How Eight Quitters Left a Conventional World to Pursue What They Love

Likely every one of us has held a job at one time or another that made us feel as though we were selling our soul for a paycheck.

That might sound like an exaggeration, but I have a gut feeling that notion isn’t far from the truth.

Most of us continue to wake up in the morning and go to bed at night thinking that our day job is the only key to securing our present and future. Luckily, our community has managed to prove that that way of thinking is based on a lie.

Below are the stories of eight courageous souls who successfully quit their day jobs to pursue their passions.

Witness firsthand how it all unfolded — and try your best not to spontaneously quit your day job by the time you reach the bottom of the page.

How Mike Left a 16 Year Job to Sail With His Family Around the World

Mike Routen

The Catalyst:

My wife and I have been dreaming of moving on to a sailboat for many years now. In November we found a boat that looked good on paper, and decided to take a road trip to the Seattle area to go look at it. We liked what we saw and made an offer the next day.

The Resignation:

After buying the boat, things started to happen very quickly.  We had originally planned to continue living and working in Portland for another year or so, but we decided to jump in with both feet.  In the end of January I turned in my notice.

After working at the same job for just under 17 years, I must say that turning in my resignation was more than a little unnerving!  I mean, I was leaving a really “good” job for a whole lot of unknown! I was both excited and terrified.

As I walked towards my supervisor’s office with the printed resignation letter in my hand, my heart was pounding and I had to force myself to take some deep, calming breaths before I could go into his office. Fortunately, my supervisor took it well and while he didn’t want to see me go, he was excited to see me fulfill a long-standing dream.

I set my quit date to be March 16th, 2013. No real reason for that date, it just seemed to fit into our plans.

The Present:

In the last few months my family and I moved on to our boat and have been preparing it for our journey. We are just now at the stage where we are doing more sailing than fixing. I have two websites right now, Route To Freedom is where I help others find their way out of the 9 to 5, and Route To Cruising is our journey to and on the boat.

The Future:

At the end of June we are going to give up our slip in the marina at Everett and start exploring the Puget Sound. We’ll be anchoring in out of the way places most of the time, taking our little rowboat to shore to stroll thought the little towns and to walk the beaches on quiet islands.

I’ll also be working on preparing to launch my coaching/mentoring program called Freedom Foundation Sessions where I help others find their path to their personal freedom from the desk job!  By the end of the summer we will be sailing South for warmer waters. We expect to spend the Winter in Mexico, and next year hope to transit the Panama Canal so we can explore the Carribbean and the East Coast of the US.

“The Income I was Receiving Wasn’t Worth Giving Up Family…”

Martine Cosio De Luna

– Martine De Luna

The Catalyst:

I realized that I no longer had to put myself through doing work that was not in my skill set. The income I was receiving wasn’t worth giving up family or “me” time over.

I had also been reading several books by people who seemed to be setting the stage for me to start doing something I truly loved and felt a connection with. I knew this job would just be me doing the same thing, over and over, mechanically. Why submit myself to the soul torture? I could be doing more.

The Resignation:

It was around April that I began to prepare financially (at least to defray the income I would lose from this part-time job), and I set June 15 as the end date. I told my boss on May 31, officially my two week notice. Of course, I thought about the lost income: it meant letting go of that security of getting paid twice a month, every 15th and 30th. But you know what? I have more time to do my consulting now.

Actually, since the start of 2013 my consulting business has picked up; this is my “passion sideline.” I want to help women “become the editors-in-chief of their lives and businesses,” and have been doing this in a small way by taking on consulting clients. This is something I truly love doing, but I was only making room for it when I had the time — time not doing the part-time SEO job.

The Present:

I recently did a “test” business in the form of an on-location writing workshop just for moms. Turns out that it looks like something I can offer regularly, as part of a business. I just never thought that I could do it.

By June, I joined Trailblazer, and after watching Month 1’s videos, I realized that much of what Jonathan was articulating were values I had already valued myself. It was just reassuring to be validated through Trailblazer. I believe I just got braver.

The Future:

My plan is to complete Trailblazer in the next six months, now that I have more time to actually just “be” and not be weighed down doing something I really didn’t need to be doing. At the same time, I want to build up these sideline consultations and writing workshops into a full time business. I am good at them, and they play to my strengths.


How Kate Replace Her Job Income Two Months After Quitting

Kate Marolt

The Catalyst:

I was working for someone I really enjoyed working with, who was doing a lot of exciting things — but I wasn’t excited about my part in it, and the subsequent stress it placed on my life.

So I started to put it out there that a) it was time for me to start teaching workshops, more classes, and private yoga lessons, along with b) designing logos, websites, etc. for entrepreneurs that are in alignment with their values and missions.

The Resignation:

At the end of March I quit my main source of income to become a full-time yoga teacher, movement trainer, and really whatever I wanted to on my own terms. To be totally honest — I felt terrified when I turned in my resignation. Not so much because I was freaked out about not having a job, but because I was worried my boss was going to hate me and be disappointed.

But I felt awesome as soon as it was over! My boss was proud of me for following my dreams, and for using what I had learned with her to create my life on my terms. We ended on good terms and it felt amazing to walk onto a plane with no worries or stress — just possibilities ahead of me.

The Present:

As of today, just over 2 months after quitting, I have fully replaced my income and have even more things coming my way. In my time off I finally gained the crystal clarity I had been seeking when I started Trailblazer over a year ago.

I’m teaching better than I ever have, I’ve entered into some incredible partnerships, I am leading workshops and working privately with clients using yoga & movement training to blast through mental barriers and create awesome value in their lives and in their businesses.

The Future:

My next move is to finish my website! (Until then, you can follow my journey on Facebook.) I am already slated to teach at 2 international retreats in the next 9 months, and have a sold out workshop/course with more coming down the line. All of this is in person — the next step is to get it out there online to my building audience. Within the next year or two I plan on selling out a tropical yoga adventure retreat with all the amazing people I have the opportunity to connect with.

None of this would have been possible without Paid to Exist! Honestly — I’ve been reading the blog for almost 4 years now, and it has helped shape my entire reality!


“I Realized it Would be the Third Friday in a Row I Worked an 11 Hour Day…”

Vlad Antohi– Vlad Antohi

The Catalyst:

I was driving to work at 6am one Friday, thinking to myself that my meetings scheduled that day guaranteed that I would be spending at least an 12 hour day at the office.

I realized that it would be the third Friday in a row that I worked an 11+ hour day, that it was the last day before a long weekend, and that I’d have to work over the weekend to finish my responsibilities. I thought to myself, “What am I getting for this?” and realized that it wasn’t worth it. If I was going to work that hard, I wanted to invest in myself.

The Resignation:

It was totally anticlimactic. I thought it would be so crazy and exciting, but it seemed so natural. My manager took it well and he was excited for me. It felt so good to be “out of the closet” and not have to pretend and go through the motions anymore.

Across the board, the reactions of my co-workers ranged from envy to confusion to being really happy for me that I am following my dreams. In hindsight, I’m glad I gave myself 6 months to clarify my purpose, save up some money, and be able to vet out a few of the “next step” ideas.

I’m also glad I didn’t wait any longer though, as I now feel like I have the perfect balance of just enough runway to have a good shot at sustainability, but not so much that I get complacent. That edge, the feeling of going all-in and jumping before being fully prepared is valuable, and it makes the adventure that much more exciting.

The Present:

Right now I’m putting my energy into Ignite Your Potential, which is life-coaching geared towards helping men in their 20’s live their purpose and ignite their potential, and Boston Holistic Websites which focuses on web design and brand strategy services for holistic professionals in the Boston Area. I’m also working on an online community and video blog called WARRYOR: Men’s Evolution 2.0.

The Future:

I wish I knew. I have a number of synergistic businesses I’m starting, and I’m also looking at a part-time job that would help me build some skills in an area I’m interested in. I have 6 months of living expenses saved up, but my girlfriend just told me that she wants to go on a 2-month Europe trip exactly one year from now, so apart from having the typical “break even and survive” goal I now have a stretch-revenue goal of saving $15,000 for the trip.

We’ll see how it goes. Either way, it will be a ton of fun and I can’t describe how empowering it is to be confidently moving in the direction of my dreams, wherever they take me!


“It was scary because my business wasn’t paying the bills yet.”

Pace Smith– Pace Smith


The Catalyst:

The seed was planted the first time I gave a presentation about a topic I was passionate about (in this case, communication and relationships) to an engaged audience. After feeling how good that felt in my heart, quitting my day job was just a matter of time and money.

The Resignation:

At first, I jumped the gun. I thought it would be quick to start a successful business that paid the bills. I told my boss I was quitting in three months, then after realizing how much time it would take to grow a successful business, I humbly asked if we could compromise and work half-time instead.

My family and I agreed to cut our living expenses in half so we could take our time. In January 2011, I gave my 14-month notice. But then in July 2012, I got impatient after watching I’m Fine, Thanks and gave my 3-month notice. It was hard, because I had been working at the company for 13 years and I knew that my coworkers would have a harder time without me.

It was hard to feel like I was letting them down, especially those coworkers who were also my friends. It was scary, because my business wasn’t paying the bills yet. I was making a leap of faith – this time it was educated faith rather than a leap off a cliff, but still scary. And it was wonderful. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I quit my day job in September of 2012.

The Present:

I’m happily continuing to dedicate my energy towards my website, Pace and Kyeli.

The Future:

I plan on launching an online course called Peaceful Productivity, about creating systems and routines that nourish you and support you without making you feel constrained or whipped. I’ll also be creating an online community called Spiritual Rollercoaster Academy.


How Tom Morkes Made His “Legendary Walk”

Tom Morkes

The Catalyst: 

I spent 4 years at the United States Military Academy, West Point, then another 5 years active duty as an officer.  While I had some great experiences, I realized something early on in my career – there are too many ideas I have that deserve to see the light of day.

But to make them a reality, I needed time, space, and autonomy.  So the catalyst that led me to quitting my job, essentially, was the need to see what I can do on my own – to be given the opportunity, freedom and autonomy to fail.  Crazy?  Probably just a little.

The Resignation:

Honestly… turning in my resignation felt like this. In all seriousness though, I guess you could say my quit date was set years in advance (at least in my head), but I confirmed it about 6 months out from the date. Before that, I hustled various businesses on the side in my spare time. Most failed. A couple made money.

Then I joined Trailblazer to focus and hone my skills, and that’s when was born.  Since then, I’ve managed to make money from my writing by offering ‘pay what you want’ items geared toward creative entrepreneurs (artists, writers, bootstrappers, etc).

The Present:

Continuing to write for my blog, where I write about the war of art/the conflict of creation; starting, finishing and shipping projects; and good old fashioned instigating.

The Future:

Writing my next book on the topic of Courage; launching a boutique, creative publishing platform (Insurgent Publishing) geared towards people who enjoy edgy, unconventional non-fiction in the business and art world; adding a couple more clients to my small business consultancy project; and, finally, finishing and shipping a couple projects I’m working on with partners in the software and online space.

There is a lot of uncertainty, a lot of possible failure points. It’s absolutely scary — and I can’t wait!


“I didn’t feel that humans should work in this manner.”

Jesicka and Martin Labud– Jesicka Labud

The Catalyst: 

At my latest job as an architectural designer I was depressed with the way the “world of work” seemed to function, and I didn’t feel that it was natural for human beings to work in this manner. My husband, Martin, was working as an animator in the commercial industry and also did not feel fulfilled. We were in this bad boat together.

I sat at my cubicle planning my business idea in my mind- in between getting my work done. I always knew deep inside that a regular job just wasn’t for me, but until that point, I really didn’t see how I might possibly be able to change the world without a job!

This is when I set a quit date for June of 2010, after having worked at this office for 1 year. When I planned on quitting, my husband was also planning it and we ended up quitting together.

 The Resignation:

I’ve actually quit my job in order to pursue starting my own business multiple times! Once in June of 2010, then again on October of 2011, and most recently on January of 2013.

This time I just knew it was different. I didn’t even tell everyone what I was up to. I kept my mouth shut, and left quietly. This was the only time I had a very clear plan. Only I knew deep inside that this time it was true love. I quit my job as a Project Manager of design and construction of cultural institutions of a big city agency in order to continue pursuing our startup, but also began our blog which chronicles our journey of becoming entrepreneurs in the tech world.

This time we were armed with funding from several investors, and a couple of years’ worth of tech experience with many pitches to strangers behind us-  we had a sustainable plan, a liquidation party in the works where we sold all of our stuff, and made enough money to buy us and our two cats plane tickets to Berlin where we now live very cost effectively while we program our damn startup idea ourselves!

The Present:

Celebrating the recent launch of Two Non Techies!

The Future:

Our next move is to continue hustling, raise funding, and learn how to code like a pro! This is all in order to finalize our tech company, Tipabl, which is an online philanthropic network.

We’re currently on schedule to finalizing a Minimum Viable Product for it, and we have a blog that chronicles our journey of conquering the “tech world” as non-technical co-founders, or as the industry calls us “non-programmers.” With online education, lots of support and persistence, we’re going to take the Tech World by storm!


How Galo Stepped Into His Purpose Fully

Galo Naranjo

The Catalyst:

The desire to help others and be a part of something greater than myself completely outweighed staying at my corporate job and doing work that would be forgotten in 3 weeks.

The Resignation:

I originally set my quit date to coincide with my next birthday, April 11 2014. But I got a bit antsy, and figured I had saved enough money and that now was the time. Turning in my resignation was a great feeling. Obviously, it was very intimidating knowing that for the past couple of years and throughout my entire academic career, I’ve always been given/told what to do and now it was all up to me. No curriculum, no deadlines, no authority watching over me. Just me. Very exciting, but at the same time very scary.

The Present:

I’m currently putting my heart and soul into The Movement Project.

The Future:

Taking steps to becoming a Wellness/Life/Movement Coach, and helping others become better people by exploring their bodies, health, and creativity.

A note to those featured today:

It’s been an honor to feature your stories. Thank you so much for sharing a glimpse of your pursuit to freedom with the world. You’re all a wonderful reminder that living life on your own terms can become a reality, not just a possibility if you’re brave enough to pursue it. The Paid to Exist community would not be what it is without your tenacity and courage.

This is where it all begins

Subscribe to learn more about how to break free from your day job,
and start living life on your own terms.

Gimme Gimme

Comment & Add Your Voice

Michaela Cristallo June 27, 2013 at 5:46 am

It’s exciting to see my fellow Trailblazers featured here, and very inspiring to read all their stories!

Working on something you love and believe in really is the best feeling in the world. I know I’m doing the right thing when every day I feel immense gratitude for my life and the freedom I have to work on something I love. It’s certainly something I could never say when working full time for someone else!


Jessica June 27, 2013 at 9:11 am

This is incredibly inspiring! I’m pretty sure everyone in this post will go on to achieve some amazing things =) =)


Jocelyn Brown June 27, 2013 at 9:44 am

This is so inspiring to read all these stories! My last day at my day job is tomorrow. It is bittersweet… I love the people and the work we do, I am very connected to our mission… but it is time for me to fully launch my own business and I keep getting signs that I am on the right path. I will be following this blog/website more closely, love hearing these success stories!


Kate June 27, 2013 at 9:59 am

Thanks so much for the love! This community is amazing, and has been (and continues to be!) a major inspiration, catalyst for action, and support group. Love reading everyone’s stories, and I can’t wait to see even more as time goes on and more people dive in after their dream lives! You guys rock!


Galo June 27, 2013 at 10:48 am

Hey that’s ME!! Thanks Jarani. Thanks P2E! Accountability is key.


noelle lake June 27, 2013 at 10:52 am

Thrilling! I’m inspired. Good luck to all of you and thanks for laying out ~


Mike Routen June 27, 2013 at 11:17 pm


Thank you so much for allowing me to share some of my story here! Much of the reason I have been able to take the leap is because of the help and support of you and Paid To Exist.

I encourage everyone to pursue the life they dream of! We are all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.



Emily July 11, 2013 at 10:07 am

Loved your story, Mike. It’s a challenge the balance living life fully (which almost feels like a mandate when you walk away from a nice paycheck to do just that) and also create side-businesses, which are always a lot more work than you hope. Best wishes on smooth sailing! Will be checking out your Route to Freedom blog!

Scott Torrance June 28, 2013 at 5:15 am

What a fantastic post, thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences. It has been a long time since a post made me smile so much…maybe because I can relate to every one of the people featured.

Here’s to the future :)


SJ Scott June 28, 2013 at 6:28 am

It is very exciting to see people achieve all their dreams and desires. This is wonderful and inspirational to see. Hopefully you do a “year” after for some of these to see how they are getting along and how well they are doing.

As a side note, I quit my day job about 10 years ago, to work on my own. It was the most exciting and terrifying experience of my life. But it has to rate in the top ten moments .

Great Post! Inspirational!



Sufian Chaudhary June 28, 2013 at 8:47 pm

This is such an inspiring article! I love how these people are leaving their regular 9-5 jobs, aka slavery, and proactively working on becoming something so much more profound and fulfilling by helping others around them. It is almost like making a life-long switch from slow and eventual self-deconstruction to bang! Constructive life that is worth living for. I quite my job 4 years ago now, and I have never turned back! I started writing books about spirituality and enlightened consciousness and I realized how much more exciting it is to live life when you are in the business of being a creator.


Sufian Chaudhary June 28, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I forgot to mention that it’s posts like these that PaidtoExist is one of my absolute favorite websites. We live in a world where the standard 9-5 working life almost gets wired into our consciousness from such a young age, that by the time we are actually old enough to become something better than we are– we have the whole ‘years and years of a safe, secure paycheck’ holding us back from progressing forwards. It is such a breath of fresh air when you start seeing people fighting for a life worth living for, rather than anchoring us down with even more false growth antics. Really well done with everything you are achieving!

Kraig June 30, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Good stuff, Jonathan. This is inspiring stuff and I’m excited for all of these people and their paths ahead.


Dustin Lee July 3, 2013 at 8:37 pm

I agree, absolutely love these posts. Seeing the amazing things others do inspires all of us to believe in ourselves and push forward.

Fantastic post, Jarani. Props!


Nash Vega Ryker July 5, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Excellent stories of inspiration here! No doubt that we are all creating history by helping to re-define what it means to earn a living. People from all walks of life have the option now to harness the power of the web to design a life of their ultimate desires. And I think that’s badass!

I appreciate all of you reading this who are blazing your own trail and helping others to do the same.


Mariana July 9, 2013 at 5:07 am

Great stories! And to be honest, they are a little bit scary too. When I quit my corporate job, I knew that I was embracing the unknown. It is not always easy, but I still feel it is worth. Thanks for sharing!


Kelly July 9, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I am always utterly amazed at the bravery it takes for people to do things like this. I suppose I am one of those who thoroughly enjoys living in all the comfort zones I enjoy, but man, oh man, do I admire folks who have what it takes to just up and leave everything behind to forge a brighter future. Such a great blog. Thanks for sharing!!


Pooja July 12, 2013 at 11:17 am

Thank you for sharing these inspiring stories, Jonathan. I can identify with each of these individuals because I have a similar story. After five years of tirelessly working a 9-5 job in the corporate world, I realized that had to evaluate what I really wanted to do with my life.Outwardly, I seemed to be doing everything right, yet I wasn’t happy. It came to the point that it was more and more difficult for me to drag myself out of my bed in the mornings and get ready for work. Then that one day, I simply quit my job. After being in a stuck state where I just wanted to breakthrough but didn’t know how, a few years later, I am literally living my life the way I always dreamed. Even today, I pinch myself and ask the mirror: Is this real? Am I actually finally living that freaking dream? Thankfully, it is.


Tom July 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm

So proud to be mentioned here.

Love the rest of the stories too. It’s sincerely amazing what is possible if you just commit to it and find a way to make it happen.

No, it’s not easy…but the best things in life usually aren’t :)

– Tom Morkes


Carl July 18, 2013 at 4:22 am

Inspiring stuff!

A conventional life (whatever that really means!) isn’t for everyone and it doesn’t have to be. Live your dreams.


Mary Tracy September 14, 2013 at 11:24 am

Thanks for these stories.

There’s so much guilt around “not being able to hold down a proper job like everyone else”. At least for me.
I’m slowly getting through this and trying to accept that hey, some of us are not build for the “traditional day job”, and there’s nothing we can do about that. It doesn’t mean we are bad people, it just means we feel the need to put our best skills onto something else.


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