Tag Archives: quit your job

It’s time to change your life

Outside our apartment building in Bangkok, a million miles away from the old life...
Outside our apartment building in Bangkok, a million miles away from the old life…

Are you enjoying “paying your dues” at your job?

You know what I’m talking about: the conventional wisdom that perseverance and dedication in a job or other sub-optimal life situation will eventually pay off.  The belief that keeping your head down, saying “yes” to the boss and shuffling through the mundane day-to-day will somehow lead to something better some day.

I used to be a big believer in paying my dues.  I did really well in school.  I was valedictorian in high school.  I was an honor student in college.  I graduated magna cum laude.  I scored a well-paid job, moved on to an even better paid job within the same company and networked like crazy to the point where I had a reliable set of supporters and allies in the right places. I worked long hours.  I was consumed with work.  Even my time off was spent thinking about work. Work took over my life.  By the time I was five years in to my career, I was miserable, stressed, suffering from sleep disorders, gaining weight and wondering where I had gone wrong.

I had to get to the bottom of this.  What was I missing?  After working so hard and spending years paying my dues, why did life suck so bad?

To answer the question I started recruiting highly successful mentors.  I befriended CEOs, wealthy entrepreneurs, savvy investors, local politicians and a handful of very successful doctors and lawyers.  I ate lunch with them, met with them in coffee shops, I joined their clubs and associations,  I visited their businesses, went to their churches and hung out with their families.  I asked them how they had gotten to where they were and what advice they had for me.

Gradually, as mutual trust developed and they started to open up, a common theme began to emerge: these ultra successful individuals had gotten to where they were by breaking a lot of the rules that the masses around them followed.  They had rejected common career goals.  They had fired bad bosses.  They had dared to dream dreams that some would call unrealistic and even arrogant.  They had decided that “normal living” simply was not enough.  They had decided that, no matter what it took, they would break out of the regular rat race.  They would take the big risks and work their tails off for a higher calling. They were going to win and no only that, they were going to be victorious on their own terms.  They challenged me to do the same.

My closest mentors started to get really personal with me.  “Bjorn, you’ve got to get out of here!” a lot of them said.  “If you stay here and just do what is comfortable, you will miss your calling and you will regret it for the rest of your life.  Don’t sell out!”

As the chorus of voices telling me to make a change grew louder and more insistent, I had to start listening.  I had to confront my fears about what it would mean to make a major change in my life.  I started to believe, as my mentors did, that more than ever in world history, we live in an age where we can and we MUST pave our own way.  There is nothing wrong with dedication.  It is essential.  But why dedicate yourself to a bland job at a boring company?  Why dedicate your own finite days to an unworthy cause?  To someone else’s game?  Why not focus on exploiting your full potential?

In the fall of 2012, a switch flipped in my thinking.  It was do or die time.  I had to make a change.

As I’ve shared many times before on CultureMutt, my wife and I quit our jobs to live, work and volunteer internationally.  That was 15 months ago.  I have never once regretted my decision to leave my old life behind.  In fact, I am happier than ever that I made it.  Paying your dues just doesn’t work if you are paying into a bankrupt system.

Paying your dues can be destructive

Here’s what all my mentors said, in one way or another:  there is something soul-sucking about surrender to the system that most of us default into: The supposedly safe 9-5 of the average job where you trudge along year in, year out until you can retire. You cannot be yourself.  No matter how much you may want to deny it, you are completely scripted.  Your advancement and your every move is, ultimately, decided by someone else.  As you live in this kind of system it gradually wears on you.  You become less assertive.  You believe in yourself less.  You forget what it is like to lead.  You become strangely dependent.  It is horrible.  It is like living a perpetually bad dream.

Conventional work is stationary, the future is global

Especially if you are a young person, starting out in today’s work environment, you cannot bet on the world staying as it is.  Having a safe, provincial mentality and only thinking about professional development in one company, town or even country is a recipe for desperation because there is less and less guarantee that these traditional structures will stand the test of time.  If you are unwilling to be flexible, to take risks to go where the work is (or create your own work as freelancer or entrepreneur), your “safe” choices today could mean unemployment tomorrow.

Paving your own way means you have to take ownership

There is something almost magical that takes place when you stop marching to the beat of someone else’s drum and instead have to think for yourself and create your own future: you take ownership on a whole different level.  I know this with my own work.  I have never EVER been more focused or enthusiastic about work than I am now that I feel I can determine my own destiny.  It is incredibly freeing.

Over to you

Do you feel like I did in the fall of 2012?  Like you are trapped and need to get out?  Rather than paying your dues to the conventional rat race, how about switching things around and paying into your own future instead?  I am not talking about being selfish.  I am talking about consciously investing in your own future so that you can ultimately give more.  Only you know what this enhanced future could look like.  Only you know what is really on your heart.  Only you know what the dream really is.  I am not telling you that you should spend your life the way I have for the last 15 months.  But what I am saying is that breaking out is absolutely worth the effort.  Do not stay put if you know deep inside that life can be better.  You deserve more.

See you on the other side.

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How to Change Everything with One Bold Decision

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, about 12 months after the decision that changed our lives forever
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, about 12 months after the decision that changed our lives forever

 

What is one decision that would change absolutely everything about your life?

I am not talking about some flimsy resolution to change breakfast cereals.  I am talking about the boldest kind of decision.  The kind of call that makes you shudder at its potential impact.  The kind of decision that few make but that, once made, completely changes your life.

In the fall of 2012, Jammie and I made one such decision.  It was to quit our jobs to travel the world and do service projects in 2013.  Our lives have never been the same since.  Here are some of the biggest changes:

Action = Liberation! – A year of travel and service is easy to talk about.  We know.  We talked about it for years and did nothing about it. It was just too scary.  Taking action involved quitting our jobs; uncomfortable conversations with family and friends and diving into the unknown.  But we finally decided that we simply could not put off action any longer.  When we, at last, quit our jobs and set our plans into motion we learned that bold action is one of the most liberating things in life.

Risks are less scary once you take them – Less than three months into our year we realized that we had been foolish to fret so much about the risk we had taken in opting to reinvent our lives in 2013.  We were offered jobs; we made friends thousands of miles from home and began to see life-changing opportunities that we had never before noticed.  The risk we had taken in leaving behind the old turned out to be not very scary at all.  It was exciting!

Relationship magic – A lot of people say that travel is the ultimate test of relationships.  Both Jammie and I say that we grew closer in 2013.  Travel taught us to handle disagreements better and gave us a LOT more time to spend together.  We had conversations about things we simply had not talked about in our first year and a half of marriage when we had been stuck in the rat race, running faster and faster for lack of a more healthy perceived alternative.  This year we learned to appreciate each others’ qualities more than ever.  Quite simply, we are better friends than ever.

Seeing the value of  money- 2013 taught us to be frugal.  We had planned carefully for 2013 financially but even so, the fact that we were living off of reduced income streams and savings meant that we learned to be more careful.  Little savings tricks really helped.  One I use a lot is converting prices into Thai baht (there are about 30 Thai baht to 1 US dollar) and reminding myself how much I could buy in Thailand with what I am about to spend on, say, a Starbucks Frappaccino in Los Angeles (I can eat out for two days in Thailand for the $5 I would spend on that one drink).

Learning the limits of money – Even if our financial planning was a big reason that we were able to do what we did in 2013, we have noticed some very clear limits to what money can provide.  What good is money if you spend your every waking hour in a dreary office trying to accumulate more?  I’m not knocking hard work but living in the illusion that postponing real enjoyment of life for some nebulous future “retirement” is dumb.  You have absolutely no idea how your health or closest relationships will look by retirement.  Find ways to enjoy the benefits of retirement (time with loved ones, travel, service and personal growth) using your current budget.  It is probably not as expensive as you think.  For example, living in a place like Bangkok for a month can be done for less than $500.  Don’t have a month?  Start with relocating somewhere for two weeks.  Even two weeks of completely unplugging in a new environment can do wonders for your outlook.   If you really want to see me get on this soapbox, read this: Retirement is fool’s gold, live your life now!

Leaving the United States makes more sense than ever – Growing up outside the US, I was always convinced that America was the land of greatest opportunity.  That may technically still be the case but the magic seems to be fast evaporating.  On the flipside, the pace of progress in Asia and other fast-developing parts of the world makes even a bustling city like Los Angeles feel like a sleepy backwater.  I’m no hater, just stating facts.  Dare to think bigger than life in the US.  Trust me, you will thank yourself.

A quick word to my American friends: this is NOT about being unAmerican or lacking patriotism.  Surely one of the best things about American thinking is the pragmatic, no-nonsense pursuit of opportunity.  You are not being a bad American by pursuing opportunities outside the country.  What do you think the future pilgrims lives would have looked like if they’d stayed in the Old World?  Moving East is to the 21st century what moving West was to the last five.

We see more options than ever – Even if I theoretically knew that I had options in life, I was too jaded to really think about them before we took off in 2013.  Whenever layoffs took place at either my workplace or Jammie’s, I would get really worried.  What would happen if we lost our jobs?  How would we survive in a weak economy?  I would let such concerns influence my decision making and my overall happiness.  I grew much less adventurous and assertive.  I put up with things in the day-to-day that I should not have.  Looking back at 2013 and the improved work and life opportunities we now have, I wish I had been bolder before our trip.  There were always better options.  Fear blinded me to them.

What is the one decision that would change everything for you?  A new year is approaching.  You’ve got it in you to make a decision that would change just about everything for the better.  What is it going to be?  Investing in a relationship?  Completely changing what you eat?  Firing a bad boss?  Traveling the world?  Please don’t waste time the way we did before making our life-changing big decision.  Boldness now could mean a world of difference.

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Quit your job: Hatred for it not necessary

Razwana Wahid
Razwana Wahid

Since Jammie and I quit our jobs and took off on our 2013 world service tour, we’ve heard a lot of feedback from people that have either done something similar or are contemplating dong so.  Today’s guest post is by my friend and très cool Paris-based blogger, Razwana.  She is about to quit her job to become an entrepreneur.  She writes this post as motivation to herself and those in similar situation to make the jump and work for themselves.  All yours Razwana!”

 

I love my job.

It’s the best one I’ve had yet.

It’s perfect balance of my three non-negotiables for a job – the location, the people, and the work itself. It’s perfect.

Or is it?

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a colleague. Let’s call him….Burt.

I asked Burt why, even though it’s technically possible for me to work from anywhere in the world (with internet connection), I couldn’t work from a location of my choosing?

Neither Burt, nor his coat of infinite wisdom could give me an answer that made sense.

When he stopped looking at me like I’d asked if it was OK to work in the office butt naked since it’s particularly warm out, he finally mumbled something about how ‘that’s just the way it is’.

That’s just the way it is.

The illusion of the perfect job shattered in 2.2 seconds.

And that’s when I realized The Pattern I had been living.

See, I get like this about a year after I work in a job. It’s peachy perfect at the beginning.

Then the newness fades away, the shiny surprises stop coming and all that is left is this big, fat, stop-staring-at-me empty space that yells ‘WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? AGGAAAIIINNNNNN?????’

Because I hate being told what I can and cannot do.

So The Pattern must be broken.

I’ve always wanted to work for myself. No time like the present, right?

But wait!

What if this is the grass is only greener effect? I mean, the grass is only greener when you’re looking at it with envy. So what if I am just running away from something that otherwise serves me rather well? Nothing is that perfect, is it?

What if the business idea I have doesn’t work? (See also:  fear of failure)

What if my market research is a lie?

What if I run out of ways of making money?

What if I make ZERO money after I quit my job and have to go grovelling for it back again?

What if my fear of winding up on the street, living out of a box and wearing plastic bags as shoes becomes a reality?

But the biggest what if of them all?

What if I stay in this job and never know what life is actually like on the other side?

And that is one scary “what if”.  It’s the ‘what if’ that keeps me awake at night. It’s the’ what’ if that creates an urgency to do something about this situation.

It’s the ‘what’ if that I really, really, really don’t want to experience.

So the time is now.

Time to stop dreaming of tomorrow – and start living it.

Time to stop saying what I will do – and actually do it.

To stop thinking of what I am capable of – and start believing it.

Bio

Razwana Wahid writes at Your Work Is Your Life, a service dedicated to making your writing work

better – to sell, to convert, to connect.  Read more at www.yourworkisyourlife.com or follow her

on Twitter: @razwanawahid

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