You’ve most probably thought about it (maybe thought about it a lot), but the idea of quitting your job with nothing to go to just seems way too scary to consider. Well 12 months ago I was like you. I’d had enough of my day job and decided to walk away from a 20 year career working in radio. It was a spur of the moment thing and wasn’t actually planned. I’d lost my mojo and my job was affecting my mental health and was making me feel miserable. Luckily I had the full support of my partner who also quit his job at the same time. We jumped together without anything to go to. Now I understand that goes against all conventional wisdom, but we didn’t stop to think about it, because if we did we might have stayed and missed out on living an amazing life.
Here are some of the biggest things I’ve learned from chucking in my job, which I hope may help you if you want to do the same. However this is where I put in the obligatory legal disclaimer, in that it’s not for everyone I know, everyone’s situation is different, but if you could take away something from these insights and apply it to your life, like the saving money bit, then go for it.
- Fear: most of it is unfounded.
You know how it goes, you’re wide awake in the middle of the night with eyes like saucers, and all sorts of horror scenarios run through your head about what could happen, might happen and possibly go wrong. I had them too. “We were never going to be employed again, we’d run out of money, default on the mortgage, sell the house and end up homeless eating sandwich crusts out of bins.” But you know what? None of that happened. Not one fear riddled thought came true; in fact only good things happened. A world of opportunity opened up when I quit my job, which was just the opposite of what my mind was telling me.
So don’t pay any attention to the crazy little voice in your head, it’s only making up stories that aren’t based on any truth. In fact it’s trying to keep you from realising how awesome you really are. Also try and avoid listening to other people as they’ll have their opinion and most of them are just as fear based as yours.
- You have to think big, think new and open up.
Working a regular job day in day out can leave you feeling tired and brain dead, I know as its how I felt most of the time. Between work, eating and sleeping there was little time for imagination, creativity, play and inspiration. After working in the same job, in the same building with pretty much the same people and doing the same thing for so many years, I now had to open myself up to new experiences, ones that fitted into my vision of what I want to be and where I wanted to go. So I made friends with other artists and writers, listened to podcasts about writing and entrepreneurs and went out and visited art galleries, took the back streets and explored the laneways.
We realised it was so important to listen to people and friends who are positive and wanted to support you. If your friends tell you how crazy you are, they’re just expressing their own fears…. you don’t have to listen to them. Life is too short to live in fear. Seriously.
- You live deliberately and live consciously.
I now live a deliberate life, a life that I’m consciously creating. Even though it took a while for my partner and I to decide to restart out small advertising business, when we did, we committed to it, we made it happen. We knocked on doors, sent emails, made contacts and ran workshops and now 12 months later it’s starting to earn us some good money.
I also wanted to pursue my writing and with two more books about to be published I now had the chance to give them the attention they deserved. I was able to become an ‘Authorpreneur’ and apart from my publisher promoting my books, I could personally promote signed copies directly myself. I set up a Paypal account and sold off my website and bought a Square reader credit card thingy and sold books at festivals, on the road and book launches. I also hired a booking agent and now I get invited to talk at events, festivals and schools. I was doing things I hadn’t ever dream I’d be doing.
We now have over five or more different income streams (including some passive ones) that are growing or have the potential to grow into awesome sources of cash.
When you quit your job, you create space to come up with new ideas of how to make money. You might have a long forgotten skill that you can now put into practice or suddenly a new job opportunity comes along that would never have eventuated had you still been stuck in your job.
- Cask wine- it’s not as bad as you think.
Ok, we like a drink or two and that wasn’t going to change just because we no longer had steady incomes so we had to reassess what shape that was going to take. And it ended up being in the shape of a box, a cardboard box to be exact. In the end we saved a heap of money and also became unofficial connoisseurs of boxed vintages, which only made us appreciate the bottled stuff even more when it came along.
Tip: It may take a few attempts to find the cask wine that you like, but It’s worth persevering. I enjoyed the Tangle Vine Cabernet Merlot. Try here for a good guide to goon.
- Lunch – you can save up to 100 a week!
When you work in an office all week long, it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying your lunch everyday and it can get darn expensive spending up to $100 a week.
We live miles from anywhere so we now had to make our own lunch and have leftovers more often, mind you I’ve always been a fan of leftovers! By simply switching to tuna and cheese toasted sandwiches (or any other filling) we ended up having healthier lunches, ate less and saved a bucket load of money. It was win win all round.
Tip for leftovers: Get a wrap, fill it with your left overs (like Nasi Goreng) add cheese and baby spinach leaves, fold quesadilla style and toast in the sandwich press til melted. OMG!
- You stop wasting money.
Speaking of saving money, we soon realised how much we were wasting. About 50% was on non essential items or things we could have got cheaper.
We still had a mortgage to pay and had switched to an interest only loan to see us through our transition period. However with the help of a financial planning friend, we realised that we could actually put every little thing we saved still on the mortgage and that helps reduce the principle and thus the interest payments. Now that was a great reason to look at what we were spending!
And it also creates the perfect opportunity to downsize, de clutter and live a more simple life. Sell the stuff you don’t use and put the money on your mortgage or into a high interest savings account. That kind of thinking will help when you start to earn big dollars because you’ll be more appreciative of it when you have it.
Tip: The first thing to go should be the treadmill you’ve got gathering dust and guilt in the shed! There’s some good cash right there!
- I realised I was an entrepreneur trapped in an office cubicle.
Some people are suited to working in an office for some organisation, that’s cool, but I always had a crushing feeling of being trapped by my job (no matter what it was) and I never really understood why. I disliked being managed, resented being told what to do and how to do it, I hated inane procedures, red tape and meetings for the sake of meetings. The empty platitudes of ‘core values’ and ‘mission statements’ made my skin crawl and don’t get me started on the glorification of busy!
It wasn’t until about 6 months into my new life when I was listening to a Brian Clark’s podcast, ‘Unemployable’, and he was interviewing Henry Rollins. I found myself nodding to everything they were saying. They were talking to me, about me! All the things I actually did like about working in my previous job; creativity, collaboration and innovation, I realised were the traits that all entrepreneurs knew were part of their DNA. Now I understood who I really was.
So if you feel like I did back then, you’re not a bad employee you might in fact be an entrepreneur. Now you can do something about it, which is awesome.
- It’s ok to not know what you’re doing.
We didn’t know what we were going to do when we quit. We just did it. Sure we both were highly skilled, but I didn’t have any formal qualifications so that narrowed my options down pretty quickly. But to tell you the truth I didn’t want to work for anyone. Lucky we had some cash saved up for bathroom renovations, so that allowed us to have a month or two breather to see what we felt like doing before we needed to panic and start hitting the streets.
Unlike conventional wisdom, you don’t need a plan. Just see where the winds of life take you.
- You’re going to die in the end anyway.
You could die at any moment, so would you rather die living a life of adventure or would you rather drop dead draped over your computer in some cubicle in a windowless office while working to make someone else rich?
The choice is simple, scary but simple.
This is your life and you can live whatever way you want. Don’t let fear trap you into being small and living small. You have unlimited potential and the possibilities for your life are endless.
Go and live your best life.
UPDATE: It’s been 2 years since I wrote this article and we’re thriving. Our business is growing, I’m writing more books, doing more talks and presentations and Andy is now part time at University, studying literature and writing and has his own writing projects. We’re living the meaningful life we’ve always wanted.