how to quit your job

5 Things You Can Learn By Quitting Your Job

“Dear colleagues, after many rewarding years at CubicleSlave Inc, I have decided to move on…”


99,9% of corporate employees, at one time or another, think about leaving their jobs. Their dream may be to start a company, travel the world, write a novel, learn Japanese, meditate in an ashram, train for a marathon, study philosophy, lower their golf handicap, paint a masterpiece or star in a porno, but the first step is always the same: get the hell out of this job. My co-blogger and I felt much the same way about a year ago, and ended up leaving our consulting jobs to start our own company and blog, and in general to pursue a more balanced lifestyle. We now feel it’s our obligation to share what we’ve learned so far outside the cubicle:

  1. 1. It’s hard to see the big picture with your nose to the grindstone

Working full-time, pushing a few personal projects on the side and juggling your family and social life to boot is tough. There are always presentations to finish, chores to do, fires to put out, lawns to mow and parties to go to, so no wonder most people never stop to think about the more profound questions in life: Am I happy?  On my deathbed, will I be glad about how I spent my life? To really think about these and other questions, it’s not enough to spend five minutes on them every now and then. You need a proper break. Although it might involve some painful soul-searching, you can rest assured that after a prolonged period outside the daily humdrum of work, you will be a hell of a lot closer to answers than you are now.

  1. 2. A plan is better than no plan at all

Usually when you work full-time, you tend not to plan further ahead than next year’s summer vacation. Hell, most people abhor the idea of making 10- or 20-year plans, since they inevitably involve huge life-decisions and possibly admitting that one is caught in a rut as deep as the Grand Canyon. But like it or not, having a general idea of where you’re going (as well as at least rough plans B and C in case things go wrong) not only gives you confidence about what you’re doing, but also forces you to think about your priorities and ambitions. Planning ahead is always a good idea, even if you do change plans every two weeks.

  1. 3. Forget about what people think

Straying from your expected career path can bring out some surprising reactions in your friends and family. Concern, support, jealousy, happiness, anger, enthusiasm and negativity come forth, often from the most unexpected sources. A complete stranger applauds what you’ve done, whereas your best friend turns into a depressing black hole of negativity. Don’t take this as a litmus test of friendships (although it may serve as one), but rather just realize that you shouldn’t worry about what others think. At the end of the day, you need to make career decisions that make you happy, everything else is just noise.

  1. 4. Don’t worry about wasting time

Once you quit, a world of possibilities opens up: you can develop that app or write that novel or go on that course or take that trip or whatever the hell you fell like. Since people are taught early on to avoid failure, we usually think that time spent on a project that never bears fruit is time squandered. Since most kinds of paid labor will inevitably consume the lion’s share of the week, we guard our time especially jealously. After you‘ve quit, you need to lose that “my time is too precious to waste”-mindset, since it will make you hesitate with every step. Working on something with a 1% chance of success is far better in the long run than never working on anything at all. Jump into projects the moment you get excited, and jot them down to learning experiences if they fail.

  1. 5. It’s not about money, but it’s not about time either

There’s an old saying that when you’re young, you have lots of time but no money, and when you’re old, you have lots of money but no time. In practice when you quit, you find yourself in a situation where you temporarily have both: money you’ve hopefully saved up and time you can spend whichever way you choose. As most people might know deep down, to lead a socially active, intellectually challenging, culturally explorative and physically healthy life, you really don’t need much money. This becomes especially evident after you’ve quit. What may come as a shock though is that you don’t need unlimited free time either. The key is to know what to spend time and money on. The man who pursues his passions 2 hours a week, 50 bucks at a time is far, far happier than the idle billionaire who buys and sails aircraft carriers out of boredom. Decide what you enjoy and spend your time and money in pursuit of it.

Have you had any profound revelations that came during a prolonged break from work? Share your wisdom in the comments-section!


Ben Hughes and Sebastian Klein are former management consultants who are conspiring to take over the world in a tidal wave of awesome. Their magnum opus is taking shape at The Handbook of Awesome.



28 Responses to 5 Things You Can Learn By Quitting Your Job

  1. S. Carvalho says:

    I quit my job last year, and am currently getting a master’s degree. I didn’t really need to quit, I was happy with the pay and level of security, but I wasn’t challenged by the work and didn’t want that job to be the one I do for the rest of my life.

    I can say that most of these points are very true, I was surprised how many people seemed shocked and resistant to the idea, and others were very excited and encouraging. Not the people I expected in either camp. Also I love that I feel like I can consider opportunities/futures I had given up on while working.

    About the time/money thing, I do still consider my time/saved money relatively precious but I look at it this way – if there was something that I couldn’t do while I was working regardless of how much money I had in the bank (impromptu getaways/trips), I’m willing to spend the money on that now, even as I watch my savings shrink. On the other hand, casual shopping online can wait until I am earning an income again.

  2. Tony Fuentes says:

    Awesome insights, thank you. I’m getting ready to have a lot of time on my hands soon. I *think* I know what it will be like, but after reading posts like this I realize I really have no idea. Part of my thinks I’ll wrestle with the idea of not being a bread winner for the family. But then my other side says money doesn’t matter, just do what you love and everything will fall into place. 

    I feel like we’ve been programmed to think that if we aren’t making money, we’re worthless and aren’t contributing to our family and society. I know it’s not true, but reconditioning yourself to believe otherwise seems to be a challenge. 

    Anyways, you gave me plenty to think about. 

    Thank you. 

  3. thanks a lot for the post! very interesting!

  4. I stayed at a job that was ‘ok’ only because I had to take care of an elderly parent. I would dream/plan my escape and what I would be doing. Thanks to those last 2 years of dedicated planning, after mom died I was able to put that plan into action. The result has been a kick-ass career, double the salary and I get to travel, to boot.

  5. Good stuff – I quite this year and started a marketing company en route to lead a movement to revolutionize relationships on planet earth.  Everything you say is true and I am living proof. Keep spreading it and I have a manifesto I’m trying to publish to support my thoughts on the topic – check it out over at

  6. I love this!!!!, ”
    Forget about what people think” best part by far. A lot of people never accomplish their reachable dreams because they were worrying about what their family and friends had to say. I live by “If you don’t have or live the life I want, beat it!” 

    Broke, unhappy, and unfit people are always trying teach you how to save money, be happy, and how to loose weight. Really?? :/ These people are nuts. 

    Follow your heart, even if you have to work longer days to get your passion to a full time income before moving on from your job. It will be worth it in the end.  I rather work 80 hours a week doing what I love instead of 80 hours in someone else’s dream. 

    Thanks for post have a great day.

  7. SelfHelpURLs says:

    I went to college, graduated, look for a job, get a job and quit my job within a week! :) 

    And now I am on my own doing online business. People may give you some look weird or ask “why you don’t want to get a job?” (hate this question a lot!) but I don’t take their words seriously and decided to do things I love to do. 

    And what you said is true, it’s not about money at all! It’s about doing that that I love to do is matters. 


  8. Ben says:

    Awesome, I love this post, it is what i’m going through at the moment. Leaving a job that I just kept getting dragged back into and working on my business coaching Emotional Freedom Technique. It’s definately a good challenge for the technique as I have to use it myself with all the stuff doing this is bringing up and let that go!

    I’ve found that alot of people can’t seem to identify with this mindset we need to be able to do this.. but that’s okay.. i’m gonna keep on my path anyway!


  9. Fchin123 says:

    “I didn’t really need to quit, I was happy with the pay and level of security, but I wasn’t challenged by the work and didn’t want that job to be the one I do for the rest of my life. ” That was exactly my sentiment when I submitted my letter of resignation 2 days ago (March 30, 2012).

    I also like the fact that at the end of each month, there is a sum of money deposited automatically in my bank account when I was holding a job! This has been holding me back for a few years until now.

  10. Great post! So true that to get anywhere, steps have to be taken. Passive wishing only muddies the current waters you’re wading in. I really like the idea of spending whatever time is available and as little money as it takes to pursue a passion. It’s so true that more happiness will be the natural byproduct of that pursuit. Stagnation and empty and vague hopes of something different will not only do nothing to close the gap between the life you have and the life you want, it can actually diminish current happiness as you see more clearly the fog you’re in and the eternal distance of the dream that inaction creates.

    Thanks for this article. Gotta go check out your blog no!

  11. Jerry Brando says:

    I’ll be blunt, I just quit the worst job of my life. I was contracting as a web developer for a soulless, disorganized mess of a fortune 500 company. Toward the end, all I could think about was how under-appreciated, helpless, trapped, and ultimately hopeless the situation was. Fear can be a great motivator though and when things had deteriorated to a point I could no longer stand I made the decision that I couldn’t toe the line anymore for what can only be described as “velvet handcuffs”. I had little money saved and no concrete opportunities ahead, but, as my co-workers continued to complain about how unhappy they were with the pit we were slaving away in, I was making secrete plans to break away. After a year and a half stint in my cube-that-resembled-a-cell-right-out-of-OZ, I finally realized that nothing could be worse than this living death I was muddling through. 

    I quit. 1 week notice, burned bridges and no employment waiting for me on Monday. As I stepped out of that place for the last time though, I IMMEDIATELY began to feel better despite my bleak future (I could breath!). After a couple of days of searching, I found a job making a larger salary in a swank office with nary a greyish-brown cube in sight.

    All I can say is, while my former coworkers are still there complaining and waiting for a change that they know will never come, I’m getting to do exactly the kind of work my last job denied me and for better pay and less stress.

    If you’re on the ledge about what to do…JUMP! Do not waste another millisecond stressing about the “what if’s” and just quit and don’t think twice about it. You might surprise yourself.

  12. Ani says:

    Sounds so true and familiar.
    I quit my career few months ago and don’t remember when was the last time I was happier before. I have finally found time for myself, learned a lot and have this wonderful feeling of not being in a rush and enjoying slower speed :)

  13. haha. i like the humour in this piece, and the illustrations. i had plan after plan for after i leave my job. then i had to leave my job unexpectedly due to depression. and nothing i had planned worked. but that’s even better, i’ve rediscovered more about myself than i had pplanned
    Noch Noch

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  15. Turness says:

    I have lost two jobs in the last nine months.  One job was in a family business that I was in for sixteen years.  I should be depressed or upset.   I have never been so happy.  When I lost the second job I wrote them a grateful letter of thanks.  Seriously.

    Life is very short.  We are on this planet for about 30,000 days if we are lucky.  When I talk to friends who are working they are all stressed and have little or no purpose.  They can hardy wait for the weekend so they can drink (de-stress).

    I have been spending time with my children who are growing up much too quickly.  I have been volunteering at many really satisfying volunteer jobs.  I have been reading great books, listening to master lectures, improving myself through professional classes (met more really awesome people).   Excercising like I’m on TV, and eating right, and rekindling  old friendships.

    Life is great, even when unemployed.  I recently found a position I wanted.  CEO of a nonprofit corporation.  My thoughts are simply this:  if I get the position, wonderful, if I don’t get the position still….. wonderful. 

    I think like this; Michael Jordan was said to have been cut from his high school basketball team by his coach who said he couldn’t play.  Did he let that coach determine his future?  No, he let his love of the game, and his determination lead the way.  So should all of us.

  16. Fchin123 says:


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  19. J.P. says:

    I really needed the support I felt from reading this post.  I am in the midst of planning my exit strategy from my job of 15 years — a job that I once loved, but now has evolved into something that feels very unrewarding and mundane.  Getting out of this “comfort zone” I’m in is proving to be an emotional challenge; mostly for the reasons posted here.  You can bet I’ll be re-reading this a few times leading up to my resignation!  Thanks for an insightful, funny way of looking at it.

  20. J.P. says:

    I really needed the support I felt from reading this post.  I am in the midst of planning my exit strategy from my job of 15 years — a job that I once loved, but now has evolved into something that feels very unrewarding and mundane.  Getting out of this “comfort zone” I’m in is proving to be an emotional challenge; mostly for the reasons posted here.  You can bet I’ll be re-reading this a few times leading up to my resignation!  Thanks for an insightful, funny way of looking at it.

  21. ofwnurse says:

    I like this,  ”
    The man who pursues his passions 2 hours a week, 50 bucks at a time is far, far happier than the idle billionaire who buys and sails aircraft carriers out of boredom. ” This article is awesome for it reflects current reality of life.. lets focus on the journey, not on the destination..

  22. Hal says:

    I had the curious “good luck” to lose a job I had held for 9 years but really hadn’t enjoyed for the final 3 years I was there.  I didn’t dislike it enough to get motivated to move on by myself, but it wasn’t happy and I’m sure that had eroded my self-confidence and probably my motivation.

    My employer restructured, suddenly I was out, and I was very pleasantly surprised how respectful and kind my former boss was in making sure I had what I needed to land on my feet.  A real salt-of-the-earth man.

    I ended up taking the better part of a year off, got a chance to connect strongly with my daughter by driving her to and  home from her work during which we’d talk about everything.  I threw myself into finally finishing my basement, adding another 1200 sq feet of very attractive living space and another full bathroom to my home.  I wrote, I read, I attended meetings at an excellent outplacement firm where I got tremendous support and skills for interviewing and resume development. 
    After going at work “hammer and tongs” for over 30 years, I finally made some time for myself. 

    Luckily, my dear wife works and she supported me not only financially, but also in the idea of having some “me” time.  This was just plain “good for my soul”. 
    I could have turned it into a catastrophe (I had only once before been out of work when a small consultancy I worked for when I first got married had seriously run out of customer projects and their revenue stream).  Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to find out more about myself, what I value, what I want to do and how I want to enjoy my working life. 

    I stepped backward to try to find work that I had done in my past that I really enjoyed, and have been working for a medium-sized company doing all kinds of interesting things. 

    So, my advice is (as long as you’re not frantic to find where the next loaf of bread is coming from), take a bit of time for yourself if you can, rediscover who you are if you’ve lost sight of that crucial information, smell the roses, get up early and enjoy a walk at sunrise.  You’ll find it time well spent.

  23. Great information you’ve provided us with here. Thanks so
    much for sharing. Nice site too…

  24. silent says:

    I am quitting a dead end job to finally pursue a career in Nursing. It took 9 years to finally decide what I wanted to do, but I am still scared. I know that staying in this job, although there is money each month, it is dead end. There are no prospects, no promotions, no goals. I think the main reason I am totally bricking it, is because I have always worked since I was 17, always had the pay check at the end of the month. It has never made me happy though, and this rut is so deep its unbelievable. My family is so supportive which is awesome and my friends are supportive, although I can feel jealously from some of them. I hope in 4 years time I can look back on this day and be glad of the decision I made.

  25. Roceena says:

    Well, I am quitting my job which I think people would die for, not even getting very good response but I just want to take some time for me, Later I have lot of time to earn.. but may not be able to take the same decision…

  26. Alexandra says:

    I have also made my decision to quit my full time job and go back to school. It’s a tough decision to make. My friends/family are in shock, they questioned my motive, they questioned if I can get a new job etc etc. It’s just they don’t know I’m working in a very negative working environment, they don’t how much pressure I’m under.

    However, look at the other side, they can say whatever they want, they are not me,  I’m a grown up adult and no one can decide my fate but me.

    All I want to say is, if you are having a similar situation, think of your self first, if you can support yourself financially, then just do it! Life is very very short, no one knows what’s gonna happen in the next minute! 

    Don’t exchange money for happiness.

  27. Yreda2012 says:

    i quit in march and am a full time student now! also some people cant comprehend that, but some admire and envy the guts to go back to school! i thank you so much for posting this comment, because i was going to doubt myself for a second here… thats why i google this topic!
    i am happy and have no idea i waited so long to quit and do ths! with every chapter i read and exam i finish, i look to my future new career as closer! yes my savings is shrinking, but nothing will stop me!
    if we got jobs before, we can get jobs again, now with better spirit!
    thanks everyone again!

  28. Awesomeblueberry says:

    ur comment is not related to the topic, is it?

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