Early on in my career, I had aspirations of running my own hotel, or group of hotels, somewhere in Canada or abroad. A decade working in the hospitality industry taught me a lot about running a business, leading people, and doing what it takes to succeed.

I read every business and leadership book that I could get my hands on and learned from some incredibly bright people in the industry. Promotions came quickly – I was director of sales by 25 and the following year I was recognized as the top sales director within our national chain of hotels.

Related: How a lucky break launched a successful career

Soon I was training other sales teams and leaders at sister properties across the country, in addition to duties at my home hotel. When the local general manager left, I was named interim manager while the company searched for a replacement.

I was active in the community outside of work, joining the Rotary Club, sitting on the board of directors for the city’s economic development group, and chasing sponsorship for the local air show. Everything was going according to plan – I wasn’t even 30 yet and my career was about to take off.

At a crossroads

A few months into my interim role, though, priorities started to shift. Our world was turned upside down when my wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Career ambitions and travel aspirations were put on hold as we decided to slow down and start a family.

During my three-month trial run as general manager, I learned a hard truth that I wasn’t cut out to run a multi-million dollar company with over 200 employees.

Despite all the leadership training, I just didn’t have the toughness to hold people accountable for poor performance or force them to change (some who had been working there 20+ years), and I didn’t enjoy the “kiss up and kick down” mentality that was rampant in the industry.

Fortunately, as it turns out, I was passed over for the permanent manager role and got sent back to the sales office.

Your career, or your life?

A few months later I left the hotel industry to start a new career in the public sector. While it doesn’t necessarily fuel that ambition I once had for climbing the corporate ladder, it provides a steady income and keeps me close to home – something that has become increasingly more important over the years.

It’s not uncommon for people to reset their priorities after a big life event, like having kids or getting married.

Related: Switching careers mid-life: Is it worth it?

After spending five years working 60+ hours a week, getting called in on weekends, and travelling every month, I needed a change of pace. I realized that if I was going to advance any further in my career I’d have to move to another city, possibly several within a short time, to get ahead.

Life is about trade-offs and finding balance. The new job gave me the slower pace that I needed at this time in my life, but at the expense of a lower ceiling in terms of career advancement and promotions. I decided that was okay.

Final thoughts

Looking back, it was a no-brainer to take the new job. With considerably more downtime, and nobody bugging me after hours or on weekends, I use my spare time to work on things that I’m passionate about, like writing and helping people with their finances.

Did you choose your career for money, passion, or to achieve a work-life balance? Or was it something else? Let me know in the comments.

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