Has your alarm ever gone off on a Monday morning, awakening you to a sinking feeling in your stomach that is most definitely just pure dread and contempt for the day ahead?
Mine used to. Not only on a Monday, but every day of the working week. (Also, on some weekends, but that was purely self-inflicted by too many drinks the night before). So, I quit my job. And guess what? It was totally fine.
Why You Probably Don’t Want to Quit Your Job
I grew up in the funny generation that remembers both pre and post-internet. This means that at school, the idea of working from anywhere via a laptop was never presented as an option. By the time we hit the workforce, however, it was slowly becoming one. This presented a weird conundrum wherein most of the things that our teachers drilled into us during our formative years were slowly becoming antiquated, inaccurate, and worst of all, boring.
Go to university, get a reliable nine-to-five job and eventually, I guess, die? This was the story presented to us and the one that I believed was to be followed. This may also be the one that has formed your career path and the primary reason why you don’t think you should quit your job? Security is important, and the nine-to-five that you hate provides that, right?
But what if that isn’t the only option?
Jumping Out Of a Plane Without a Parachute
I’m a pretty reasonable guy who likes a little risk but formulates his plans with plenty of safety nets. This is why it was weird that I decided to quit my job one morning without having another one. I had jumped out of the plane, and I had no parachute.
I worked at a bank. I’d worked at a bank for 13.5 years, and I no longer wanted to work at a bank, even though it paid enough and was a secure, regular income. So I quit, booked a ticket to Europe, and that was the culmination of my plans. No thoughts about how to replace the steady stream of income I had enjoyed for the past 13.5 years whatsoever. This was easily the scariest thing I had ever done – but it was also the most thrilling.
Changing the Way You Think About Work
My flight for Europe left the morning after my final day of work at the bank. As I sat in the international departures lounge, it hit me; there were no reasons whatsoever that would lead to money coming into my account. The finance stream was closed off, save for one final annual leave payout. Here it was, the weight of my decision crushing down on me with a 23-hour flight to let it really sink in.
I arrived in London to meet with one of my oldest friend’s Lisa, who, unlike myself, chose a very different career path that, in my mind, defied all conventions and seemed well and truly awesome. She ran her own agency, worked from wherever the hell she pleased and amazingly was not starving as a result. To my sheltered nine-to-five mind, this was unbelievable (and impossible).
As I was able to string a few words together on a page due to years of writing for street press magazines and various other publications as a hobby, Lisa had the bright idea of having me write some blogs for her and her clients while I was travelling around. This would at least turn the income stream back into a trickle. Even at this point, my sheltered work mind didn’t think this was a potential career option. Writing had always been for fun and maybe some free records or concert tickets. Now – maybe – it could cover some pub meals? Little did I know, this was the tip of the iceberg.
Living the Laptop Lifestyle: Idea vs Reality
A funny thing happens when you are forced to find work to survive; you actually do. I spent years at my office desk dreaming about being my own boss, living the laptop lifestyle and working from wherever I wanted at whatever hours I pleased. The comfort of a steady job, however, prevented me from ever actually actioning it. After quitting my job, I did it in two months.
Sounds great, right? However, the catch here is that I worked harder to achieve it than I ever had before in my life. I liked the writing gig and decided I would try to make it a full-time thing, even maybe a career! The idea of the laptop lifestyle in my mind was me prancing around the world and opening my computer for a few hours a day to bust out a blog. In reality, it was long hours, working on weekends, and hustling to build a customer base that would pay me a decent wage. The writing was a secondary task; business management and growth was a focus that consumed my every thought.
I was suddenly working to exhaustion, but for some reason, I didn’t mind. I didn’t wake up on a Monday and hate my life. I was working to design my life the way I wanted it, and the reward of doing that well exceeded the workload pressures.
TL;DR: Quit Your Job
I am now nearly four years into my role as a copywriter, social media manager and content creator working in a freelance capacity for a range of clients and projects. Four years since I quit my job. I’m no longer bothered by the Monday morning alarm because I don’t set one. There is a lot of stress, long hours and a little bit of continual fear regarding where the next paycheck may or may not come from, but I am also proud of my career, something I never thought I would say.
If you are on the fence about taking the plunge into a small business or freelance style of work, in my experience, it’s the first step into this world that is the hardest. Interestingly, the conventional idea of safety in your nine-to-five isn’t even accurate. When I worked at the bank, I only had to lose one job to be in a no income situation; now, I need to lose several. I would argue that this makes my current working situation more secure. My online-only business was also COVID-proof, but that is a whole other blog.
It took some time, but I soon realised that we live in a new world where it has never been easier to take control of your career. Being your own boss, working remotely and choosing when and how you work is possible. There have never been so many tools and resources as there are now that can make it your reality.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, quit your job.