I Quit My Job to Follow My Passion (Here’s How I Pulled it Off)

I am officially a free woman. That’s right: I quit my job.

Yesterday was my last day of work as a full-time employee. I’m now my own boss, working for myself, building my own business and following my passion.

This month is just full of major announcements, isn’t it? 🙂

Don’t worry: I didn’t pull a Marina Shifrin and suddenly announce my departure through an interpretive dance video on YouTube. This was actually a very calculated move that was set in motion over two years ago.

I always knew I wanted to be my own boss. I’m a projects girl – I’m always working on something and I love finding creative ways to fix old problems. If I get passionate about an idea, I’ll pour my heart and soul into making it happen, even into the early hours of the morning. And I’ve always wanted to be the go-to expert in one particular area: empowering others to take control of their money.

But when I first entered the workforce in 2009, I felt like I didn’t have the confidence, resume or finances to venture out on my own. I was over $30,000 in debt and had hardly any credentials or experience under my belt. I had spent enough time living minimum wage that I valued my financial security above a lifestyle of creativity, control and freedom. Leaving the steadiness of a full-time job seemed like a far-off fantasy.

And yet, the desire lingered. I knew I would someday escape, so I began preparing, hoping the opportunity would present itself when I was ready.

It wasn’t until a few months ago that it all fell into place.

I knew it was time to take control of my life and quit my job.

Four things made me realize that I could (and should) make the leap. work for myself and follow my passion:

  • My financial burden was gone: by the end of 2013, I would be completely debt-free.
  • More people were approaching me outside of work for personal finance advice and projects.
  • My stress from work were at an all-time high and my mental and emotional health was deteriorating.
  • I had so many projects and ideas to help millennials and low-income families build wealth – I just didn’t have enough time.

All of the signs were telling me that it was the right time to leave.  But I had one epiphany that changed everything:

My job is not my life.

I am not what’s on my business card. I am the sum of multiple passions, interests and talents. And I wanted the creative flexibility to express and explore the world – to come up with creative solutions to financial problems and to get paid for my natural talents. My work was also consuming my entire life, creating a terrible work-life balance. I knew I would rather live a life on my own accord with some uncertainty than one that I was certainly unhappy with.

How I Quit My Job, Became My Own Boss and Followed My Passion

This move to become an entrepreneur didn’t happen overnight. In fact, I’m a terribly TERRIBLY risk averse person 🙂 But with a little planning, I was able to walk away from the workforce with confidence and purpose. Here’s the steps I knew I had to take to quit my job:

Step 1. I had to dig myself out of debt.

I made paying off my$35K in student loan debt a major priority earlier this year knowing that I could make the leap more comfortably without a monthly student loan payment holding me back.

Step 2. I saved like my life depended on it.

Once I started working full-time after college, I quickly realized that the 9-5 work world wasn’t for me and I’d need an escape. I imagined one day leaving my job to travel around the world or at least taking a few months off of the daily grind. The 22-year-old me had the foresight to start consistently saving money in a “Money to Travel the World” fund. I put away a few $100 a month toward my future freedom, and after four years of consistent savings, I had enough money to live comfortably without work for about 9 months. Once I realized that I wanted to leave the corporate world and work for myself, I decided to rename the fund and double down on my savings efforts. It’s now my “Don’t let anything hold me back” pile of money 🙂

Step 3. I hustled like my life depended on it.

Everyone can relate to being dissatisfied and frustrated with their job. But I knew that I wanted to be running toward something, not just away from it. I wanted to take a leap forward based on my experience and interest.

I’ve been working on side projects for over two years, both paid and unpaid. I’ve loved the extra experience and income that comes along with it and I knew that my success as an entrepreneur would depend directly on what I’ve worked on and with whom. Working on the side certainly made my days and weeks longer, but I got to build the experience and connections that I wanted and needed. I also have a pretty great blog today because of the extra effort 🙂

Step 4. I planned for what I could – and let go of the rest.

As talked to my close friends and family about quitting the workforce and venturing out on my own, I would get smiles, congratulations and the same question over and over again, “What about health insurance?” Yes, what about it? I’ve gotten employer-sponsored health insurance for the last few years at a rate that’s signifcantly less expensive than buying it on my own.

So I thoroughly researched my options. I could use COBRA, the new Affordable Care Act Marketplace, Private Insurance… Yes, it was going to cost more, but I had choices.

In the process of planning my escape, I had other irrational, silly moments of panic. “I can’t put in my notice until I have a printer and a scanner! I need that first!” I thought. But my lame excuses were just highlighting how uncomfortable I was with the perceived risk. That’s when I knew I had to take the final step…

Step 5. I took a leap of faith.

There is never the perfect time to completely change your life. You’ll never have the perfect moment in your life to follow your dreams. I had to stop waiting. I had prepared all I could, and now all I had to do was jump.

And I’m happy to report I survived 🙂

My Career as a Financial Empowerment Consultant

I’ve now launched my career as a financial empowerment consultant. I’ll be working on a mix of exciting projects that help people build wealth. From innovating around the student loan repayment system to helping low-income women on welfare manage their money, I’ll be doing it all. And of course, I’ll still be blogging still 🙂

Here’s to the next awesome chapter in life!

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