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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 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.
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  • 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.

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. It’s nice you found your way in life. I, instead of quitting a high paid job to find my personal satisfaction through reading books, traveling and basically doing nothing productive, I’d have invested and putting all your brains and effort in helping others, that’s truly rewarding.

    Hope that traveling will get you to the real world lady, at least, if you travel to real world spots and not marketing made paradises with no structural poverty, racism violence and diseases.


    I’d have invested and putting all your brains and effort in helping others, that’s truly rewarding.

    Thanks for commenting Gabriel. I actually plan to spend almost all of my time dedicated towards helping people. Part of my goal for reading is to gain better understanding of myself and subjects I can help people on.

    The rest of the activities such as exercise and traveling will also be included in my life. They are important to me as well. We all have different desires and needs. I hope we can all respect and appreciate the diverse differences in everyone.


  2. Thanks for sharing your inspirational story and a series of tips for those of us who hope to follow in your footsteps some day. It’s great to hear how well things have turned out for you – best of luck in the future!

    Like you, I hope to do the work I love which is helping those around me to become successful in their lives. Tips such as those you’ve shared should help me in my own journey.

    Thanks again!


  3. This is a really inspiring post. One question comes to mind though. If everyone pursues their dream of quitting their job then there wouldn’t be any opportunities. I can only hope that I can do something like this. It still seems so foreign to not get a regular job. If it was easy though, then everyone would do it. I am glad it worked out here. It inspires me to have hope to have a life less ordinary.

    – Achieving your Dreams

  4. Phoenix

    All this higher order listen-to-your-calling stuff is great. But if you live in a big expensive city and have responsibilities for others, not only yourself, then all these feel good steps are a little difficult to take.

  5. This is incredibly inspiring as someone who is also interested in an early exit from the rat race! I’m interested to learn more about how you’ve replaced benefits (health insurance, etc.). I know many people simply pay COBRA for 18 months and see what happens, but this can get expensive. Benefits, and a small pile of debt, are currently the only two things keeping me from stepping away myself. Best of luck in your new role!

  6. Hi Tina!

    Congratulations on achieving your goal! Your story is most inspiring and uplifting and I genuinely feel excited and happy for you…even though I do not know you!

    Just a few weeks I declared my intention of quitting my full time job…and jobs in general…by December 2009. I, like you, find true pleasure in living my life in it’s own natural flow and a job just takes away from that. I admit it’s a very scary thing to want but I believe it can happen and reading your story strengthens my belief and confirms that yes this is exactly what I want to do.

    I am very grateful to have stumbled upon your blog. I look foward to reading up on your past posts and keeping up with current ones.

    Thank you for sharing…you are a true inspiration :)

  7. Great post. Thank you.

    Quitting a person’s job to pursue the unknown can be a highly stressful situation for some, but for some of us it’s really just the start of our lives so to speak and couldn’t get more exciting.

    I am so glad to hear that in your case it was the latter. I wish you only the very best in the future.

    Take care,


  8. Hi Tina,

    Ali told me about this post, but I had to see it for myself. Conrats, Tina! So good for you. I’d really look forward to the Simply Tina blog, so do have it up soon. Would love to follow you in your adventures.

    Take care, keep smiling :-)
    Arif & Ali

  9. Joe

    Some Avocados on me. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Future Ex Wage Slave

  10. While I didn’t intentionally leave a good paying job, I did move to France from the US and have found it hard to find work here. I teach English about 15 hours per week. That motivated me to learn to make money from online endeavors and reduce spending on non-essential items. Now that my French is good and my status is perfectly legal I could work full time, but right now I don’t have to. I am going to try to never go back to full time work or at least work for someone else.

    If you would like some online sources for learning French I have lots.
    Bon courage!

  11. Great post and it tells such a great story too!

  12. S

    Good for you. It’s great that you’re pursuing the life you want.

    Do remember though that not everyone dreams of giving up the nine to five and writing or being self employed. I know that’s not what you were implying as this is just your story but it is what lots of people automatically jump to.

    Personally I love my job, I work in an office and it’s 9 – 5 but I work for a good cause (helping and advising on people’s development so not that different to you in a way), I have no take home work, I work in a beautiful environment (an area classified as one of outstanding natural beauty), my intellect and sociability are nourished by what I do.
    What is more significant here though is that I feel it is important, ethically, for me to be working for an organisation rather than as self employed. Self employment doesn’t suit everyone and some people really make the worse bosses/ employees so it’s even worse when you’re both. I earn my living knowing that I’m not exploiting anyone else to do so; not implying you are but I would feel uneasy relying on encouraging people to purchase things to make me money as I don’t believe in excessive consumerism.

    Anyway, I just think there are so many important jobs that cannot be done selfemployed and are peoples dreams (like the medical profession, charity and development work and more) that “giving it up” should not be held up to be some amazing answer. As you said, people need to know what their ideal life looks like and I have just seen too many people make mistakes about their own desires, abilities and needs and go for the adventure when the office job is actually a perfect fit for them. I may not be as cool or glamourous as you but I follow a dream too. And so does my friend who cares for the elderly and my social worker friend.

  13. Bobaloo

    Admire your story… but spoken like someone who doesn’t have kids.

  14. Thanks for such an open post sharing your experience transitioning to a career of your own making.

    These ideas for making things happen jumped out the most:

    3. Write It Down and Date It

    5. Take Action

    Very simple and obvious, yes, but how many of us actually do them?

    Not enough, I would say.

  15. Sasha

    Hi Tina! I’m really glad you mentioned having a backup fund and writing clear defined goals – I think most people have big dreams but few know how to actually implement it, either at all or being careless. I hope one day I can find my ‘life purpose’ just as you have! You are an inspiration and I wish you all the best!

  16. You know, one thing I should have mentioned: I know a lot of people don’t really buy into ” do what you love, and the money will come.” I read a post recently trashing that idea. But guess what? It so often works. You clearly are doing that Tina, and your ideas above support this idea.

  17. Wow! What a great,inspiring story and “how to” for people to read and share.

    Thanks for sharing and providing a light for others so they can see a model of a way to make that change.

    If you are interested in meditation, check out my site, I’ve just released my audio program, Be Still: Learn to Meditate in 10 Minutes a Day. On my site you can listen to a sample meditation.

    I look forward reading more on your site. Thanks again for sharing.

  18. This I will go trough very much, there where some advices that I will take. My goal is to live of grid.

  19. AS

    First of all I want to thank you, Tina! Your post was very inspiring for me and I was touched deeply.
    I rarely leave a comment on the website I read, because I have to struggle with my English (I’m Italian), but this time I cannot doing so.

    It’s a coincidence, in this days I feel like you two years ago: I feel the need to have back my time to pursue my passions, but at the moment I don’t know clearly how my passions can make me live without a job. But I want to discover it!

    Because of you, I find out that I’m not the only one with this need (as I see from the comments on this post).

    Thank U, and sorry for my English! :-)

  20. Great to cya doing good Tina keep it up. It’s true when one loves what they do one can never ever fail :)

  21. Thanks for the wonderful reminder again Tina! We are all destined for something wonderful and magical. It is so easy to forget that!

    Keep up the good work!

  22. Hey Tina,

    Welcome to the club…

    I’m still figuring out what to do with all the spare time I have… Tim wrote about how “the new rich” tend to feel a little lost when they start to work less and earn more… I’m having this “happy problem” right now…

    I guess it’s time for me to sit down and re-evaluate things =P

  23. This article is incredible. It has come at just the right time in my life, too. I have just started an online jewellery shop and have started a blog – ideally I’ll be able to make a living off of them sooooooon! I am still working part time though, because I don’t have enough saved up yet to quit completely. You are such an inspiration :) Thank you.

  24. Congratulations :) Your story is absolutly inspiring, specially for a young woman like me. I’m just 20, studying a career that I like (laws), but haven’t “love” yet. Your idea sounds amazing, but as for me, I’m gonna wait and see what I can do with my life after I get my diploma. I have never think that I could have a “regular” job (not even think about the typical lawyer work), but I truly think I could help lots of people with the knowledge I’ll have in 4 years (maybe blogging!).
    Thanks a lot for this, again, not only are you helping people that already work, but also the ones that are starting the path…

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