A friend of mine earns $500K per year at his job.
Ever since I met this guy years ago, he’s been telling me he will quit. At one point I was about to work with him and he told me “no point, I’ll be gone by the end of the year.” That was three years ago.
This quote from Nassim Taleb, “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary,” instantly comes to mind.
In a recent conversation with my friend, the topic came up again.
“Yep, this is the year I’ll quit.”
By this point I’ve lost all faith. It isn’t going to happen. It’s a fantasy. The stupid thing is, his high-paying job has given him millions of dollars in savings. Even with all that money he can’t quit.
I can relate though. For years I’ve wanted to quit my job and be a writer. I told everybody at work “one more year” since 2014. It has taken most of my career to actually do it.
Let’s dissect why this happens. I’m sure either you or someone you know has been slapped in the face by the one-more-year plague, too.
Don’t be this sorry guy
Picture a slightly overweight middle-aged man, who stayed in a job too long looking at his desk amid an existential crisis.
He had told himself, “one more year” so many times and in the process, a slow creepy dissatisfaction built as he simultaneously increased spending to quell that pain. He is numb and absolutely lost. — Paul Millerd
The addiction of a paycheck is harder to cut off than you think. The certainty of the same amount of money each month hitting your bank account that magically covers all of your expenses is hard to walk away from.
Sure, you can have savings. But savings can vanish quickly. Everybody knows that and isn’t fooled by a savings account. As you make more money from your job lifestyle creep occurs. You’re suddenly not as smart with your money.
“$20 parking? Sure, why not?”
“Another $4 subscription? Yep, I can afford it.”
The problem is a salary slowly begins to enslave you. As your expenses go up over time, the ability to quit your job and escape the one more year nightmare disappears. Removing luxuries from your life is harder than it seems. It signals to your brain “alert, alert, we’re about to get behind financially.” Writer Shivendra Misra says, “you pay for it with your autonomy, creativity, drive, and yearning to grow.”
It’s pretty easy to stay afloat at a job without much effort. It’s nothing like being out on your own and having to generate every dollar yourself through your Gmail account.
The doom of delayed career dreams
Andy on Twitter helps to explain why delayed career dreams are bad for you.
They [employer] give you just enough money to make it hard to leave. Then you buy a house, get a car, have kids. Then it’s too much risk to leave the job. Next thing you know, you blink, and you’re 60.
None of us are getting younger. Your highest levels of energy in your career were yesterday. When I look back on my career I wish I quit my job a long time ago. I could afford to quit three years ago, yet fear kept me shackled to the office chair and answering orders from the General.
What’s magical about one more year? Will our lives be better in a year? Will we have something we don’t have now in a year that will allow us to quit a job? I don’t think so.
It’s easier to delay your career dreams than it is to live them.
So many critics online make fun of my decision. They label me as “digital nomad” or “online guru.” Really, they’re afraid to take the plunge themselves so it’s easier to be a critic from the armchair and call making money online a scam than it is to live whatever their dream is. Quitting a job isn’t a scam. Staying at a job you hate is the real scam.
Delayed dreams are the ultimate form of mediocrity. Live for now.
Harsh truth: you could be dead in a year
A near-miss with cancer in 2015 reminded me of the one-more-year lie. After I got the bad news I sat down and thought “what if this is it?”
The truth is, I was deeply pissed off and full of regrets. I’d done nothing on my bucket list. I’d said one-more-year every year since I was 18. About to enter my 30s at the time, there was no freaking way that could continue.
Many of us go through our careers like cancer isn’t on the rise and pretend we’re going to live forever. A wake-up call puts one-more-year into perspective.
“Use courage and wisdom, not labor, to make money”
This final quote from Nassim Taleb explains the solution beautifully. It takes courage to stop the one-more-year lie from ruining your career and to finally live your career dream.
The way you process the fear that comes with it is to tell yourself “I can always get another job.” It’s not like employers will reject you because you took a risk. If anything, they will admire the fact you used courage to quit your job and were bold enough to return to the workforce.
I had one former boss tell me “don’t worry, if it doesn’t work out I’ll always hire you.” You can ask leaders you’ve worked with for this unofficial guarantee if it helps you sleep at night.
Doing years of labor that ticks a box doesn’t give you fulfillment. Taking a chance on yourself is where the joy lies if you pull it off. If you don’t, you can try again until you succeed.
It all boils down to this
Every 9-5 employee should quit their job at least once and feel the fear. Everyone should try a side hustle, or the freelance/contractor life, or the life of an entrepreneur. Not everybody is suited for each of these forms of work, but you’ll never know unless you try. And the courage from the decision will give you newfound confidence.
Stop with the “one more year” lie. LinkedIn is full of jobs. Say yes to your career goals today. You’ve got nothing to lose.