Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I did it. I quit my job.

Just breathe. Everything is going to be okay.

I kept repeating this mantra as I made my way to my CEO's office on Monday to officially resign. I suppose the first thing you'd think I felt when I walked into his office was triumph and relief. Something akin to the French liberation during WWII, but on a much smaller scale, of course. There I was, after all, taking my destiny into my own hands and carpe diem-ing. But for a few fleeting minutes, I felt quite the opposite. I was terrified. I knew I was going to do it, there was no question of that, but I liken the whole experience to skydiving. When push comes to shove and you take the final jump off that airplane, there are a few moments (which I may relive during the next few months or years of my life) where you're terrified your parachute won't open and you'll land, splat, in a field of cow dung, with those around you muttering "told you so." Walking in and quitting yesterday was that jump off my plane.

And guess what? After shutting his door, taking a seat and telling him I was officially, well, out of there, I knew deep down that everything really was going to be okay. I just needed to push off that plane with the force I had mustered in the last few months and not look back. So I did, and the feeling of being so in control of my fate and future felt (and still feels) fabulous.

I was terrified of cutting loose the security and comfort that comes with having a salary but the reality of my situation -- of all of your situations, actually -- is that money comes and goes. It's like water through your fingers. Keep what you need in a canteen at your side, enough so that you'll never go thirsty, and then go forth and work hard at what you love. There will always be more water, and there will always be more money. And if you feel like it may take a while to get to that next stream to refill, than learn how to make your water -- or dollars -- stretch until you get there. Just don't let your fear or uncertainty be what extinguishes you ever taking risks in the first place. Don't get stuck setting up shop near that first river you come upon, failing to ever go forward and see what other, bigger rivers lie on the horizon. Believe me, that first river can be mighty comfortable, but I think sometimes it takes "uncomfort" to shape who you are and make you stronger, more resilient and ultimately, more happy.

Will times get tough at least through this next year? You bet. There will be days I'm sure will feel excruciating, days when I'll feel like I have no money at all, days I'll wonder what the hell I'm doing up and quitting my cush job in This Economy, days I might actually consider buying one-ply instead of two-ply bathroom tissue just to save money. But I will always remind myself of what the suffocating alternative is. I may not have a lot of money in the near future, but I'm going to have the freedom to pursue what I want to make happen, not what anybody else's vision or dream is. And that's important to remember. No one said taking risks was easy -- that's why they're risks, after all. If they were a piece of cake, then everyone would want a slice.

But don't think that it was easy walking away from my job, my paycheck, security, stability and all those other rooted tendrils that ensnared me for the last two years in a web of oblivious complacency.

All my life I've followed a conventional path: I graduated with good grades from high school, went to college, grad school and got a job that steadily allowed me to pay rent, bills, shop and save. All those fun "life" necessities. I know a few people who don't and/or didn't enjoy being college students. Well let me rephrase that: They enjoyed the parties and "good times", but didn't enjoy the studying and the classes. They feel disappointed in themselves for following the structure traditionally set up for them. For me, it wasn't structure that made me go to college or grad school. At the risk of sounding nerdy, I loved being a student and debating with professors, going to class, studying, and writing pages and pages of lit analysis.

But I don't love holding down a job just to have a job. That's where I whipped around and looked Structure straight in the face. "What if you're not for me? What if I'm confident that I can make a damn good living without you?" I asked it during the summer of last year. It laughed at my naivety, telling me to stick it out for another year at work. So I doubted myself, and followed its advice. And now, a year later, I've caught up to Structure and told it I don't want it leading me around anymore. I'd step off its track and venture out into the forest to forge my own, unknown way. My success and earnings will now rest solely on my shoulders and the effort I put forth. From here on out, I will not get paid to "just show up." That fact alone is one of the most empowering feelings I have ever experienced.

Talk about judgment. It's palpable on the faces of some of my friends and even family. I can see it. After all, it's cute and all that I want to an be author, but what am I going to do about my real job? At first facing judgment from those I cared about, even if they tried to hide it, both hurt and stung. I quickly got over it though, and I harbor no ill feelings or dislike for those that don't understand. Three years ago, I probably wouldn't have understood either. It's important to remember that people are always at different points in their lives. It's somewhat of a miracle when an individual can truly empathize with the perspective of an another, so I've accepted being judged as not a flaw in the judger, but as human nature, and I've refused to allow it to ding my confidence anymore. The only person who can make me happy is myself. People will always judge your actions, opinions and beliefs, but if you are happy with your decisions at the end of every day, I think that's all that matters. Life is too short to pacify the barrage of judgment around you.

That's not to say I'm an eternal optimist. If anything, I'm too much of a realist.

It would be naive to assume that every dream pays off, that every hope not reached in the end wouldn't be laden with some form of regret for what was given up. But I'm willing to accept the consequences. I firmly believe that each one of us is in charge of our own destiny. Fate alone only takes you so far.

59 comments:

FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com said...

I know the feeling. Trust me. :)

You did the right thing, in the sense that you took the leap to make your dreams come true.

And it may very well work out for the best. At the very least, you are happier and you gave it a shot. Doing instead of trying is the key.

Karianne Salisbury said...

Great post!! It's great motivation for others (like me!) to really step up and take charge of our own destiny! Quitting a job can be scary, but in the end, the choices that let us do exactly what we want to be doing are the most rewarding. I hope to follow your lead at some point as well!

Karianne Salisbury
@skariann
skariann.blogspot.com

Penny said...

Good look and kudos for you for taking charge:)

Revanche said...

I'm so excited for you!

My friend did this a few months ago to start doing what he's meant to do in life, and I'm antsy to start my turn.

[I'm watching the Bio of Jon Stewart right now, and seeing all the flops that came before he found his home on The Daily Show. Very good reinforcement.]

Mrs. Micah said...

Well done. Last year I quit a job which, while not cushy, was stable and not overly-taxing (except to my poor, bored brain). The economy wasn't yet this bad, but I worked a series of odd jobs and freelancing for quite a while before finding a new job--and sometimes things got tight.

I think it was the right choice. I'm at a very good job now, I've got a nice little side biz going on, I realized what I really do want to do for the rest of my life (almost), it's been good. And at least as important, I'm no longer as miserable as I was because the job was so mentally stifling.

Moneymonk said...

You quit your job in a recession.....GUTS!

I got to admire that

Raquelle said...

My recent thoughts about my job and my life mirror yours to some extent and I'm really inspired by your post. I feel like I needed to read that right now.

I'm very proud of you for quitting your job! I hope that it's worth the risk for you and that you continue to feel empowered.

Bonjour Madame said...

Congratulations! My hero! :)

Carolyn said...

omg i was wondering if this was what you were tweeting about. CONGRATS!! you rock and you are SO right about the judgment thing. thanks for being so inspirational, hon!!!

Chelsa Bea said...

So proud of you for doing what so many other people are scared of. You are truly a role model! I know that everything WILL BE OKAY! Stay strong and just do what makes you happy. Life is too short.

Claire said...

Good luck with all your plans! Here's to many exciting adventures ahead!

myprettypennies said...

Good for you! That certainly takes a lot of courage, but it sounds like you know what you want and that job was not apart of it. Good luck to you and keep us updated on your adventure from here.

Anonymous said...

I too am bored. Very inspirational. Thank you.

Angie said...

Congrats to taking that step and doing something so empowering for yourself. When you put your own happiness first, it is amazing how the world will conspire to make your dreams a reality.

SavingDiva said...

Good luck! I can't wait to read about your exciting journey...

Anna said...

I quit my high paying magazine editor job a few months ago. Here's the honest truth about the future:

It's scary at times, freeing at others. I have a few kinda steady freelancing gigs that sometimes just barely get me and my bf and our pets through the months... other times with careful budgeting, there's something to put into savings.

It's nice to be exhausted or sick, and leave your computer at FREE WILL for half a day, but it also means staying up till 1, 2, 3am to finish freelance deadlines.

All in all, congrats. Let's start a club of people who quit their jobs in a recession ;)

Tea said...

Good luck with all your plans! Here's to many exciting adventures ahead!

Rachelle Tucker said...

I'm glad your standing up for yourself. It's a shame that the ones you love will judge you for what you are. I know the feeling, but you know what, your right. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of me, only what I and especially God thinks of me. Great post. I hope you do well, from one author to another!

Early Retirement Extreme said...

When I retired (early) from my career and switched to the uncertain start-up world, I was worried about getting judged (What no salary? Are you crazy?), but I have not really noticed any judging if anything I detect a little envy and a little regret in those who are still tied to their comfy albeit miserable salaries. Perhaps it matters what you replace it with? I'm suspect, once you get published, things will change in the minds of the "judges".

Jessie said...

I am sooo jealous! :-) I know you won't regret it. Hopefully one of these days I will be like you :-) Can't wait to read your stuff!

Deborah Johnson said...

Great news! What are you planning to do? I can't wait to read about it!

Anonymous said...

You go, girl! :)

theanalyst said...

Best of luck! It will all work out, just keep your dreams in mind and give it your all.

Crystal said...

Thank you everyone for your kind words of support! I appreciate all the positive energy and I'll keep you updated throughout my journey. :)

I'm well aware of the odds against writers. I'm in no way sugar-coating the idea of any of it -- of course there is a much higher rate of failing over succeeding in this business. It can be likened to acting and "making it" in Hollywood. Does that dissuade me? No. At the end of the day, I'm not doing this for money, I'm doing it because I love writing. Fame and fortune (albeit great perks), are not the reasons why I'm pursuing this avenue. I know there's a 99% chance I will never get noticed, but I'm okay with that.

As a reminder to everyone, I've been planning this career change for a while, and I didn't just quit with nothing in the bank -- so don't any of you quit without planning ahead! I have a large sum of cash I've been setting aside, a large sum in stocks that have held their value, and I've been offered a high-paying, part-time teaching position this Fall (two days a week teaching writing) if I so choose to accept it. Love is not graduating for another year, so no income will be coming in on his end.

Finding an agent and subsequently a publisher will be a long process. As I'm several chapters into my first book, it's a process I've already begun. I'll keep you all updated on my successes and (likely) failures. I've also bought a couple Writer's Market books (the bibles for writers, if any of you are embarking on a similar journey), and am sifting through which agents/publishers I want to be in contact with.

Overall: Not worried and not delusional about the odds. They, of course, suck, but I'm not going to let that stop me. It could take years to get even one pithy book contract, and even that could pay a pittance, but writing in and of itself gives me ultimate satisfaction and getting published would just make it that much better.

atlimbo said...

This is amazing! Good luck with it all, I look forward to reading about it :)

Are you planning to chronicle your writing here as well, or just the budgeting aspect of the new lifestyle?

Jody Hedlund said...

Thanks so much for swinging by my blog and leaving such a sweet and encouraging comment! I wish you the best as you pursue your writing dreams! Hoopefully now you'll have the energy and time to make it happen!

Lynnette Labelle said...

Very brave! Best of luck. My husband works while I stay at home with the twins. Once they're in school, I plan on staying home and concentrating on my writing career. That's the plan anyway. ;)

Lynnette Labelle

”Lynnette Labelle’s Blog”

Lauren said...

I agree with one commenter above we should totally start a "Women that quit their jobs in a recession" group ;-) I'll add to that women-who-quit-their-jobs-in-a-recession-and-have-law-student-husbands-that-can't-contribute-to-the-bank-account! I know you did the right thing & best of luck!

~*~†.GrimKitty.†~*~ said...

Wow :) glad i stumbled upon this lil gem!! Thinks its time to quit my job and breath some fresh air or life!!
thank-you ^_^ i love what you said about money being water :) that hit the nail on the head for me :D xxxx

Nalie257 said...

Wow! I am glad I stumbled upon your post on quitting a job. I can't say I'm in the same situation because I'm actually about to go to university this year and still live with my parents, so I don't have a huge deal of "real pressure" to stay in my current job. But I have been having some similar thoughts and emotions on it. I know I am young and lack experience, but somehow I can't shake the feeling that there must be a better way for me to gain work experience then getting exhausted and somewhat broken from working in a physically demanding job. I know there is. I have been searching, but maybe not hard enough so if anything, reading your post just gave me that extra push to not settle down for the stable, easy first job. Thanks so much!!

Carrie said...

"is that money comes and goes. It's like water through your fingers. Keep what you need in a canteen at your side, enough so that you'll never go thirsty, and then go forth and work hard at what you love. There will always be more water, and there will always be more money." <--- I love this. I love your writing. Am adding you to my google reader...good luck in your journey!

CashAholic said...

We all have to follow our own destiny, but few of us have the guts to do so. Kudos to you for doing what's right for you.

Ryan and Jasmine said...

Holy Cow. I found your blog because I was randomly searching on google about people who are doing the same thing I am. I'm about to do EXACTLY what you did, and I'm terrified. I keep reminding myself I will make it. I always have, and I always will. And, yet, the fear of it swallows me up sometimes. Nice post. Good luck to you.

Tami - fete a fete said...

you. just. rock. bonne chance ma cherie!! :)

Anonymous said...

I also just quit my job to "find me". It is great to see that I have not totally flipped my lid. With some savings, determination, and a positive attitude everything will work out for the best. Good luck to everyone that is in the same boat, unemployed and loving the challenge!

Anonymous said...

I admire you free spirit! I am going threw the same thing now. I am currently on leave of absence from work and loving it. The only thing is ... should I go back? The workload has tripled due to massive layoffs and I took a pay cut. I feel like I could be doing so much more than this.

Take care of yourself and thanks for sharing your experience!

Nicole said...

Go girl! I want to do the same thing some day! I can't wait for that freeing feeling!

Sonya said...

Happened upon your site in a Google search and your words were just what I needed to hear! My husband and I are in a state of change - not everyone understands the decisions we're making for us and our 16 month old daughter. I lost my job over a year ago in healthcare and am now owner of a photography business and going after my second graduate degree (photography)...in something I actually LIKE ;-) Bravo to you and wishes for much continued success!

Anonymous said...

Great blog, it is obvious your blog has made a lot of impact because a year later we are still leaving comments.

I needed to hear this. I am in the same situation you faced last May. The place I work at pays very well, but the stress level is starting to take a toll on my personal life. The money is just not worth it anymore as I work at a place that goes against my moral compass.

So I'm out. Sure I'm scared, but I have 7 or 8 months worth of a rainy day fund.

Thanks again for your excellent blog.

Anonymous said...

uh yeah you hit the nail on the head - i just quit my job and it felt exactly like you described! its a necessary part of my growth and development and just pray that I'll look back on this time in my life knowing that it was the right decision. deep down, I know it is

PennyF said...

I just came across your blog, spotted the 'I quit my job' post, and identified with pretty much every word of this article. I've recently quit my corporate job. I'm currrently freelancing part-time for my old employer while I work on things I really want to do; voluntary work, setting up a part-time business, etc etc. It is occasionally a bit scary, and other people are sometimes perpelexed, but generally it feels great!

Congratulations on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Your post has inspired me beyond means. I am so unhappy at my present job (for the past 6 years) and have thought about quitting for a long time. I am finally ready to take the plunge. Thank you for this inspiration. it is going to be rough but I know this is right.

Dom said...

Congrats! I just found your blog and I actually did the same thing as you only a few months after you, in August. I appreciate what you said about people around you and their judgment. I've had my moments with them and its sure not easy - but I have stuck to my guns and moved forward. Thank you for your blog and good luck!

Anonymous said...

Congrats! I just found your blog and I actually did the same thing as you only a few months after you, in August. I appreciate what you said about people around you and their judgment. I've had my moments with them and its sure not easy - but I have stuck to my guns and moved forward. Thank you for your blog and good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I just left my job of 10 years this very day. I have never felt so scared and calm all in the same moment. This was an incredible step for someone like me who usually takes what is dished to them and continues to give my all to a company that obviously doesn't value that. For once I had enough and decided no matter how much passion I did my work I would never reach my potential at this job and needed to move on to fulfill my destiny. Congratulations to you also.

Brian said...

I know exactly how you feel, I too was in a "just show up and get paid" that was literally sucking the life out of me. I knew I was better than that and had more to offer. I hate structure and process when it's not something I have chosen to do. So I took a similar leap of faith, albeit slightly less risky. I took my first contract position with a 6 month term. I am actually looking forward to striving to be my best again. I start on Monday and I already feel that sense of empowerment and excitement that comes with self-employment. Adios soul sucking job!

Anonymous said...

I quit my job yesterday! I am an entrepreneur at heart and it doesnt matter how many jobs i've had, like you say the glitter wears off. I am happiest doing what i love and life is to short to put your dreams aside. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward! Thanks for this entry i needed to hear that someone was on the same page as me and im not crazy!

leapoffaith said...

I have been out of work for 2 years during those two years I decided to complete my Masters. I took the first offer that came to me. A secretary on a project for the year...I am miserable. Not only do I sit do nothing mostly all day. When I am working it is we are out of coffee, paper towels or flight & hotel arrangements. I knew better. I was just scared my unemployment wouldn't last forever. My husband says if I am not happy leave we will be fine, but the independant part of me is so scared. I have to make a choice, because this is a waste and non-productive. I weighed my pros and cons and the only pro is a pay check and not a good one at that. Anyone else have any advice. I sit at my desk almost 9 hours staring out the window. I am wondering should I just stick it out until the end of year being prudent until something else comes or move and allow something else to come. Signed Not happy living below my potential.

Izzy SulkBottom said...

I ran away from a job I hated because of you. Thanks dude!

Edwin Goitia said...

This is the most awesome post I have read regarding quitting one's job. You see, I'm currently finishing college and in the past couple years, have mostly been working for myself, and I loved the freedom. However, last year, I let complacency and "settling for less" get in the way, and got a J.O.B. Now, here I am, a year later, wondering what the heck I was thinking, and ready to quit. Thanks for the inspiration!

Stan said...

Wow! Reading your post almost made me want to get up right now, walk into my boss's office and hand my notice in.

I am exactly the same as you, all my life I've followed a structure, get educated, go to college, get a job, get a better job, climb the ladder. Right now I'm sitting here wondering what the hell I'm doing with my life.

Thanks for the motivation though, I really hope that in the very near future I'm going to do the exact same thing you did.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe people are still commenting months after the date of this post. I never comment on anything, but I felt very compelled to do so right now. I could not sleep because I was thinking about my job and how much I hate it. I feel so trapped and feel like I can't leave. However, the reasons I can't leave are all coming from my anxiety. My husband urges me to do what makes me happy. But I can't and feel compelled to stick to the status quo: nice big paycheck to pay bills and never worry about budgeting. The area I'm interested in pursuing pays probably more than 50% less than what I am making now. Not to mention I've already had my "I quit" speech with my current manager 3 years ago (I am working for him again at a different company). I don't want to appear flaky or be judged. Your post really hit a chord with me and I am feeling a little bit more positive. I keep telling myself "content and happy people do not waste time doing something they hate." I want to be happy again.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant website, I had not noticed www.brunetteonabudget.com before during my searches!
Carry on the good work!

Anonymous said...

I just quit my job too! I had lost my job last summer during downsizing at a company I had been with for over 7 years. Immediately after losing my job a previous manager reached to me and hired me.

I took a pay cut from what I earned at my previous company. Sold my house in the suburbs to be closer to my new employer and moved back to NYC, only to realize once I started working there that although this new firm was advocating and asking for us (the managers/directors) to make changes, when push came to shove no one in upper management was really behind us and I would find myself holding the bag for things I was asked to enforce, but now with no backup.

For months I sucked it up and stayed through this. Even during times when because of staff insubordination, my inability to do anything made me look like a sitting duck. Then two weeks ago I reached my tipping point. I had escalated a situation to our CIO and he had an outrage questioning why I didn't put in place processes ( he had turned down months ago when my manager and I initially presented it) that could have prevented the situation we were in. This was one of many times I found myself in that situacion and I quit.

My manager applauded me for it but confessed he is not ready to take a step like that, but once the opportunity presents himself he is out. So, I guess there are others feeling the same but holding up until opportunities arise.

Ash said...

I have to thank you. I am taking an identical leap tomorrow at my job and when my cold feet started shivering I googled "quitting my job" and up came your post. I would have sworn that you were the ventriloquist to my dummy. You spoke every thought and emotion that I have even down to the "cute" dream of being an author. At the moment when I was about to let the shouting voice of Structure boss me around again you gave me the exact message I needed to hear.

Thank you for writing this so that I may also take the leap into being a self-sufficient employer of my own wild dreams. Hope yours has turned out well!

Anonymous said...

Thank you...thank you... Your post was my final "signal" ok'ing what my soul was telling me to do. You, your post, and all the others brave enough to post and take their destiny into their own hands are my inspiration. Thank you all -And I hope your risks made/make or will soon make your heart feel right! Life's too short...

Mioara Dragan said...

My post on the same topic. Sort of jealous of how well you phrased yours though. LOVE your writing. <3

http://mioaradragan.blogspot.com/2011/01/smiles-and-transitions.html

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post! I unofficially quit my job today and will officially quit on Monday. I feel all of the emotions you mentioned and can completely relate to the "jumping out of a plane" feeling. I feel so relieved and excited to start a new chapter in my life. This post was exactly what I needed to find.
Thanks again! Good luck!

The Healthy Trader said...

It looks like I'm a tad late to the party. Ah well. Time is relative afterall.

The countdown is on for me and in about 2 months, I will be retiring my high paying job to follow my dreams as a day trader.

It certainly is a difficult decision to walk away from the stable pay cheques and security, but there's nothing worse than sitting in a cubicle dissatisfied with the way I'm spending my time and energy.

We only live once, so don't limit yourself to conventional structure and ways of living.

To all the other posters out there who have followed the same path, may the universe be with you! :) Keep your head up and everything will be good.

To face uncertainty and fear is to live. So live on!

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