In 2008, Carlos Silva was living in Las Vegas, earning $US100,000-$US400,000 a year working in real estate investing.
“It was a lot of pressure, a lot of stress,” remembers the now 49-year-old father of three. “I really didn’t have much time to spend with my family. My day was a 14-hour day, pretty much working seven days a week.”
“There was a lot of money being spent,” he continues. “You have to take clients out and you’re always on the go. You’re eating out a lot, you have to keep up your car, there’s a lot of spending involved. I also took a lot of training related to negotiation, investing, and accounting to make sure I was at the top of my game.”
Despite all of the time and money he invested in his career, Silva says, something wasn’t right. “I had money, I had business, I had properties, but I felt like there was something missing inside of me. One day I woke up and looked in the mirror and thought, ‘Why do I feel like this?’ I was like, ‘I’m in the wrong place — my passion is people and that’s where I need to be.'”
Silva’s revelation that his high-paying, successful career wasn’t the one for him didn’t lead him to abandon it immediately — instead, he took a job in a similar field. “I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” he says. “I had to make money and pay my bills and support my children.”
In 2011, he left his corporate path to spend a few years running his own financial services firm and volunteering as the vice president of a local nonprofit, until a friend asked him for help filling a job with a community health advocate network in 2013. “I put it out to a few people and surprisingly no one was interested,” he says. “I wondered why, so I opened the information and was like, ‘You know what? I’m already doing this and I’m doing it for free — I’ll try it out.'”
The position paid about $US26,000 a year. Silva saved up money for the transition and reduced his debt and expenses to take the role. “What interested me the most was it was a program to help people with a medical need,” he says. “It was a state-wide program, and that appealed to me because I knew there was a big need here in Las Vegas for people who had very little resources.”
He recently transitioned again in August, starting Y&S Promotions, which develops and promotes talent and cultural events in Las Vegas for people without the resources to do so.
He isn’t currently earning a salary, and he hasn’t earned more than $US26,000 a year since 2011. “I’m happier,” he says. “I have more time to spend with my family and my true friends. The money — when you don’t have it you don’t really miss it. A lot of the time you spend it on frivolous things, so it doesn’t really matter.”
“Oftentimes, the things we love are right in front of us, because we’re so used to doing them all the time that we don’t acknowledge them,” he says. “For example, I’ve been helping people all my life, and I didn’t realise that was my calling, my passion until finally it clicked.”
Silva says that he’s learned success comes in different ways for different people. “Some people make money, some people make a difference in the community,” he reflects. “I don’t think that success is just about making money and having the car, the big house — think about what makes you happy and what you can do for free if you have to.”
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