Back in April 2015, I made the, possibly ill-advised, decision to quit my day job and pursue writing full-time. In this series I’ll go into details about my journey, the various perks, pitfalls, and harsh realities that go into going all in on your dreams without a safety net.
I had reached the top of my career at 35 and stayed in the exact same position till I was 39. I was clearing six figures a year before bonus. While I lavished myself with every indulgence from personal shoppers to personal trainers and maid service… I spent the last year feeling very restless.
At the time it was difficult to pinpoint why I had a hard time getting in before 9:00 AM every morning and why 5:00 PM turned into my new 4:00 PM every day I could sneak out. I would ruthlessly cycle through the news, reading any article that was even remotely interesting, before jumping back on Facebook in an endless cycle of refreshing my appetite for stimulus.
It was not a typical sterile corporate job, which everyone imagines when you tell them you work with databases. We had a casual work environment, standard for IT startups. I wasn’t micromanaged. It’s a job a lot of people would kill for. I also wasn’t happy doing it.
Deciding to quit a job can be like ending a long term relationship, when you don’t have someone else lined up. You just want to be on your own and it’s hard to say why. You start to blame it on all the stupid little things that didn’t used to bother you: documentation procedure, commute times, conference calls, performance reviews. Everything starts to seem like such pointless, irritating bullshit that could be better spent on literally anything else.
I’ve decided a good measure of how happy you are at your job is this intellectual exercise I will pretentiously call the Bode Parachute Scale. In the exercise imagine you are called into your boss’s office and told your position has been eliminated effective immediately but that you’ll be given a severance package (golden parachute) to support you for three months.
Imagine how that would make you feel on a 1-10 scale of happiness from Utterly Inconsolable to Divine Rapture. Now imagine how afraid you’d feel of what happens after that money runs out (will you be able to find acceptable work? will you starve? are you in crippling debt?). Rate that from 1-10 on the fear scale from Terrified to Blithely Unconcerned.
Really try to feel the mix of emotions. That’s a good measure of how ready you are to quit your day job. If you’d be sad to leave your job, don’t. If you’re afraid of the consequences, either stay or line up something else. But if the prospect doesn’t frighten you and it does make you happy, then you might want to consider why you’re sticking around. (Health insurance is not a good excuse anymore)
That’s where I was. I would have done the eight minute extended version of the Macarena right there in the office if I was told to go home early, let alone handed a check for three month’s pay. I had a years’ worth of money saved up in cash plus more in liquid assets, so I wasn’t afraid. I’m also highly marketable. My biggest concern wasn’t finding another job, it was finding one closer to my house where I could still wear flip flops. #Whitepeopleproblems
For me this is the start of a new chapter in my life. It’s not always what I imagined it would be, but no matter what-- whatever happens next is completely depends on me.
Mike bode is the author of The Queen of Lies, the first installment in the ongoing series, Architects of the Grand Design. His next book comes out September. Sign up for the mailing list for more info.
Mike bode is the author of The Queen of Lies, the first installment in the ongoing series, Architects of the Grand Design. His next book comes out October. Sign up for the mailing list for more info. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest . (You can also follow him on Goodreads and even Amazon)