Everybody’s had a project, co-worker or boss who has caused them to think, “I’m going to quit!” But rarely do we follow through with the threat, and usually the job gets better or the problem gets fixed. But for some people, choosing to quit has been the best decision they ever made.
Whether you’ll dive right into your new project or take up a new job while you’re looking to find what suits you, staying positive will help make your decision worth it. “Instead of thinking of all the things you’ll lose, like a regular salary, or valuable time with co-workers, focus on what you stand to gain. You’ll get a huge amount of experience on your career break, and develop a raft of new skills too,” says Rachel Morgan-Trimmer, founder of The Career Break Site.
Check out the stories of these workers who took their careers into their own hands, and how you can do the same.
Mike LeMoine, Internet video marketer
“I am a former paramedic and firefighter who walked away from the job in January. In doing so I gave up great benefits including amazing health care, a great schedule and amazing retirement. I left to pursue my entrepreneurial adventures and to spend more time with family. It was a great decision!
“I looked at every number I could and then for some reason tallied up how many nights I would be away from home if I stayed. Then I looked at how much time I would be gone from the family total if I stayed…it was over four years gone…I made the decision to walk away.
“My advice to people would be don’t be afraid to leave the security and ‘burn the boats,’ an amazing life awaits.
“I am now running my internet marketing company helping small businesses market. I teach people how to do this as well, and I am loving the freedom I have. I get to travel and speak to groups of people about this topic too.
“While I had a ton of fear in leaving I decided I would rather face the fear and fail then end up looking back on my life and having regrets and wondering ‘what if’.”
Jason Parks, owner of The Media Captain
“I had a job selling promotional products over the phone which I absolutely despised. I took the job because the economy was rough and it was the safe solution for a guaranteed income. My background and passion is in digital marketing and I would constantly be working on side projects that I truly enjoyed.
“I decided to quit the job that I disliked and start my own digital marketing company, The Media Captain.
“I can honestly say that quitting my job as a promotional product salesman was the best decision that I ever made. Yes, there was uncertainty for several months when I was trying to find new clients. Each morning that I woke up though I was passionate about the work that I was doing and there was an unprecedented enthusiasm that I felt owning my own company.
“Four years after quitting my job, I have grown my team at The Media Captain to four people and a client list of over 20 businesses throughout the country. I have absolutely no regret of walking into my boss’s office that February morning in 2010 and providing him with my two weeks’ notice.”
Josh Pavano, founder of Jonas Umbrellas
“After being promoted from one cube to a slightly bigger cube a couple of times in the corporate world I realized I was extremely unhappy. I was making the money to support myself and pay off student loans, but I never felt like I had much a purpose. So, I quit. I did have a plan, well you can call it a plan. I wanted to go back to school but I had no idea really where I wanted to end up after school. While at school I had the opportunity to travel to Uganda and Rwanda; I was moved by the experience and the people. I came back and started my own for-profit social venture that sells limited edition umbrellas to fund clean water wells at schools to help children in Uganda. Honestly, the money isn’t the same, but I feel so free compared to my corporate job. I know every day I make decisions that are making the world a better place and I wouldn’t change that for anything!”
Peter Rosenberger, president of Standing With Hope, Inc.
“I quit my job over 11 years ago…and launched full time into an organization my wife and founded: Standing With Hope. We train and equip local workers in Ghana to build prosthetic limbs for their own people. In addition, I’ve written three books, launched a radio show and plan on a television show in spring 2015. All in all, quitting my job was one of the best thing I ever did.”
Before you say “I quit”
Whether you’re not sure what lies ahead of you or you’ve already set your sights on a new job or industry, smart planning can help you avoid financial pitfalls or career mistakes, and instead create a smooth transition. “It’s important to consider money,” Morgan-Trimmer says. “You also need to prepare for your return to the job market before you quit, keeping on good terms (and staying in touch) with your boss and co-workers, and ensuring your resume stays up to date.”
If you’re still unsure what next job you want, Morgan-Trimmer says, “The best way of finding a better match for your goals is simply to try things out! Want to be a manager? Try managing volunteers. Interested in teaching? Have a go at Teaching English as a Foreign Language. On a career break, you can try things for a short period of time at a relatively low cost — and find out what really motivates you!”