When I quit my job as a researcher for a real estate magazine in London nine years ago to run my own business, I did not feel in any way ready.
But I did know two things:
1. I needed to get out of an office environment.
2. I had faith that I was doing what was right for me.
Leaving a steady job is not for everyone.
Working for others can stir up momentum. It gets you out of the house each day. It keeps you active and focused on solving specific problems. It provides experience; training; a social life. And it gets you paid.
But there comes the point when those of us who’s potential lies in non-conformity – in betting on ourselves – that we need to put an end to denying ourselves that opportunity.
Often, you’ll know when you are blocking yourself like this.
You hang on to your job because it’s safe, and you fear the unknown.
You don’t trust yourself to manage things.
You hear about businesses failing.
You’ve already had a business that failed, and there’s no way you’re doing that again.
You think about your friends and family smiling at your decision to do your own thing, but secretly thinking you’re weird.
You worry that you are foolishly throwing away the opportunity for security.
You don’t have enough money to ‘make the leap.’
You imagine yourself sitting on the floor of your living room in nothing but underpants, scrawling gibberish on the hard floor with crayons.
But these are all excuses. And I know that you know you need to quit.
You know you need to quit when you’ve thought about it more than one time. That’s all it took for me, and I’m happier now than can be.
And here’s the key thing:
If you decide to quit, and you do it —you’ve handed in your notice, and you stand at the edge of the precipice – you are exactly the kind of person that can handle it and keep going.
And it’s not that hard anyway, and in my view, it’s necessary.
You can’t fail
That was a half lie. You will make mistakes, and you will ‘fail’ (if you need to put a negative label on what should be termed ‘gaining useful information’).
But you can’t truly fail unless you quit.
Doing your own thing sounds a lot harder than it is because the people that told you it’s hard were those who quit.
You will experience dips along the way, and they will inform you of your next steps, and that’s ok.
All those ‘businesses’ you hear failing within a year etc.? They’re empty carcasses. These are not people. Many of the people who were in failed enterprises who didn’t quit are now succeeding and stronger than ever.
Your job security is at max power when you refuse to quit.
You are doing what is less risky
Freelance work and work where you are in control is inherently ‘antifragile.’ This means that the more volatile your environment, the more setbacks and knocks you endure, the stronger you become.
Working in an office or within the cushion of an employment hierarchy is devoid of this. You know when you lose your job only the day you get laid off.
When you work for yourself, you’re in direct contact with every knock and bump, and you adjust accordingly. You become more immune to external problems, especially when you keep moving, open to learning.
Lose a client? You have several more to fall back on.
More time to spend on your craft
The world needs people who concentrate their energy on creating things of value. You know (or will learn as you go) what people need and you know what talents you possess that require sharpening.
Your full-time job is robbing you of the time and energy required to do this.
You build character
Striking out alone or with others will force you to think on your feet and take charge of all aspects of your life. If you enjoy what you’re doing, this can be enlivening rather than draining.
If you are short on cash, you will make use of the many ways to earn money through providing services while spending more time on your craft. There are so many opportunities online now that you just do not have an excuse.
Your job or previous experiences will likely have provided you with the development of at least one skill that you can use to provide a service – whether it’s your main thing, or a side hustle, as Gary Vaynerchuk would say.
You build resilience, self-sufficiency, courage, self-discipline —all the kickass life-long character traits.
You can ‘nomad’
You can be geographically flexible.
Not all jobs, personal circumstances, and businesses will afford this, but many will.
One of the best bonuses of working for myself as an illustrator and writer is being able to choose where I want to be when I’m working, both locally and internationally – keeping me creative and able to see the world from different perspectives.
You can be more successful, more quickly because you set your limits.
Rather, you keep that gap in the ceiling open so you can see the stars.
You are not working within the confines of a single job, and the political system of receiving a promotion or a raise at the discretion of your boss.
It’s not the end game
You can find out whether freelancing is the life for you. If you’ve never worked away from a steady job, at least try it for a few months. You’ll know, and you will have lived to tell the tale.
You craft your brand
Having your own personal brand is crucial in a highly competitive, globalized and unpredictable world.
You need to create an image built on what makes you unique. A Strong image is what sells; it’s what draws people to you. It’s much easier to build a brand around you when you are one, instead of being part of someone else’s.
Build your own assets
Blog posts; books; courses; paintings; clients; products; happy customers; subscribers; investments.
When you do your thing, you’re able to dedicate more of your time – if you organize things right – to contribute to building assets like these.
These are things that add to your net worth – not just financially, but regarding personal value – your use to the world – your ability to leverage and scale up.
It’s easy to forget that when working on other people’s products, we’re building their assets – their wealth – their product and customer base. You might be sharpening your skills, but they need to go towards your assets eventually.
Wider range of skills
Your skills will become more rounded. Working for yourself or with others, rather than for others – requires knowledge in more than one area, such as being more intimately aware of your finances.
You will have more skills that are useful to you in the long run, even for taking on work in those other areas should you choose to, or, for example, advising others.
You become your own test subject
When you’ve broken away from the herd to do the ‘unconventional,’ you’re in unfamiliar territory. You’re exploring what’s new for you, but you’re also – through the necessity for being original – a pioneer.
You are your own guinea pig as you experiment with your approach to navigating and impacting the world. The experience and knowledge you accrue through doing this will be unique to you and will be of interest to others.
This will provide useful, striking and likable content that you can use to grow your brand and following.
Masses of support
You have a ton of online support, mentors, coaches, forums, courses and others to guide you as you go, including my blog at Red Lemon Club.
If you know you need to quit your job, then quit already.
Your life is in your hands.
It will never feel as sweet as the day you said seeya.