No. 127

How To Quit Your Day Job

One of my dear friends gave notice at her job two weeks ago. She officially escapes on Friday, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for her. She’s been in a rather toxic work environment for some time now, one that made her question her skills and talent (and sometimes her sanity).

I remember what that was like as well —  a general feeling that I didn’t belong, how disheartening it was when my superiors wouldn’t listen to or dismissed my ideas, a sense that I could be doing more with my time than figuring out how to look busy.

For some people, a day job works. But for some of us, the dis-ease grows. If you’ve ever given though to quitting your day job, here are some tips to help you get there.

1. Put together a support team.

Find friends who will be your cheerleaders, colleagues who will sing your praises to others, trusted advisors you can count on for good advice when you need it. Having people you can turn to makes an incredible difference. You may want to consider hiring a business coach or a life coach, but whether you do or don’t, make sure you’ve got a solid team you can rely upon when things get tough.

2. Prepare before you hit the eject button.

One of the best things I did before I left my day job was to start working on small development projects on nights and weekends. I learned new skills on every project and when I was ready to leave, I had a solid portfolio to show potential clients and testimonials to go with it.  Figure out what you need to really get started and be taken seriously.

3. Get good financial software.

Know your living expenses and establish budgets — one for your business and one for your life. Finances are crazy scary and so often they’re the reason we never quit our day jobs. Good financial software will totally help you tame the financial monster. Honestly, I struggled with this for months when I first started my business. What saved me? Freshbooks for my business and Learnvest for my life.

4. Sing your praises.

While it’s nice to have other people out there gushing about your awesomeness, you need to be comfortable with marketing yourself when you’re getting started. Let people know what your skills are. Consider contacting potential clients. Tell friends and family — and ask them to spread the word. Your best clients will come to you through word of mouth, so be chatty and put yourself out there.

5. Be easy to work with.

Yes, you may be selling jewelry or coaching sessions or website development, but you’re never just selling jewelry or coaching sessions or website development. You’re selling YOU too. And if you’re easy to work with and pleasant? Trust me, it goes a really long way.

6. Know the rules.

Your lawyer is your friend. Really. Make an appointment with one to get your business in order — learn all of the rules surrounding it, create a clear contract for clients (or for anyone you hire), make sure your website has all the necessary terms and conditions on it. The right contract can save you so much time and money by making your process and payment structure clear for your clients.

7. Establish a routine you love.

While it’s liberating to be in complete control of your own time, you may find that the work-life boundary line becomes rather blurry when you’re at home in your pajamas all day. Find a morning routine that doesn’t include checking email immediately and make it a point to put your work away at a certain hour in the evening. Make the time to prepare a delicious meal for yourself, or take a break in the middle of the day for a walk. It is your time, but having some structure ensures it doesn’t all turn into constant work.

8. Conquer your fears.

Change is scary. Before or after you quit your job, you may have overwhelming moments where you can’t help but imagine every worst case scenario. “What if my business flops?” “What if I have no customers?” “What if I can’t afford my rent?” This is totally normal. Rather than let your fear take over or try to dismiss them completely, examine them closely and see what they have to teach you. If you’re worried about having customers, maybe you need to network more before you quit your day job. If finances keep you up at night, figure out what your living expenses for a month are and put that amount in a savings account. (That last ‘what if’ actually happened to me — I totally make it through and so can you.)

9. Be gentle.

You’re going to learn a lot in your first year. I’m still struggling with my routine. While I unfailingly always shower and get dressed before I start my day, I have a hard time putting my work away in the evening. Your business and your life are works in progress. Don’t be hard on yourself when you make a mistake or things don’t go as planned. You’ll learn. You’ll grow. And doing it on your own terms? That’s the best part.

For anyone out there who needs support, I’m happy to give you some advice or be your cheerleader — just drop me an email or comment below.

About brandi

Brandi is a digital strategist, website developer, and founder of Alchemy+Aim, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business owners elevate their online presence and enhance their digital experience. Her academic background in theatre, philosophy and physics was the perfect foundation for launching her business, where she’s worked with Brené Brown, Laverne Cox, Judy Smith, and other notable thought leaders since 2013. She is an advocate for using technology in ways that humanize, connect and serve people as well as for asking deeper philosophical questions and teaching others to think more broadly about impact when they create, particularly in STEAM fields.

6 thoughts on “How To Quit Your Day Job

  1. #8, for sure. That’s been the hardest part about leaving, but for me, outlining what would happen if things don’t work out has made life much easier. The contingency plan lets me feel like I have a safety net of some sort (but I’m also a ‘prepare for the worst’ kind of girl).

  2. These are all most definitely things I learned when I quit my job to work on a start up. And those fears, they’re really not as bad as you thought they were going to be…

  3. Hello my wise inspirational old soul of a friend. Bookmarked this article. Need to make plans and move towards that direction.

    I don’t comment much but your words lay heavy on my brain in the best ways!

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Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.