After working as an accountant for over a decade, I decided to quit and follow my husband to a new state. I’m the breadwinner for our family, so making this decision meant I needed to prepare and create a plan that would help us make a smooth transition.
Here are the steps to take if you’re dreaming of quitting your job and following your dreams, whether it’s in 2016 or any year.
1. Come to Grips With Your Dream’s Cost
The first step to quitting your job and following your dreams is to know all of the costs associated with this goal. How will you hit your target if you don’t know what it is? Sit down, and make a list of what you want to do. Make sure to specify how much each thing will approximately cost to accomplish.
For example, since you want to quit your job, you’ll have to replace your income to at least the amount you’re currently earning in order to keep your finances on track. Otherwise, you’ll have to seriously cut back on certain expenses in order to ensure your bills are paid on time.
In the event you want to move to a new city, you’ll have to research the cost of living, what expenses you’ll have to pay to move and what the local economy is like. Depending on where you want to live, you may or may not be able to afford it based on your current income. It’s important to know all of this up-front so you can establish a successful escape plan.
2. Pay Off Your Debts
Once you learn how much your dream career costs to achieve, it’s time to assess your finances and debts. Do you know what your monthly expenses are, or your debt balances and other financial obligations? How much money do you bring in every month?
There are only two ways to become financially stable: spend less or earn more. Oftentimes, spending less is a bit easier than finding extra time to earn more money, so we’ll start with this step.
Once I realized I wanted to quit my job and start my own business, the first thing I did was add up all my debts. It came out to just over $14,000, consisting of a car loan and credit card debt. Next, I added up my take-home pay and monthly expenses.
I looked for areas I was willing to cut back on spending, and then made a few sacrifices for a short period of time. It was worth it to reach my goal. Being your own boss comes with a lot of ups and downs, so paying off debt and getting control of your spending is essential!
3. Launch a Side Hustle
What can you do on the side of your day job to make more money? Do you have a lesser-known skill you can promote for extra money? Can you start freelancing or working on weekends?
Try different things to earn additional money outside of your 9-to-5 job. Turn your hobby into a side hustle by launching a simple website. Use places like Etsy or eBay to sell goods, or register for freelance sites to promote your services.
When I was preparing to quit my job and start my own business, I applied for a night/weekend job at a local tax office where I worked in addition to my accounting day job. This helped jumpstart my goals so I could pay off all my debts and save money towards my “quitting” fund.
4. Create an Escape Plan
As you begin the process of quitting your job, you need an escape plan, but you also don’t want to burn any bridges. A successful escape plan utilizes your current assets and has several contingency plans in the event that emergencies come up.
Likewise, your own escape plan should come with a back-up plan. Don’t be afraid to lean on your family and friends for support, and continue building positive relationships with your coworkers and boss. You never know—these contacts could become some of your first clients, so continue to foster those relationships.
Finally, give your boss plenty of notice before you decide to quit. I actually handed in my “two weeks notice” four months before I was officially going to quit. Your boss will appreciate any extra notice that you give him or her, and you’ll be able to set a solid foundation before taking the leap.
5. Leave Your Anxiety at the Door
A new career or a new city can seem intimidating and scary, but you can’t let your fear of the unknown sway your determination for reaching your goals. You’ll regret your decision to not pursue your dream more than you will if you left your job and followed your heart.
That’s it. Determine how much your dream will cost. List out all of your debts. Calculate your total monthly income and expenses, and make sure you meet them, even if it means cutting back on spending, taking on additional jobs or launching a side hustle to earn more money. Keep an eye on your debt, reduce your expenses, and—perhaps above all else, even when things are going smoothly—don’t forget to breathe.
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