I quit my job in June 2017. I walked out with no future job prospects whatsoever, and headed to South America to enjoy a midlife crisis. It’s been more than half a year now since I walked out that door, and now that I have some distance, it’s a great time to reflect. Are you thinking of getting out too? Read this first. Here are my perspectives about quitting my job, seven months later:
Was it fun quitting my job? No, not at all. Despite my colorful writing about it, it wasn’t a fun experience. It was in fact quite stressful. Would I do it again? Hell yeah! Sign me up! In fact, I’m thinking of getting another job, just to quit again!
Quitting My Job Was Scary
There’s no getting around it, quitting my job was scary. Part of the fear came from years of planning. It was not a spontaneous thing at all. In fact, so much planning and even rehearsing went into it, that when the moment finally came, I was as nervous as a june bug in a henhouse.
Planning is one thing, because it’s just numbers on paper. We looked great from a planning perspective. We’ve saved over $1M over the last ten years or so by saving a massive percent of our income. We were certainly were not living paycheck to paycheck. We could afford to take some time off from the grind, or possibly even escape it entirely. But, that’s just on paper. Reality can be different.
Plus there’s nothing really committed until I actually quit my job. You can talk all day long about escaping the corporate grind and seeing the world. But, it’s all just talk until you actually quit.
On My Own
Another reason quitting my job was so scary is that I couldn’t talk to many people about it – at least not people who could really relate. I couldn’t say anything to anyone at work, at all. And those are the people that understood my situation the best. Even my non-work friends couldn’t really relate, because quitting a perfectly good job to go have a midlife crisis is rather unconventional for an otherwise mostly stable 40-something accountant with a wife and kids. I was largely on my own.
Only my wife could really relate and also understand the workplace dynamics of it all. It felt like a huge secret we were carrying together.
So you can see why the whole week before I told my boss, the nerves were building. Hell, it was more like the month before. It was a lot like when I have to give a public speech. The nerves build to a crescendo until you get into it. Except this one had years of planning behind it, and this one was going to change my life.
But by the time I was done explaining things to my boss, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Because at that point, I was committed.
The Fear Was Unfounded
The fear was, of course, unfounded. It didn’t take me long to realize that. It’s wonderful to worry a bit. That leads to planning, which is a good thing. But the fear was unfounded.
The fear was unfounded because we planned. There really haven’t been many major surprises once I walked out that door. I knew what I was getting myself into. And in fact, I can say that in every way, quitting my job has turned out better than I had hoped.
I don’t miss much about work at all. I don’t miss the commute, the cubicle, the incompetent executives, the inane politics, or the cold blue light of the computer screen. I am happy and I am (mostly) stress-free, and that has been really nice. There’s nothing like quitting your job for a little mental health revival.
And certainly we haven’t been ruined financially – far from it. In fact, despite spending nearly $20,000 so far on our South American adventure, and having no income to speak of for seven months, our net worth has only grown.
The fear was unfounded also because finding a job again will not be a problem if I want to. Indeed, my plan is to return to work on a temporary or part-time basis later this year. Since quitting my job, my Linked In profile continues to light up with requests from recruiters.
Timing Matters – But Not As Much As Flexibility
It seems that I have been fortunate that I did this at a time that the U.S. economy is doing well. But, if you’re sufficiently flexible in what you’re looking for, you can always find a job. That’s been my experience.
Since I’m no longer invested in climbing a corporate ladder, I’d be willing to work just about anywhere or in any position if I have to. Plus, since I’ve already saved so much, I don’t really have salary “requirements” anymore. Quite the opposite, one of my New Years’ resolutions is to not make much money. That’s going to open all kinds of possibilities for me. It means I have enough flexibility to find a job in any circumstances.
So, yes, I quit my job at a really good time. But, if I want to get back into the grind, my biggest asset is my flexibility, not my timing.
The World Keeps Turning
Another perspective I’ve reached by quitting my job is that the world beyond those cubicles is a big, giant, humongous, massive place. And my job and my career is a very highly insignificant part of it. The world is not only a big place, it is full of billions and billions of people making all kinds of different opportunities for themselves.
Some people struggle, but most find a niche somewhere. And it’s amazing to me the variety of niches out there. Want to see what I’m talking about? Read this:
We get so caught up in the myopic view from our own cubicles, that we begin to think our careers are important (they’re not). In fact, if you don’t step away a little, it’s hard to ever make much of life. Me taking a year off to enjoy my midlife crisis may feel like a big deal to me and my boss, but it’s not. Lots of people take much bigger risks in life. Yet life goes on, and the world keeps turning.
Regret Is A Bitch
And that leads me to another perspective: regret is a bitch. I can’t imagine what I’d be thinking about right now if I hadn’t quit my job. I’d probably be sitting there among the temporary grey-brown divider walls right now, probably checking the boxes off some task manager, while keeping one eye on that screen background of some beautiful far-off place.
It would probably be a beach, or maybe some green vista. Somewhere tropical. That’s all I would have if I hadn’t faced my fears and walked into my boss’ office that day to quit. That, and my regrets.
I wouldn’t have seen super surreal landscapes, crazy history, or learned what a REAL parade is like. I also wouldn’t have gained new perspectives on life, or provided massive benefits for my kids. But, I’m sure I would have participated in some really really awesome cross-functional team meetings! And maybe I’d have a new keyboard or a new mouse.
Yup, regret is a bitch.
I’d Do It Again 1,000 Times
So, as you may have guessed by now, I have no regrets about quitting my job. In fact, I’d happily do it again, 1,000 times. Heck, I may even have to do it again when I get another chance! Life is too short to spend half of it in a sanitized office environment.
So, seven months later, I really have only good things to say about quitting my job. Sure, it was scary. But, it was worth it. How about you, are you ready?