When you first decide to quit your job, you will receive a lot of advice on how to quit. Some of it will be brilliant, some of it will be cautionary (but useful), and some won’t apply to you. But if you are like I was, no matter how great the advice is, you will probably ignore it. Why? Because quitting your job after many (so many) years is overwhelming. Everything will change for you. And you might not be ready to hear the advice in those early days.
That was me. When I quit my job, it was the first time since I was 2 ½ (not kidding) that there wasn’t a plan for my life. I had either been in school or jumping into jobs to pay bills for a very long time. So, when I quit, I didn’t want to hear advice about what to do next. I just wanted to be. I wanted to flit from thing to thing. In short, I had a very romantic idea about what all of this freedom would mean.
And this is when I made my first of many mistakes. I didn’t listen to the one piece of advice about how to quit my job that would have made a significant difference, particularly in those early years.
What was the advice? Make a plan for how you are going to spend your days. It came from my former boss who took an early retirement a few years before I quit. He knew what he was talking about, but I wasn’t ready to listen. And I should have.
Why? What’s wrong with trying a lot of new things and having no plan?
On the surface, there is nothing wrong with that approach. And I don’t think he would disagree with the notion of trying new things. But months and then years can go by before you know it. There will be days where you do nothing but watch Tiny House Hunters on TV. That might sound like magic right now, but when you find yourself looking back, you might be dismayed at your inactivity. You might also be dismayed at how lost you can feel when you suddenly don’t know what your purpose is.
I should have made a plan. I should have quit toward something. And I should have quit everything that was unproductive. I didn’t. I allowed myself to lose days to the new freedom and to a charity project I should never have been a part of. Lesson learned there, but it was too late. I wasn’t making choices. I didn’t make a plan for the next phase. I didn’t sample new things that would have taken me towards a new goal. I floated. And while I was floating, I was slowly leaking cash.
Why was that a problem? It was a problem because when I finally figured out what I wanted to do, I didn’t have the cash reserves to do it well. By the time I published “My Letter to Fear,” I didn’t have a lot of extra cash for promotion and readings. By the time I realized I wanted to travel, I didn’t have much disposable income to sustain it. By the time I realized that I wanted to produce the web series, I didn’t have enough cash to film the entire thing (or promote what we had filmed). By the time I realized that I needed to sharpen my screenwriting skills, I didn’t have the money to take the classes that would catapult me to the next level.
Yes, there are ways to fix that, and I’m doing them now. But it’s hard not look back on the YEARS of opportunities, time and money that were wasted because I didn’t make a plan.
So, don’t be like me when you quit your job. Make the most of your new opportunity while you can afford to take the steps necessary to move you forward.
10 Replies to “Quitting Your Job: The Best Advice I Didn’t Take”
Such great advice! I quit my job in September 2015 and luckily I had a rough plan, always ensuring that I had something I was working towards. BUT, there are still plenty of those days where I just want to sit around and watch Tiny House Hunters as you say. ? It’s all about balance!
It can be a huge challenge sometimes. Right now, Grand Designs has my attention. Thank goodness this wasn’t on Netflix when I first quit!
I agree with you. Quitting a job is an opportunity to improve and do something better. A plan helps keep you on a productive path and avoids those “do nothing” times.
I think people underestimate exactly how big of a change quitting a job can be. It’s quite a shock to the system!
I have such a hard time imagining quitting a job without a plan — or a new job lined up. It sounds like you did have a plan — the charity project — even if it didn’t work out so well. I’ve made some poor choices because I was so eager to ditch one client that I accepted new clients that were just as bad a fit! I’m glad to hear you’re back on track now. As much as we can ‘should have’ ourselves, what matters is that you’re moving in the right direction now.
I have a tendency to get interested in something and then instead of keeping it as a casual hobby, it becomes an all-consuming new job. Even when I didn’t have that much invested in it to begin with. I think it’s one of those things that will always pop up. But I’m trying to be more deliberate with my choices now. We’ll see!
I felt I was in a similar situation but a bit different. After living abroad for many years not saved up money for anything I felt left out of having a career and savings and house etc. It is important to know that there is no right way to spend your life and time but it is also good to think many years ahead as well and not being too naive. Great and honest post. Love it 🙂
I agree! There is definitely a danger in the “should have” wave that overtakes me at times.
This is great advice. I think even years when you’re working or studying can be spent wasted, so this is an applicable piece of advice for everyone! Thanks for sharing your honest feelings about this situation and good luck pursuing those passions now!
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