Don’t Quit Your Jobs…Yet
It’s the new year. If you’ve put off pursuit of your dreams, I have a message for you.
And no, it doesn’t require that you write a resignation letter, tell off your boss or make a viral video informing company management that you quit. You could do all that, but what’s the point? You would soon be unemployed, homeless and living on someone’s couch with your dog, Fido.
Throughout the past few years, I’ve made a transition in my career, starting in law and politics, then working for myself. I ran an online law firm, became a freelancer, wrote and sold books online and now coach others who are unhappy with their jobs.
Instead of the typical path many people follow when they quit their positions, I’ve gone in and out of jobs and have found this to be the best way a person can achieve his or her dreams.
I’m here with a simple message for you: don’t quit your job.
Nope, don’t quit your job until you think about and work on the following issues. Don’t quit your job until you’ve done your homework.
Don’t quit your job without…
1) A plan
You must have a plan before you quit. Brainstorm ideas and experiment with your passion.
You should have a general idea about what you’ll do and how you’ll do it. Will you quit your job and travel the world indefinitely? Have you thought about how you’ll pay for the trip and manage your finances?
Will you quit and pursue your dream? Is your dream realistic, practical or profitable?
Will you start a business? Do you know what you’ll do and who you’ll do it for? If you’ll create a product, do you know how much it will cost to produce and how much you can charge for it?
If you want to start a food truck operation, do you know enough about food and trucks?
You don’t need a super-detailed business plan, but some thought about the method you’ll use to make money, as well as a timeline and a plan, will help.
2) A fallback plan
If you’re planning to quit your job and pursue your dream full time, think about fallback options.
Don’t burn bridges at your current job. Maintain your networks with colleagues.
Go full steam ahead with your dreams, but also plot a few options if things fail.
Is going back to school an option?
Is your previous employer an option?
Are you in touch with former colleagues who now work for different employers in your industry?
Yes, you may be onto the next Facebook or Amazon, but how long can you sustain yourself without an income?
If you don’t know how long you’ll need to achieve your dreams, save additional funds before you take the leap.
Estimate the amount of time you’ll need to achieve your goals and earn a salary again.
The more you save, the longer you can afford to pursue your dreams.
4) A reduced lifestyle
If you’re going from a six-figure salary to no salary, make sure to live within your means.
Not only should you save money, you should downgrade your lifestyle to afford the luxury of pursuing your dream.
Minimize, simplify and reduce your expenses.
Cut costs mercilessly. Move to a smaller apartment and make lower monthly car payments. Reduce your cell phone plan, your water delivery service, your cable plan and your fine dining habit.
The more money you save, the longer you can pursue your dream.
5) Talking to others
Your ideas may be new to you, but you might know people who have done exactly what you’re planning.
You have artists, entrepreneurs, writers, start-up founders and small business owners in your circle of friends.
Reach out to these people and talk to them. You’ll benefit from their ideas, thoughts and perspectives.
You can use their experiences as a spring board for your own project.
Learn the pitfalls to watch out for. What could the people in your circle have done better? What would they do more of, and what wouldn’t they have done at all?
This is intelligence collection. The more you know about your project or business, the more likely you’ll succeed.
Let others’ experiences become a lantern that leads the way.
6) Investing in yourself
Before you quit your job or make any major changes, consider whether you’ve done adequate research.
Are there videos you can watch? Books you can read? Blogs that shed light on the methods you can use to pursue your idea?
Are there online courses you can take to teach yourself the basics of whatever it is you’re trying to do? Do you need a branding background or public relations insight? Do you need marketing tips?
Whatever you lack you can acquire through education and investment in yourself.
Hire a coach, take classes at the local community college or sign up for online courses.
Learning on the job, after you’ve quit your job, can be an expensive endeavor. Spend time investing in yourself before you make the leap.
7) Having a side hustle
I learned about the concept of a side hustle from Alexis Grant, who writes about entrepreneurship and solopreneurship. (http://alexisgrant.com/tag/side-hustle/)
Alexis also writes about how to work on your business or idea on the side, before jumping into full-time self-employment.
Start your business or project after work hours. Start learning, building, offering your services to others and working on your business on a part-time basis.
If you’re trying to change industries or transition to a different kind of job, use your after-work time to take courses, network and lay the foundation for your future.
Determine how motivated and committed you are to your project before you jump into it full-time. How passionate are you about it? How good will you be at making money from it?
Instead of jumping into the deep end, dip your feet into the water.
8) Having a timeframe
I work on coaching and building up my blog for six months at a time before I return to traditional employment.
Every time I’ve freelanced, blogged and coached, I’ve saved up and given myself time to build the projects I’ve been working on.
I’ll continue this strategy until I achieve my dream of full-time self-employment.
Take some pressure off by giving yourself a timeframe during which you’ll work on your dream.
You don’t have to involve yourself in an all-or-nothing, do-or-die venture.
Take as much time as you’re able to pursue your dream. Be okay with going back to traditional employment for some time.
Or work part-time and pursue your dreams on the side.
If you’re creative and flexible, you’ll have plenty of room to balance your dreams with your need to sustain yourself.
9) Listening to yourself
You must stay true to your guiding principle and your values, not only in regard to your dreams, but with everything in your life. Your gut feelings and your intuition are almost always accurate.
Listen to the internal voice that you often drown out with random thoughts, friends’ opinions and your own fears.
I know this isn’t a popular thing to say, but quitting one’s job isn’t for everyone.
Some people like stability, structure and a stable life.
They are doing what they enjoy, and are in the perfect position for themselves. They’re helping people and making a good living doing so.
If you’re one of those people who loves his or her career and who is living a fulfilling life, don’t quit your job!
Listen to your intuition, even if it guides you toward decisions that are different from those everyone else makes. Listen to your intuition even if it’s contrary to what best-selling books or popular blogs tell you.
If you have thought through and worked on the previous 9 factors, you’re ready to transition out of your job.
Some people say dreams can’t wait. I’m here to tell you that they can wait—for a little planning and preparation.
The more you prepare before you leap, the farther you’ll travel and the more likely you’ll achieve what you set out to do.