Not too long ago, I quit Corporate America, sold my condo, and moved across the country. In that order. No job lined up. Not a single client on the horizon.
It was my third time quitting a career without a Plan B. I gave everything away and left all my furniture.
What about clothes? I left it all, my business suits and winter coats were still on hangers the day I gave the new owners the condo keys. I took my fav pair of heels though.
Other than that, I shipped my car and gave away everything else. GoodWill and Salvation Army shoppers must of had a field day.
It was time to start a new chapter. Being born and raised in Hawaii, I had enough of East Coast winters. So I picked So Cal as my new home.
Just like that.
Most of my life, that is how I operated. One foot in front of the other, rarely in a “logical” order. And never in a “rational” way.
What about the previous career quits? Even more spontaneous than the last quit.
As mentioned, I quit my corporate job three times without a Plan B. Things worked out each time but it was definitely scary times.
What made it even more tough? Not having support from family and some close friends. So after each quit, I told them after the fact. It just made things a lot easier...emotionally.
Here’s the reality of what happened after I quit each time…
In February 2016, I quit on impulse. I couldn’t stand another day working with my micromanaging boss and passive aggressive coworker.
So I walked into the boss’s office and resigned. Right then and there.
It had been 7 years with the company and to this day, I don’t regret a day there. It was just time to go.
A senior manager advised me to take unlimited time off to think things over (and calm down). After several months at home, I realized that I still had a mortgage to pay.
I went back to the same but moved to a new office. But I knew it would only be temporary. I eventually resigned a year later...for good.
Resigning the second time around was somewhat scarier. Everything in my life fell apart pretty quickly as soon as I started my first weeks of being unemployed.
From an unexpected breakup to my dad getting into a car accident to ending up in the ER myself while traveling in Europe.
This all happened within a month.
I used the months after that to get my health, sanity and life back in alignment. And it sparked my interest in getting my finances in order too. I realized that I did not want to rely solely on an employer for a paycheck and health insurance.
Nevertheless, the whole experience left a huge scar.
In my mind, I still will equate being "jobless by choice" with the notion that the worst case scenario is going to happen in my personal life.
Five months later, I found myself working in Corporate America...but with a plan. The plan was to become financially independent and get the hell out.
Then I got “FIRE’d”.
I kept working on my personal finances and I was able to reach financial independence at 35! Yep, I got FIRE’d….financial independence retire early (FIRE) that is.
So there was that unexpected benefit from taking time off after Quit #2 to reset. What came out of Quit #2’s Eat, Pray, Love soul searching journey was the start of my path to FIRE.
A year and a half after working in Corporate, I was able to pay off my mortgage and then got the hell out of dodge.
When I wanted to relocate across the country, I had to really think things through. Even being financially independent, I had huge mental blocks.
I was fearful of the events following Quit #2 repeating. So here are 7 key lessons learned from quitting my job (3 times!) without a Plan B...
1. Do the heavy lifting upfront.
Quitting without another job lined up is not recommended. Ever. However, you know yourself best. You know when you've had enough.
Sure, I was afraid of quitting my job without another one lined up. But I was so burned out from my corporate job.
It was to the point that it was hard to bring myself to make time to job search, update LinkedIn, edit resumes, schedule interviews, and so forth. It’s no joke when they say job searching is a full-time job.
Even without a Plan B lined up, you can still do a lot of heavy lifting in advance. So do yourself a favor and give yourself options.
Side hustle? Networking events? Personal finances in order? Do as much networking, resume/cover letter editing, and other transition-related activities possible while still having a steady stream of income.
Take care of admin in advance.
A lot of things can happen quickly and the last thing you want is to do a sloppy job on important admin work. Ultimately, you don’t want to be in a space of regret once you leave.
Some admin work that you can take care of advance is obtaining employment verification paperwork. This includes references, phone numbers, and mailing addresses.
If you don’t want people to get suspicious of your upcoming resignation plans, say it is for refinancing a loan or use a believable fig leaf.
You can also draft a resignation email so that if things heat up, you are not emotional when writing your farewell. In fact, keep it short and simple.
Here’s one that I used:
Dear (your Boss or HR manager):
Thank you for the opportunities for growth in my professional career. I have enjoyed working for (your department) and appreciate the support provided me during my time.
Please accept my resignation from my position as (your title) for (your department or company), effective (date of resignation). I will do what I can to ensure a smooth transition for the team. If I can be of any help during this process, please let me know.
Save it in draft in your inbox and focus your energy on other important matters.
2. Create a “fluid” roadmap.
What are you running towards? It’s one thing to “run away” from your current job. But if you don’t have anything to run towards, things can get tricky.
Not to say you need a solid Plan B in place but at least have productive activities planned in advance. Have a “fluid” roadmap in place so that you have some sort of direction.
Most times, when people want to leave a job, they don’t consider taking a break in-between careers. This then leads to more burn out and the cycle perpetuates.
Taking a career break is not career suicide.
Career breaks can propel you forward even further than if you were to go directly into another job.
If I hadn’t taken months off, I would not have lasted very long in my next career. I needed the time off to gain clarity on what I wanted the next chapter of my professional life to look like.
I also used the time to get my finances in order. Most importantly, I used the space to get clear on what career fulfillment meant for me. I wouldn’t have been able to find stillness and tap into my intuition if I had gone directly into another job.
Heck, I would not have been able to reach financial independence had I not taken the months off in-between my last two jobs! Kind of ironic huh?
3. Diversify your identity.
When it comes to job changes, there is usually an existential crisis that follows too. Many of us derive a sense of identity from our careers. The solution?
Diversify your identity. For instance, outside of my 9-5 job, I’m a blogger, yoga teacher, SEO nerd, Pinterest fanatic, Reiki Master, friend, mentor, entrepreneur, and so forth.
Not sure who you are without your “career identity”? No worries. Like the “fluid” roadmap, your identity evolves too.
Allot some time to job search, explore different career tracks, experiment with different side hustles, spend time with family and friends, attend networking events, travel, and so forth.
4. Get clear on your numbers.
Get your finances in order ASAP! Establish a solid financial runway and time your career pivot according to what makes most sense for you. We’ll cover more financial tips in a bit.
Understand your financial position in order to prepare yourself for the months following your resignation. This includes having a plan for debt management to planning ways to create positive cash flow.
Get clear on your short-term financial goals.
What are your short-term goals (5-10 years)? Specifically, what’s your planned timeline to re-enter the workforce? Do you plan to buy a home in which you would need more liquidity in assets for that down payment?
Have a rough idea of your long-term financial goals.
It’s hard to plan so far out in advance. Anything can happen in the next few months. But it’s still important to have a rough idea of your long-term financial goals in order to have a foundation for your future.
What are your long-term goals (10 plus years)? Do you see yourself staying in the same industry? Same city? Starting a family?
5. Build beyond an emergency fund.
Remember, it’s not just about having all kinds of (sometimes unnecessary) insurance in case the worse case scenario happens.
At the very least, have a 6-9 month emergency fund to cover basic living expenses.
Next, see if you can take it a step further.
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6. Time it based on what’s right for you.
That things can get sticky. Fast. Managers may take it personally, colleagues may feel like you’re weak sauce for abandoning ship.
Other times, people may just be jealous and take it out on you for having guts to do what they wish they longed to do. That’s why the timing of your resignation ought to be well thought out.
Sure, there is no perfect solution but what you don’t want is a long period of awkward tension or abruptly leaving people high and dry.
Figure that a middle ground.
Most people feel that two weeks advance notice is amicable but even if that’s the company’s standard, it doesn’t equate to an amicable resignation. When I gave two weeks notice at my last job, my boss asked if I would be willing to stay until the end of the month.
That would have been an extra 6 awkward hellish weeks. Some may be able to stomach that but I was not. In fact, I didn’t have much respect for her so why not twist the knife and say “hells no”?
Well without a Plan B lined up, what was the point in leaving so soon? Plus, it would only benefit me to leave on amicable terms.
So I compromised and extended an extra two weeks. She and the other managers were appreciative and the last month was nowhere near as hostile as the previous months leading up to my resignation.
If you anticipate that HR or your managers will bargain, select your resignation date according. Have a set date that you know would be the absolute last day but keep an open mind in case you need the extra padding.
7. Build a solid support network.
When I quit each time, I didn’t tell my parents and some of my closest friends. I knew that telling them I was choosing to be unemployed would lead to too much unnecessary concern and nagging.
Instead, I told them after the fact. It wasn’t easy for them to hear and accept but they eventually got it.
Having a solid support network is probably the most important yet most overlooked key to the transition. The key to getting to where you want to go in life is to be in vibrational alignment with where you want to be.
Most times we focus on tackling our challenges on a physical, emotional, and mental level. Rarely do we approach challenges from an energetic angle.
Assess the people you currently spend the most time with. Are they people who are going to support you along the journey to the next chapter in your career?
Sometimes the people we love can be emotionally depleting even if they have the best of intentions. Perhaps it’s time to set some energetic boundaries and start building a stronger support network.
BONUS: Get creative with ideas in this gig economy.
The gig economy centers around the concept of creating an income from short-term tasks. This encompasses those who are full-time independent contractors to those who moonlight by driving for Uber or Lyft several hours a week.
Are there any part-time opportunities that you may consider taking on in order to explore a different industry? Any fun side hustles you’ve been thinking about trying?
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