How to Quit Your Day Job in Six Not So Easy Steps

September 21, 2007

What’s the secret to being able to quit your day job? Make your own time worth more to you per hour than your employer is paying. How can you do that, one step at a time : )

Step One – Overcome Naysayers
This is a topic I’ve been giving a lot of thought to recently. Actually twice yesterday, first when a fubar project blindsided us at work and then again while seething in snarled traffic on the drive home. How can I make my time worth more than $39 an hour (around $52 an hour including benefits)? This is quite a tall order, daunting to say the least. I think the first step to quitting your day job is convincing yourself that you can swing it. It’s not an easy thing to do, so there will be many naysayers, yourself included.

There are some days when doubt hits me big time the first few minutes after the alarm goes off. “What am I doing”, I think to myself as I recap the previous night working into the early hours of the morning. “Why can’t I just be happy with the steady job I have? Why do I push myself so hard? It’s never going to happen, just give it up.” Luckily as I slowly wrap my brain around these thoughts the optimist inside me starts to wake up and I’m planning my “work outside of work” schedule for the day ahead by the time I leave for the office. You’ll doubt yourself at times, just keep going! If you’re really struggling watching the Pursuit of Hayypness should get you going again.

Step Two – Set Expectations
How I’d love to give my two weeks notice tomorrow but alas that’s not realistic with a family and a mortgage. You have to set a time table for success, decide when you’ll be ready to strike out on your own. My date is January 10th 2013; 13 years after the day I started work with my current job. If the day comes sooner that’d be GROOVY but as of now I’m planning to give my two weeks notice right around Christmas time 2012. Having a D-day not only gives you something to look forward to and work towards but also sets you up for the next step, planning.

Step Three – Plan Backwards
One problem I have with making progress towards my D-Day is that I have too many ideas and get easily distracted from my plans by new projects. As I recently listened to Simpleology for some tips on staying focused I picked up on the backwards planning method where you begin with your end goal. You picture yourself achieving your goal and then determine the last step you took just before reaching the goal. You continue this process of looking back one step at a time until you’ve reached the current point in time. I haven’t taken the time to sit down and do this yet. Once I’m finished, I think I’ll have a much better idea of the different things I need to succeed at to reach my goal.

Step Four – Reality Check
Run the numbers from your backwards plan against where you are today. What are your living expenses now, what do project they’ll be around your D-day? What financial changes do you need to make to accomplish your goal? The less you spend, the less you’ll need to earn. Does your current financial reality fall in line with your plan, if not what needs adjusting?

Step Five – Network
I don’t know where I read it or who said it but I think it’s true. One of the best ways to become successful is to help make other people successful. Surround yourself by like minded people and help them succeed. Sharing ideas, giving & getting getting feedback, and partnering together on projects will help you both grow.

Another important step is to find good mentors. Just last night I heard a quote from Tony Robbins something along the lines of how you have to ask the right questions to get the right answers. If you have an experienced mentor they’ll not only be full of answers but will hopefully steer you towards asking the right ones.

Step Six – Get Started
Of course, you actually got started with step one but I’m referring to the work you have to do after the initial steps. You’ll have to get started every day and every night. Luckily, after you get started enough times it becomes a little easier because you create routines and figure out smarter or more efficient ways to do things. But if you don’t get started, you’ll never get where you’re headed, so get going!

Of course, you shouldn’t necessarily listen to me. As you’ve read, I’m still at my job. But I have created the six not so easy steps to leaving it so stay tuned to my progress and see if they really work!

Recommended: Fly On the Wall Club
Serious about quitting your job? Learn from a Super Affiliate how to build your business on the web and become your own boss! Watch Colin McDougal build an online business step-by-step as part of the Fly On the Wall Club.

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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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17 Responses to How to Quit Your Day Job in Six Not So Easy Steps

  • Quitting The Day Job

    Thank you for tips from someone with a family and house. Most tips on how to quit your job come from 20-something people who can afford not to have a few paychecks. I have a wife and 2 kids, and I need my 9 to 5 paychecks to feed my kids.

  • Debbie M

    I thought this was going to be about getting your dream job, but you didn’t even mention that topic.

    I also have a plan to quit my day job but it’s so I don’t have to do any job at all. So my date is 7 years and 4 months in the future (right after my free MLK day!). I picked the date based on when I can retire with a pension at my current employer. But the rules for pension plans can change, so I decided that even if they change again, I want to have enough of my own money saved up that I can retire anyway. Fortunately, even if I keep paying the minimum, my house will be paid off by then (yea for 15-year mortgages!).

    I am not that rich, so I calculated the minimum I think I could live off by then and the amount I would need to save to be able to draw off enough to live on and was able to come up with a number that seemed possible to attain. Then I can work funner jobs if I want extra money, plus my pension would eventually kick in or at least I’d get a refund of the parts I put in.

    So the main things I do now are try to think of ways to save more money and ways to get raises or promotions or at least have more fun at my current job. If the pension plan changes and I’ll need to have my own insurance, I may look into which professional organizations have group insurance plans. (Hmm, AARP has insurance, and you only have to be 50 to join them. I’ll be 50 in 5 years 4 months.)

    Of course I also learned a lot about investing.

    I’m also researching part-time and temporary jobs that would be fun, but mostly the pay is extremely horrible. It would probably be better to work full-time an extra year or two than to work part-time the rest of my healthy life. I’m thinking self-employment type stuff would be much better, even if it’s just babysitting, running errands for my unretired friends, selling crafts, having a breakfast cart at some business, etc.

  • Susy

    Great article. My husband and I started our own business. We didn’t necessarily go about it in such a planned way. He started doing small projects on the side to earn enough to buy a motorcycle. Then his job got really really stressful and he started having health problems from it. So we sat down and talked about it and he decided to quit. He didn’t have much work lined up at the time, but he’s pretty industrious so we knew he could probably line up enough work to get by.

    Since we had developed a good business up to that point (in the year we had been doing it) and it seemed like once we had a little time to invest it took off, we had to decide a year later if we wanted to expand and hire more people, we eventually decided to keep it small & specialized. He’s now making significantly more than he did at his previous job (which he quit 5 years ago).

    For those of you considering it – go for it. It’s wonderful to work from home (we both do). Our lives are much less stressful, and we spend much less on driving & work related costs!

    Just make sure you have a business that’s wanted & needed in your area! And make sure you focus on quality & customer service!

    Networking is by far one of the most important aspects of running a successful personal business! We’ve been focusing on this for the past 5 years and we’re at the point where we don’t even need to advertise anymore because of all the contacts we have that recommend us to clients (which we in turn do for them as well). Plus it’s nice to have someone to talk to that understands what you’re experiencing. Most of our friends have started their own successful businesses and they are a wealth of information and encouragement!

  • Ben

    Trent, the $52 is an estimate. It includes salary plus benefits, profit sharing, 401k match, bonuses, and paid vacation/sick days.

    Good point, I didn’t factor in the cost of commuting and work attire. And $52 is based on an 8 hour work day, so any time I work over that would definitely lower the rate per hour.

  • Trent Hamm

    Is $52 an hour what you really make? Did you add in the additional hours for the commute and other work-related activities outside of your work hours? Did you subtract the costs of transporting yourself to work, clothes for work, and other expenses only incurred because of your job? Watch that hourly rate drop!

  • Ben

    Congrats on setting a date MTP!

    Lazy, not a bad idea, I’ll adjust my schedule : )

  • Move To Portugal

    Great post and I totally agree, setting a date really makes you focus. Bf and I have been floundering along for the last two/three years with all sorts of ideas. Last month we finally made a decision on our future path, we set a target date, July 1st 2012 and have not looked back since.

  • Lazy Man

    I think you should push your date back to get free pay for MLK Jr. day in 2013 ;-).

  • Ben

    Decision Strategist, I agree 5 years is a long time frame but I tend to be a conservative guy. I want to make sure I’m all settled into my new endeavors before I break the chain.

    b, I’ll let you know how things are going

    Financial Blogger, sounds like you were fed up : )

    matt, I agree, it sounds like the restaurant industry isn’t really rewarding you for your hard work. Good luck in the hunt for a new job.

  • matt

    This post came at a perfect time for me. I’ve been working int the restaurant industry for a few years and I’ve just recently realized that working 70-80 hours per week for $26,000 a year and no benefits just doesn’t work for me anymore. Luckily, I just graduated a few months ago with a bachelor’s degree.

    I took some books out from the library on career change and we’ll go from there. I hope to have a finished resume and cover letter to send out to employer’s by this Monday and have a new job as soon as possible.

    Naysayers are a big problem. I just watched someone quit for the same reasons I have and everybody gave him lots of grief for it. This only made me want to find a new job more.

    Another, thing I realized is that I don’t have any business atire. I need to find some good priced business clothes.

  • The Financial Blogger

    Hey Ben, this is funny. I wrote about 6 things to do before quitting your job the exact same day (Sept 21st) but we are not talking about the exact 6 same things 😉
    look it up:

    great post 🙂

  • The Decision Strategist

    Good post. I’ve had several different business ideas in the past, but have never worked on them enough to bring them to fruition.

    This time around it is really helping me to approach it with the idea of a definite launch date and work backward from there. Having milestones has completely changed everything.

    2013 is a crazy time horizon. What are you doing that involves 5 years till you can quit?

    I’m hoping to be done by summer of 2008, but your timetable is making me reconsider.

    Thanks again.

  • b

    Great post from you again. I really like the way you are attacking this problem and this subject is of great interest to me. I’d love to read more on this topic in the future!


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