How to Quit Your Day Job

How to Quit Your Day Job

The purpose of this article is to guide you through the steps necessary to go from: a) working at a job that turns you into a zombie you’re not happy with to b) beginning self-employment.

What this guide is not: The following is not meant to teach you how to create a successful business. That is beyond the scope of this article.

So, if this isn’t meant to teach you how to create a business, how can it help you to quit your job? Well, it turns out there is a lot more that goes into quitting your job than just creating a self sustaining income. You’ll have to figure out how to talk to your family and partner about it, set and stick to a firm date, and create a savings fund to cushion your transition (unless you prefer no safety net when you jump). This guide intends to address these often un-talked about concerns.

Being dissatisfied isn’t enough

A lot of people know that they would rather not be stuck in their current work situation. But knowing what you don’t want and being dissatisfied isn’t enough. And while dreaming about what you’d rather do is great (it keeps your hope alive), it’s not enough either.

At some point you’re going to have to address the gritty, practical and tactical side of how you’re actually going to change your situation. 

Below, I’ll address each of these topics related to taking the plunge (actually quitting your job and doing what you want):

  1. Is self employment right for me? Or am I just jumping on a bandwagon?
  2. Finding your niche and hanging up your shingle.
  3. Setting your date for your final day of work.
  4. Approaching the topic of quitting with your partner and loved ones.
  5. Safety nets, savings accounts, and preparing for the transition.
  6. Saying “I quit” and reclaiming your time.
  7. Acclimating to freedom and the schedule-free life.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Is self employment right for me? Or am I just jumping on a bandwagon?

There are a lot of blogs out there (this one included) that tout the benefits of self employment: more freedom, greater control of your work, and choosing the people you want to work with, to name a few. All of this is awesome, trust me, but are you also willing to accept the responsibility?

When you’re self employed you are the one responsible for making sure enough money comes in each month to pay the bills. When you work for someone else, you don’t have to think about that. You just wake up and do your job.

Are you also okay with running the details of overseeing administrative work, scheduling, taxes and operations in your business? Most people talk about the rosy and alluring side of working for yourself, but they don’t mention some of the very real changes you have to make that you might not have known about.

I’m not saying that it’s not worth it, it is. But it’s not right for everyone.

So, the first step is to ask yourself… Do I really want this? If the answer is yes, then proceed. And if it’s not, that’s okay too. You’re not any less cool than the “lifestyle design digital nomads.”

Finding your niche and hanging up your shingle

I mentioned earlier that this article isn’t intended to teach you how to start or run a business. But we should at least cover the two most important steps: selecting a market and opening for business.

A lot of people email me telling me how they’d like to start a business. But they’re paralyzed. They’re unable to make a decision about the market they’ll get into and continually second guess themselves. There’s a place for exploration and discovery, but at some point you have to saddle up.

If you don’t firmly choose a market you’re not even in the game yet. You’re just sitting on the sidelines. And it’s hard to build a business that way (obviously).

Once you select a niche, it’s time to hang up your shingle. And by that I mean actually putting up a website and making an offer.

If you have a “blog” that you want to eventually “monetize,” then you don’t have a business. You don’t have a business until you actually have something for sale. Until you then, you only have a hobby. That’s fine if that’s what you want. But then why are you reading this article?

Obviously you don’t just want a blog, you want a business. So don’t put off creating an offer until you have X amount of subscribers or “1,000 true fans” or whatever you think you need to start. If you wait to put out an offer, you have no idea if people are willing to buy something from you. And that really sucks. You might spend a lot of time building an audience that is just there to hang out. Great if you want a hobby or community, bad if you want a business.

Setting the date (or tying the knot)

People that are engaged know this. If you haven’t set a date, then you getting married may or may not happen. Who knows, right?

Same thing goes with quitting your job. Without an actual date it’s just a nice idea.

So if you haven’t already, what I want you to do right now is set an actual date. Write it down. Put it in your calendar. And if you’d like type it out in big 48pt. type, print it, frame it, and put it on your nightstand.

Now it’s going to happen. Why? Because now your mind has shifted from “Nice idea” to “Damn, I’ve gotta figure out how to do this by this actual date.” It makes a huge difference. I’ve created a template you can download here and fill out: Quitting Date Template

Talking about quitting with your partner and loved ones

If you want to quit your job, at some point you’re going to have to tell your partner (or whomever is close to you) about it. When I first mentioned that I wanted to quit my job to my wife, I wasn’t very smart about it. I just said, “Hey honey, I’m going to be a professional blogger and quit my job. Just thought I’d let you know.” And she said, “Oh, yeah. Right. That’s nice babe.” Needless to say, because I didn’t really explain my plans, it was seen as a fleeting fantasy and I didn’t get much support. So, don’t do what I did.

Actually come up with a plan that details at the very least:

  1. How you’re going to become self employed
  2. How much money you’ll need in savings
  3. How much you expect to be making at the time you quit

He or she may not believe you at first. My wife was skeptical even when I broke down the numbers.

But when the money started to come in, she started to believe that this might actually be possible. And guess what? It was. Some people will respond and be more supportive when you show them results. But either way, talking to your loved ones about it and showing them you consider them in your decision (because it most likely affects them, too) goes a long way.

It’s scary to know that you may be met with skepticism and disbelief, but the more you show them with your actions the more they will begin to take you seriously.

It should also be noted here that if you want the best support on your path to work freedom, it’s best to look for that from people that are already self employed or currently on the same path as you. They will be the most sympathetic and are more likely to cheer you on. It’s not fair to ask the same of people living in a completely different reality.

Safety nets, savings accounts, and preparing for your transition

Should you have a cushion when you jump or are you confident that you’ll land on your feet? This is something you’ll really need to consider. When I quit my job to work on Paid to Exist full time, I had about three months worth of savings. It wasn’t a ton, but it was enough to make me feel a little better about it (I was also making a job-replacement income from Paid to Exist at that point for several consecutive months).

For some people, only three months of savings would scare the shit out of them. For others, it’s more than enough to give them that kick in the ass to make the leap.

So, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. How much money do I need in savings to feel comfortable quitting my day job?
  2. When do I need to save this money by? (Hint: it should be your quit date that you defined a few minutes ago. You did do that, right?)
  3. Do I expect to be making the same amount of money from my business (job replacement income) as I’m currently making from my job when I quit? Or am I okay with quitting without making any money (or only some) from another source?

I know a lot of people that are okay with only having a giant savings and no money coming in yet from alternative means. I wasn’t one of those people.

I wanted proof that I could consistently make the same amount of money I was making at my job before I felt safe quitting. So did my wife. You’ll need to decide what you’re most comfortable with and plan accordingly.

Saying “I quit” and reclaiming your time

When it finally comes time for you to give notice to your employer, you must follow through.

You will likely second-guess your decision at this point. This is perfectly natural. But now is not the time to back out.

You’ve been working diligently for months (or perhaps years), and you’ve done all you can. Nothing else at this point will prepare you anymore. You have to get in the water to learn how to swim.

A month or so before your quitting date, it’s a good idea to take some time to think about what you’ll say to your employer. Writing it out helps. You can have fun with this too.

In my resignation letter I told my boss “I will no longer be requiring your employment services.” Obviously you don’t want to burn any bridges (or do you?), but feel free to be creative. This is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life; why not make it fun?

You may even want to write your resignation letter now. Doing this helps make it more real and in turn will help you follow through.

Acclimating to freedom and the schedule-free life

It would be a bit dramatic to say that reclaiming your time is the same as being released from a long sentence in the state penitentiary. But it does have a parallel in that you will need to take some time to adjust. Things will feel funny at first. You’ll feel weird not having to ask for permission to take a long lunch or go for a hike in the middle of the day.

One day you might wake up late and start automatically thinking about the excuse you’ll tell your boss. Rest easy, you’re the only one you need to answer to now. But the schedule-free life also comes with its own set of challenges. Now that you have the reigns on your time, you’ll need to develop your own methods to ensure things get done.

You could have worse problems, right?

The last thing to do once you’ve finally quit is celebrate. Do something special for yourself and savor the rite of passage you’ve just undergone. When I quit, a friend gave me a clock to symbolize that I’d been “given back my time.”

You might consider doing something like that for yourself. Just like writing your resignation letter in advance helps to make things more real, so does deciding what you’ll do to celebrate on the final day.

Freedom is created

You have to create your own freedom. If you don’t, no one else will do it for you. If you don’t have a plan for yourself, it’s likely that someone else does. Or you’ll just end up living by default, by a template you certainly didn’t design.

If you want to be your own master, you’ll have to reclaim ownership of your mind.

So… over to you. What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing when it comes to quitting your job? Or if you are already self employed, what was it when you were preparing to quit?

photo courtesy of Paparatti

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85 Comments on "How to Quit Your Day Job"

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wilson
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Ahhhhhhh, I’ve been of the web for almost 6 months or more now and it’s just great to be back. I decided to log off the web for a while because I felt I needed some refocus because it was obvious that what I was trying to do on the web as a business wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. Reading this post once again reminded me though, that my goal is still to be free from my corporate job, being able to provide for my family from wherever in the world I’m at in the moment. Thanks for… Read more »
Financial Samurai
Guest

I actually encourage everybody NOT to quit, but get LAID instead!

I negotiated SIX YEARS worth of living expenses as part of my severance after engineering my layoff. I even wrote a book teaching others how.

You have more power than you think folks!

Sam

Jay
Guest
my problem? i make alot of money in what I do now, and that has become a comfort blanket. my life before this was living on an income 1/20th of what I earn now… hence my problem. also this company has been my life for most of my adult life. i know that what they pay me for what i do is probably less than i should get, but it’s still alot, I can not and should not complain. and i know that my business idea will be useful, because someone is already paying me to do it. the only… Read more »
congtybaove
Guest

thank you for sharing, the content are very meaningful

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[…] If you hate your job so much, do the world a favor by quitting. […]

rachid
Guest

I think there are so many people hate their jobs and want to quit it for reason or other .
Thank you so much for this great article , it’s full of useful tips.

Alex
Guest
Jonathan great post, I love! I have been following your blog for quite some time no, its amazing stuff. I think what really inspires me is that you come across as a real human being that cares and wants to help other people. I would love to quit my job and make my own freedom, only answer to my self. I don’t hate my job, I do what I like, but I can do the same for myself and not someone else. I just never considered a plan or even though it was possible,but now that I am aware its… Read more »
Marty
Guest

Great Post Jonathan much needed info for those that are not into jumping in headfirst, and then figuring out how to swim. I prefer the jumping in head first but Im kinda an action junkie though, I understand others like the safety net though, or rather need that.
Ninja style is not for the faint of heart, follow jonathans advice he knows what he’s talking about!

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[…] 1. Jonathan Mead, Paid to Exist […]

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[…] external read: 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job (Steve Pavlina) Interesting external read: How to Quit Your Day Job (Paid To […]

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[…] you even need to quit what you are doing. I liked Steve’s post 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a […]

Ryan
Guest

Jonathan a million thanks! It is very hard to quit your job and think about self employment. But you have taught us through the incredible 7 points on how to quit your day job and do what you are satisfied in. A comprehensive step by step process that teaches you to do what you are really good at and what you want to do. 100daychallenge.org is another wonderful program that helps you attain what you really wish to.

Michel
Guest

8 months of work and learning and already making 70% of my actual 8×5 actual job income. I’m almost there. My dead line for the jump is 31/12/2013…and then a fresh and awesome dive into freedom…

Anthony
Guest

I think most people keep doing the same job through habit and it keeps them in their comfort zone

Dilpreet Bhatia
Guest

Beautiful !!! In the process of step 2 :)

Art
Guest

The thing that most frightens me is picking one track along the line of one day living more fully and freely in work and life. The questions that rage in my head I are “What if I choose the wrong path? And also “What if what I’m thinking might be a great way to make a living is based on not much more than a bunch of unfounded beliefs about myself and what I’m capable of?” “What if I’m kidding myself in what I’m passionate about?”

An often enormous fear…

Louise
Guest
Thanks for this. I left my job nearly two months ago and have only just got used to having the freedom to do what I want. Good to hear its’s normal to need time to adjust. Also, thanks for your comments about blogging & business. I’m planning to start a blog soon and I heard that you should wait X amount of time or until you’ve got a load of subscribers until you start trying to make money. I didn’t really see why that was necessary, so I’m happy to see someone who’d actually doing it agrees with me! Thanks… Read more »
Zsuzsa Jakab
Guest

The paidtoexist.com/armory/ link doesn’t work, just letting you know. Otherwise, great article that touches on a lot of points other similar sites don’t talk about.

However I am slightly confused, in this blog post you talk about the importance of picking a niche and on this landing page http://paidtoexist.com/from-path-taking-to-trailblazing-webinar/?submit=Click+Here+To+Learn+More you say it’s “really dumb” (btw that event is on the main page of the site and it’s dated to be in the past). I’m just wondering if there is a bit of cognitive dissonance there or which do you actually believe to be true about niches?

Aljoscha Laschgari
Guest

Thank you! This post is great!

A. Hamilton
Guest

Great info here.

Sometimes self employment turns out to be a worst fate than working for the man. I had to learn that self-employment was not what I wanted either. Passive income was what I wanted and only a bonafide “business”, something that can operate without your presence was what I needed to work toward. It’s important to know exactly what you want and be accurate about how you’ll get there.

Bruce
Guest

Jonathan, thank you for this post.

I filled out the Quitting Date Template today, printed it and will put it up in my home office tonight.

I already have 7 months worth of living expenses saved up today. I can likely increase that to 8 or 9 months by the end of 2014.

Michael Gregory II
Guest

Hey Jonathan,

Such insightful stuff you have here. I think it’s great to change your life for the better. After all, to exchange your time for money doesn’t seem like a fair value at all. Time is perhaps one of the greatest resources that a person has and to simply give it up for cash isn’t right. People should have the right and passion to chase after their dream rather than build someone else’s.

Jason
Guest

As a recent job-leaver and full-time awesomeness creator, I can confirm that taking the leap from employed to unemployed (working on self-employment) is TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Sure, it’s hard at times,and you need to get good at self-motivation, but the results speak for themselves. I wouldn’t have created what I have now unless I took the leap of faith…

Thank Jon!

clement sadjere
Guest

Thanks so much for this inspiring post. I have been planning to exit my paid job for some time now, and this article gave me a fresh insight. Its not so easy leaving the known to the unknown, but whatever is worthy always go with a prize tag.

Eden
Guest

Great post. Great advice. Implementing now.

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[…] gave myself a deadline of October 1 to quit my Day Job (read How to Quit Your Day Job by Jonathan […]

Hamidi
Guest

This is a great article with a lot of practical advice.
I love your vision and the principle behind what you are doing.

Anilise
Guest
John, Thank you for this post. Over the years, I quit my day jobs and employers released me. I had no plan and I suffered financially. This work that you do John is for those of us who give our all at a job and are left empty with no passion for that job – because it just doesn’t feel right. That feeling is hard to describe to people who want to rationalize why someone would quit a “perfectly good job”, or how they could do so without a plan. I do firmly believed that although I suffered financially, the… Read more »
Joel
Guest

He guys this was a very informative post. I’ve always thought about the freedom I could have working for myself this post put that into more perspective for me to the point everything I touch started to come to life. I believe in network marketing as a side hustle to build capital to do other ventures. I have one that teaches about finance and then the more you share the more you make to practice what you share. So once agian thanks for this post real eye opener.

Lito
Guest
It’s truly an inspiring post. I’ve been researching about getting myself free from work stress, out from the 8 to 5 day job cycle and everything in between. Quitting my day job was the scariest decision I’ve ever done, no more security, no more constant flow of income. I got to find ways to make money, but I don’t have much savings to put up a brick and mortar business. This was when I found a short book in Amazon that turned my whole world upside-down. If the admin of this page don’t mind to share what I found, that… Read more »
Elizabeth
Guest

I don’t have an end date but I have a three quarters date…. I am planning to reduce my job a little at a time by giving myself one year to reduce from 40 hours a week to 30, then another year to reduce from 30 to 20 hours a week. We’ll see how my side business is doing by that point. :)

Cedric
Admin

That is a pretty cool way to do it :) And that gives you an end date in 365 days, go for it!!!

Rahul Ekbote
Guest

Wonderful article!! you have given us some great piece of advice and on similar note while discussing this topic with boss you should be ready for Counter Offer they will give you raise and all other things but if you don’t want to work there, you should be ready with proper answer.

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