man facing road

Why I Miss My Job but Don’t Regret Leaving It

My friends, family, and former colleagues often ask me whether or not I miss flying. 
It’s been a year since I handed in my resignation letter and decided to divorce from a 12-year career. 

I’m incredibly fortunate to have had the time to decompress following all the political upheaval I was caught up in Hong Kong. 

When people ask me if I miss it, my honest answer is yes. I wasn’t in a 12-year relationship with aviation for nothing.

There was genuine pride in safely delivering a tube full of people to their destination on a dark and stormy night. Few feelings compare to pulling off a good landing.

And then there was everything that the job gave me. The title that people respected. The money. That was nice. I certainly miss that!

Finally, there was the privilege of being able to travel the world. That was the whole reason I became a pilot. 

But when the pandemic hit and I was left with nothing but the job, it placed a spotlight on the following question: Are you ok spending your life like this? Would you still do it if you can’t have the other stuff?

The answer was and still is no. 

I get one life. That’s it. For me, the meaning of the job was stripped away. I felt like a pawn in the government’s political game. Worse, I felt I was enabling their political agenda by staying silent. One aimed at keeping the people of Hong Kong imprisoned by fear. 

In the end, I couldn’t bring myself to keep going. The relationship with my employer – who cowered to the government’s demands and took full advantage of the situation themselves – broke down. 

If I hadn’t walked away then – when the chance was on the table – I’m not sure I would have been able to stand myself. I would have looked back and painted my whole career with the same negative brush.

That’s why I believe I got out at the right time. Because I can look back and honestly say I miss it. Because I can look back and feel gratitude for the fantastic 12 years I had.

But also because, in the end, it lead me to something else.

Here’s the other thing the political situation in Hong Kong placed a spotlight on. The issue of mental health in aviation. 

It’s a topic that’s very close to my heart. One that few aircrew dare breach for fear of the repercussions. I, myself, feared getting the help I needed for fear of what it might have meant.

That’s why I’ve decided to start an online degree in psychology. In fact, I’ve just been accepted to do a master’s at my first choice university. The time has come to put one foot toward and commit to a new destination.

I want to help people who have suffered as I have. My broader ambition is to take my 12-year career and throw the weight of that behind this degree and work to address the issue of mental health in aviation. 

Ultimately my vision is a world where people aren’t afraid to speak up about their mental health. A world where people can be open and honest without worrying about losing their jobs or being stigmatised.  

A world that freely gives people the tools they need to navigate their fears – to overcome their depression – to take control of their lives. That empowers them to live life on their terms – according to their own unique talents and abilities.

To return to the original question, a big part of what makes pursuing this path so incredibly meaningful is the fact that I’m giving up the old one to do so.

The question that people usually fall short of asking me is whether or not I regret it.

My honest answer to that is, no, not a chance.

I’m curious if any of you have any stories about changing direction/careers in life? If so, I’d be keen to hear from you in the comments below.

 Also, I wrote this FREE ebook called Unlocking Personality. It can help you understand who you are and what you should do about it.

40 thoughts on “Why I Miss My Job but Don’t Regret Leaving It

  1. I like when you say that your vision is a world where people aren’t afraid to speak up about their mental health. I had two burnouts during my career within Human Resources. While I occasionally miss it, I have no regrets about transitioning to a different profession. I’ve always been forthright about my mental health, believing that my colleagues should be aware of my well-being and the potential risks they might encounter.
    In the aviation industry, however, I think the dynamics are different, and I understand why pilots may hesitate to address such issues. Nevertheless, I strongly believe they should overcome this reluctance—for both their personal well-being and the safety of the passengers.

    1. The dynamics are complicated in aviation that’s for sure. The problem with a zero tolerance approach is those who need/should get help refuse to do so. I believe there are many in the Industry who are quietly suffering as a result. Making them a greater danger to themselves and the passengers they carry. It’s inspiring to hear you be so clear cut when it comes to your mental health Cristiana. Thank you for sharing 🙏

  2. After 16 years working as a grocer, I was looking at carpal tunnel, tennis elbow and 20 years till retirement. The wife and I were having lunch and surrounded by tables of people in business attire. I said to her, what do they have that I don’t. Nothing. I was college educated, a license accountant. I took the job originally because I needed a job. I quit the next day. Never looked back. The job I took landed me in Hong Kong for six months. I enjoyed my stay.

    1. That’s awesome. I wish a switch had flicked like that for me. In truth I tortured myself for months before I decided to quit – even afterwards. It’s taken time for the water to settle but I’m in a good place now. No regrets. Wishing you well Danny 🙏

  3. My last job in healthcare was one I loved. I did not love what the system was becoming nor the fact that we were being told to give less quality care. Plus the low pay and no benefits… It was never meant to be long term but I would have loved to keep going for awhile longer, then I just couldn’t and have any respect for myself as I had lost the small amount I had for the company already.

    It sounds like you made the right decision and congrats on the new path forward!

    1. Thank you Deb – this seems to be an issue in many Industries. It’s not the lack of love for the job but the lack of love from it. That was certainly the case for me. Wishing you well 🙏

  4. I think there are so many people stuck in a job they don’t really like, not knowing where to head to. Like I was myself years ago, not knowing what to do. Then I started blogging🙂 It kept my mind occupied, with a purpose: planning the next holiday!
    We need to get out from our comfort zone sometimes, and try different paths. The world is so big out there!
    All the best in your new career!

  5. The “grind it” culture has spanned a number of decades and has affected too many people’s mental health. If one speaks up about creating work hours and work loads that don’t burn people out, they’re branded as lazy or disloyal. people love to say “no one wants to work anymore”, but the truth is people are standing up to say they just don’t want to keep working under the old rules of Produce, produce, produce, at all costs. People do want to and need to work, but under much more manageable conditions.

    Good for you for getting the training to become an advocate for workers!

  6. I think its possible to enjoy a job but still discover for many reasons, its not right for you.

    I’m glad you were able to make the right decision for you. Enjoy your new course

    1. Thank you Brenda. No one size fits all. We are all different – that’s we all have different paths we must pursue. 🙏

  7. The vision you have is great. Mental health still has a stigma, even though it is more widely acknowledged than in times past.
    I have not been at a job into the double digits, yet. Longest running one was almost 6 years, and all of my 20’s were swallowed up by retail which was quite exhausting.
    A few years into my 30’s I landed a government job which I’ve occupied for almost 4 years now. It’s the only job I’ve had where there is actual HR protection and rights for physical & mental health/disabilities.
    While I don’t look back fondly on the decade that was my 20’s; I don’t regret the lessons learned and experiences gained.
    I know when it’s time to leave here, whether it be to go somewhere else or retire; I hope to not have regrets

  8. Congratulations and continued best wishes. I believe you will see others, their pain and the opportunities for growth more keenly because of your experiences. Every excellent colleague I’ve ever worked with developed compassion and empathy through their hurdles – less from their successes. Cheers to you for being well on your way. 💕

    1. So true Victoria. It’s not my success that have made me. But in my pain and failure where I have found my worth. Thank you Victoria. I hope you are well 🙏

    1. Thank you Michelle. The way I see it, none of that hard work has gone to waste. I take that 12 years in aviation and throw it behind this degree and what follows. It simply makes up part of the journey. Wishing you well 🙏

  9. I like the insight about missing your former occupation, AP2: that the fact you *can* look back and miss flying, means that you *did* leave at the right time. It would be so easy to miss that fact, and instead think that missing flying means you were wrong to change occupations.

    1. Thank you SeekerFive. I think this about old relationships. It’s easy to let the ending taint the whole picture. But any relationships can’t have been all bad. It’s important to remember what was good – to counter one’s negativity bias! 🙏

  10. Wishing you all the success and fulfilment in your academic pursuits and your mission to create a world where mental health is recognized, respected, and treated with the care it deserves.

  11. I was forced to divorce from my job of 15 years, and at the time I thought it was actually the push I needed to finally let go of the golden chain and seek out something more meaningful. The work I had been doing was not fulfilling and had come at a time of increasing corporate thinking that I didn’t believe in. Well, the time away was much shorter than I had expected as my search for something new also came to a sharp end. I found myself crawling back to my first career (although) may steps further down on the ladder than I had been) because it was a safety net that I could take advantage of. I am not going to sugar coat how difficult and painful it was to come crawling back. I had seen a glimpse of what other options might look like. It has been eight months and I have clawed my way up another rung on the ladder. My job is not where I want to be and I am working really hard to change that. This time around, however, instead of waiting for what my workplace can give me I am leveraging everything that I can get out of them while also working to change careers and build my network elsewhere. It has been liberating to take a mindset of “what can I do with where I am”, rather than “I guess I am here and that is all I can do”. Leaving, even briefly, helped me to approach that old familiar from a very different perspective. It is so hard to know what the other option might look like until we stir up the pot and try. So glad that it has worked out well for you, and also that you can look back on the great parts of what you used to have. I don’t quite have that, but am hoping that my next break from work will be more like what you describe.

    1. Thank you for sharing Andy – I can’t imagine going back to a job you hate is an easy thing to do. I must admit I’m extremely lucky that my wife has taken over as bread winner. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to make the changes I am. There’s every possibility I might have to return to the skies if circumstances change. All the same, your message about adopting a mindset of radical acceptance is inspiring. We all must put the past to bed and make the most of the present. Indeed that’s the only way we can. Wishing you all the best Andy. 🙏

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