The day I quit my job was one of the most rewarding days of my entire life. It was a day where I felt that I had truly taken control over my own life. Had I quit my job with the plans to simply get another uninspiring job, I would not have felt exactly the same way. However when I quit my job, not only was I quitting that one particular job, but I was quitting being “an employee”. This was the first time I would ever be stepping into the “self-employment” territory. I always had wanted to become my own boss, but I always thought that it would involve building some sort of complicated business or something. Over the years, I have learned that is absolutely not the case though. Becoming self-employed is actually very simple.
This is actually an old post that I took from my old blog. I wrote this the day after I quit my job, but I wanted to repost it here because I remember just how great I felt that day. It really was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life! With that said, in an attempt to keep this extremely long post readable, I’m going to reflect on my thoughts of how I am feeling about this in numbered format.
1.) Actually Putting the Plan into Action
Anyone can sit and talk about how much they hate working everyday from 9 am – 5 pm (or 7 am – 4 pm in my case), and how things would be so much better if they just quit and became self-employed, pursuing what they actually want to do. Anyone can come up with philosophies about why “the system” is a bit silly, yet most people spend their lives enslaved to it. Also, anyone can write about how the actual number of dollars that you have in your bank account is no more than just a number, and all you really need to get by is just enough just to pay the essential bills. I could go on and on about how great it would be to be able to randomly go to the beach on a Wednesday, or go away to Brazil for a month, or sleep until 12:00 pm just because I feel like it….all without having to clear it with my boss first.
I could talk about all these things all day long and how great they would be, but until I actually quit my full-time job and cut off my secured weekly income, none of things really matter. None of that stuff actually means anything until I actually make the move and quit. Although as of today I still have 4 more weeks of that guaranteed income, this plan of mine has officially been put into action. I have set a date one month from now that I will no longer be getting those steady weekly paychecks. In trade for those guaranteed paychecks I will officially be 100% free to do anything that I want to do in life, whenever I want. Time goes by extremely fast, so my departure date will be here before I know it, and I will be cut off from my secure source of income. Some may be see that as something to fear, but I can not wait for that day to come!
2.) Financial Realities
The reason that quitting my full-time, well-paying job is considered to be crazy by many people is because of the importance that everyone places on money. I personally would prefer great experiences over money any day, but not many people actually think like me….or maybe they do, but they don’t feel that they are capable of actually putting those thoughts into action and actually following through with the fantasy of a life of freedom. Despite the fact that I place little importance on the amount of money I have, I am certainly no idiot. I fully understand that I do need some way to pay for the basic bills that everyone is responsible for – mortgage/rent, electric, gas, water, car insurance, food, and other basic living expenses. I realize that paying for these essentials is now going to become more difficult for me than it was when I had a guaranteed amount of money given to me each week. It will be difficult, not impossible. That is my main point.
I did not go into this without a plan. I did, in fact have some sort of a plan, albeit a vague one. I have enough money saved such that if I had absolutely ZERO income whatsoever, I could still live the exact same lifestyle as I am today for a period of 7 months. With that savings, and still assuming zero income, if I were to cut down on all the crap that I usually waste my money on such as eating out, excessive drinking, and buying stuff that I don’t need, I could extend that 7 months to about 9 or 10 months. However, I do have other sources of income. I have the income that I make from playing with my band, and although that is not much money it is still something. In the upcoming months, I will be playing 2 to 4 times per week. Currently, I am playing 1 to 2 times per week on average. The money I make from playing does not make me rich by any means, but it still is some form of income nonetheless.
Additionally, I have two spare bedrooms in my house for rent. Living alone is great, and I did it for almost a year. However, if having roommates can yield me another source of income such that I don’t have to go to work everyday, so be it. The ultimate goal here is to be able to have my finances under control without having to spend the majority of my life working at an uninspiring job.
Then there are the several other potential sources of income that I can make – give guitar lessons, freelance writing, monetize this blog, start a commission-based Internet business, etc… These are all potential sources of income. None of these sources will be easy for me to make money from, but is spending your entire life working for someone else at a job that you hate really easy? I don’t think so. There is no such thing as easy money. It either requires hard work, or intelligent thinking coupled with shear determination. These self-employment endeavors are all new to me, and I fully expect to be faced with several challenges along the way, but it’s no different from simply starting a new job. No one knows what they are doing when they first start something new, but they dive in and learn along the way. That’s exactly how I’m approaching my new “job” – making a living without needing to go to work every day.
The fact of the matter is that there are, in fact, unlimited ways to make enough money to pay the essential bills. Spending my entire life doing something that I really do not like doing is definitely not the only way.
3.) Doing it for Passion, not Money
If my goal was to make a lot of money, I wouldn’t be taking the course of action that I’m taking. In fact, I could have easily increased my income yesterday when I gave my boss notice that I was leaving. I have (or had for that matter) a very well-respected position in my company. The company I work for is a niche company in the industry, and only 5 other places in the country do the same thing. Of those 5 places, my company happens to be the best in the industry. As a guy who shows up to work every day, does his job extremely well, and understands all the ins and outs of this niche industry, I am not easily replaceable. My boss realizes this, and has steadily been giving me above-average pay raises annually in addition to several very nice bonuses per year as well. When I gave him my notice that I was leaving, he basically asked me “How much money would it take to for you to stay?” In other words, he was willing to pay me whatever I wanted in order to keep me. I declined his offer.
Many people that I explain this to just do not get it. They do not understand that I’m not doing this for money. I’m doing this because I want the freedom to do whatever I want. At this point in my life, what I want to do is to pursue my life-long goal of becoming a professional musician. I want to spend the majority of my days practicing and my nights playing live gigs. I’m pretty much doing that already, but only part-time. I want to do it full-time. In order to do it part time, I only sleep for about 3 – 5 hours per night. With practicing with the full band, practicing for acoustic shows, making new relationships with managers of the rooms I will be playing, and trying to find time to keep up on my own personal practice, I really just don’t have much time for sleep. In order to be able to dedicate all my time to actually doing what I love to do, I had to free up my time. I did so by quitting my job.
Again, this is for the pure love of music that I’m doing this. It is not for money. If I wanted to make more money, I could have either accepted my boss’s offer, or I could have jumped from one company to the next every couple years until I eventually got my salary up to some ridiculously high, yet unnecessary number. Many people don’t understand that passion and great experiences are far more important than money, at least for me they are.
4.) Having the Balls to Actually do it
Many people have told me that I have insanely huge balls for doing what I’m doing. I disagree. I mean, I obviously have huge balls, and they are very nice too, but they are not huge for the reasons that most people think. I don’t consider following my dreams of playing music for a living anything that requires “balls” to do. I also don’t consider taking a drastic pay cut to be a ballsy move either. All I did was formulate a plan in my mind as to how I will be able to both live the life I wanted, while still being able to pay my bills. It did require a bit of sacrifice such as getting rid of cable and cutting back on some unnecessary spending, but as far as the risk-taking factor of it goes….not at all. What’s the worst that could happen? My savings run out, and I realize I can’t afford to pay my mortgage anymore? My financial situation becomes a little bit more difficult? So what! I’ll still live through it. Bad times always become good again. The worst thing that could happen is that I find myself struggling, and I have to resort to working another 9 to 5 job again. Of course, the fact that things may end up badly is only a speculation anyway. I suspect things will end up great!
What did require balls was me walking into my boss’s office and breaking the news to him. That, I was extremely nervous about. I’ve been thinking about doing this for years now, and I have been writing about it and sharing my ideas about how much I hate “working for the man” for a long time as well. However, I knew that this would come as a complete shock to my boss. He didn’t have the years of reasoning behind it explaining the “why” of it all that I did. Therefore, it was the first time he would ever be hearing of this.
I didn’t sleep the night before I gave him my notice. My palms would sweat just thinking about it. When 6 am in the morning came on the day I was to do it, and I had to get out of bed, take a shower, and proceed with my usual routine, I was absolutely unable to relax. When I got to work, all I could think about was how I was going to approach him. What was I going to say? What is he going to think? Am I going to freak out and have a panic attack right in front of him? I walked up to his office door with my resignation letter in my hand at least 10 times, each time only to find that he wasn’t in his office yet. Each time I walked up to his office, my heart would practically pound out of my chest. Each time I realized he wasn’t in his office, and I would return back to my work area, my heart would return to normal again, but the underlying anxiety would not go away. It was an extremely stressful situation to say the least. However, once I knew he arrived, and was in his office, I put one foot in front of the other, and I did what I needed to do. Once I broke the ice, I was able to calm down and explain to him my reasons for doing what I was doing.
I have a pretty close relationship with my boss, as I’ve been with this company for almost 7 years, so telling him that I was leaving was equally as hard as it was when I had to break up with my long-term girlfriend. Breaking the ice was the hardest part, and in my opinion THAT is what took balls. However, once it was over I had this overwhelming sense of relief. The feeling of this weight being taken off my chest was, and still is indescribable. I knew that the hard part was over, and all I needed to do was simply put in the rest of my time as I await my last day!
The hard part is over. I had the talk with my boss. I had my plan. I wasn’t quite sure exactly how I would survive financially in the long-term, but I had a vague idea of the several income sources I would focus on. All that was done.
Now I wait for my departure date. My last day of work is also my first gig in Atlantic City. That gig is from 12 am – 5 am in the morning. After that, I will be staying at my bassists’ shore house to hang out on the beach and party all weekend. That same weekend, I have a Friday night gig down the shore with the band. I have off Saturday night and then another gig on Sunday night. There is no work to go to the next week, but two weeks after that I will be heading down to Tennessee to go to Bonnaroo, which is a 4-day music/camping festival that I have been looking forward to going to all year. I may or may not be going with anybody. It doesn’t really matter to me if I go by myself or with a friend or two, because I can make friends and have a great time anywhere I go. I will then come back home, and continue to live my new life that does not consist of that terribly boring 9 – 5 office job that causes nothing but miserable feelings.
Whether I end up making lots of money or just enough money to get by, it doesn’t matter. My life from that point on will be the fun and exciting life that I have always wanted. All it took was some planning and the shear determination to make it happen.
I encourage anyone who follows this blog to consider that anything is possible for you as well. If you really want to do something, just do it. It’s really not that hard!
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