6 Considerations Before You Quit Your Day Job (Without a Job)

Quit or Stay?

Most people will quit their current day job after finding a better opportunity with another company. But how about those who intend to quit without having a job?

The following are considerations that you need to make before making the decision:

1. Questions the real reasons why you want to leave your job
You will need to ask yourself honestly the real reason behind why you want to leave your job. Could it be due to the following:

  • Is it due to inability to manage your stress levels?
  • Or because you just feel plain bored with the job?
  • Or perhaps it was an emotional decision due to being upset with a co-worker or felt that you were unfairly treated?
  • Feeling that you have been given excessive workload?

If you examine the triggers above, it could be a spur-of-the-moment kind of decision. You throw in the letter and may end up regretting your decision later. Before you consider leaving, you would owe it to yourself to clear any doubts that you have with your boss or your head of department.

Years ago, I’ve tendered my resignation for the first time after working in the company for more than 5 years. My head of department called me into her room and we had a very long chat because she wanted to know why I was leaving. It was due to excessive workload and the fact that I am too committed and serious- causing a burnout.

I was also not happy about certain practices of the company that I felt went against my core values. She clarified some concerns and issues that I’ve had. As the result of that discussion, she reassigned the workload and also give me a parting advice….I need to lighten up.

As the result of that, I stayed for another 3.5 years with the company.
My point is that before you decide to throw in the towel, you need to make sure you have at least tried to seek the solution. If you leave due to a moment’s anger, you may live to regret your decisions later.

2. How long you can survive without a job
You will to be realistic as whether we have a job or not, bill, expenses and installments will still have to be paid. You will need to sit down and work out all your expenses, then give a reasonable buffer (in case of emergencies, events or any unexpected expenses).

If your current savings is not sufficient to leave you comfortable (including the buffer/unexpected expenses or emergencies) for 6 months, you will then need to hold on and at least get another job before you consider resigning.

Globally, we are moving into recession and with inflation, cost of living will be increasing. You need to ensure that you and your dependents are sufficiently taken care off.

Of course, if you have a spouse or parents who are able to support you easily, then it will be another story.

3. Are you willing to forgo the lifestyle that your job offers you?
Many people have lifestyle, especially shopping habits that they cannot give up. That is why a number of people hold on to jobs that they are unhappy about in order to feed their perceived needs of comfortable living. Actually, if you examine closely the motivation of buying certain items, it is due to social acceptance, ego or as the means to ‘console’ yourself?

Even though you can comfortably survive on your savings, logically you will know that you will need to be more prudent with spending. The question is, can we live without things that we are accustomed to?

We always think that we need lots of stuff, but when the time comes, we can actually learn to let go of them. Sometimes, when we are constantly stressed at work, we tend to console ourselves by overspending on items that we do not really need. If we are no longer faced with the stress at work, then we find that we may just be more contented with less because we need not ‘console’ ourselves anymore.

4. What are you going to do after you quit your job?
If your idea consists of sleeping late, watch TV and go out for shopping, then you are wasting your life away. Granted, you can indulge in this habit on and off, especially on weekends as a form of relaxation- when you need to destress after a typical work week.

But you will need to have something to look forward for after the days of not working. If you do not have a concrete idea in mind, it will be wise to invest a bit of time planning while you are still working.

Many people have plans to leave their day jobs, to open business of their own. However, they will spend many months planning, moonlighting (doing their job part time to built client base and to ascertain if it’s what they want to do), preparing- yes, it takes hard work and lots of sacrifice but in the end, there will be a higher success rate.

Still, on the other hand, I’ve also met others (during my travels to Thailand) who came from Europe and US- they basically work for a period of time, then quit their job and came over to Thailand to backpack . They also teach English there to earn some income to support their expenses there. I believe this type of experience enriches a person and a break can sometimes help one to put one’s life priorities, interest and future into better perspective.

4. Address the Worst case scenarios
One would also have to think about worst case scenarios- what could possibly happen and how to overcome it when the problem arise. Fear could be valid or it could be something that is holding one back. For instance, I’ve given these worst case scenarios some thoughts and was able to address my fears and concerns, which gave me the courage to leave my job of 9 years:

Q: What happens if I suddenly get some terminal illness? I will have no medical coverage like what I am enjoying now.
A: Well, I can always go to General Hospital. The queues are long, but the charges are affordable.

Q: What happens if I cannot find another job that pays well should I decide to work again?
A: Then, just go for any job. Even working in McDonalds will be alrite for starts (one thing about me, I don’t mind working most jobs so long as it is honest living, morally ok and can pay the bills).

5. Are you going to care what people think about you
Social pressure can be overwhelming especially in close knitted communities or huge extended families. Also, people that you thought as your ‘friends’ who used to come round asking for favours may suddenly go missing or do not return your calls. You may not be able to or want to hang out or spend that amount of cash that your social circles do. The question is, can you live with what others thought about you?

True friends really do not care whether you are rich or poor, pretty or otherwise, etc- they accept you for who you are (flaws and all). I would think that our aim in life is to invest in that kind of friends.

Because of the salary and position title, many choose to work in high paying but highly pressurized work environment- but may not be up to the pressure that comes with the job. I know of some very capable people (like my head of department and my ex boss) who can handle stress and challenges positively (that’s why they are so successful and respected). But many others are unable to cope with stress, with some paying the ultimate price with their health and/or loss of quality relationships. Of course, one should also look for ways to manage stress better by attending workshops, reading self-improvement books, etc.

6. Job offers to people who are unemployed is less lucrative than those who are employed.
Years ago, a friend of mine was interviewed successfully for a position. However, when her future boss found out that she had already tendered her resignation with her current company prior to signing the letter of offer, her starting pay was reduced by RM500.

The rationale given is that ‘since you need the job, you will need to make do with less-else there are many others who wants this position.’

Also, if you suddenly stop work for sometime, you will need to answer your next interviewer why you chose not to work. The interviewer maybe under the impression that ‘you cannot cope with stress’, ‘ you make rash decisions’ etc. This is because the typical work market is as such that it cannot comprehend why anyone would want to chose to be ‘jobless’.

However, on the bright side, in Her World magazine (Dec 07), I’ve read about a woman who took 2 years off work in order to write a novel and to travel. When she interviewed for a high post, the interviewer asked why should they take her. Her answer:

  • she emphasized that it took a lot of self motivation to write a book and how she had used her previous experience as a project manager to plan her scenes (for her book) and set deadlines.
  • she spoke about how travelling requires a budget to live by and how she learned to deal with people from different cultures that would help her to lead a diversified team at work
  • she showed her prospect employer that despite having the 2 years gap on resume, she was still qualified for a job because in addition to her previous experience, she knew her transferable skills were still relevant.

She got the job as the Regional Head of HR Project Management.

In a nutshell:
Decisions to quit (without a job) should not be made hastily without a carefully planned exit strategy. Thorough consideration needs to be given in all areas, especially to ensure the financial aspects are taken care off.

However, personally I believe that taking time off from work (if you can afford it) can help constructively plan the subsequent stages of our lives. We would not want to live our whole lives in a certain way, only to regret it in the end of why we never did this or that. With the economic condition now, many families have already learned to automatically adapt to living with less and could well discover the joys in simplicity.

Perhaps in simplicity, we can also consider to have a job that one loves, but may pay less in order to spend time doing what we love- at the same time enable us to focus on other parts of our lives out of work (relationships, family, hobbies, moonlighting ventures, etc).

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