Happy new year’s eve! Today, I feel like reflecting on where I am now and how I got here. Some years ago, I quit my steady job. It was a life-changing decision for me. In this article, I want to explain why quitting your corporate job may be the best decision of your life, and why you should seriously consider it.
Thinking about it now, this post also applies to freelancers considering starting a business or opening a company, or those willing to become digital nomads. It’s all about overcoming your fears and having the courage to do something scary that you know you need.
This is not, however, a decision to be taken lightheartedly. I share my own experiences in this blog, trying to help and inspire others, but I am not a guru and I’m not going to tell you this is the right solution for you, or anybody else. You are the only one with the right answer.
That said, let me tell you a short story.
My Short Story
Five years ago, I worked at a cubicle. I had a very well paid job. I lived a relatively comfortable life in Madrid.
However, I profoundly hated my job.
The job was certainly stressful, but most jobs are, right?. The problem for me was different.
As years passed, a feeling of being wasting my time grew on me. I worked on the same gray, repetitive tasks every day, without a real challenge, without learning new things and evolving as a professional or individual. I had little room for creativity or making a positive contribution. I was simply exchanging my life for money.
And I was bored as hell.
Now this may seem like a contradiction. Can you be bored and stressed?
I certainly was. My first thought when I woke up every morning was: “Oh gosh! Do I really have to go there again?”
One day, I decided I’d had enough. I quit my job and started freelancing as an iOS developer. That led me to embrace the entrepreneurial community, become a solopreneur, open a company in Estonia and, eventually, embracing a full digital nomad lifestyle.
If you are reading this, chances are you find yourself in the same situation I was in 2012, or have gone through it and know exactly what I’m talking about.
It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, some day, you find yourself wondering why you are wasting your time every day at the same office.
When that happened to me, I started to be more aware of how I was spending my time. I just knew that I did not enjoy my work. This Steve Jobs quote, even though overused, had a profound impact on me back then:
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
I had some side projects that I loved, but I never had enough time for them. I woke up at 6am every weekday and got back home at 6pm, exhausted. As a result, I had to spend time during the weekends to work on stuff I really loved. This meant sacrificing time to be with my family and friends.
Does it sound like you?
Quitting Your Corporate Job
Quitting my job was, in retrospective, one of the best decisions of my life. It was not easy, though. The path to freedom is plagued with fears, doubts and uncertainty.
Don’t Let Your Fears Take Over You
When I took the decision of quitting my job, I was utterly scared. I had no savings or concrete plan, just this craving to start a new path.
Most of my fears back then are probably felt by most people at this crossroads: fear of not being able to pay your bills, of losing everything, of not finding customers or not being able to succeed as an entrepreneur…
Later, I discovered that most of my fears were completely unfounded. There is a vast world of opportunities out there. Don’t let the apparent competition of the globalized economy frighten you. On the contrary, instead of seeing that as competition, embrace it as opportunities to grow your career or business.
There’s always a niche for you. There’s always a service, skill or product that is needed. You just need to find it.
You can be a freelancer, get involved in the startup ecosystem, become a micropreneur, open a business, or sell antiques. There’s no limits to what you can currently do with a laptop and an internet connection.
The Right Moment Is Now
Also, don’t fall into the “Right Moment” Trap.
You are never going to have enough savings to feel yourself “secure”. Your kids are never going to be old enough and, when they do, it might be too late. When you pay off your mortgage, there will be another expense or loan to keep you tied to your 9 to 5 job.
Stop making excuses. There’s no such thing as too young or too old.
If you know you need a change, the right moment is now. Right now.
Do What You Love
That’s probably the most important lesson I have learned throughout the years. If you are passionate and love what you do, you will eventually become good at it and succeed.
Thus, make sure to work on something that you love or at least enjoy. Don’t let other people’s fears stop you.
Ideally, you sould find something you are really passionate about, something you won’t even call “work”. Then, look for a need or problem you can solve in that area. That’s, in my experience at least, the simplest formula for a happy life.
Success doesn’t come overnight. When I quit my job, it took me three months to find my first customer as a freelancer.
During that time, I worked hard to build a portfolio, and improved my skills as a developer. I also learned a lot about acquiring customers, marketing, running a business… Eventually, I managed to get my first client.
With every new life change, like going from freelancer to solopreneur, or becoming a digital nomad, there will be a period of uncertainty. Learn to embrace that situations and use them in your advantage. You will need to work hard, learn a lot, and get out of your comfort zone.
Knowing when to quit is important, but don’t abandon hope if things don’t seem to work right away. Keep hustling. Learn. Work hard. Eventually, your efforts may have their reward.
Benefits Of Quitting Your Corporate Job
Today, I am a completely different person that I was seven or ten years ago. Quitting my corporate job put me on a path that has changed me in so many ways, that it would be hard for me to enumerate them. Anyway, let my try my best to summarize the most important ones.
You Grow As A Professional
Previously, I mentioned the need of getting out of your comfort zone. Even though I don’t like to use this trite sentence, I can’t think of a better way of expressing it.
When I quit my job, I was just a developer. An employee. My job was to code stuff, and I did what I was told. I had no idea about marketing, finding customers, promoting a service, launching a successful product, accountancy, starting and managing a company, taxes or basically anything but programming.
However, when I was out there on my own, suddenly I was the one in charge of all that. I was in charge of promoting my services, finding customers or taking care of the ledger.
Later, when I became an entrepreneur, I went through a similar process. I had to learn how to create a successful product, not just a software program, how to promote my products and services, marketing, and taking care of my company, to name a few things.
Additionally, as I joined the startup scene and worked for several startups, I learned different new technologies to add to my repertoire.
Had I stayed in the same cubicle during all these years, I would probably still be just a developer. Nothing more.
Quitting my corporate job made me not only a better programmer, but broadened my skills, expertise and experience in multiple areas.
You Grow As A Person
Another beneficial effect of being on your own is that suddenly, you become your own boss.
That means that nobody is pushing you to reach your deadlines, get customers, launch the product or sell. You are the one in charge of everything.
Thus, I had to learn a lot of self-discipline, and be responsible for my decisions. Additionally, I had to develop some skills I was missing, including social skills, marketing, accountancy, administrative tasks, and understand a lot of different concepts.
As time passed, I became more confident in my skills and what I was able to achieve on my own. I overcame a lot of fears and began to embrace uncertainty as an exciting part of starting new things.
This has allowed me to grow as a person more than I can express with words.
Your Life Will Change
As a result of the above process, your life will change forever, in unexpected ways. I never thought I’d be able to travel the world as a digital nomad, working remotely without a home. Looking back to my past self, I can’t believe how much my life has changed.
I am a completely different person.
I am lucky to work in the projects I love. Apart from my own business, I work regularly for amazing startups worldwide. I travel the world and enjoy a life without schedules and offices. Yes, I do work a lot, but I am the owner of my time.
Of course, I’ll never know what’d have happened if I hadn’t quit my job, but I am grateful I did.
Of course, I am not stating here that this is the ideal solution for everybody. But in my opinion, once you enjoy this kind of freedom, you never look back. I can’t imagine getting back to my corporate job again.
But If You Ever Look Back…
Nevertheless, if you find out that this life is not for you, and you need the safety of a steady, 9 to 5 job, you can always get back. All the experience and knowledge you have acquired will make you a more valuable employee for any company.
Quitting your corporate job is not a one-way ticket. There will always be a cubicle waiting for you if you decide to get back. However, I am yet to know someone who’s taken the leap and has later decided to return to a grey office.
Call To Action
Today is the 31st of December. We are on the verge of a new year. I am at a plane, traveling back to Riga after spending the holidays with my family and friends.
It’s been a pretty intense year. I’ve had some amazing moments, and some hard times too. However, Since I took the decision of quitting my corporate job and embracing an entrepreneurial, digital nomad lifestyle, I feel like I am living every single day of my life.
And that’s priceless.
Happy new year!