This is part 4 of a 4-part series on quitting your day job and making a living doing what you love. If you haven’t yet, read part 1 here.
When to quit your day job is THE major, nerve-wracking decision that you have to make when getting ready to escape the 9-5 rat race. When is the right time to strike out on your own and leave the safety of your steady paycheck?
Well, different people will tell you different things. Most will discourage you from quitting your day job.
Others might advise that you keep doing your side business on the side until it makes as much if not more than your current job.
I once read a recommendation that one should not quit their day job until they have one year worth of living expenses in the bank, and are completely debt-free.
On the surface, these recommendations sound reasonable and “safe”. However, these recommendations are the ones made by people who currently work a day job and will likely never quit their job or do anything risky in their lives.
I think all of these recommendations for when to quit your day job are terrible and will leave you trapped in your day job forever. At the very least, they are an excuse for why you are too afraid to quit and go out on your own.
Seriously, how long do you think it would take you to save 12 months worth of living expenses AND pay off all of your debts?
For most people, it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. It’s not likely to happen in ten years or twenty years…or ever!
If I followed any of the above suggestions, I would have written this blog post from a cubicle in an office building rather than a cabana in the Caribbean! [Editor’s note: I originally wrote this 4-part series while I was living in Puerto Morelos, Mexico in November 2010.]
When you quit your day job is up to you. Just know, however, that there will never be a “right time” to quit your day job.
There will always be unknowns and uncertainties. There is never a right time to walk away from a paycheck or any significant source of income.
However, you can’t wait until absolutely every aspect of your life is in order before you fire your boss or you’ll work at a job until the day you die (or until your boss fires you).
You may never feel ready to quit; you just have to do it!
I wasn’t ready to quit my job, but I knew that I wasn’t ready to sit in my cubicle forever.
I was scared when I walked out of the door to the building where I worked for the last time. But I was also excited.
Removing the comfort and complacency of automatically receiving a paycheck every other week was both liberating and motivating.
I can’t stress this enough. A steady paycheck acts like a pacifier for your dreams. It gives you the illusion of safety. It kills your motivation.
It provides a reason to avoid risk, to avoid taking chances, to recoil from the unknown.
Your steady paycheck is keeping you from making a living doing what you love!
Get out from its spell, and you will soon realize that you have it in you to write your own paycheck.
The joy and excitement of actually living my life the way I wanted to far out weighed the fear and anxiety of wondering where my next paycheck would come from.
And because I was willing to do whatever it took to make money on my own terms (relocate, reduce expenses, watch less TV, and go get work), I found it easy to earn a paycheck without a day job.
Have confidence in yourself and embrace uncertainty fully and do what you love. The money will follow.
So when do I recommend quitting your day job?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
I left my day job back in January of 2008 with a ton of debt and only four months of extremely frugal living expenses saved up.
I had to move from Vermont to Chicago (which ate up one month’s worth of living expenses that I had in savings), but I was able to live on my freelance videography income for the next three years without needing a day job, skipping rent, or going hungry.
Tracy had it easy. She never had to make the decision because she was laid off in early 2010.
In a way, getting fired or laid off is wonderful because you’re forced to sink or swim, and you don’t have the “luxury” of clinging to fears and anxieties that will keep you trapped in your cubicle.
Without the pacification of a steady paycheck, you are free to use your own powers and skills to generate your own income.
Here are some suggestions for when the time is right to leave your job immediately:
When you look yourself in the mirror and ask if you are truly happy. If the answer is “no”, quit that day.
The day that you would rather pick up a shovel and do hard, physical labor in 90+ degree heat than sit in your cubicle for one more minute (or answer one more phone call).
You have a marketable skill that you can cash in on, or that you are willing to make whatever sacrifices or changes needed to be able to cash in on. (For me, that meant moving from Vermont to Chicago so I could get videography work in a larger market that would support my income requirements.)
You have a website or two, and you have a mentor, either a person or a program (NOT a get-rich-quick online cash-machine “business opportunity”) guiding you through the steps necessary to make it work AND you have at least six months or so of living expenses in the bank (or less if you’re like me and you are ready to sink or swim).
I’d consider any of the above as good positions to quit your job regardless of any “I can’t because…” lifestyle circumstance you might dream up (they are all just excuses for not facing your fear of uncertainty).
But ultimately, it’s up to you and how much risk you are willing to tolerate.
I quit my day job in 2008 without much of a safety net and made the necessary (and rapid) lifestyle changes that were necessary to make a full time income from freelance videography.
Tracy was forced into unemployment when she was laid off.
We both eventually made the decision to focus our full time efforts on the website that eventually turned into a major source of income for us (and continues to do so).
I was never “financially ready” to leave my day job.
Tracy was never financially ready to get laid off.
We made ourselves financially ready to spend six months in the Yucatan to make our website profitable by selling almost everything we had, and living where we could be comfortable on just $1300 per month (I wrote about this in Part 3 of this series).
Trust me, if you are willing to do whatever it takes to live the life you truly want, and you are willing to embrace uncertainty, the payoff is much greater than any initial discomfort you might face in the beginning.
Potential financial hardship, or a brief lifestyle downgrade, is a very small price to pay for having the rest of your life to live the way you want to!
For the first time in my life, I can wake up on a Monday morning with a smile on my face and an eagerness to start the day. I don’t worry about money anymore.
You can say that “I was lucky” or that “not everyone would have come out on top like I did”. And to that I say “rubbish”!
There is no luck involved with being able to quit your day job and escaping the 9-5 rat race. It’s all up to you. It’s all within your power.
Take Your First Step Right Now!
Are you ready and committed to quitting your day job to do what you love?
Do you have a clear, or semi-clear, idea of what you want to do – either an online business or a side hustle?
If so, I’d like to invite you to book a FREE, 1-on-1 Online Business Strategy Session with me.
We’ll chat for an hour over the phone or Skype. I’ll get you clear on your goal, identify obstacles, and then work with you to create a step-by-step plan to get you to your dream. And it’s FREE!
About Davy & Tracy
Hey there! We're Davy & Tracy Russell, the husband-and-wife team behind this website. We help trailblazers break through barriers so they can turn their passion into their life's work through entrepreneurship. How can we help you?