world, enjoy your life. Finding a new job may not be easy, especially now, but you have good experience and hopefully good references. Although I agree with Dear, you need to do what YOU think is best! Remember, you come first. Hope that helps.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Moms worry. That's what they do. It doesn't reflect a lack of faith in you at all! She's just worried and risk averse when it comes to her childrens' happiness.
Colleeninator Colleeninator 9 years
Great advice, DearSugar. I might add that I would lean more towards your mothers advice if you weren't highly qualified, or didn't have a lot of money, but the fact that you're seriously thinking about traveling the world "for the next few months" tells me that you most likely ARE qualified, and alright on money. And I don't think that your mother worrying about your ability to get a job is a reflection on how much faith she has in you. Regardless of how qualified you are for any job, you can't get hired if no one's hiring, and sometimes there's just no one in your field that's really looking for anyone when you need a job. I'm sure your mothers fears are based more on this knowledge than how she feels about you and your abilities.
mnp mnp 9 years
I agree with DearSugar's advice completely. Your mom is looking out for you. I think my parents would be at both ends, too, if I was in your shoes. My mom will think about my future and security; my dad will think about how happy I will and then, when the time comes, we'll deal with the unemployment. Either way, good luck!
What Is the Lava Challenge?
Smoothie Challenge
Brandi Milloy's Baby Announcment
Donald Trump's Anti-LGBTQ Policies (Video)
From Our Partners
Latest Career & Finance
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds