Recently, I celebrated my 8th year being out of the corporate world.
September 30, 2011. That was my last day at work.
It’s amazing how life’s twist and turns can bring you to beautiful experiences and destinations.
It’s easy to look back now and connect the dots. But truth be told, I was scared back then.
I can still remember like yesterday, the self-doubts and sleepless nights I was feeling.
“Kaya ko ba to?”
“Itutuloy ko na ba talaga?”
“Posible ba talagang mabuhay na hindi aasa sa trabaho?’
You see, I turned over my resignation 3 months prior to my last day.
My employer requested to have a 90-day notice because the project we were working on was critical, and they wanted to have more time to look for someone to replace me.
Not wanting to cause too much trouble, I obliged with their condition. I was on a contract anyway, and the last day at work would be exactly the day my contract ends.
Looking back over the past 8 years, I’ve learned so much about the intricacies of deciding to quit your job. To celebrate, I’d like to share the top 8 things you need to know before you quit your job. It might help you decide if you are contemplating about leaving the comforts of your corporate career.
1) Yes, it’s possible.
Yes, it’s possible to live a life without a job.
It’s possible to do it on your own. It’s scary. It’s uncomfotable.
And if you have hesitations, understand, that how you are feeling is very normal.
A month before I was about to render my last day at the office, I learned that my wife and I were expecting our first baby. I was so happy and excited at the same time. But at the back of my mind, I hesitated whether to push through with my resignation or not.
It’s easy to make a decision if you’re only thinking about yourself.
But when you start being responsible for another person’s life? That’s a different story.
I asked my wife one last time whether to push through or not, and she simply answered,
“ikaw? kaya mo pa ba ng isa pang taon na ganon pa rin ang sitwasyon?”
She was referring to the stress and restlessness I was feeling. It’s been years of me contemplating whether to resign or not. I knew I was no longer growing in my IT career. I’ve been doing the same thing for 9 years.
I knew all the ins and outs of the system I was working on. I love the work, but I feel I am no longer learning anything new. On top of that, my stress was mostly due to dealing with bureaucracy and office politics. There were instances where I simply wanted to have more time in my life.
One thing I disliked is the feeling of being bullied. When they say you have to work on a weekend or you have to do overtime work, or increase the workhours to compete with other companies, you simply had no choice but to go with the flow.
What other option could you have?
Complain? Whine? Quit?
I really felt it was now or never. I could no longer stay and endure for another year.
Finally, I did it. And I never looked back.
2) There’s no such thing as a safety net
“When do you know? When do you know you can already quit your job?”
I often get asked this question.
Some recommend having at least 6 months worth of monthly expenses. Others say 3 months.
Some say you have to have a business that’ earning at least your monthly income from your job. Or double that.
In my years of seeing people resign, I learned that there is really no safety net.
It’s only in your mind.
The simple answer to when should you resign is, “WHEN YOU ALREADY HAVE THE GUTS TO DO IT!”
I think that for most people, the problem is not in the amount, but in their thinking.
When you are too afraid to fail, the tendency is that you will always be in a state of half-hearted commitment.
One foot is out of the door. The other stays inside.
Am I saying that you should resign without a safety net? Not really.
But I have seen people without a safety net do it, and still become successful.
I have also seen people who have lots of savings, managed to spend it all and then later on returned to their jobs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Don’t let anyone else decide for you. Not even me.
Only let someone else decide for you, if they are also willing to pay your bills when you fail.
You see, it’s easy to give advice. But the true test is in realizing that we all have different situations. Different mindsets. Different paradigms when it comes to money. Some are too afraid. Some are reckless. Some overthink and when they finally decide, it only takes a day or two to change their minds.
Be responsible for your own choices. Be it good or bad. Whether it leads to success or failure.
Never explain and never complain. As they say, “SUCCESS REQUIRES NO APOLOGIES. FAILURE PERMITS NO ALIBIS.”
I have tried to live with that mantra and it has allowed me to accept both the good and bad parts of my journey outside of the corporate world.
3) Start small. Fail more. But more importantly, start now.
Can you do business part-time? Of course.
Is it easy? Of course not.
But nothing worthwhile comes easy anyway.
The tragedy for most people is they are always waiting for something.
Some people say, “saka na…” and follow up with their favorite excuse.
“Saka na, pag naging manager na ako.”
“Saka na, pag nanganak na si misis.”
“Saka na, pag nag-aral na mga bata.”
“Saka na, pag tapos na sila pag-aaral”
Before you know it, time has passed. 5 years. 10 years. 20 years.
“Saka na” becomes “Sayang na.”
If you’re going to do it, understand that in the beginning you are probably going to fail. That’s simply the law of life. Before you learned how to walk, you first failed taking your first step so many times. What did you do when you were a baby? You simply dusted yourself off, stood up and tried again. Tried again. Tried again and again, until you finally managed to take a walk and not fall down.
That’s simply how we learn as a human being. So if you are contemplating doing something on the side, the perfect time to try it is when you are still employed. I know. I know. You say, you don’t have time. And that’s certainly true to a certain extent.
You will have to make some choices on how to spend your extra time. Are you going to use it scrolling on your Facebook or Instagram feed? Or spending it working on your side hustle.
I have learned from Carlo Ople, VP of PLDT and sneakerhead Youtuber about the 7-1 principle. He says to work on your job from 9-to-5pm, but do your hustle from 7pm-1am.
Take a moment to think. Last night at 7pm, what were you doing? Perhaps you were in a commute. Were you listening to something worthwhile? An audio book about your side hustle perhaps? Or were you just “waiting” for your time to get home?
You have to trust yourself, that you will learn what you need once you start doing. As they say, “experience is the best teacher.” So get more experiences. Get more failures. Because one day, those lessons will turn your failures into a huge success.
Start now. Don’t wait. Don’t wait for retirement before you make your first mistake. Do it now. Do it while you’re still young.
They say it’s best to fail before you reach 30. Because then, you still have a lot of time to get back up. If you’re a little older like me, just know that people say “life begins at 40.” But if you are still not convinced, simply think of Colonel Sanders of KFC. He failed 1,009 times selling his chicken recipe before succeeding. He started his business at the age of 65. Age doesn’t matter unless you make it one.
4) Apply for loans before you quit your job.
This is one recommendation I learned from Jomar Hilario, the Virtual Career trainer who is also a former IT professional just like me. Get housing loans or car loans before you resign from your job. I realized afterwards why he recommends it.
You see, when you are working for yourself as self-employed or a small business owner, the bank won’t lend you money unless you can give them proof that you can pay it back. To evaluate your credit worthiness, they will ask for you business’ financial statement. Normally it would be about 2 to 3 years worth of financial history of your business. If you are just starting, you might not have this yet.
You can have your loan approved faster if you are still employed. Even if you are earning more income in your business than you do in your job, your loan may still not be approved for the sole reason that business income tends to fluctuate. The bank considers this risky. Being employed for a multinational company is less risky for they are actually betting not on you but on your company’s ability to give you the income to pay the loans.
It’s not fair, but that’s the reality we are living in. Of course, after sometime when your business is already 2 to 3 years old, you will then have the history and financial statements to back you up. I guess, it’s not really a problem when you want to pay in cash because you have a lot of income. But for big ticket items where you need to take out a loan from the bank, this is something you will have to think about.
5) The change is more than the money.
When I resigned, I underestimated the changes that were about to come.
Most people think that when you shift from being an employee to an entrepreneur, that the only thing changed is how you earn money. That maybe the farthest thing from the truth.
Soon you will realize that there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Simple things like when people ask you, “what do you do?” When you are employed, it’s a simple question to answer, you simply reply with your job, “e.g. IT consultant”
But once you are on your own, it gets tricky. In the beginning, it’s hard to explain. There’s a split second of hesitation, not wanting to sound too complicated. Once you finally embrace your new identity, you simply say “I am a businessman.”
To which a new question will probably pop up like, “what’s your business?” and the conversation will go through all the things that is relatively new to you. You grapple with words.
You can no longer introduce yourself as an IT consultant because you are no longer working as such. Much of our identity is tied to what we do. That’s why a lot of people start to have an identity crisis early in their journey.
There’ also the change in emotions you go through once you realize that you are no longer what you used to be. Your social circle will change. You will spend a lot more time with new friends, a lot less (if not totally rare) with your friends who are still employed.
You will observe later on that you no longer concern yourself with the same things as your friends. You no longer care about promotions, politics or tsimis. You simply want to have conversations about life in general.
6) The hardest part is dealing with your self-doubts
You start to question whether you made the right decision or not.
You start to question whether you can really make it or not.
Now that you are finally free, you are excited, but afraid at the same time.
Excited because it’s a new world out there waiting for you to explore.
But afraid too because your brain is telling you it’s dangerous outside of your comfort zone.
You are afraid what other people might say.
You are afraid what if you fail.
You are afraid what if you succeed.
Yes, some people are more afraid of success than failures.
You say, “what if I become successful and I will become a bad man?”
You say, “baka maging mayabang na ako”
You say, “baka tama sila, ‘others’ na ako.”
You are starting to get out of the feeling of “security.”
You are starting to move into the feeling of “freedom.”
What’s more important for you? The feeling of comfort and security?
Security. That’s what you feel whenever you earn your monthly paycheck.
Freedom. That’s the feeling you get when you are now finally in control with what you do with your TIME, MONEY and ENERGY.
7) Being on your own means you are 100% responsible.
One of the hardest things you will have to accept is in being 100% responsible for your life.
When you are employed, you can always defer responsibility.
You might say, “that’s not my job.”
Or “kasalanan ni x, kasi pinabayaan niya yan”
Or “si boss kasi, or si ano kasi”
The challenge is that when you are on your own, there’s no one you can defer responsibility to.
The sooner you accept this fact, the sooner you can utilize this great power.
It’s hard at first because you will be the one to decide what to work on, when to work and with whom you want to work with. At times, it can be overwhelming, making so many choices suddenly.
That’s why a lot of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have the same wardrobe every day. They call it decision fatigue. Apparently choosing what to wear each day can put a damp into your mental energy. This energy saved can help you make better decisions that matter more, like whether to fire thousands of your people or come up with a solution that does not involve firing people.
8) There is no substitute for hardwork
I can still remember the first day I was finally out of the corporate world.
I thought there will be fireworks. Or it would feel really great.
The truth is, I felt sick. It took me 2 weeks to recover.
It’s as if all of my stress for the past 9 years suddenly came out.
It’s surreal to think that it’s already been 8 years since that day.
But I never regretted that decision.
Yes, there have been moments when I thought of going back.
Yes, there were moments when I did try to go back.
I applied for a job, but it didn’t push through for one reason or another.
Eventually, when I decided to no longer go back, I simply said, “if I am not going back anyway, might as well make whatever I am doing now work.”
I remember a story where a friend of mine, after being in business for a few years went back to visit her former boss. Her boss congratulated her and said, “I am happy that it worked for you.” To which she said, “of course sir, it worked for me because I worked hard for it.”
There is no substitute for hardwork. Whether you work at a job or being your own boss or building your own business, or expanding your sales career, it really does require hard work. Lots of hard work. Hard work that makes you cry at night. Hard work that makes you want to give up. Hard work that makes all worth it in the end. They say, “easy come, easy go.” When you work hard for it, you will keep it.
Be prepared to work hard. But do remember that nothing goes to waste. There will be moments when you question yourself whether what your doing even matters, or making a difference to other people. When that happens, take a moment to breath. Say to yourself, “what I am doing makes a difference.”
Be a difference maker. You will never know until you try. So take a deep breath. Take courage. Pursue your bliss with a heart.
P.S. If you are contemplating building a side hustle or you are working your way out of the corporate world. Let’s connect and explore the idea together. Perhaps my 8 years of experience might be of help to you. CLICK HERE to message me.
P.P.S. When I was working as IT consultant in Malaysia, one of the hardest part was not being able to attend seminars in the Philippines related to business or other side hustles. That’s when I learned about the Truly Rich Club. If you’re based abroad or in the province and want to have access to materials to learn more about building a side hustle, you can join the Truly Rich Club.