I was recently talking to a relative who was exhausted from her career job of being a middle school teacher. Sure, the benefits were nice - summers off, health care, 401K, etc. But the stress levels weren't worth it for her, and overall, she wasn't enjoying her life.
As a teacher, I have also had times where the job wasn't worth it. I love teaching. However, teaching at a school often involves much more than just classroom time. There are report cards, parent-teacher meetings, after school activities, faculty meetings, department meetings, unit planning, early mornings and late nights. At one job specifically, my income was decent but I was generally miserable.
So what did my friend and I do to fix our problems? For my friend, she quit her job and got a simple retail job at a health food store. Now, she enjoys her life again, and she says she'll never go back to her miserable career, despite a significant income cut. For me, I became a part-time teacher at a different school. To supplement my income, I teach guitar on the side and perform when possible.
Life is too short, in my opinion, to be miserable every day. Granted, the benefits are less, but I can buy my own health insurance and 401k if necessary. Most people earn more so they can spend more on a huge house, a nice car and expensive meals. But this rat race can quickly become exhausting.
Exiting the rat race involves one important step: Live Simply.
Instead of needing an oversized mansion, look for a small, comfortable home. Instead of buying a brand new BMW, look for a small, reliable car and a bike. Instead of dining on steak and lobster at 5 star restaurants, learn how to cook simple, plant-based meals. All of these things cost less so you can work less, doing the things that you love to do!