How’re you doing? I’ve been sensing the seasons change every day. The days are getting a little shorter, and the air is becoming more crisp. Are you noticing any changes?
I want to make a quick announcement to friends in the Seattle area – I’m having another art show this month at Tin Umbrella Coffee (5600 Rainier Ave S, Seattle 98118). Some of my original drawings from my 365 Day Happiness Project will be on display and for sale until the end of September! I’m also having a reception on Saturday September 12, 12-2pm, so if you’re in the area, come say hi 🙂 I’m having a sweet giveaway too! Woo hoo!
OK, so have you read my blog last week? I talked about how day jobs can help you learn skills that go beyond just your day job and help you in your creative endeavors too.
I also mentioned that I was planning on staying at my day job for a couple more years because I wasn’t financially ready to quit yet. Day jobs provide the financial stability so you can work on your creative pursuit without compromising your values.
So why did I decide to quit cold turkey?
Although I had many great things going on at my day job, I was becoming increasingly frustrated and unhappy that I wasn’t able to spend more time working on my art and business. There were many changes happening at work, and I was under a lot of stress. I wasn’t sleeping well and started having some stress-related health issues. I felt like the good things were no longer good enough for me to stay.
I felt like my soul was dying a little bit every day.
And it’s not fair for the employer to keep investing in employees who are not in it 100%, either. I knew I had to make a very difficult decision in order for me to take care of myself and be happy.
I took one week staycation in June to take a break and think about what I needed. When I asked my husband Dave if I could quit my day job without having another job, he said, “Absolutely” without hesitation.
He understood the challenges I was having and was very supportive of me taking care of myself. I can’t express how relieved I was to have his blessings. It was super important to me that he was comfortable with the big change, and I would’ve stayed a bit longer if he had any reservations about it.
After our initial talk, we sat down to figure out the details. We knew I wasn’t going to have a steady income for a while from my art business alone. What we needed to know was exactly how long we can go with just one income.
Here are some of our processes and factors that went into our decision making:
- We looked at our finances and figured out our projection for the rest of the year.
- We made a realistic estimate of the money we’re going to be bringing in and our expenses for the rest of 2015 and did the math.
- We also created the worst case scenario and the best case scenario. We reviewed how much we have in cash savings and other forms of assets. In worst case scenario, we have some safety net. In best case scenario (e.g. Dave gets more gigs, my business gets a lot more profitable etc.), we could go longer without me having to get a day job.
- We decided not cut out everything that’s “unnecessary” like Netflix subscription and occasional entertainment. It would be too stressful to not have any room for fun stuff. I’m also keeping my gym membership not only because I have to pay a penalty to get out of a contract, but also because $45 a month is a really good investment in my long-term health and sanity. We already live pretty simply and don’t have a lot of unnecessary expenses, so this wasn’t a painful process.
- According to our projection, we’d be OK until the end of 2015. Dave’s income would be put towards his business and our living expenses for now. What I earn from my art business will just pay for my business expenses until I start gaining more profits.
- Dave’s business has been picking up, so that was a big factor in deciding it would be OK for me not to have a steady income for a while. Dave is also an entrepreneur (You can learn about what he does here. He’s also written a book on Permaculture design recently. Yea, he’s pretty cool.)
- We don’t have human children. We have multiple pets. They could be expensive but usually not as expensive human children.
- Our rent is relatively cheap. We’ve lived in our apartment for several years and have a really good relationship with our landlord. Our neighborhood has recently become more desirable and is being gentrified pretty quickly, though, so this could change in the future. Hopefully not for a while…
- Neither of us has serious on-going health issues. So we can afford to have the cheapest, crappiest healthcare insurance for now. As someone who grew up in a country with free non-sucky healthcare, the healthcare system here is still mindboggling to me… Sigh.
- We don’t have debts. It would’ve changed things if we had a big debt to pay off.
- We’re pretty good at DYI. We grow some of our vegetables and try to preserve excess seasonal harvest as much as we can. I’ve been experimenting with fermentation and have not bought any miso from a store for the last 3 years! Though I love buying other artists’ works, I make most of our greeting cards and little gifts for our friends and family. We love thrift shopping and finding free stuff, too!
To be completely honest, after I gave my notice at my day job, I had occasional mini freak outs about our uncertain financial future. What if something terrible happens or I don’t meet my revenue projection? (Which I’ve already exceeded since then by the way. Phew!)
Dave would patiently remind me that we made our plans carefully, and the very worst case scenario, we’d live in our car and figure out our next steps together. His reassurance helped me be grounded, and I knew the first thing I needed to focus on was my business.
Can I just say I have an awesome partner? I mean, I knew that all along, but going through life transitions together is making it even more evident. I couldn’t have chosen a better person to be with!!! ❤
In summary, consider these things before you quit your day job cold turkey:
- Have a financial back-up plan. Walking out on a job Jerry Maguire style and becoming a starving artist may seem sort of romantic. In reality, it would suck to not be able to pay your bills or lose your home to pursue your passion. Look at your finances carefully and make a realistic projection. If you quit your job cold turkey tomorrow, how would you cover your basic expenses? Maybe your partner makes enough money. Maybe you have healthy savings. Are you open to shifting your lifestyle? What are your “necessities?” Be realistic. If you don’t have reasonable means to support yourself financially, consider practicing the Overlap Technique until you’re ready.
- Make sure your spouse/partner/family members are on the same page. Changes are hard for everyone. It can be scary when you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You may have 100 good reasons for quitting your job, but your family might not know or understand them completely. They might not be supportive of your decision, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care about you or your dreams. It may just mean that they’re afraid of the unknown, or there are legitimate reasons why it’s not realistic at this time (e.g. kids, mortgage, paying off debts, other transitions in life, unstable relationship dynamics etc.) Take your time to talk it out with your loved ones. Listen to their concerns and feelings and validate what they’re going through. Make back-up plans together. If you decide you can’t quit your day job now, make other plans to take care of yourself whether it is for you to find another job or take advantage of the benefits you currently have (e.g. go to counseling, take a vacation etc.)
- Don’t burn bridges. You’ve cultivated relationships and networks at your day job even if it’s not in the area of your passion. Certainly, you don’t need to stay in a toxic relationship just to be nice. Otherwise, try to maintain your professional relationships and connections. Life transitions are hard no matter how much you wanted them to happen. You can use as much support from people around you during and after the transition. Also, if there is a possibility of you needing to get another day job down the road (see the next point), it would be helpful to know people and maintain a positive reputation within the industry you want employment opportunities in.
- Be open to the possibility of getting another day job if needed. I’ve been working on growing my business for the last few years. It’s been slow going, and I don’t know how many more years it’ll take before it becomes a thriving business. I know that giving my 100% to the growth of my business now will push my business further ahead. I also know I may need to get a day job at some point to pay our bills. Our projection shows we’d be ok until the end of this year, but after that it all depends. My long term success is too important for me, and I would rather take a day job and be selective of how I grow my business than taking any old work that comes my way and get burned out. It would be hard for me to go back to having a day job, of course, but I’m open to the possibility. But if I do, hopefully, it would be shorter hours and/or less stressful!
Quitting my day job cold turkey was not my first choice. But in hindsight, it was the kick in the pants I needed to take my art business to the next level.
The fact I haven’t regretted my decision even once since I quit means it was the right thing to do. I’m happy. I’m thriving. I feel alive every day.