Most people would never even consider quitting without having another job lined up, and even fewer would recommend it. But I quit, my best friend did too, and someone dear to me is going through it right now. It’s definitely not a solution for everyone and a lot of people are just able to figure out their path in life while employed fulltime. But it is an option and one that requires a lot of strength, resolve and preparation from a financial, emotional and mental standpoint.
When I went through it 3+ years ago, a lot of friends told me “I’m happy for you, but I think it’s the stupidest decision you’ve ever made.” Thanks. Love ya too. And last Friday on my friend’s last day of work, his coworkers still hadn’t accepted the fact that he had nothing lined up. Some insisted he was moving or taking time off to travel but nope, neither is true. He has nothing planned except to focus on figuring out his next step. To so many people, it makes absolutely no sense. To those people, I ask you to please, please keep your comments to yourself.
What a lot of people don’t understand and are unable to recognize is that it’s not an easy decision for someone to make. It takes reaching a very deep, almost dark, level of dissatisfaction, fear and misery. It’s downright scary and the minute the words leave your mouth, you wish you could take them back. But inside, you know it’s the right thing to do. You know there is something more that you were meant to do with your life. And inside, you’re more afraid that if you don’t quit, you will never discover what it is.
Three things you must have before becoming willfully unemployed:
- A solid support system. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and validate your decision even if they don’t agree with it 100 percent. It’s important that they’re honest with you but not in a trying-to-scare-you kind of way. You’re already scared enough. It’s also important to know who not to tell. Not everyone needs to know every detail about your life, especially if you know you’ll be on the receiving end of a boatload of negativity.
- $$$. This is when your emergency fund comes in handy. You need enough money to live off of for 2-3 months and/or a way to earn money on a part-time, contract or freelance basis.
- Certainty. You need to know – and I mean, really, really believe – that you’re going to come out on top. Chances are, you will experience emotional ups and downs once you’re willfully unemployed. Doubts will sink in. Anxiety. Fear. Temptation to run back to something unsatisfying. Trust and constantly remind yourself that you did the right thing and that you will be okay and happier than ever. The risk is worth the reward – and, man, did you take a BIG risk!
Jovie Baclayon is an expert in the experiences faced by emerging adults.