Dream to Reality: How I Quit My Day JobYour 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. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking, and don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. ~Steve Jobs
Ever since I learned about the concept of financial independence five years ago, the seed of a dream had been planted. My dream: Having the freedom to deliberately choose how I spend every day – to have complete freedom of time.
As of last week, my dream became a reality.
I left my job at Amazon to start this new life chapter. I have three goals:
- To complete a triathlon
- To learn French
- To live everyday fully, as if my last
My answer to the question “What do you do?” will now be “I spend fulltime pursuing my passions.”
I had a wonderful job at a phenomenal company. I had flexibility, an understanding boss, and a high paying salary. I loved my job. But after 6 years of expending myself on the job, trying out various professional roles, I felt that I’d grown beyond the fixed positions available at the company.
I’m not going lie, having a lot of money is nice. Money can buy you things, nice things. However, the cliché is true – money cannot buy you happiness, and having it doesn’t mean that you are a successful person. After several years, I realized that the more money I made, the less satisfied I became. Days started to blend into one another, time flew by, and I deeply longed for something with more meaning.
Upon realizing that I was trading my time for money, I started experimenting with various passive income sources. I’ve started and ended businesses, I’ve turned hobbies into professional pursuits, and I’ve tested out investment avenues.
In the end, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. As long as you are doing something that expresses your passion, you will excel and you will gain satisfaction. I’ve also learned that starting something from nothing and watching it grow is deeply rewarding.
Through my quest to finding my passion, I discovered blogging as a platform where I can share ideas and lessons learned that are closest to my heart, as a way to serve others. For the first time in my life, I feel that I am living my life purpose.
Words cannot express the joy I feel while writing for Think Simple Now, and the numerous times when feedback from readers has brought me to tears. This just feels right.
I wanted to take this time to say Thank You for being part of this with me, and for helping me realize my dream while stumbling upon my passion.
What Now? Q&A
Q: Now that you’re a pro-blogger, will you be working on your blog fulltime?
A: I don’t view myself as a professional blogger, since in my mind, I love this so much that I would pay money to experience it. Having said that, my main focus will be to follow my heart and do what feels right. There are many things I plan on doing, blogging is just one of them.
The following are a list of things I plan to do and incorporate into my life:
- Morning Routine – Establishing a healthy morning routine can be a powerful way to start your day. Mine will include: rising early, drinking plenty of water, exercising, meditation, & reading something inspirational.
- Reading – I love to read, but never found that I had enough time to do so. Now’s my chance to ramp through books I’ve always wanted to read. I have a large reading list with new books and old books I plan to re-read. My plan here is to read at least 2-4 books a month. I tend to crack open several books at the same time, so we’ll see how I do. I will be sharing what I’m reading with you all. Check out the section “What I’m Reading Now” along the side bar. I will be updating it as I progress.
- Yoga – Learning yoga.
- Meditation – Establish a regular daily meditation routine. My plan is to meditate twice a day, between 10-45 minutes each session.
- Exercise – I can count the number of times I’ve exercised in the last year on one hand. True story. It’s an area of my life that needs improving for the sake of my long term wellbeing. I randomly picked triathlon as a goal, since it will be a tremendous challenge, and poses as a goal to whip myself into shape.
- Public Speaking -I feel a draw towards motivational speaking and life coaching. While I’m not set on becoming a coach or a public speaker, I would like to explore in that direction. I will be joining a local Toastmasters group, and train myself in becoming a more engaging speaker and effective leader.
- Travel – My love for traveling comes from a desire to experience cultures that are vastly diverse from my own. Some places on my list are: Mongolia, Arabic China, Bali (Indonesia), Peru and South America, Ethiopia and other African countries. I would also like to live in Paris for several months.
- Writing – I will continue to share life lessons I’ve gained, and write about issues that we all experience as humans. My central theme will remain the same: Personal Happiness, Fulfillment, Clarity and Wellbeing.
- Personal Blog – Think Simple Now posts have always been in the format of in-depth articles on personal development. As such, I don’t consider it a blog, but rather a free web publication on personal wellbeing. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a more personal blog called Simply Tina, where I’ll be posting much more liberally and casually. The topics will consist of a larger range of subjects: updates of my progress in this new lifestyle, traveling, business lessons, blogging, passive income, the 4 hour workweek lifestyle, startups, empowering mindsets, and useful resources.(Coming Soon. Subscribe today.)
Q: Holy crap, you quit your job? Tell me more. How are you paying for your expenses?
A: Two years ago, I had set a clear date for when I’d be leaving my job to pursue my passions fulltime. At that time, I only had a small amount of passive income from investments that paid for small bills. So my plan was to save enough money so that I could quit my job to freely pursue my passions fulltime for two years.
I believed (and still believe) that when we are doing that which we are completely passionate about, money will come. The plan was to explore my passions freely, living on my savings. I was confident that before the end of year two, I would be generating income doing what I love, without needing to get a job.
This transition was a difficult one, and was really, really scary initially knowing that I would lose my safety blanket: stable job, regular income, and benefits. But once I got over that initial scare, I realized that I was trapped by social conditioning and social pressure that I needed to get a job. The fear eventually passed with time when I focused on what I wanted: to be location independent and have complete control of my time.
Currently, I have several sources of passive income, but most of my income comes from advertisers, sponsors, and affiliates from ThinkSimpleNow.com. Advertising is the only way I can make the content available for free. If you find the ads annoying, you can use a RSS reader. I do appreciate your understanding and support regarding the ads.
While I am making income through ads, it is not a lot of money, enough to pay for basic necessities. If you’re interested in helping me out, here are several outlets:
- Feedback and Suggestions – Drop me an email with topics you’re interested in hearing more on, or let me know what I’ve done right. I’ll also appreciate constructive criticism.
- Subscribe to RSS – If you haven’t already please subscribe to my RSS feed, or subscribe via email. (What are RSS Feeds?) The subscriber count is a huge motivator for me. Thank you!
- Donations – If you’ve found the content useful, you can send donations via paypal. I eat a large number of avocados every week, and these donations go towards buying more avocados on my next grocery run. When I eat those avocados, I’ll be thinking happy thoughts about the donator.
- Tell Your Friends – The best gift you can give me is by helping me spread the word about Think Simple Now. Thank you in advance for doing this. :)
- Amazon Shopping – I get a small commission from Amazon (about 3%) if you click through one of my affiliate links and end up buying something on the site. This does not cost anything for you, but will make a big difference for me. When you need to make an online purchase from Amazon, I would really appreciate it if you can click through to Amazon via Think Simple Now (Clicking any of the books along the sidebar will do). If you don’t want to do this, no sweat!
Steps for How I Did It
I’ve learned many lessons along the way prior to leaving my job. Here are some major points and steps that have contributed towards where I am today. I hope they can be helpful to you.
Photo by Mike BG
1. Clear Vision of Result
Many of us don’t get the results we want, because we don’t know what it is we actually want. Not knowing what we want is like jumping on a random train, blind-folded. It might take us to a city we’ll enjoy, but it might not. It is completely random and we have no control over where the train goes.
Alternatively, many of us talk about wanting to be rich. But we don’t know what “rich” means, or understand why we want it, or map out a plan towards obtaining it. This pattern is equivalent to a person in London wanting to be in New York, but hops on a random train in Europe, blind-folded. The ‘wanting’ alone will not get us there.
To get what we want, we need to first have a clear vision of what that thing is. The vision needs to be defined using measurable attributes, along with dates for when you will get there. Once you have a clear measurable goal for what you want and when you want it, you can start to work backwards and map out a plan. As the saying goes, “What gets measured, gets managed.”
In our analogy, say we are living in London but want to be in New York by December 15th, 2008. We have 4 months to get a travel visa, buy a flight ticket to NYC, look for an apartment or hotel in NYC, take time off work, pack our bags, and ask friends to take us to the airport. Before the end of next week, our plan is to have researched flights and have one purchased.
2. Understanding Why
Let’s say that you too wanted to quit your job and have complete freedom of time, what will you do with the extra time? If you don’t know, you’ll be better off staying at your job, since you’ll likely be bored and will start looking for a job soon. Make sure you understand the drive behind the vision.
List out all the reasons why you want to fulfill your vision. How will achieving that contribute towards your life? How can you use that new found freedom to help others?
3. Write It Down and Date It
I prefer to write down my goals along with a date for when it will happen. Writing it down forces you to clearly articulate the thing you want. Writing down your goals also helps by clearing them out of your mind and onto paper.
It feels just that much more real and doable once it’s in ink and down on paper.
If the steps toward achieving your goals aren’t clear, start listing out ideas for potential roads that can take you there.
Treat each potential road as a separate project, and work on one project at a time. Pick the project that feels the best for you and your interests.
With each project, list out the major steps you need to achieve in order to reach your goal. These steps are large milestones that are measurable. Make sure you set a target date for when each step will be completed.
For each step, break it down further into actionable tasks that can be completed in a few hours. Set a target date for each task. Adjust the target date for completing the step, if necessary.
5. Take Action
Once you set a goal, wrote it down, and planned it out, take one action immediately. Regardless of how small that action is, you are one step closer to your goal, and in doing so, it will start the momentum you need to follow through.
Let’s say that your goal is to run a website offering information on gardening that makes you $200 a month in advertising revenue. The first small step you can take immediate action on is to brainstorm for a domain name, or call a friend who knows about running websites to give you advice, or outlining content ideas, or researching demand by checking out existing gardening websites.
Make a commitment to yourself to take action every week, following the action items from your plan.
Don’t be afraid of failure, if something isn’t working, so what! Just keep adjusting until something does work. Be bold and courageous, try different things. What’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t work out, you’ve eliminated another way that something does not work and you now have a higher chance at finding something that does work. Plus you’ve learned a ton along the way.
7. Emergency Fund
If you’re thinking about quitting your job at some point in the future, make sure that you are building an emergency fund now. Heck, you should be doing that anyway even if you’re planning to stay at your job.
If your goal is to quit your job to work on your own thing, make sure you map out exactly what your monthly costs are. This way you’ll know how much money you’ll need monthly. This also helps when building your emergency fund – how much savings you’ll need and how many month you’ll have before burning out your reserves.
8. Mentors & Models
You can jump into a new field and eventually reach your goals by trial-and-error, or by modeling after a person who is already achieving the kinds of results you want. This person is a mentor. Modeling means to do things that your mentor is doing, and taking the steps that he or she took. Most often than not, you’ll get further following a working formula that’s already proven to work for your mentor.
A mentor could be someone who you interact with in a mentor-mentee relationship, someone you don’t know or someone you casually interact with. Remember, having a mentor does not mean you need a one-on-one formal relationship with them, in fact, many potential mentors are busy people, so don’t waste too much of their time.
Be smart when contacting them. Ask clear, short, conscious questions that are quick to answer, and don’t ask too many questions. There’s nothing that will turn off a potential mentor more than sending them an essay of an email. If you’re a blogger, don’t send them emails asking what they thought of your latest post. Be considerate and respective of their time. Become an excellent observer, and observe what works and what doesn’t.
My purpose for this article isn’t to advocate that you should quit your job. This article was written for anyone with a dream that may have somehow pushed it behind the back-curtains on the stage of life. My message here is that achieving your dream is possible if you want it bad enough and are willing to take action for it.
Regardless of what our dreams are or what our current life story consists of, we have the choice to live deliberately, consciously and purposefully.
Keep learning, for it will give you personal growth. Keep serving others, for it will give you compassion and a sense of connectedness with others. Together, growth and contribution hold the keys to lasting happiness and riches far beyond what money can buy.
Find your passion, and then look for ways to use your passion to provide massive value for others. Try different things until you find your passion. When you find it, you will know, for you will feel it in your heart. It’ll be like breathing. Never give up.
“Forget about the fast lane. If you want to fly, just harness your power to your passion. Honor your calling. Everybody has one. Trust your heart and success will come to you.”
What is it that you want? What first step can you take? When will you take it? Share your dreams, goals, or thoughts with us in the comment section. See you there.