I just read a statistic that said more and more Americans are quitting their jobs voluntarily. In fact, the study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the number rose to 3.1 million voluntary quits, which is the highest number since December 2006.
What this means is more of us are leaving our current jobs for a better one. What it doesn’t mean is we’re all leaving the rat race.
I’m not even necessarily talking about early retirement. I’m talking about leaving a job you don’t like to pursue something you want to do. Maybe it is early retirement. Maybe it’s traveling. Maybe it’s starting your own business. Whatever it is, we’re not doing it.
Leaving one job for another, better job is good. It’ll make you happier. Especially if it’s more money, better benefits, or any of the other reasons I’m sure you’re doing it. But is it long-term? Will it create true happiness for you? I’d say not.
And here’s the thing. We all enter the rat race. We’re programmed by society to do it. Society tells us that we need to go to school, get an education, then go find a job.
We work for 40+ years, retire at 65, then spend our remaining time in a retirement community in either Arizona or Florida. That’s just what we do.
Well guess what people, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Getting another job to replace your current one can become a band-aid for a deeper rooted issue that I’ll discuss below. But one of the issues is that you don’t want to work for someone else.
You don’t want to get up every morning and bust your ass at a job that pays you less than it should. Your manager and the multitude of managers above them are getting paid while you do grunt work.
Maybe you’re a higher level manager. That’s great. But just remember you’re still in the same boat. You’re doing more work than the person above you, who also happens to be getting paid more.
So you want to know the reason why we’re leaving jobs for other jobs instead of just straight up quitting and pursuing something we love? It boils down to one thing:
We’re afraid! We’re afraid to go against the normal grain of society. We’re afraid to take risks. We’re afraid of the unknown. All that is completely normal – we’re human.
But think about it. How often do you see or hear about people quitting their jobs voluntarily to go start a surfboard rental business in Mexico? Or open a small ski lodge in Colorado? Rarely.
And that’s the point. As in every other walk of life, what few other people are able to do is what separates them from the rest of the pack.
Sure, not everyone makes it. Not everyone who quits their job will find a better solution and they may have to go back to work until they figure out their next big idea.
But guess what? They’re trying. They’ve at least taken the first step toward long-term happiness, even if it didn’t work out.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you to quit your job, no. I still work full-time. But I have started pursuing my other passions in my spare time, which I think is a start.
So instead of me telling you to go quit your job and start a hot dog business in Vero Beach, I want to help you stop living in fear of the idea of quitting.
Once you can overcome that, you’ll at least be in the right mindset. Then you can start thinking about other things to do with your life that will give you long-term happiness.
1. Stop thinking of your job as anything more than a job
We’ve all done it. We weave our work lives into our personal lives, and it causes stress, anxiety, and fear. To avoid this, you need to separate the two. Work is work, home is home.
Once you leave the office for the day, don’t think about it anymore – at all. It’s easier said than done, but if you can master this, you’re well on your way to a happier future. It’s just a job. It’s just a way to earn money – until you can do what you really want.
2. Your job is temporary
I want you to look at this from two angles. First, the angle that you can get let go at any time. I’ve seen it happen with my dad, and I’ve personally experienced an unexpected layoff.
Your job is never guaranteed to last forever. You can walk in one day and have a giant cardboard box in your office just waiting to be packed.
Or if you’re like me, you get called into a conference room with 500 other people only to find out the business is closing. You now have a couple of months to compete with everyone else for a new job in your area.
The other angle I want you to think about is that you have complete control of your own destiny. Meaning, you can quit your job at any time you want.
Sure, there are consequences and risks, but that doesn’t stop the fact that you are in complete control of this. If you hate your job and want to quit, you have the power to do so. Never forget this. Your job is temporary if you make it temporary.
3. Use your job to build your future state
Maybe your job offers some kind of training that will help you later down the road. Like training on how to communicate or have critical conversations. These are skills you’ll need if you want to start your own business anyway, so take advantage of them if you can.
Maybe your job offers technical training, too. Get brushed up on any technical skills you can – whether it’s Excel or writing code – while your company is willing to pay for it.
Keep focusing on why you’re learning these skills, too. Yes, they will most likely apply to your current job, but never lose sight of how they will help you in the future.
Notice how I said will and not can. Be confident.
4. Focus on your future every chance you get
One of my passions is writing and blogging. I work full-time and have a new baby at home, so finding time to pursue this passion is tough. But I make time.
If you want to leave the rat race the right way, meaning you’re not leaving to go to another soul-sucking job and instead leaving it to do something you love, you have to be committed and have passion.
This means sacrifice.
You may have to wake up at 5:00 AM. Or 4:00 AM if you are expecting a screaming baby around 5:30 AM. This means you may have to use your lunch break to sit in your car and work on your side hustle (which I also do).
Maybe you have to stay up late, or work on weekends. Or maybe you can carve out 15 minutes while your kids are eating to dedicate even the smallest bit of time to your passion.
The point I’m making here is your future isn’t going to just make itself, you have to make it.
You have to find time to pursue your passion while still keeping up your current obligations. You have to sacrifice – a lot. In the end, it’ll be worth it.
After reading that study, I was thrilled to see more and more of us are willing to quit our jobs. But I’ve been a part of this so-called rat race, and I know how it goes.
We tend to switch jobs (or even careers), thinking that something is going to change. We think it’s going to all a sudden get better if we find a new place to work. Sometimes it does, but I’d be willing to bet it’s still temporary.
We all have an inner-desire to do something great. We all have goals and passions. But we never pursue them.
Now is the time.
Stop living in fear of quitting your job and start doing things right now to prepare for the future you want. Maybe it’s paying off debt. Maybe it’s writing a book deep into the hours of the night while nobody else is awake.
Whatever it is, you are in control – nobody else. Now let’s get started.
Chris is the founder of Money Mozart, a blog about personal finance. He discusses frugality, minimalism, and achieving financial independence by living well below your means. He’s also an avid craft beer lover and an aspiring minimalist.