Goodbye Rat Race, Hello Kids

When Matt Christoff left McKinsey & Co. three years ago to spend more time with his wife and four children, he said goodbye to a leading consulting firm.

Today, he's still on the treadmill, working 55 hours a week at executive search firm Spencer Stuart. But where he used to put in 60-plus hours a week and spend up to four nights on the road, he now works out of his home near Minneapolis and eats most dinners at the family table.

"Giving up a career at McKinsey is a tough call, because it's a very prestigious firm, and the professional growth opportunities and economic incentives there, longer term, are phenomenal," he says. "But I figured out a way to have balance in my life, and I love my job."

Christoff prided himself on spending time with his children (ages 6, 10, 13, and 15) even during his five-plus years at McKinsey. He'd get up at 4 a.m., to leave work by 6 p.m. and see his kids at night.

But the pace became harder to sustain, and he wasn't logging enough family time.

"The work I did at McKinsey is driven by incredibly high expectations about client service. All that comes at a price," he says. "You do learn things to help you balance your life a bit, but you do it within a fairly clear set of high-performance expectations."

Today, he says he's closer to his children and his wife. With a little advance planning, he can make most of his children's school events. Recently he even took his daughter camping.

Christoff also has more time for his own recreation. He's taken up martial arts again and is training for a marathon.

"The work has been tremendously rewarding. I've got balance in my life, and economically it's worked out well."

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