Why man left his six-figure job
In his early twenties James Smith was climbing the corporate ladder to success.
The Brit was working an office job in IT sales, a role James had taken because he knew the salary would guarantee he could buy a house and, he reasoned, the life he had always dreamt of.
But one day James decided to throw it all in, leaving the corporate world to become a personal trainer where he would make as little as $162 a day at the beginning - just enough to cover his expenses.
Despite being told the move would ruin his life, there was one crucial detail in James' career change: It made him happy.
Today James, who now lives in Sydney, is a successful trainer famous for giving no-nonsense advice who has authored two best-selling books, Not A Diet Book and Not A Life Coach.
In news.com.au's new podcast How To Be Happy, James tells host, journalist and former news.com.au editor-in-chief Kate de Brito, about the importance of knowing when to shift goals as well as why there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to happiness.
'FELT LIKE I WAS SUFFOCATING'
Before switching careers, James hated to go to work and would spent each day "itching" to leave at 5.30pm.
"I was in the corporate world and I worked in IT sales and I hated it," he said.
"Everyone around me was fine and I felt like I was suffocating, and I was like, 'Why is no one else feeling like I do?'
"It would be 5.15pm and I'd be itching in my seat; I'd be like, I just want to go home."
As a result James would act out in his job "like a child pushing its boundaries" and he "obviously didn't belong there".
"There'd be one time like the sales director would walk down and I'd be eating a Solero, which is an ice cream we have in the UK," he said.
"He'd be like, 'I don't want to know where you've got that from.'
"It was almost as if I was creating trouble for myself."
But James continued in the role, thinking the money he was on track to get would somehow make it worth it.
"I was always working towards a six-figure salary, because so much rested on my thoughts that if you get that, you can afford a mortgage, if you get that you can bring up a family, if you get that you can get a car or whatever it was," he said.
'EVERYONE SAID TO ME DON'T DO IT'
When James decided to become a personal trainer he realised that money wasn't the only "metric for success".
"It was only when I decided that I was going to exit the corporate world and become a PT that I was like, a metric for success can be wearing shorts to work every day … that would be amazing," he said.
"If I do three hours of PT a day for £30 ($A54) an hour I worked out that would cover my costs for living.
"And then the most important one was that I would enjoy my job."
James' move went against the advice of his friends, who thought he was making a terrible mistake.
"Everyone said to me don't do it; all of my best friends said there's no money in being a PT, everyone's doing it," he said.
"But I thought if I could enjoy this and wear shorts every day and pay the bills, that's winning.
"I even said to my friends even if I don't make stupid amounts of money I could spend the next five to 10 years being happy at work, which is what most people might not ever get.
"My dad did 50 years happy at work and I think he never once complained about going to work."
WHY PEOPLE GET STUCK
One of the biggest reasons people got stuck - and even stayed - in jobs or relationships which made them unhappy was because of the "sunken cost fallacy", James explained.
"The sunken cost fallacy is when people remain invested in something based off previous efforts and investments," he said.
"I'm sure you've been in relationships with friends where you're like, 'Why are you with that guy?' 'Oh we've been together 10 years' (they reply)."
An easy way to decide whether it's time to move on from a situation making you unhappy is to think about whether you are making the decision to stay in it because of what you've invested - if that's your reason it's not good enough, James said.
But instead many of us "lose the ability to think rationally because of that (time invested) and often then become irrational", he said.
"I think it's because they feel like time is wasted otherwise - what was the point if I leave?" James said.
Listen to the full interview with James Smith on the second episode of the How To Be Happy podcast, available to stream now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify
Originally published as Why man left his six-figure job