When you marry young, you learn pretty quickly just how important a secure job can be. It can be the difference between “I told you we could make it on our own!” and living in your parents’ converted garage.
At 22, newly graduated, newly married, and broke as hell, I took a job I didn’t like. Sure, I took it for the money, but I mostly took it because I was afraid not to. I didn’t want to struggle so early in my marriage. I feared something more “me” might never come along, so I did what a lot of people do: I worked a job that I didn’t like in an industry I didn’t like, all in the name of adulthood.
Babies came, as did promotions. Mortgages followed and time passed. Before I knew it, I was wearing a company pin in recognition of 10 years of dedicated service.
On the outside, I looked happy and accomplished, but my insides told a very different story. Riddled with regret, I tried to buy myself out of my soul’s perpetual funk. Disappointed, I tried to convince myself that this brand of achievement would one day make it all worthwhile.
For years I pondered the true root of my unhappiness. Was it the fact that my kids were in daycare 12 hours a day? That my commute was long and my hours even longer? That no matter how much I gave to my employer, it was never enough? That I saw my kids a grand total of three hours each day? Or was it that I had now allowed 12 years to pass? Yes. Yes to all of it. I needed out of my job.
I daydreamed of nothing more than a bulletproof exit plan. We cut costs. We budgeted. We saved. Every day I talked myself into quitting, promising to figuring it out later. Every day I chickened out. Frustrated and confused, I began to journal. Pen to paper, I wrote about it all. I journaled in the parking lot at work. I journaled at my desk at lunch. Heck, I even went public with a few posts on MySpace. Before I knew it, I was writing a personal blog and keystroke by keystroke, my perception began to change. I was smiling more, connecting more, and writing anywhere and everywhere as if words were my lifeline. Then one day, it happened: someone actually paid me $15 for a blog post. It might not sound like much, but to me, that $15 meant everything.
Compensation in exchange for words gave me courage to approach the exit sign. Maybe I was meant for something more. Maybe I could actually do this.
I would do this. For the next two years, I poured everything I had into my side hustle, and one day, almost 14 years exactly from my hire date, I resigned.
I’d never say quitting was easy. I wouldn’t even say quitting was financially responsible (goodbye, sweet 401K), but I will say quitting was the right choice for me and my family.
There’s a lot to be gained when you’re willing to lose. Take a look at four life lessons I learned by quitting my job:
1. It’s OK to bet on yourself.
You are the owner of specialized talents. You can bet on it. In fact, you probably should. Capitalize on your gifts. Be creative with your talents. Share, share, and share some more. The world is waiting.
2. You don’t need permission or an invitation.
And thank goodness, because you’ll probably never get one. All it takes is one little step to get started. Newton’s Law of Motion tells us that objects in motion stay in motion. How will you move today?
3. Your heart deserves a say.
If your head has silenced your heart for far too long, it’s time to reconsider. Dreams become a reality every single day for those who are willing to try.
4. Passion can earn a paycheck.
When you love what you do, work becomes your soul’s freedom. Dare to answer the calling of your life’s passion and hustle like hell; the money will come.More On