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Dream to Reality: How I Quit My Day Job

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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. 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.”

Personal Story

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 BlogThink 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.

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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.

quit-my-job-freedom.jpg

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.

4. Plan

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.

6. Adjust

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.

 

Parting Words

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.

~ Oprah

 

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.

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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213 thoughts on Dream to Reality: How I Quit My Day Job

  1. To me, quitting my day job to blogging was a bet of a lifetime. If I can’t do it right for the rest of my life, I’ll end up homeless in the streets. Thanks for the guidelines and reminding me to keep on the track.

  2. How fascinating it is to read of your story, Tina.

    Even while we may be happy in our current employment, often new adventures await us down different roads.

    You sound as if you carefully worked out what you wanted to acheive and how you will go about it. This will stand you in good stead for the future.

    I wish you the very best for new fulfillment as you embark upon a different chapter of life.

  3. It takes a lot of courage and a leap of faith to do what you are doing. I quit my job when my kids were born so that I could spend time being with them, rather than leaving them at childcare or with a babysitter. It’s quite a lot to give up, the money, the car, company sponsored club membership and all. Even up to now, my friends think I’m crazy to do it! Coming from a country that places a lot of emphasis on women working, my case is hardly the norm.

    Luckily, I stumbled on blogging, while looking for something to do part-time because I got bored out of my mind just taking care of kids. A whole new world opened for me as I started to explore my interests and passions. I became more motivated that I’ve ever been in my life.

    My journey has not been an easy one. I faced resistance not only externally but internally (due to my own doing). Over the last 2 years, I got to know a whole bunch of guys who had quit their jobs to pursue their internet marketing dreams. All but one or two have now gone back to work.

    I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from following their dreams. I’m sharing what has happened. There is the good and the bad part of every decision. So it is important to be prepared.

    I wish you all the best, Tina. May you achieve what you set out to achieve.

    Blessings always,
    Evelyn

  4. Tina, this is really inspiring. It seems that there’s a major shift going on right now in the world with people liberating themselves and freeing themselves from conventional modes of living.

    I too am on the same journey as you. It’s damn hard working up to liberating yourself everyday when you don’t know if you might fail. When it comes down to it, I’d rather be striving toward that goal every day and not realize it, rather then lay down and put up a white flag.

    For more about my path to liberation, please see this article. I would be sincerely grateful for your thoughts:

    http://www.illuminatedmind.net/2008/08/07/liberate-your-life-put-yourself-on-auto-response/

    Jonathan

    http://illuminatedmind.net – The less boring side of personal development

  5. I hope you enjoy the opportunity you have. I’m also a full-time blogger, but I never have time for reading or travel or meditation (I get plenty of exercise). Between finding content for five sites, raising two kids and a garden, aging relatives, and a house that’s falling apart, my life is quite full!

  6. HI Tina,

    Congratulation for reaching one of your goals. Your story is very inspiring (as always).

    I’m working my way to my financial and total freedom too and I believe that it will come true before 2010. :)

  7. Jim Paredes

    I remember being a fresh college graduate and applying for a job decades back. My reasons for doing so was because every classmate of mine was doing it and that one was expected to work after college.. But deep down, I knew my calling lay somewhere else. That was some 35 years ago when I opted not to show up at the last minute for the work I applied and was hired for.

    Instead I pursued my songwriting and my singing which hardly looked like would be anything like a real career that would pay the bills then. I have gotten awards, major successes, financial windfalls from doing what I do since then. One might say I have been at it for some 39 years by now though I can’t say it is ‘work’ that I do.At my age now, I still don’t worry about the career angle of it but I KNOW that this is a lifetime passion.

    Looking back, even if i had not become as materially successful as I actually had, I would still choose this. If I had become a (gasp) a lawyer which I remotely considered, I would probably have become an alcoholic or something.

    Pursuing my passion just feels so right. I have used my passion to delight myself and the world I live in.

  8. Tina, welcome to the land of the self-employed. So happy you could join us. It is a wonderful way of life. Frustrating at times, exhilarating at others. But never a dull moment.

    You get to sleep in, play games all day, wander down the the coffee place at 2:00 to hang-out, catch a movie…. At least, that’s what my 9 to 5 friends think I do.

    Enjoy yourself! But do sleep in sometimes. Don’t listen to the get up early crowd. Much more fun to stay in bed in the morning and work at midnight. I would every day if I didn’t have to get my kiddo off to school most mornings.

    Be well. Great post by the way. I learned a thing or two. ;-)

  9. Hi Tina, Congrats for achieving your plans and all the very best for planning what you still need to achieve.

    Some of the points that you have mentioned makes a lot of sense and are things that we may know but still need to be reminded about from time to time.

    I do have plans that I still need to execute but I will first have to start believing in them and in myself.

    Thanks for all your tips.

  10. Oh my. I just realized something bout myself while reading this post. I didn’t have any emergency funds while following my passions. Though the good part is that I’ve already taken my first step. :)

    Great that ya shared this article Tina!

  11. I appreciate that you took the time to share your experience. I love your posts on “how I did it” because they’re great “how to” guides for the rest of us.

  12. You are very clear on what you want Tina, and most importantly, you are taking the actions to obtain it. I know that you will succeed in realizing your dreams. And the odd glitch here and there will cause you to grow even more.

    Best,
    John

  13. Congratulations, Tina! Welcome to doing your own dance!!! I know this will be an amazing new chapter for you. Yes, it’s a little scary (I sometimes really dread the first day of the month … every month it’s a little like jumping off a cliff and hoping the net will appear when you’re self-employed) but SOOOO worth it.

    I’m with Tom … some of the joys of self-employment are definitely getting a massage in the middle of the day, or deciding to take the day off just because … hurray for us!

    Blessings,
    Andrea

  14. Congratulations on accomplishing your goal and thank you for giving detailed information on how you did it. I think that was very, very responsible of you. People who want to follow in your footsteps know exactly where to start.

    -Tabs

  15. Congratulations Tina,

    It amazing what happens when we follow our dream. People cannot help themselves but get swept up by the enthusiasm.

    I started DrCason.org recently and have had troble finding time to write down specific step to reach my goal. Silly huh? I’ll post my photos, my inside thoughts, my recommedations and yet the steps elude.

    Thanks for the advice.

  16. Very inspiring Tina! Thanks for sharing your story.

  17. Wow. That was an exhaustive post, and worth every minute of my time. I loved your quotes (Steve for me, Oprah for my lady), your story, your goals; I loved it all. Thank you, I have subscribed.

  18. This is great that you were able to quit your job. Wishing you abundant success in your new endeavors.

  19. Absolutely inspiring. I can’t wait to see what other ventures you’ve pursued and succeeded at.

  20. PeaceLoveJoyBliss

    Tina, kudos to you for taking the heart-pounding, heart-skipping leap of faith from worker bee to freedom lover, where you can be location independent and have complete control of your sweet time. I admire your courage. Really and truly. And Simply Tina? I like it, love the concept, look forward to reading and lending you my support.

    Cheers,
    Christopher

  21. Another timely post. For the first time in a long time, I’m inspired and passionate about what I’m doing on my blog and I would love to turn it into a career, but I’m still learning about he possibilities. I have a feeling I’m headed in the right direction, but I’ll be keeping tabs on your progress for inspiration.

  22. Hey Tina!

    Congrats on the scary but EXCITING move that you’ve made! We’ll be rooting for you along the way….

    Warmest,

    Will :)

  23. Great story Tina and good for you for having that emergency fund! When I started my business 5 years ago, I didn’t have that fund (my salary was barely funding my life let alone creating savings). Fortunately my house had tripled in value, however, so I was able to live off the equity while I built the business.

    Now I have a very frugal lifestyle and have plans to build income online, but I know it’s a slow process. I figure it’ll take another 5 years to reach a comfortable income level and 10 for real success, but that’s okay, I’ve learned a lot of patience over the years…

  24. Tina,
    You write, “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.”

    Amen to that! The way I put it is “Stay curious and open to life. No matter what happens keep learning and growing. Find what you love to do and find a way to share it with others.” Following that philosophy has certainly brought me happiness. I know it will work for you, too.

    Blessings!

  25. “Starting something from nothing and watching it grow is deeply rewarding.”

    Very true.

    Your story is quite amazing. The combination that you have of intelligence and determination is going to pay off.

    Good luck (luck never hurts). :)

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