Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How to Quit Your Day Job in One Easy Step

First off, thanks everyone one for your patience and understanding. Our crisis over here at the Monkey + Seal cave as been averted, and while we meant to get a new post and newsletter up late last week, some crazy deadlines and an exacto blade going into Monkey's foot sort of took priority. Anyway, on to the post.

Monkey here:

So 1.5 weeks ago, I quit my retail gig to pursue art full time. It was a bit scary (more like terrifying), but when you're at a job where auto-pilot still exceeds expectations, and you've been at the company longer than the CEO, you know it's time to get out.

So what's the magic formula to get out of your job? I'll tell you, but let me give you a bit more background info. If you read our last post "I Have $161,635.78 in Student Loans, $15,000 in Credit Card Debt, and I Want To Be An Artist..." you probably figured out that any decision that involves giving up a revenue stream for me isn't the easiest one to make. Even though that post was originally written in 2009, when you have that sort of crushing debt and aren't some well-compensated white-collar worker and instead are a paper-peddling artist, not a whole lot of debt can be wiped clean in two years. I have knocked down the credit card debt to $8,930.81, but the student loans are pretty much still where they were.

So as you an see, being about $170k in debt doesn't make the decision to leave your job any easier. This is probably compounded by the fact that I have pretty much $0 in savings, and it's not like I'm leaving my job for a full-time salaried position. I'm leaving my job for a fledgling printing business (, if you need any t-shirts printed), as well as my own creative ventures that range from illustration and fine art to our screen-printed ties, to DIY wedding invitations (we're not quite ready for launch, but you'll hear about it when we do).
Sort of terrifying, right?

So now I will impart on you the single, solitary step that you must take to quit your day job: Write a letter of resignation, and turn it into your boss.

There, that's it! Pretty easy, right? No magic spell, no earth-shattering revelations here. That's really all that's too it.

While I'm sure you read this post because you were more interested in how to quickly and easily quit your job and start living off doing what you love. To be honest, the one single step IS to just resign. However, this sort of smart-assed answer is here to underline the fact that there IS NOT a single, easy, happy-fun way to quit your job and live off your creativity.

The unfortunate truth about it all is that there is no way for me to tell you how to quit your day job. Everyone's financial circumstances, business acumen, entrepreneurial spirit, tolerance for risk, and general tendency to rush into things with a general disregard of popular opinion are completely different. Because of this, I guarantee that as similar as we are all, you're going to have to make that decision to leave your job for yourself.

Quitting your day job without something certain in place is definitely not for everyone. There are a lot of sacrifices you have to make. You'll be stressed more, and you'll probably be up late working, since all the stuff that your co-workers and your boss are doing (like accounting, marketing, whatever), you'll have to do yourself ON TOP of creating. You'll have to watch your finances more, which could mean not going out to bars as often, or maybe eating lunches of bread and water and dinners of pasta.

Maybe you do have something certain in place. Maybe your partner can help out with the bills or perhaps you've been saving enough to take a leap of faith. While this would relieve a lot of the fear of failing and becoming homeless, you still have to figure out how this is going to strain your relationship or how long you can last in case things don't work out. You're still going to have to do more work, as being your own boss is about five times more work than going to some day job, but is also about ten times as rewarding.

The one thing that is common among anyone who will set out on their own and turn in that two-weeks notice is that they have to believe in themselves. If you don't have faith in your own strength, your own passion, your own desire to become something more, then make the easy decisions. Stay at your job while you build up a career doing creative things. This is the path most travelled by successful artists. I know tons of painters and illustrators who work day jobs and create at night. There is nothing wrong with this, and it's great to save up, work off debt, and make sure that you have enough to live on before pursuing your art full-time. When that time comes to leave, however, you still have to have faith in yourself that you'll make it on your own.

Whatever you need to have that unwavering faith that you'll be okay - that you'll succeed beyond your wildest expectations is what you have to chase. For me, a total safety net is too safe - having something reliable makes me complacent and lazy. Having my ass to the fire is really what gets me going, and knowing that if I don't hustle faster, better, and smarter than before I'll be in some serious trouble, and that knowledge gets my blood boiling and my work done.

For most people, cutting the safety net is probably a terrifying, paralyzing thought, and the best way to build up your confidence is to take the small steps of building up a career slowly, doing as much as you can when you can. You don't have to throw caution to the wind - cutting the safety net can be a safe process of establishing a client base or a successful product line, of vending for years to build up your confidence that your art will make money.

So while it may manifest itself differently for everyone, please be sure to know that choosing to leave your day job is a highly personal decision that is one that must be made with the full knowledge of what you're getting yourself into. Have faith in yourself, and whether it's time to quit right now or in a few years, keep making those steps towards believing in yourself and you'll surprise yourself with that you achieve.