Quick! You have to choose. Do you….
(a) robotically live your life and eat fancy steak dinners whenever you want?
(b) pursue your path in life but struggle to pay your rent?
If you chose (b), and you are living (a), albeit without the fancy dinners, perhaps you are like me.
Do you want to quit your job because you are seeking purpose? Because you know in your heart it is not right?
Me, too. I haven’t used my checklist yet, but I can tell you I’ve researched this more than anyone.
Seeing as how I’ve dedicated the past 1 year to talking about/ thinking about / daydreaming about quitting, I thought I’d share the wealth of knowledge I’ve gathered.
So heeeeeere we go!
[2 Small Notes of Mention: (a) I have no kids, nor do I plan to have any. (b) I am quitting my job because I have greater existential endeavors in mind, as ill-defined as they are right now. I'm not angry at anyone, flaky, or seeking "instant success."]
How to Quit Your Paying Job with No Future Plans: A CheckList
1. Save Up Your Moolah.
My friend Jen, a starving artist and my job-quitting-role-model, recommended I save up my cash: one full year of rent + health insurance.
Your other bills will be paid through your search for meaning. This will cover your other expenses, like food, car insurance, entertainment.
I’m serious. An opportunity will come, and when it does, you and I will be jobless-ly, wonderfully free to take it.
2. Interview People and Volunteer Your Services. This will help you figure out your interests, and provide you with a better understanding of what you want to do next.
Here is a short list of things I’ve done since deciding I want to quit my job, as I don’t know what I will end up doing next:
~ Attend meetup groups to discuss jobs with people who are jobless/seeking new work
~ Informally interview everyone I know who is self-employed: “How did you quit?” “What did you do first?” “How did you decide on your job?”
~ Volunteer at local businesses that are involved in fields that interest me.
* Note: Take it from me — you’ll want to volunteer for a meaningful period of time to avoid “grass is greener” syndrome, where everything seems perfect because it’s new.
3. Discuss your plans with Empathetic People who are capable of supporting you.
Harsh, cold reality: Some people are not risk-takers, nor do they like change. Others value getting paid and going on their next vacation more than anything else. Others simply are unable to empathize with anyone who doesn’t live exactly like they do.
These people will never say to you, “Hey! You’re quitting with no solid job lined up! Good for you!” Instead, they will view you as a reckless job-quitter who is driven by pure passion and zero intellect.
And, to a small extent, you are driven by that passion. But, what is the purpose of a dispassionate life?
I’ve come to sadly realize that when I’m saying for the tenth time to a person, “I’m not afraid to work,” or, “I’ve saved my money up,” I am justifying myself to someone who will not understand.
So, projecting my advice onto you….
(We) Do not need to pay attention when these naysayers say things like, “Jobs are not intended for you to feel fulfilled in.”
Eff that. Lives are not intended to be lived without existential questioning.
4. Get your resume together.
It doesn’t matter if you aspire to be self-employed or work for a company. A resume is useful.
Make different versions, if you have different skill sets.
Get someone to proofread it, preferably a trusted editor.
Don’t be like the girl I just helped write a resume, who’d written “Suggestively helped customers” under her job description.
There are job centers in many universities, community colleges, and cities (in San Francisco: Jewish Vocational Services is a great one).
5. Leave your current job with positive references.
Self explanatory. Don’t photocopy your butt a million times and mail it to your boss. Don’t post bad Facebook statuses about your employer. The problem wasn’t your job, it was that you are ready to move on.
6. Build up a base of experience that will launch you into your next job.
Do you have a secret dream that is motivating you to quit?
Check out the story of my friend. My friend, now an independent photographer, quit his job to pursue his dream. But before he quit, he hauled his camera to every single event he attended, snapped bajillions of photos, posted them all online, tagged everyone he knew on them, and basically gained fame as “THE” photographer amongst his social circles.
Before he even quit his “real” job, he’d taken so many photos that he’d started photographing portraits, for money. When he eventually did quit, he had a small clientele built up already, as well as lots more experience.
That is how you start off your secret dream on the right foot.
If you don’t know what your secret dream or big vision is yet, start looking now. While you are getting paid (from your boring job), it’s easier to take risks and build up your portfolio since you have less consequences to failing.
7. Figure out your health insurance situation.
In San Francisco, as an unmarried person, my two basic options are: (a) get a part-time job that will provide me with benefits; (b) buy into SF’s free/cheap healthcare plan, HealthySF.
Gotta love those socialist San Franciscans.
Ye non-San Franciscans might have a different setup. ObamaCare is making it far more affordable to get health insurance as a self-employed person.
If all fails, maybe your Step #7 could be, “Find someone with good health insurance and marry them.”
8. Ask the World for What You Need.
In other words: tell your (supportive) friends that you are looking for work. Be specific about what kind. Email people. Call people. Spread the word. If nobody knows you are “on the market,” nobody will tell you about the fact they just heard of a new position open at your dream company.
9. Quit your job.
Work for as long as you can. Then quit.
I think “two months notice” is kind, since it will give my boss a chance to hire in a new person that I can help train. After all, I’m trying to accomplish Step #5: leave with good references.
I am not pretending my jobless future is a perfect, glowing path to enlightenment. It will be tough, and somedays, I will struggle.
But searching for definition is better than resigning myself to sub-par work in order to “not-get-fired” from my 9-5. I might have my poverty, but I will have my passion. I will have my time. I will have my integrity.
And all the fancy steak dinners or tropical vacations in the world can’t buy that.
Good luck out there! And keep me updated.
PS: When I actually quit, I’ll tell you how well this checklist worked out. But I’m pretty sure my interviews with a bajillion people should have paid off in this listicle.
PPS: Is it just me, or does “listicle” remind you of a… different word?
PPPS: I found this graphic from this post, which coincidentally happened to be about quitting your job too… albeit a different take on it.