How to quit your job

GapingVoid.com - Life is too shortSo you want to quit your job.

Firstly, I salute you!

I had some great jobs before I gave up on them all together but no matter how interesting, varied, or well-paid they were, nothing compares to the total freedom I experience now.

I can do what I want, where I want, when I want and with whomever I choose.

No job can ever match that.

But to get to this point you first have to quit your job. And that means quitting your salary.

For most of us who don't have another means of support that's not something to be taken lightly.

So I want to show you an approach that makes it easier.

Something you need to understand before you start

Before we get into the step by step process, it's essential to understand that making a living on your own is NOT the same as switching to another salaried job

The world brainwashes us into thinking like an employee right from the moment we start school. But making your own income doesn't work the same way as a salary. So if you've got stuck trying to get out of your job, it's probably because you're approaching it with an employee's mindset. That means you're looking for one thing that can make you just as much as your current salary (if not more) and that you can go full-time with straight away.

Then when you can't see how you can make that full income from day one, you discard the idea and go searching for another. Or you give up altogether and accept your lot.

That's employee thinking: when you switch jobs you go straight from one full-time income to another. Unless you're switching to full-time contract work. that's not going to happen in self-employment but you can still make it work.

Here's the 5 step process that really works when you want to quit your job:

1. Discover the work you enjoy doing

I've talked a lot about this in my book and on this blog. But here's the summary in one sentence: don't sit around thinking about it or waiting for inspiration; Try things, experience things, run 30 Day Play Projects and produce results on a very small scale until you know the things you enjoy and that others seem to appreciate about you. And do that before you quit your job.

(If you want a kick-start to speed up the whole process, checkout Screw Work Let's Play: Ignition)

2. Sell something once and make your first playcheque

Once you have a rough idea of something you think you might enjoy doing and that people might be willing to pay for (note the emphasis - don't expect to know for sure!) then try selling it to someone.

Think you might enjoy building websites? Build one for a friend or a friend of a friend and charge them something even if small.

Think you might like PR? Get someone to hire you to do just a part of their PR on one project in your evenings and weekends or time off work.

Whatever it is, go all out to win your first playcheque - which means getting paid to do what you love.

3.  Turn your playcheque into an income stream

If you can do it once, you can do it again. Often the best way to turn a single playcheque into an income stream is to team up with someone else more established or with more contacts who can send work your way. If you can provide something valuable to them, they will be happy to give people or projects to you.

Examples include writing content for a popular website or blog for free in exchange for traffic to your site where people can find out how to hire you. Or teaming up with someone more established and working under their umbrella while you learn as you go.

Remember that you will probably end up with more than one income stream later. This is just the first. All businesses have multiple income streams. Easyjet are famous for cheap flights but they make just as much money from Insurance, Car rental and hotel bookings.

4. Welcome to the crunch

So now you have an idea what you want to be doing and you've even create a little income stream out of it. At some point though, trying to keep doing your job while creating something new outside of it is to getting to get really hard. Almost everyone comes to this point in the transition that I call "The Crunch".

It's near impossible to be able to build a full-time income outside of your job while still working full-time in your job. So at some point you're going to have jump. Yes it's a risk but here are some ways to reduce that risk and make your leap of faith a smaller one:

  • Go part-time in your current job
  • If there is a redundancy programme, ask to be considered for it (I did this myself)
  • If you have a a long notice period (eg 3 or 6 months) see if it's possible to be paid for that period but released immediately (I also did this)
  • See if you can find one client who can guarantee you a minimum number of hours or a minimum retainer per month that you know could keep you afloat (as a colleague of mine did recently with web work)
  • Move into freelancing/contracting/consultancy in your current work if it allows you more flexibility, gaps between projects, or you can get a good enough daily rate that you can use the surplus to spend time building your new thing (I did this ten years ago)
  • Above all else, do the other 3 steps here first so you have some clarity on what you enjoy doing and have tried doing it for others on a paid basis. Best of all, if you have so much demand for paid work you can't fit it into your spare time, that's a good indicator it's time to quit.

To help you with this transition, know how much you need as a minimum to keep you above water (calculate it now - it might be less than you think). This is the figure that you could survive on if you had to.

Are you willing or able to reduce your outgoings to minimise the crunch? If you can, it will be worth it to get out of your job and create a career you really care about.

5. Quit

Expect to feel equal amounts of excitement, joy, and fear as you walk into your boss's office and hand in your resignation.

Your fellow employees will think you're crazy, you're brave, you're misguided, or you're lucky. Some of them will be supportive and some of them will be inspired.

And some of them will get angry because you will have reminded them that they don't have to stay in a job they don't enjoy, they don't have to be unhappy, and they don't have to tolerate a life half-lived.

And that is a very challenging realisation indeed.

~

Know this: many many people all over the world have read Screw Work Let's Play and gone on to quit their jobs. They write to me and tell they are now doing what they love. And you can too if you're willing to go for it.

Once you quit, the fun really begins. Because now instead of a few hours a week, you have 40 or more to invest. And if you skip all the things other people waste time on like endless networking and designing the perfect website and instead concentrate on doing good work and getting paid for it, you'll make rapid progress.

Everyone will tell you that self-employment is riskier than having a job but that's nonsense. The tricky bit is making the transition and building your income streams at the beginning. After that you'll realise that employment is the risky option - because instead of having lots of customers or clients, you have just one – your boss – and they can fire you at any time with no warning whatsoever.

Welcome to the new safe.


Let me know how you get on.

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  • AJ

    Great post. Thanks John

  • CMC

    Hi John,
    Two years ago I bought your book. I loved it. Out of the blue things changed at work and my options were to bid on a higher level job, with lots more responsibility and travel or take a redundancy package. For me the choice was easy and many of my colleagues were shocked when I chose to take early retirement at 56. I can live on my pension if I'm not extravagant. I now devote my time to volunteer work AND creating hand made greeting cards to order. Now I'm not saying that I could live on what I make with my cards BUT it keeps me busy doing a job I LOVE and pays for itself and a bit more.

    If I had NOT read your book I would have rushed into getting another corporate job and the cycle would have continued - work - bed - work - until I expired! You made me think. Thank you.
    Cathy

  • Libby Page

    Inspiring and practical post, thank you. Already forwarded to all my job-bored friends 🙂

  • johnsw

    That's lovely Cathy!

  • johnsw

    Thanks Libby

  • Ivana

    Great article John. I have been in the recruitment business
    for 10 years, 7 years as a business co-owner and 1 year as a single owner. The difference is huge. In one of the first articles about my business, I told the journalist that what I value most is freedom. I wasn´t particularly thinking about it, but now I see that it is unbelievably true.

    As a headhunter and career coach I see many employees trapped in a job they hate, afraid to make a change… and it is my passion to change their lives and see them fulfilled .. I always recommend them your book. Thank you for your hard work in making the world a happier place :).

  • johnsw

    Thank you Ivana. With all your experience, that means a lot!

  • Richard Pettitt

    Great idea to downscale a job before quitting entirely. I resigned from a job in February (unplanned) and then got stuck into fun play projects. But when the money ran out, I stopped wanting to play. I wish I had done play projects whilst being employed and then quit once I hit 'The Crunch'.

    Today I secured a job in a similar field of work to my previous job, but with much less responsibility and fewer hours. To the outside world it might appear as a step backwards, but for me it's a step forwards. It fills me with a huge sense of relief because I will have enough money to live on and I'll still be able to do play projects.

    Ultimately I value the time and energy to do something I love more than I value a 'normal' day job.

    Thanks, Richard

  • johnsw

    That's a great stepping stone Richard - now you have the headspace to work on something new