#003: Itching To Quit Sales? Don’t Take Another Step Before Completing This Lifestyle Audit

Aug 10, 2023

What do you do when your commission paychecks don’t excite you anymore but you’ve grown accustomed to the lifestyle they’ve afforded?


In this newsletter I will discuss the tradeoff that you might face when you want to leave sales but aren’t totally prepared to give up your standard of living.


When a free coffee was the bees knees

For me, it started with the free hot beverages. 

Team meeting? Let’s grab a coffee. Catch up with the boss? Sounds like a good excuse for coffee. In my 20s I felt like a baller going out for coffee and having the company foot the bill.

That was before the commission paychecks started rolling in, each month bigger than the last. 

All of a sudden I could afford to: 

  • Eat out whenever I wanted.
  • Go for a massage on a day off to unwind.
  • Book the room with a view on holidays.  

When I eventually burnt out I realized I didn’t want to be in sales anymore. However, I was faced with a predicament: Am I willing to give up this standard of living?


Once you Audi, there’s no going back to Honda

Any successful salesperson who says they’re not in it for the money (even a little bit) is lying. 

This makes for a rude awakening when the money itself loses meaning yet you can’t quite bring yourself to let it go in search of a more fulfilling career. 

Often this leads to one of three outcomes:

  1. You replace your income in your next job so there’s no change to the status quo (meaning you’ll likely end up in an equally stressful role)
  2. You take a lower paying job but try to maintain the same lifestyle (not sustainable)
  3. You stay in your current job because you aren’t ready or willing to give up the lifestyle (nothing changes in your career)

So what’s the alternative?

It’s important to first question your perception of what it means to lower your standard of living. Do you think it makes you a failure to be driving a Honda when you were driving an Audi last year? To be cooking for friends at home rather than shouting dinner at a restaurant like last birthday? To fly economy on your next holiday rather than business class like usual?

Sure, on paper these actions seem to indicate you’ve gone backwards financially but what if your priorities have been reorganized? What if driving the Honda means you get to spend more time with your family? What if cooking for friends at home means you work for an organization and/or cause that you’re passionate about? What if flying economy means you’ve been able to prioritize your health and wellbeing?

Though it might seem scary, addressing these beliefs you have about success will ultimately set you up to make more aligned career decisions. When you look at the sacrifices you are making to collect that fat paycheck, you begin to question whether it's worth it.


Actionable steps: Lifestyle Audit

If you are contemplating leaving sales, I suggest completing your own Lifestyle Audit. The first time you do this it might be challenging but it will be eye-opening. This is designed to give you a snapshot of what expenses from your standard of living are actually valuable to you. 

Below is an exercise you can use to start auditing. Full disclosure: I’m not a finance guru - this is just an exercise I find helpful that you might too! 

  1. Open a new spreadsheet (or grab a piece of paper) and label 6 columns as follows:
    • A. Bare essentials
    • B. $ spent
    • C. Cost-saving alternative
    • D. Non-bare essentials
    • E. $ spent
    • F. Category
  2. Open your bank account or credit card statement and enter into the spreadsheet every transaction over $5 for the last 3 months. This might be tedious but it’s for good reason. Enter the transactions under either:
    • Bare essentials: this will be things like food costs, health bills, insurance, utilities, mortgage payments and rent etc. Put the description in Column A and the $ amount in Column B. 
    • Non-bare essentials: this will be everything that isn’t a bare essential. Put the description in Column D and the $ amount in Column E. 
  3. After you have done this - look again and be brutally honest. Have you snuck something on the bare essential list that shouldn’t be there? Hint: getting your nails done once every 2 weeks is probably not a bare essential. Change any transactions if needed.
  4. Take a look at your bare essentials: are there any listed that have significant cost saving alternatives? An example might be switching from a meal kit delivery service to shopping for your own groceries. Make a note in Column C next to any bare essentials that you might be able to save a chunk of money on if needed. 
  5. Take a look at your non-bare essentials. In Column F, categorize each of them in as either non-negotiable, convenient, nice to have or pointless:
    • Non-negotiable: you enjoy this thing so much or it makes your life so much easier and you refuse to give it up e.g. Netflix subscription, gym membership, weekly massage, ebooks. 
    • Convenient: you’re paying for it because it saves time e.g. house cleaner.
    • Nice to have: you like it but you’re not going to miss it if you don’t have it e.g. new shoes when you have 20 other pairs just like them. 
    • Pointless: you’re questioning why the heck you’re even paying for it. Maybe it’s a subscription service you haven’t used for months but never got around to canceling. Or something you’re paying for to keep up appearances but you don’t value.
  6. Feel free to add up the columns and/or categories
    • How much do your non-negotiables cost?
    • What are you paying for convenience? 
    • How much could you save if you said no to some of those nice to haves?
    • How much have you spent on pointless expenses?
  7. Now that you have an overall snapshot: take a look at it. 
    • What are the first things you notice?
    • How does looking at some of these expenses make you feel?
    • Are there any costs that surprise you?
    • Where do you see unnecessary leakage (if any)?

I remember adding up the cost of all the times we ate out when I first started seriously considering leaving sales. It was alarming. I love food but most of the time I wasn’t enjoying it because I was exhausted from work.

The purpose of this audit isn’t to make you feel guilty about what you spend or to make you feel trapped by your job and income. It is to bring awareness to what is most important to you. 

If you are already considering leaving sales, there is a reason for it. It might be a desire for more work-life balance or sense of purpose. Whatever it may be, doing this audit will help you see that there is more wiggle room in your life. That temporarily you may be able to sacrifice some creature comforts in pursuit of your longer term career goals. You don’t have to become a martyr and do a complete 180: selling everything to go off grid. You just need to know you have options. 


In summary

If you enjoy the lifestyle that sales affords but know that you want more from your career: start by completing a Lifestyle Audit. It will help you to separate out what you truly value and how much that costs. From here you can make a more informed career decision and create a game plan if you do choose to leave. 




Let me know which expenses surprised you the most - send me an email [email protected]

Taking extended and intentionally designed breaks from work is what I specialize in. If you know this is what you want but don’t know where to start, you can book a free discovery call with me using this link

Alana Kilmartin


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