Thinking About a Major Career Shift in the New Year? Here Are 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Quit My 9-5
Back in January 2013, my co-workers thought I had completely lost my marbles. I turned down a job promotion, gave back my stock options, and confidently quit my cushy corporate job. The elation I felt on my last day of work was palpable. I didn’t walk, I floated out of there, chomping at the bit and ready to crush this entrepreneur thing. In fact, I was very determined to shed any and all remnants of my corporate self. I donated all of my corporate clothes, shoes, and accessories. You could say it was my “burn the boats” moment.
What I didn’t account for was the emotional chaos that would shortly ensue: I had zero idea of what being self-employed really meant. Many years later, through a series of wall-kicking moments, small triumphs, face plants, and some wins, I’ve finally figured out my place as an entrepreneur. I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey because it’s made me a better person, but I do want to help you avoid some of the bigger pitfalls.
As I close in on my ninth year in business for myself, I’m proud to say I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. With so many people looking for ways to leave their 9-to-5s — and a steady stream of former colleagues asking me, “How did you do it? — I thought I’d save you some of those proverbial landmines and share with you the five best pieces of advice I wish I knew before I quit my job.
1. Give yourself time to transition
When I decided to quit my job, there was one thing I did right: plan my departure. Start by saving a percentage of your salary. Even better, start a side hustle. Think about how you’re spending your time after work: It’s easy to unwind with Netflix every night, but what if you applied that time to build your side hustle for one or two hours a night? What would that look like after six months? Small, incremental steps are all it takes. Be consistent. By doing this, you’ll develop your confidence as an entrepreneur while still maintaining the safety net of a job.
2. Learn from folks who have done it before
Four months after quitting, I wasn’t producing the results I thought I would. Because of that, I was in a perpetual state of panic and worry. The following month, I attended a conference and met a few successful entrepreneurs that helped change my entire outlook.
I shared with one entrepreneur that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to replace my income.
“Do you have money coming in?” he asked me.
“Yes,” I said, “And I have some savings, but still, I’m worried.”
“There’s nothing to worry about,” he said, “Entrepreneurs create new money.”
This was a huge epiphany. At my job, I simply got my paycheck every pay period without fail. But in entrepreneurship, we get to decide what we want to create, and there is no ceiling to what we can create. Once I realized that the limitations were self-imposed, everything changed. Six months later, I had replaced my income. Find ways to be around people who are where you want to be, doing bigger things — and learn from them.
3. Invest in yourself
One of the best books I’ve read is Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker, in which he encourages people to invest 10% of their income into their personal growth. This is something that I’ve done every year since starting my business. Through courses, coaching, and masterminds, I’ve grown in ways that I cannot even express. The best ROI is when you invest in yourself and you grow from it.
4. Stop learning and start doing
When I first started my business, I got into learning mode, which was good, but… then I stalled out for a while. One pitfall that isn’t often discussed: learning can be self-sabotaging. Hear me out, because I know that’s a controversial statement. Learning can be a pitfall when you’re not applying what you’ve learned. Action is the difference maker, and action can be uncomfortable. Since our reptilian brain’s job is to keep us safe, we sometimes retreat to “safety mode” by avoiding perceived danger. This safety mode can lead to procrastination, self-sabotage, and delayed progress. Check in with yourself, recognize this broken strategy, and move beyond it. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Sure, you may experience setbacks, but you will grow immensely in this process. Taking action is a surefire recipe for building your confidence, tenacity, and ultimately the results you are seeking. Just stay the course.
5. Consider a coach
One of the pitfalls of going against the societal grain and quitting a “secure” job is that people around you will probably not understand. Your well-intended family and friends will undoubtedly have some (negative) opinions and feel compelled to tell you what you should be doing. The problem is that they are projecting their worldview onto you. They are working from their perspective and life experience. Unless they are, in fact, where you want to be, I would heed caution on these opinions. In order to gain proper direction and support, consider hiring a coach. A great coach will help you articulate your vision, set goals, and work through challenges. This is the objective support that will help you move through these new experiences in a productive way.
Patty Dominguez is a Positioning Marketing Expert and Business mentor. She hosts a business membership called Prolific Cafe serving female entrepreneurs all over the globe. Her passion is helping her members create their Category of One and build a profitable business. You can stay up to date with her journey over at PositioningtoProfit.com.
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