1. "I went from medical biller to dog groomer. I got a job at an office through my older sister and I started as a receptionist and quickly worked my way up to medical biller. While I was great at my job, I hated every single second of it. My anxiety and depression skyrocketed, I couldn’t think of anything other than work both on and off the clock. Halfway through my maternity leave (of an unexpected pregnancy) I quit my job."
"A dog groomer down the street was hiring, and so my husband said, 'You’ve always wanted to work with dogs! It doesn’t hurt to apply.' So I went for it and now I have my dream job! I no longer lay in bed in the morning wondering if I can fake my own death and get away with it! I walk in and out of work with a smile on my face and feel accomplished. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I had experienced severe burnout at my previous job. I’m so glad I got myself out of that, and I can’t believe what doing something I love could do for my mental health!"
2. "I went from chemical engineering to interior design. When COVID hit Europe, there was a lot of uncertainty. I figured that life is way too short, and that if I was going to do a three-to-four-hour daily commute to a job in a career that I wasn't passionate about, it was not worth it. I started an online training class to see if I really liked interior design — then when I did, I decided to go to an interior design school. I started an internship at a studio, and now I'm working as a freelance interior designer with the same studio. I gotta say that I am very fortunate that I have my husband's support because changing careers when you have a house to pay off and a family to support is very hard."
3. "I worked in education for 16 years, and once we were supposed to go back to in-person learning BEFORE the vaccine was rolled out, I decided to quit for good. I was already working as a special education assistant, a server, and I babysat whenever I could. I worked 60+ hours a week. As an educator, a school shooting is always in the back of your mind as a risk...but now I was supposed to risk getting shot AND getting COVID that might possibly kill me too!?! Hell no. I quit. I am now managing an independent coffee shop and I am so much happier. Plus, I work less hours for more money!"
4. "At the beginning of the pandemic, I applied to grad school for social work — because there weren't any other choices at the moment — and was accepted. I burned out after a year and a half of studying and interning remotely and was pushed over the edge by an inexperienced supervisor at my second field placement. I'm in my first term with AmeriCorps now, with the Red Cross, and I'm far more satisfied. I'm working with the same staff team I was with as a volunteer, and the next step in my career after I'm finished will be my own for the first time in my life."
5. "I had a successful marketing career. I was never crazy about marketing, but I was good at it and the money was good. During the pandemic, I hired a personal trainer and we stayed in contact. I got in the best shape of my life and loved it. In August 2020, I got COVID and it was the sickest I have ever been. I was laying in bed for six weeks, and I lost all the muscle I had recently gained. I couldn’t work anymore so I ended up losing my job, and it turned out to be the biggest blessing in the world!"
"I have to add my husband has a great job so I had time to recover and find myself again, and this privilege gave me the time to realize I wanted to become a personal trainer. For years I was dealing with eating disorders and insecurities with my body, and while I’m still healing, I feel like as I help others, I heal more and more. I have been working as a full-time personal trainer and I know this is my life purpose."
6. "I’ve never worked a job outside of food service (first a server, then a bartender.) I worked in this industry for over 15 years. When the lockdown happened, I lost my job and had a LOOOOT of time to think. Instead of going back when lockdown ended, I went to work at a homeless shelter! I absolutely love what I do. I make about a tenth of what I did at the bar, but I’m so much happier. I get to be with my people every day, form friendships with them, and watch them grow and succeed. I’ve met some of the most incredible people there. I wouldn’t trade it for anything."
7. "I’ve been a horticulturist for over two decades, but during COVID lockdown, I became qualified as a deckhand/skipper. I absolutely love the job, but unfortunately as time has gone on and the world creeps further into a recession, I find I’m not only having to work in the maritime industry AND horticulture, but am also having to take on any other work I can to try make ends meet. I now have five jobs and still struggle. The maritime industry is already suffering and I’m sure horticulture isn’t far behind. Times are tough."
8. "I left law to start a fitness coffee company with my best friend! I can honestly say that it was the best decision I have ever made. Not only have I never been happier, I actually feel fulfilled in my career. Take the risk, you will regret not doing it one day."
9. "Prior to COVID, I had been a pediatric behavioral therapist for four years. I loved my job, but as a mother myself — and someone who didn't necessarily want to advance in that field — it was not sustainable. After reopening after COVID, I was presented with the opportunity to move into a 100% admin role at the same company, which was pretty much my dream job. I'm still involved in making sure these kiddos get their therapy, but from a place where I'm better able to utilize my strengths and skills. I also finished my degree and ended up being promoted from front desk to office manager!"
10. "I was a well-compensated city employee and hated everything about my job (and life.) I decided to go back to college and move to a city on the east coast I never dreamed I could live in. I'm currently in school getting my bachelor's as a 40-something-year-old. I went from office administration to social development!"
11. "I worked in childcare for over 13 years until COVID hit. I could no longer sit back with my medical gown, face goggles, and mask making pennies while my superiors who sit in their offices made BANK. I made the switch to office administrator for a construction company last April and couldn’t be happier. My advice to anyone thinking about a change — do it! I know it’s scary and we all hate change, but you’re not going to get any happier staying where you are!"
12. "I switched from the service industry to a corporate job and have never been happier. I got nights, holidays, and weekends back. I get paid while on vacation and I'm done anywhere between 3-5:00 p.m. most days. I sit down to eat my meals rather than stealing some french fries off the line and calling it dinner. Every aspect of my life is better. My marriage is better because we get to eat meals together and go to bed/wake up at the same time, which is an important time for us to connect. My friendships are better since my weekends are free. I’m healthier because I was moving a ton and not eating enough, and the food I ate was mostly crap (see aforementioned french fries) and I was always tired. I feel better mentally than I had in a long time now that my life has more structure and routine to it."
13. "I was a manager at a popular kitschy grocery store chain and was feeling so burnt out with pandemic protocols, asshole customers angry at said protocols, and the brutal physical nature of the work. On a whim, I applied to, was accepted, and began a masters program all in a few months with the hopes of 'changing my stars.' A chance conversation with a former employee led me to find a job posting still in a customer engagement role, but at a unicorn status software/tech company. After nine months, I’m so thankful, loving my new career, and only four classes away from completing my masters!"
14. "I worked as a server for seven years. I was insulted, screamed at, and looked down upon by customers, friends, and family as well. I was miserable. On my 29th birthday in 2019, I made a wish that I wouldn’t be a server by my 30th. And lo and behold, I started writing for my friend’s website which ended up getting me a job as a content writer online! I knew I couldn’t go back to serving — it destroyed my mental health. Some days I do miss the rush of a busy night though. And the money. But I love my own schedule and working from home without commuting in a blizzard to make $17. P.S. — Tip your server at least 25% these days."
15. "In 2020, on a TOTAL whim, I finally got my state board licensing (in my country) to be a psychologist. I was never able to do the four-part exam before — I would have had to take time off work and travel — but the sessions became online and I passed with full marks. Subsequently, I took my consultation practice to the next level. However, the tangible results leave to be desired. But no matter what the future holds, I will always be grateful for how things turned out."
16. "I worked in a bank for 11 years and quit in May 2021 to start my own business. Sadly, funds dwindled fast and after seven months of job searching, I had to accept a contract job of four months to pay my bills. Working a 9-to-5 job is not for me, but my business which I loved doing (and still do) does not bring enough. So this means I have to go back to 9-to-5 life. I’m waiting for my miracle."
17. "I was a very successful personal trainer, but the pandemic caused me to lose all of my clients, and the gyms closed. Despite home workouts and opportunistic fitness 'personalities' who make BANK, the fitness industry has actually never fully recovered. I always wanted to get into teaching, so I buckled down and became a trainer in the ambulance service. Now I teach people how to save lives. It's much more rewarding and meaningful than the snoozefest of never-ending ab crunches and bicep curls."
18. "I worked in film and TV for two years after graduating college before my production company was forced to put me on hiatus due to the shutdown of all their projects. I went home to save money and came to the realization that this was no longer — and maybe had never been — what I wanted to do. I started googling other possible careers and landed on accounting. Now I’m back in school about to graduate with my second bachelor's degree and planning to pursue my masters and become a CPA. I’m enjoying my work so much more!"
19. "I worked in customer service at a for-profit college. The job was honestly okay before the pandemic — I had coworkers I could complain to about the worst callers. But when we all went remote, all of that went away, and the company said they could no longer promise us raises or promotions. Add that to the fact that callers just got ruder and ruder, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I now work at a non-profit as a case manager, and while it can be a bit overwhelming at times, it’s such a better fit for me. And the pay is a lot better too! I’m a lot happier now. The job is far from perfect, but nothing compares to the hell that was my last job."
20. "I was miserable in my job in public relations in early 2020. I was laid off later that year and the thought of doing PR for the next 30 years gave me full body chills. I realized I was going to have to go back to school if I wanted to shift careers, and in that process, I realized I should have been pursuing psychology the whole time. I’m now in the second year of my counseling program (4.0 GPA!!) and am well on my way to becoming a therapist. It was a major pivot, but I can’t begin to explain how much happier I am as a person now that I’m pursuing something I know I was meant to do. It has led to so much personal transformation that will, in turn, help me support others as they transform."
21. And lastly: "I was a professional fundraiser for several years and overall enjoyed the job and everything that came with it. Once the pandemic hit though, I started to feel like I wasn’t doing enough to help others. I became hyper-focused on what was already a major concern of mine — health inequities — and decided it was time to take a leap into learning how to address those inequities. I left my job for grad school in public health. I’m a year into my program, and based on my coursework, the people I’ve met, and what I’ve learned so far, I know that I made the right decision."
Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.