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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.

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.

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. Sara

    This is so inspiring. Thank you!

  2. Very cool, inspirational site. I’ll be passing it along to friends and colleagues. Thanks.

  3. Great, great post…

    Look forward to reading more of your articles – well done!

    Very inspiring stuff!

  4. I love stories and advice like this. Most of us (if not all) would love to quit working for the man and make money for numero uno.

    Congrats!

  5. My dream was always to quit the mundane retail jobs I was working in the Midwest and become a professional web dev. I felt I had the skill, I just needed the opportunity. After much saving and planning, this year I moved to San Diego to be with my girlfriend, and am now a saleried web dev full-time. I am very thankful to both her and God for my success.

    Next up: Someday we want to start our own business and be self employed designers / devs. At this point, I’m willing to believe anything is possible with a little patience, planning, and faith.

  6. Hi Tina,

    I recently read somewhere that the biggest employer in this world will be “Self” so welcome to the world of self employment.

    My first attempt for quite the day job was in 1993, but it lasted only 3 months. I had to eat humble pie and go back to IBM.

    My second attempt was in 1997, this time I managed to last 6 years. But my business became very complex and I got surrounded with wrong people. So end up crashing that business in 2003, lost heaps of money and almost went into bankruptcy.

    Then I took a sales job to lick my wounds and build up some emotional strength. While the job provided good cash-flow, I wasn’t happy … so despite objection from my wife and daughter, I went back to self employment again in August 2005.

    My vision was to build a business so that I can work with amazing minds from around the world and somehow make a living doing that. Three years since I started that journey, I’m living a dream life. It’s a simple business, something I can do until the day I die.

    I work as an Innovation Consultant, helping people to bring their Ideas to reality. I have an idea that I like to share with you, which will allow you to build a good income stream using your core skills. If you like the idea, then I’m more than happy to be your first paying customer.

    Drop me a line at rumi.shivaz@gmail.com if you would like to discuss this further. I have a very basic blog … http://www.rumi.typepad.com.

    Cheers
    Rumi
    Wellington, New Zealand

  7. Hi Tina,

    My wife recently quit her job as well to take care of the kids! We knew this ahead of time(9 months actually:)) so we planned ahead and started an online business to supplant her income! Stop by if you get a chance!. Congratulations on quitting!

  8. “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” I’m not sure who said this. Maybe it was Confucius.

  9. I know exactly where you are coming from having done the same myself. The freedom and the joy of having it all and having it your way cannot be described. The best I love is the freedom to do it my way in my time. I just do what I desire when I desire.

  10. D

    Hi Tina.

    Thank you for your tips. I’m glad I found your blog at a point in my life where I need to read what you’ve written on here. Thank you, thank you.

  11. What a wonderful article. Your site is truly inspirational and I hope to read more of it. Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. If you choose not to live your passion, then you will be lead to a list of unprogressing circumstances in your life. This list and downward steps will lead you to something similar to this:

    1. Your unpassionate and unenthusiastic approach will lead you to a conventional way of giving value to receive small value in return. The value you give is limited to someone else’s idea, therefore limiting the value you can give. This conventional way is trading your time for money.

    2. This approach leaves you feeling uninspired and perceiving the world around you through a conventional way. You begin to think outside yourself, rather then relying on inner sight. This conventional way limits your perspective to think that things are done this way because it is the only way. You feel forced into a system of concepts like: shoulds, should nots, and have tos.

    3. You begin programming yourself to adopt these concepts. These concepts then lead to all levels of your life being limited inside the concepts themselves. These levels consist of the following:

    * Working conventional jobs that you are not passionate or enthused about.
    * Spending a great deal of your time with people who enforce these concepts, which gives you a reason to keep yourself limited.
    * Using the free time that you do have, on activities that you do not enjoy.
    * Getting up in the morning feeling unpassionate and unenthusiastic to make choices that would benefit the lifestyle you desire. You then force yourself to play-out your shoulds, should nots, and have tos. The cycle then repeats itself.

    Conventional Approach is The Most Popular Program Being Ran
    Why is this the programmed concepts most people run? The giver of these concepts was taught of this system and then handed it down through generation to generation. Their experience of these shoulds, should nots, and have tos concepts lead them to teach it and eventually live it. Why is it extremely difficult to change these programmed concepts? It is easier to listen to another’s experience (which leads to your experience being the same), then to listen to the insight of faith that there is another way.

    Faith is the voice inside you that tells you of universal knowledge. Faith will tell you of the positive, optimistic, passion, inspiration, enthusiasm and all the things that empower you. Yet, faith (even on scientific level) is more powerful then most can fathom. In order to understand how faith gives power, you must first be aware of why life seems so limited in the first place. Science discovered that there is infinite potential everywhere making all things possible, but life is not experienced that way because we observe it. Yet they can not figure out what the observer has to do with it. The answer is that the observer limits what is being experienced through the filters of perspective, beliefs, expectations and experience. In essence, faith is one of the only things that can bypass any and every limit of the filters. It is indeed one of the most quickest, productive, and effortless ways of experiencing infinite potential.

  13. Hi Tina,
    What a great and inspiring story…Thank you for sharing!

    I’ve had the privilege of being self employed out of my home for the past 7 years. I feel a certain vulnerability of how much I have come to embrace and enjoy the independence of not having to report to an office, answer to someone and be subjected to a set schedule every day.

    Although my business offers a somewhat residual model of income, it still requires my involvement of at least 25 hours or more per week. If I don’t keep up this kind of involvement on a consistent basis throughout the year, my residual income would eventually dry up. My clients are corporate clients so the idea that my business is dependent upon Corporate America is also a little frightening to me.

    For the past 2.5 years, my wife and I have been exploring different investment opportunities (all with the goal of creating passive income streams that would allow us to eventually transition out of our current business one day).

    We made a significant dollar investment in getting educated in technical trading of the stock market as well as real estate investing.

    18 months ago we leveraged practically all our assets and jumped into the real estate market in a big way. Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t have been worse and we have barely survived the experience financially. Thankfully, our home business is currently wrapping up it’s best year ever and has saved our family from what would have probably been certain bankruptcy.

    The stock market education was valid though, I don’t see that really benefiting us until after we have already built our financial nest egg and have significant money to continue building upon.

    I believe one of my best qualities in this life has been persistence. We learned a lot from this real estate experience and have actually come out of it with a sense of empowerment that we could take such a risk and leap of faith and still end up surviving it amid the circumstances.

    For the past 9 months I have been drawn to getting more involved and educated on how the internet really works and have been exploring different opportunities to hopefully monetize into eventual passive income streams.

    In addition, I have also started learning more about meditation and the role your brain and thoughts play regarding your success and happiness in life.

    It’s been quite a journey so far!

    The passive income streams have not started flowing yet however, I still remain very hopeful…

    I hold to the belief that with continued and deliberate effort, we will prevail and achieve our goal of financial independence some day.

    I just hope it happens when I’m still young enough to really enjoy it! :)

    Thank you for allowing me to write.

    To success!

  14. Inspirational.

    I quit without planning ahead, I didn’t even know I was going to quit when I went to work!

    I just couldn’t take it any more, it’s hell to be led (boss) by somebody who knows absolutely nothing about design (as a designer).

    But I’m thankful I had the guts to do it!

  15. Hi Tina, thanks for sharing your personal story :) It is very similar to my story actually – I also quit my day job a few months back because I want to pursue my life passion for helping people achieve the best out of their lives. I personally think wherever passion goes, everything will sort itself out – this has served me very well throughout my life so far.

  16. Sanjay

    Hi Tina,

    Your article on Dream to Reality was really inspiring. It made me feel a little guilty because i took a decision in my life a few years back thinking that it would lead me to my dream. But, at the end i am stuck and forced to follow what others who have taken my path ‘normally’ do.

    I am a medical graduate and i graduated last year. I always wanted to be a biochemist and then to work on Urey and Miller kind of experiments to find out how life originated on this planet from just atoms and molecules which are lifeless.

    Ever since my boyhood i had always wondered “how come atoms and molecules are lifeless, but when they combine in a specfic fashion, they create life?” I thought biochemistry could answer that question. That is what propelled me to take up medicine, i assumed i could understand the most complex living thing, the humans, that way…..

    Now that i have graduated and everybody wants me to pursue clinical medicine and work in a hospital, its not that i dont like treating patients….. but i tookup medicine for a different purpose, which keeps lingering in my mind.

    I have never faced this kind of dilemma before and time is running out.

    By the time i finished reading your article about following ones passion, there were tears on my eyes. It cleared my mind and added one more reason why i should follow my passion.

  17. I just found this article via Digg, and I’ve gotta say that it’s brilliant. I learned a lot from it!

    Thank you, Tina!!

    David

  18. Michelle

    Congrats on following your heart, while you are young and before you have children. I didn’t have the courage, or confidence, or the smarts to do what you are doing when I was your age. Keep following your desires – whether that involves travelling, reading or whatever. Don’t let anyone convince you what you “should” be doing. If you listen to all of the “shoulds” from the people in this world, you would be following their path, and not your own.

  19. Wow Tina I’m so grateful to have found your site. Financial independence has always been in my mind for so many years and reading about how you did it renewed my enthusiasm tenfold. Good on you for following your heart and achieving so much at such a young age!

    Giving up a high paying job to plunge into the unknown is probably the biggest hurdle for most people, including myself. I feel that doing it gradually would be the right thing for me. My resolution is to do more of the things that make my heart sings, and to continuously think about how to generate passive income from things I’m passionate about. At this stage I’ve made some progress in the right direction, but no major breakthrough yet. Guess I still have limiting beliefs to be cleared… I’ve been pursuing one of my strongest passions (classical guitar, piano) more in the last 2 years and I’m quite happy with the result so far, with gig offers coming more often and effortlessly. It’s not passive income but it’s immensely enjoyable for me so why not :-). Blogging to inspire people (just like you do!) is another thing I’m aching to do as I feel it’s also my calling to help raising the consciousness level. Well for now I’ll just enjoy the ride and learn, learn, learn.

    By the way have you read Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com)? This is one of my all time favorites, it opened my eyes to see what’s possible.

    Keep your inspiring posts coming Tina!

    Andre

  20. What an amazing article. Really inspiring! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Michelle

  21. Daviece

    Thanks so much for this article. Exactly what I needed right at this very moment. I quit my job as an Ad Exec this past November to pursue a dream of opening a hair salon. I do get scared many a day, but this article just gave me that bit of motivation I needed! I will definitely be following your journey. THANK U!

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