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I quit a stressful marketing job that was giving me insomnia and took a warehouse job. I realized other people's opinions don't matter.

Krista Krumina   

I quit a stressful marketing job that was giving me insomnia and took a warehouse job. I realized other people's opinions don't matter.
  • Dainis Gzibovskis, 32, left his exhausting marketing job to work in a warehouse.
  • He's happy with the lower pay and less stress but warns it isn't for everyone.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Dainis Gzibovskis, a 32-year-old marketing specialist from Latvia about why he went to work stacking shelves. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I remember the first time I had the chance to pack orders at a warehouse. It was then I realized I wanted to do it for a living.

I was the head of marketing of one of the country's largest supplement-and-vitamin suppliers, Pro Supply. One day, the power went out and I found myself in the warehouse packing orders. The few hours I spent there felt like meditation to me, and I thought, "I could do this every day."

Three months later, I left Pro Supply and my team of 10 that I had built from scratch to become an order picker at the local grocery store. It's been five months since I started my new job, and I still look forward to every shift.

Before becoming an order picker, I had spent 9 years building my career in marketing without a single vacation

As a perfectionist, I didn't trust others to do my job and never took any time off. My job was my everything and my mind was always on. Sometimes, I would wake up at night having remembered something I had left undone, so I would turn on the computer to do it.

The company's sales went up, but I suffered from insomnia, mental overload, and burnout. On that day in the warehouse, for the first time in years, I completely switched off.

After resigning, I took a week off, then started looking for warehousing jobs. At first, I was worried that being overqualified might deter employers from hiring me, but it wasn't an issue. I was hired by the first company I sent my CV to — Barbora, the local grocery e-store.

When I told my family and friends about my new job, their reactions varied. Some, especially people from the creative industry, congratulated me and said they had considered a similar move themselves. Others felt sorry for me, assuming Pro Supply had fired me and the warehousing job was the only one I could get.

In reality, it was the only job I wanted.

I had to accept a 30% pay cut, but I don't regret my decision.

On the first day assembling orders, I kept thinking to myself — what am I doing here? What if someone I know walks in? What will they think of me?

But then, after a 12-hour shift, I went home and forgot about my job. I had time for my hobbies and private life — a luxury I hadn't had in nine years. I realized that others' opinions don't matter. What matters is whether you are happy with your decision, and I was.

I think that monotonous physical work can be a remedy for burnout, but such a major career break isn't a good idea for everyone.

Here are three things to consider.

You'll feel the pay cut

I had to accept a significant pay cut, and I wouldn't have managed it without my family's help. I'm lucky my parents own a number of real-estate properties in Riga and I live in one of them rent-free.

If I lived in a rented apartment, the pay cut would be too significant for me.

It can be exhausting

It's one thing to work in a warehouse for a single shift, but it's totally different when you work 12-hour shifts three days in a row. Warehousing jobs can be boring and exhausting, and many people leave after a month or even a few shifts. Know what you sign up for.

You may fall out of the job market

If you plan to return to your previous career, be aware that it might be difficult and your current knowledge might not be relevant in a few years or even a few months.

I'm certain that I'll be able to return when I'm ready to go back to marketing again. But if you specialize in Facebook or Google ads — whose algorithms and rules are always changing, for example — a yearlong break in your career might push you out of the job market.

For now, I'm planning to do my order-picking job for at least a year. My current employer has offered me promotions several times but I've turned them all down.

For now, I really want to do monotonous work with my only worry being my weekend plans.