Here’s how one man quit his job – forever. You can DO IT too. Really
By MH Staff - Posted on 21st February 2012
Here’s how one man quit his job – forever. You can DO IT too. Really
1 Your Permanent Holiday
FIVE YEARS AGO WITH TWO KIDS IN VARSITY, I QUIT MY JOB.
After working for more than two decades, I turned my back on a comfortable salary, a tidy annual bonus and the title of vice president at a major publishing company.
When it came time to sign the parting paperwork, I sat across a desk from the firm’s human resources director. He was a staunch, practical man, who had actually offered me a raise to stay. But when I told him I wouldn’t be swayed, he looked at me as if I were an abstract painting. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I nodded.
And with that I walked out of his office and away from the building where I had spent more than half my life, away from the company and the job that had come to define me, and away from colleagues who had become family. Unlike when I’d thrown my cap in the air at graduation, the feeling of freedom this time was bitter- sweet. Back then my whole life was ahead of me; now it felt like it was behind me. I was starting over at age 46, but I wasn’t quite sure what, exactly, would come next.
A crazy idea had prompted all this. At the time, I was giving occasional lectures on a luxury cruise ship – talks based on books I’d written. It was a great gig that led to nice cruises through the Panama Canal, along the Mexican Riviera and up to Alaska. On these trips I met so many successful, fascinating people that I eventually had the idea of teaching memoir writing at sea. After all, leaving a legacy of money is nothing special for rich people. But leaving a legacy of self – of life’s lessons and experiences – is priceless. So I pitched the idea to the people at the cruise line. They bit: I was invited on the line’s annual three-and-a-half-month around-the-world cruise. And just like that, I was at a crossroad.
Would I continue in my safe, secure career, diligently contributing to my retirement fund and living for the weekend, or would I throw it all away and sail around the world? From where you’re sitting, that may seem like no choice at all – you pursue the dream, of course. But when the choice is real and not fantasy, when your employer doesn’t offer sabbaticals, when your family is relying on you and when it means walking away from everything you’ve built – it isn’t such an easy choice.
What finally persuaded me was the memory of my father, who had worked for 45 years and then died 16 months into retirement. He never had the chance to travel and live his dream. No one knows what tomorrow brings. Since leaving my job, I’ve sailed around the world three times. As I write this, my ship is in the Indian Ocean, heading back towards South Africa. In addition to memoir writing, I now teach yoga with my wife. Our son and daughter, both finished varsity, even join us sometimes. When we’re not at sea, I’m a freelance writer and my wife works as a registered nurse.
Now, you might not want to enter into this kind of arrangement if you carry your life savings in your wallet, or if quintuplets are running around your living room. But for a great many of us, being tied down is something we submit to. It’s not a necessity for how we live our lives. And that realisation set me free.
Make no mistake: the first step will scare you, and there will be many times when you’ll consider turning back. But if you’re resourceful and willing to hustle, and – most important – if you listen to your own voice instead of everyone else’s, you can thrive. I’m often asked how I survived the first step and then lived to take many more. Here’s the best set of directions I can provide.
2 Your Permanent Holiday
FOUR ideas that are chaining you to your desk, And why you should let them go:
“I would have to quit my job.”
You would have to eventually. But there’s no need to jump the gun. Industrial psychologist Zurayda Shaik recommends you weigh up your responsibilities, such as supporting your family, before quitting your job. “If you feel that your personal situation does not allow you to quit your job while you’re at your current job, secure alternative employment before you leave. However, if there is no reason preventing you from quitting your job go ahead and empower yourself, and use the free time you will have to rediscover yourself.”
“What if I fail?”
Herman Veitch, a business leadership and life coach, says that men struggle to let go of the security they have, even if that security is killing them. He recommends accepting that there are no guarantees in life. And, of course, work on that ego. “Men’s egos are the one big saboteur of their personal success. Being afraid of making mistakes because you might look bad will keep you a slave of the desk job you hate. Changing your attitude towards mistakes will give you the courage to step up to the plate. In fact, there are no mistakes, just actions that do not bring you your goal.”
Life coach Katlego Kolobe says that you should listen to your fears. But instead of letting them hold you back, use them to improve. “Do something about what concerns you rather than stewing on it. Could you do some market research? Could you find a partner to share the work, risk and rewards with?”
“My wife and family will hit the ceiling.”
“Most likely they will if they are not involved in the decision-making process,” says Shaik. Avoid any drama by discussing your plans with your family, and listening to their feedback. But don’t get defensive if they level criticism.“Keep your ideas close to your heart until you have a written plan, which covers risks and challenges. Share that when you are ready to get constructive feedback, which will actually make your plan better if you listen well enough, rather than getting defensive,” says Kolobe. Life is a team effort. “In the movies you have one hero. That is because the producers cannot afford to pay everybody a hero’s salary,” says Veitch. “Build up a good support team for yourself. Invest in mentors, coaches and friends. Collaboration takes us much further than we could have gone on our own.”
“I don’t know how.”
This is a common excuse. But as Veitch says: “Find out!”. With the Web, there is any number of places to find information. “Invest in yourself and learn how. But just a warning, knowledge is overrated. Don’t get stuck in the theory trap. Apply what you have learnt.”This can be done before you take the big step of quitting your job, says Kolobe. “Statistically, previously employed people are more successful at their business if they first start doing it part-time and on a smaller scale. This allows you to get practical knowledge of the business without losing income and also puts less financial strain on a fledgling business.”