Quitting a job sounds easy-peasy.
Try it … I double dare you.
It takes all the courage you’ve got to cut off your income — especially during a global pandemic. I felt ungrateful for leaving a high-paying job in tech behind. A lack of gratitude prevented me from making the decision for months.
Since I left, my boss got fired. He was a nice guy but had a habit of leaving behind a trail of disasters, due to the job being outside of his skill level. They fired him and were pretty blunt about it. To save face, they let him pretend he was quitting, although everybody knew that to be a lie.
Had I been given a chance, I would have told him to simply quit and admit his failures. Instead, he told everybody all the great things he achieved. “Revenue is exploding because of me.”
What he failed to mention were the plummeting profits that were the result of him discounting the shit out of our services like it was a fire sale at Target. Still, making mistakes is how we learn. Nobody is perfect, including me.
Since my departure from corporate life, I’ve learned a lot.
The day you quit all hell breaks loose
My mind saw quitting as a fairytale. The first version of the roleplay went like this: “Screw you guys, I’m out.” That’s the ego talking, and a huge ego will ruin your life. Don’t do it.
The second version allowed my wiser self to plot the exit plan. I took the sensible approach and quit with respect. No corpses were left in the office hallway as I exited the skyscraper of broken dreams.
As soon I quit, everything turned to chaos. My investments took a Mike Tyson beating of a lifetime. A few of my income streams dried up. Money-making opportunities evaporated faster than they entered my inbox. I had this sinking feeling: “You idiot.”
Mind you, I predicted this. I openly told people as soon as I quit that my plan b would become a disaster. It’s the nature of the universe for fantasies to explode into pieces before your eyes. Why?
A picture-perfect dream teaches you nothing. A dream that becomes a nightmare teaches you everything.
I traded days on the beach for hard work spent alone in my home office. The situation improved. Solutions magically presented themselves after long walks and gazes at the sky.
The fiery gates of hell open when you quit a job. They close again when you realize everything is going to be alright, and there are actually unlimited opportunities if you’ll just sit in silence in front of your computer and work out the jigsaw puzzle calmly.
Work you love causes time to fly
I used to sit down at home and try to do my 9–5 work. I struggled to get started most days.
The struggle has changed though. It’s fun to sit down and do work I love. Today I spent a whole day reading tweets. Hours turned into minutes. Kickass content creators found their way into my life. The day before, I sat down and wrote newsletters for 8 hours.
Work you hate causes time to painfully slow down. Work you love causes time to speed up. A balance is needed otherwise my entire life will pass by too fast.
The solution for me is to ensure I schedule slow time. Slow time is where I don’t work at all. It’s time I enjoy outside. It’s a deliberate practice designed to appreciate today, instead of work all the way through life without stopping.
You’ll waste a helluva lot of time
There’s a dark side to quitting a job. When there is no boss to prod you in the back with a pitchfork to meet deadlines, you can waste a lot of time.
I’ve let whole days vanish without a trace. I can’t even tell you where the time was spent. Writers Zulie Rane and Amardeep have both experienced something similar. They recommend time tracker apps. I’ll probably have to invest in one.
A casual Twitter scroll can mistakenly feel like work. Work of the paying variety requires me to actually produce finished products and deliver services to customers. That’s why I’ve divided my to-do list into “directly makes money” and “doesn’t make money.”
The biggest struggle is being ‘just in time’ to anybody who needs me. The urge to reply to a notification or email rather than do hard work is high. I’m patient with the problem. Why?
Discipline doesn’t get rebuilt overnight. Discipline strengthens when you practice it.
Big events will pile up
When multiple big events all start piling up around the same time, it makes the fear of being jobless worse. Right after I quit my job I had to plan a wedding, a honeymoon, and a celebration with friends.
Weddings sound simple. Then you contemplate the eternity contract you’re about to sign and start freaking out. A wedding is stressful. As much as you pretend it won’t be, it’s a day you want to be perfect — and I hate perfection. Add in big life events like starting a family and rebuilding your career, and you’ve got a huge stress ball inside your head.
I’ve spoken to many people who have quit their jobs. I noticed a pattern: when they decide to quit their jobs they also seem to make several other big life decisions right around the same time.
When you quit a job it’s part of an unconscious bigger change. So you need to expect multiple big events will pile up around the same time. When you expect stress, you can pre-prepare for it. Mindfulness, reading, writing, and calling smart people are all ways to deal with stress in advance.
Express how you feel. It helps.
A new routine rises from the ashes
I worked a job and a side hustle. Now my side hustle is my main form of work. The shift between the two means I have to build a new routine. I haven’t found an optimal one yet, but I’m almost there.
The process so far involves me experimenting with doing different tasks on different days. I find the less context switching I do the better. In other words, the more I do a similar thing over and over on the same day, the easier my work is.
New routines take time to build. Experiment with different tasks on separate days. Write down what works, then design a new routine.
I shouldn’t admit this
You’ll have mini-panic attacks without a job. It’s normal.
I’m living through a pandemic. I’m in and out of lockdowns. One day is freedom, the next day a walk to the park with a vanilla ice cream could cause me to break the law. It’s a lot to deal with.
Vaccinations, where I live, have been painfully slow. I’m still waiting for my turn for a jab in the arm. The longer I wait, the more the anxiety about which brand of vaccine to choose builds. I talk to family and friends and the wait isn’t doing them any good either. Unfortunately, some of them have turned into anti-vaxxers. They’ve read one too many non-scientific pieces of content and decided to put on the Captain Stupid hat. It’s difficult to watch.
Some days are harder than expected. Some days world events are all too much. I’ve found what helps is to expect these bad days. If a mini panic attack breaks out then I go easy.
I use the no-zero days formula to simply tick off one small piece of work that leads to the feeling of progress. Or I break the day into four quarters. If it’s 9 pm and the day has been a waste so far, then I still have the final quarter to play and hit a tiny milestone.
Is it worth quitting your job?
So as you can see there are good and bad parts about quitting your job.
Here’s the revelation: everybody should quit their job at least once in their lives. It’s totally worth it. Without a job, you build your risk muscle. Without a job, you’re forced to fend for yourself and that helps you grow. Plus, you can always get another job. But you can’t go back to your younger years and try life without a job.
I’ll leave you with this life-changing question: what if you are better off self-employed, happier, more resourceful, and you make more money?
I wish I quit my job sooner.