Ready to bite the bullet? So was I approximately two years ago. I remember the hugely mixed reactions I received when I told people I was quitting my job without another job to go to.
It’s the type of thing I’d have judged someone else as being irresponsible for doing; I had a mortgage, bills to pay, a life to lead and, unfortunately, some rather expensive tastes…
No-one actively told me to my face that I was being an idiot but many a person said (in a slightly disparaging tone), “oooh, that’s brave,” and this was often followed by, “hmm, brave or stupid…”.
I very quickly learnt that I was going to have to get some sort of party line sorted in order to defend my slightly rogue decision to give up a career that I had committed myself to for the best part of 7 years. This led me to question if the decision was brave or indeed stupid and irresponsible and ways in which I could justify it to all the doubters out there.
First off, although I definitely give off the impression of being a bit flighty and spontaneous, I am not a moron and I would definitely not have done this had I not got a financially stable plan in place.
I knew that I was in a position to be able to take some time off and really look at what I wanted to do whilst still being able to keep my house etc. (which was lucky!).
I am also an eternal optimist, so the thought of things not working out didn’t even enter my mind. Some may have seen this as some sort of denial but I like to look on it in a more positive light and think that I had enough confidence in myself to know that it would all work out in the end.
I always thought that I would be able to find myself another job and the fallback of working in a coffee shop always kept me going – I quite fancied the prospect of perfecting my latte art!
It’s obviously very easy to talk about all this retrospectively, knowing that it did indeed all work out. But I think I really did suck up my nerves, muster some bravery and bite the bullet.
The experience taught me a lot and, if you’re on the verge of taking the plunge yourself too, here are a few lessons I learnt along the way that might help you go for it too:
1. Do some research
I think I was possibly a little too cavalier in my approach.
I did think about it before I quit my job, however, I didn’t do any research in to alternative careers. I knew that I didn’t want to continue in the same industry but that was about as far as I got.
If I were to start looking at a career change in the future, I would definitely do some research in to my options whilst I was still bringing in a salary. I spent a lot of time once I was unemployed, just looking at what else I might like to do rather than actually applying for things and this obviously added days/weeks to the amount of time that I wasn’t earning any money. Had I done this on evenings and weekends whilst I was working out my notice, I definitely could have minimised the time it took to find something new that I really loved.
Got something you really want to do or somewhere you desperately want to go? Start researching now.
2. Once you’ve decided, just do it
I often say to people that I stayed in my previous job just six months too long.
Had I left that little bit earlier, I think I would have had a rather rosier view of it. I was there for 5 years and massively enjoyed most of it, however, my memories are clouded by the last six months which were not quite so fun, partly because I had just had enough of the role and knew that I needed something new.
This does make me sad sometimes, as I did have some fabulous times there; I met some amazing people, did some amazing things and went to some fab places. Next time around, I’d be bolder with actually making the decision to leave and this would mean leaving with fonder memories.
The lesson? Whatever your decision may be, from travels to new jobs – don’t wait, just do it.
3. Don’t burn bridges
As much as I knew I wanted to leave the industry I was in, I had a three-month notice period – of which I worked every last second. I made absolutely sure that I gave 100% to that job until the last time I walked out of the door.
Apart from the fact that my perfectionism and moral integrity meant that I didn’t quite have it in me to slack off, I am very aware of the fact that we live in a very small world and it would be beyond stupid to burn any bridges.
You never know when you might need someone or may cross paths in the future, so it’s always worth leaving a good impression with anyone you work with. I’m not going to claim this was always easy, three months is a looooong time. And, as I mentioned earlier, I’d most definitely had enough by this point. But I did my level best and am proud to be able to say that.
4. Think of yourself
Finally, I think that it’s important to think of the reasons for your decision and make sure that whatever you decide to do is actually right for YOU.
It’s easy to get sucked in by the big names; of course everyone would love to say that they work for the likes of Google or Apple. However, that first, impressed reaction from people, when you tell them you work for one of these companies, only lasts a short time. It is you that has to go into work every day and actually do the job.
If the job is actually not right for you, it doesn’t matter what company it’s for, you’ll ultimately not be happy.
I started off only looking at companies that would be recognised as impressive by the masses, however, I’m super glad that I quickly realised this wasn’t necessarily what was going to make me happy. I ended up looking at smaller, start-up environments which lend themselves much more to my skill set and personality.
So, that’s it in a nutshell; if you’re stuck in a rut and thinking about something new then my advice would be to do your research, do your sums and if it all adds up then take the plunge and do it!
It’s the best thing I ever did and now I’m nearly two years in to (what I believe to be) one of the best jobs in the world :).
This story is part of Flash Pack’s No More Not Yets campaign. Our mission is to eradicate two powerful words that can stop you achieving your dreams: “not yet”. The not yet seen, not yet swum, not yet sat in the suns. Not yet met, not yet tried, not yet climbed, braved or conquered. What’s your Not Yet? Find out more here.
Bite the bullet – three adventures to go for right now
Conquer the peaks of Peru
Climb Rainbow Mountain with an overnight camp at altitude, boat through Amazonia by twilight and cycle the Sacred Valley Inca ruins. This is real adventure, and then some.
A sensory journey to Japan
Sea kayak around an ancient shrine, bathe in warm mountain springs and become a real-life ninja warrior in one of the most amazing countries in the world.
Escape to mind-blowing Bali
Climb a live volcano at sunrise, try anti-gravity yoga in jungle hills of Ubud and live your tropical dreams on a traffic-free coral island. Blissful paradise and awesome adventure – all in one.