A millennial who quit her 6-figure job says the temporary financial strain was worth it after she was able to start her dream business
- Siobhan Llewellyn, 30, quit her $100,000 job last year after she became "extremely burnt out."
- She began working part time as a professor, which helped her to set up her "dream" business.
A year ago, Siobhan Llewellyn was making $100,000 per year — but she knew that her situation wasn't sustainable.
Her job, an ecommerce marketing manager position in Toronto, had left her "extremely burnt out," the 30-year-old told Insider. She couldn't even read an email or attend a meeting without feeling "severe anxiety and panic."
And since she'd moved away from her office when her job was fully remote, she faced a three-hour round-trip commute three days per week.
"It was a perfect storm," she said.
One morning last March, she decided to "throw in the towel."
"I brushed aside my mental, physical, and emotional well-being for too long, and I knew I needed to make some big changes," she said. "You could say my body made the decision for me, because my mind had ignored the alarm bells."
She now works part-time as a marketing professor at two colleges and is launching her "dream" social media business. Though she's making much less according to documents viewed by Insider — $90 per hour, which she expects to lead to roughly $50,000 for the year — Llewellyn says that she's "never been happier."
"Part-time was my 'out.' It allowed me to pay the bills, keep some structure in my life, and gave me the freedom to discover my next step," she said. "It's amazing what you can dream up when you have the time to think."
Llewellyn is based in Canada, but her story is reflective of a broader desire for part-time work. As of January, 22.1 million Americans were working part-time voluntarily, according to Labor Department data. That's nearly six times the number who were part time but wanted a full-time gig — 4.1 million Americans. This marked the highest ratio of voluntary to involuntary part-time employment in two decades.
In part, this data speaks to the strong US labor market, but there are also many Americans not pursuing full-time gigs due to health issues, childcare responsibilities, and burnout. One-third of women took time off from work due to their mental health last year, according to a Deloitte study of 5,000 women across the globe.
The shift to part-time and entrepreneurship required some major cost-cutting
Between her two part-time teaching jobs, Llewellyn says she works about 15 hours per week. She says it's given her the time to launch her dream business.
In February, she founded WellMarket Collective, an online platform that offers community groups, events, and workshops to help people connect with professionals and navigate their health and wellness journeys — an idea that she says was inspired by her own struggle to get help. In January, she started an Instagram page where she offers inspiration to others who feel stuck in their careers — and has already gained over 30,000 followers.
Llewellyn says her business isn't generating revenue yet. She's been focusing on building awareness, and hopes to start receiving an income soon as she rolls out a membership model.
In the meantime, her lifestyle shift has come with financial challenges for her and her husband, who works full time.
"Small luxuries" were the first things they cut, she says, adding that she did an "audit" of all their memberships, subscriptions, and streaming services and decided what they could live without. They also put any big vacations on hold, changed where they shopped for groceries, and cut back on eating out.
"We knew we'd most likely have the bills covered, but the extras had to take a back seat," she said. "None of these changes seem huge, but they really add up to help save money each month."
She's also had to work on not tying her identity and self-worth to how much money she makes, which she says has been a "hard habit to break." But her work-life flexibility, in addition to her ability to pursue something she's passionate about, has helped her work through this.
"I was always going to work on someone else's dream or idea, and I was most likely going to be tied to a 9-5 schedule," she said. "And once I realized that, the security of a paycheck, the benefits, the bonus, it all became less of a priority."
Advice for people considering part-time work
Despite her burnout, Llewellyn says that her goal was never to work part-time forever. She said that she's a "highly ambitious and driven person" who "loves to work," but just needed to recover, reevaluate her life, and ideally, find something she was more passionate about.
"I didn't want the fact that I left corporate to stop me from being successful in whatever I chose to do," she said.
For these purposes, she says that part-time was a "great option."
For others considering making the shift from full-time to part-time, Llewellyn has a few pieces of advice.
First, talk to people who have worked part-time and learn about their experiences.
"I've gone on countless coffee dates to learn about how other people live and work and I always come back feeling inspired with more confidence to make a change," she said. "I found out about part-time teaching through a friend."
Next, start building up an emergency savings fund if you haven't already. Llewellyn says that she and her husband had six months' worth of expenses saved up when she made the transition to part time. This took a lot of the financial pressure off and allowed her to take the time to think about what she wanted to do with her life. Of course, the elevated inflation across the world could make saving more challenging.
Last, before quitting your full-time role, she recommends asking your current employer if it's possible to work part-time, particularly if you "love what you do" but are just a bit overwhelmed.
Llewellyn says that there are pros and cons to her new work lifestyle, but that the biggest benefit has been the additional time and freedom she now has — two things she didn't realize how much she was missing in her day-to-day life.
"Don't get me wrong, I was scared, lost, and had a complete identity crisis" she said. "But I felt free. Like I'd finally given myself the time and space to ask what I wanted to do with my life and how I wanted to do it."
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