Three years ago on January 6th 2014, I quit my job; it was just four weeks after I’d been offered my first six-figure salary.
My manager handed me the letter that day and there it was, right in front of me and clear as day. Your annual remuneration is now $103,000.
I should have been ecstatic … but I wasn’t.
As a country boy growing up in his teens, I’d had the audacious goal many years before that one day I’d reach a six-figure salary. I didn’t know how I’d do it, I just knew that I would.
In 2013 I reached my goal, it had taken just seven years. I had moved from small town to big city and at the age of 28 I’d reached my goal. But this isn’t a self-indulgent story to brag and make you jealous, in fact it’s the exact opposite.
The truth was that for the past 18 months I’d viciously hated my job. Was I depressed? It’s safe to say that I really wasn’t sure anymore, but the job had certainly taken its toll on me.
What was more confusing was that I’d reached my goal, but I wasn’t happy when I got there. I didn’t understand why. It sounds cliché but truth be told, money isn’t everything.
Identifying the root cause
At the time I was working shift work for a bank which meant I was often working alternate hours to family and friends.
For two out of every four weeks, the most I’d see of my wife was a brief kiss on the forehead to say “goodbye” as she hurried off to work and as I tried to catch up on my sleep.
I often asked myself, “Why am I spending more time with colleagues than I was with my own family?”
The truth was that I’d been employed to work in a global business, within a brand new team, to create and mature the capabilities of a global IT security response team. Sounds impressive huh?
But putting it simply, it was us against the hackers in a game which is incredibly challenging for any business to win. I wanted to foster an environment where we at least had a chance but I soon realized that our best response was to raise a white flag.
As I grew to understand the organisation I realized that our goal wasn’t to make the business more secure, we were simply ticking audit boxes that had little to no impact on overall security posture. It was deflating.
Managers were inexperienced struggling to provide direction, accountability or even understand the issues at hand. It was like playing in a professional sports team that didn’t want to win any games with coaches who had never played the game.
It wasn’t challenging, I couldn’t innovate and I wasn’t inspired in any way about my day. I wondered whether the legacy of my life was to live an unfulfilled life?
It was like playing in a professional sports team that didn’t want to win any games with coaches who had never played the game.
Inspiring the change
In those last 18 months of the job I’d started to seriously consider my career path. Was this really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life? What was I passionate about?
I really didn’t know anymore.
I started reading books like the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, The Art of Non Conformity by Chris Guillebeau and Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk.
My morning ritual in the office started by reading inspiring stories from this very site while trying to hide what was on my screen from my boss.
If you’re at work right now doing the exact same then just know that you do have a choice, there is a way out.
Regardless, my eyes had been opened, what these resources taught me was huge.
They taught me:
- That it’s not unreasonable to seek a flexible lifestyle where family, travel and work can integrate seamlessly.
- They taught me the importance of time and flexible working arrangements. Why travel for three hours, to and from work, if you can do it all from home? Why work 9–5 if you work better from 2–10?
- They taught me to value my time and that 40–60 hours of time was more valuable than what I was currently being paid for it.
- These books also taught me about online business, affiliate advertising and many other alternative ways of generating an income online.
I knew the only pathway forward was to start my own online business.
So how did I quit my job?
On December 6th 2013, I handed in my resignation and gave my four weeks’ notice, this was just one month after my wife had quit her job too.
(One Friday afternoon prior, after another bad week for both of us, I made a bet with my wife that she wouldn’t go back to work on Monday and quit her job. She did quit her job and she did win that bet.)
Looking back the decision to quit my job seems so much easier than it actually was, but in reality losing two incomes ($170k+) is a very scary decision.
When you have children, mortgages, car loans, and many other factors the decision becomes that much harder.
I hope to inspire you by highlighting the changes I made in my own life.
1. Start saving ASAP
It all started with my wife and I saving money religiously so that we had something to sustain us for a period of time post quit.
We realized that what we needed to live and to make us happy was a very small number of items and it became very easy to say no to bright shiny items that caught our attention.
We also made the decision to sell our house as we felt the mortgage was restricting our ability to make the right decisions about our lives.
Using this approach we had enough savings to sustain ourselves for 12–24 months without any extra income.
2. Reduce your possessions
You might think that you own your possessions but more often than not your possessions can own you. The more you have the harder it is to let go and the more easily they can affect your decisions in life.
Look around your house and think to yourself “how much of this do I actually use?”
We realized that in most cases the reasons we bought new “things” was not because we actually needed them, but because they were a treat for getting through one more week of a job we hated so much.
The once president of Uruguay José Mujica says it best, “When you buy something, you’re not paying money for it. You’re paying with the hours of life”.
Life and time is a finite resource for all of us, we can’t make more of it.
We began to eliminate everything in our lives that we weren’t using, didn’t make us happy or had a negative impact on our time. We were inspired by a minimalist approach. Remember, if you want a flexible life, with more travel and freedom, then you should only carry what is necessary.
3. Develop your side hustle
If you want to be your own boss there is no better time to start a business on the side. The more effort you put in outside of your 9–5, the better position you’ll be in to make the transition comfortably.
You don’t have to sell your house or get rid of your possessions like I did, but that may mean it might take you a little longer before you’re ready.
You can’t be the kind of person that comes home and binges on NetFlix because you’re “tired” or “you don’t have any time”.
If you’re going to build a business or be your own boss then it takes hard work, so start working after your kids go to bed or for a few hours before you normally wake up.
You’ve got to find the time, excuses will only hold you back.
From the moment I finished dinner and often until the early hours of the morning, I was working on my side business and mastering my craft. At times I was running on five hours sleep or less, it will be a grind at times.
I failed numerous times before I found success.
4. Ignore the gatekeepers
At times the path less followed means you’ll be going it alone. Choosing a life of uncertainty versus one of security is often misunderstood by those around you.
If starting your own business was easy then everyone would be doing it but the truth is that most people are afraid to try.
Many of your family and friends will likely encourage you towards a path of conformity and security simply because it’s what they know and understand. Know that their fears come from a good place and wanting the best for you but you can’t let their fears hold you back from your own dreams.
Steve says it best.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. — Steve Jobs.
What happens when you master these techniques?
Well, that’s up to you.
Just three months after I quit my job my wife and I moved to Port Douglas in Australia, typically termed a holiday destination, for twelve of the best months of our life thus far.
We rented within a 5-star hotel with our own swim-up pool deck for less than what we’d paid to rent in a big city, it was surreal. We lived within five minutes walk of one of the world’s best beaches.
In that time we also spent a month living in Tokyo while at the same time running and growing a thriving online business.
Now back in the big city, due to family reasons, and two years on, I’m the owner of a successful online marketing business called PixelRush. I work from home with a virtual team, avoiding the commute, while helping clients build profitable online businesses.
The money I make in a day now frequently outweighs the money I could make in a month. It hasn’t always been easy, it’s a roller-coaster journey, but the life I now have is a life that’s worth living.
So what are you going to do?