I quit my job and broke up with my girlfriend.

What a week…

Loss Aversion and the Sunk Cost Fallacy

We hate to lose something we’re invested in.  It’s even harder to choose to walk away from a significant, complex aspect of our lives into which we’ve poured our hearts and souls.

We’ve stayed longer than we should in dead-end jobs and unhealthy relationships.  I’m not opposed to perseverance but when you know it’s time to move on you need to make the tough call and cut your losses.

Pain Avoidance

My girlfriend and I gave it our all.  We learned a lot.  We grew by leaps and bounds.  I don’t regret a minute of our time together.

But after a while I realized that I was choosing the small downsides of staying in the relationship because I was afraid to face the monster of leaving the woman I loved.

Rewind…

reach-for-the-stars-silhouette-man

I was going to change the world

A passion for learning helps but that’s not why I did so well in school.  I worked hard and got top grades because I was going to change the world.  Change the world by day and love the world by night.

Reality set in

But after college reality started to settle in.  I was crushed under the useless bore of corporate pseudo-work.  After a few measly well-paid years, I crawled home to live with my parents like the rest of my hopeless generation.

New destiny

I needed to rediscover myself and redefine my destiny.  This wasn’t your average goal-setting exercise.  This was a desperate guess-and-check of total life-perspective overhauls by a deeply wounded soul.

I started my own company and considered becoming the world’s best doctor super-dad.  I took pre-med courses at Harvard and dated a pretty pre-med student with an impressive resume.

stethoscope-book-doctor-med-school-study

At least I tried

In the end my business-partner screwed me and I realized that medicine was no different than engineering.  It was just another path of challenging classes rewarded by a life-long career of monotony and under-appreciation.

Clarity

After trying a few new dreams on for size it finally hit me.  The tiny voice of personal truth spoke up inside me.  It wasn’t loud but it was clear.

I want to live in Southern California.

santa-monica-roller-coaster-volleyball

I knew I wasn’t going to stay in my homeland ripe with massholes and horrid weather.  I missed the sunshine, beautiful fruits and wild nuts of my birthplace and destiny – Southern California.  But it took years for that quiet honest voice of clarity and certainty to whisper to a tired ear – it’s time to go.

Caulk your wagon and manifest destiny…

open-road-desert-mountains

I need a job

So there I was in Long Beach with a Camry and half a dream.  I was burning money and accruing massive debt.  I needed a job.

I’m the first to tell you why you should never get a job, but I’m also a realist.  We aren’t all starting our journey with no bills, debt-free and a trust fund from our late Uncle Moneybags.

Does anyone actually want to work?

It’s not that we don’t want to work.  We don’t want to be useless lazy dropouts.  We want to do what we want to do.  We want to do the work we want to do.

You have heard this before in many different ways.  What are you supposed to do?  Do the work you were put here to do and you align your life for success.

How to choose a career?

  1. Play – What do you enjoy?
  2. Skills – What are you good at?
  3. Bills – What pays the bills?

I enjoy

I enjoy working out, chess and web development.  That’s the short G-rated list.

I’m a great personal trainer and private sessions pay pretty well.  I beat most of the guys at the local chess club but that’s not saying much.  I’m a decent web developer and I love learning but I didn’t have any professional experience.

personal-training-barbell-hand-foot-droplets

Personal Training

I got certified as a personal trainer and started training clients at LA Fitness in Long Beach.  I loved the job and my clients loved me but it barely covered my protein shakes – even after the employee discount.  I needed more money.

Engineering in the Desert

I got an offer for am engineering job with a big corporation in the desert.  It couldn’t have been more similar to the job that crushed my soul just a few years earlier.

…I took the job.

This time would be different

I was careful to identify the key reasons this would be better than my last experience.  At the top of that list was knowing that I wasn’t going to stay, but I would give it a fair chance.  I could stay for a few years and get a free master’s degree.  It couldn’t hurt.

…It hurt.

I spent months waiting for a clearance that never came.  On the bright side, I’m the best thumb twiddler you ever did see.  Just like after my last corporate gig.

Passions don’t quit

During that time I never quit my passions.  I stayed in shape, played chess on my phone, studied and worked on web development projects like 130words.

After a few months of fair chance and crazy boredom at my job, I updated my web development resume and started responding to recruiters.

Fast forward…

I’m happy to announce

Today was my last day as an engineer at corporate.

Next week I begin my career as a professional web developer.

And I’m moving back to the beach.  ;)

santa-monica-pier-sunset

Unhappiness as motivation for change

The response to last week’s article was flattering.  We had several shares on Facebook and a small army discussing it on Reddit.  I’m getting positive feedback from old friends and complete strangers.  An old friend and mentor wrote:

Love the new blog!!!  Your writing will make a world of difference.  Spread your message to the world and the tribe will follow.

He also addressed the problem of the hour, which I face yet again this evening.  I’m tired and bored at my day job.  It’s easy to get discouraged and forget the good things a job provides.  A job may not be the best way of making money but it’s a good place to start.

Your job is an opportunity.  It’s an achievement that you’ve attained.  It alleviates the money concern.  Now you’re concerned about your health, your friends and family, your time and your life’s purpose.  Your concerns are elevated to a new level.

Don’t view your work as taking away from your mission.  It’s setting you up and will make you enjoy your journey that much more.  Be thankful for every day behind that desk.  It gets you closer to success every single day!

Another wise friend wrote a supporting message to our readers about confidence and noticing change in this process of personal development.

The changes inside of you will be noticed while you’re continuing onto your life’s work. It may come in the form of a subtle reaction that surprises you. Or a decision you make that you know you wouldn’t have made in the past.

I learned a lot last week.  I learned that great good and growth can come from opening up and being a bit vulnerable.  I was afraid to complain about my situation, recognizing how fortunate I am.  I also recognize that there’s a clear difference between whining and productive reflection on a problem I’m having.  And most of all, those ideas for solving a problem or approaching a difficult situation can inspire and be helpful to others.

So what’s eating you today?  Is there something you’d like to improve?  How are you going to approach the problem?  Could someone else learn from your approach?  How will you know until you share?

In the comments below, share your perspective or approach to solving a personal problem.  Ask yourself what you’d like to improve and use the first thing that comes to mind.  What’s the most important thing you can do in the next 24 hours?  Share with us below.

I’d like to improve how I feel about my job.

I catch myself behaving as though letting my job feel worse will help me get a new job thus solving my problem.  This is a terrible approach to improving my situation.  Letting my job feel worse will mean that I feel worse in the short term.  And crushing my spirits will not inspire me in the long run.  This behavior accomplishes nothing!

Relying on unhappiness as stimulus for positive change is unacceptable.

Make the most of where you are.  Keep a list of upsides and take advantage of them.  When you’re faced with a task you don’t want to do, be gentle.  Break it up, take baby steps and reward yourself.  Don’t stress if it’s not up to someone else’s standards – you’re not going to be stuck there much longer.  Do what you feel is right.  Don’t worry about others.  Do what makes you proud.

Your situation will improve instantly.  But don’t forget the greener pastures.  First be fair – is your job so terrible or is your perspective to blame?  If you’re job’s not so bad, coast and get to work on your dream.  If there’s something better for you out there, get to work.  Build the bridge and enjoy every step of your epic journey to a better situation.

Clarify that vision.  Set goals for improvement.  Focus your goals on self, not circumstance.  Have a plan.  Focus on high-return tasks – those are usually the ones you avoid doing.  Do one every day – put in the effort, take the risk, then you’re off the hook for the day.  Make progress every day.

No matter what you do, you are fortunate.  Take time to recognize the upsides of your situation and maximize them.  This will not prevent you from making positive change.  In fact it will boost your self-esteem and inspire you towards bigger goals than you dared dream.  Clarify the vision, set personal goals and make real progress everyday.

What situation would you like to improve?  What does improvement look like?  What are you going to do about it?  Share with us in the comments below!

Reasons You Should Never Get A Job

Having a job is the worst way to make money.

You only get paid while you’re working.

We’re encouraged by our parents to go to college and get a good job.  This is a good way to guarantee student loan debt and line you up for a midlife crisis.

No job is “good” for the rest of your life.  You’re excited now?  You’ll get over it.

If you have anything of value to offer the world, don’t get a job!  Provide.

Product or service – if it’s of value, we’ll buy it.

We don’t care how long it took you to do it.  We only care about the value we receive.  It it’s of value, we’ll pay you for it.

Don’t trade your time for money.  De-couple your value from your time.  Build a system that generates a passive income.  This can be a business, a website like this one, becoming an investor or getting royalties from creative work.  The system delivers value to customers and you get paid whether you’re at work or not.

It takes an initial investment of time and effort to build your passive income system.  You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.  Just remember to provide value.

If you don’t know how to start a business or build a website – no problem.  Learn!  Learning at a job may be useful for a minute, then it’s repetitive and useless.  Don’t get a job. Go to the library.  Or keep reading.

Yes, this all takes time.  But when you’re done, you’re free.  Instead of wasting your life away saving pennies for your midlife crisis, you’ll be working your way to financial freedom.

You like your job?  Good.  Do it because you like it.  Not because you have to.

And if you do like your job, please help me understand how your natural independent will has come to terms with obeying your master’s nonsensical rules while you trade your time for his financial gain.  Office party on his yacht?

Generate income through other means.  You can earn income by trading value – not your time.  Provide your best value and charge a fair price for it.  Start a business and do what you do best.

All you really need is the courage to be yourself.  Your value is in who you are, not what you do.  Summon the courage to express your real self to the world.

You already know deep down that you don’t want a job.  Trust your inner wisdom.  Years from now you’ll thank yourself.

This post was inspired by Steve Pavlina’s 10 Reasons You Should Never Get A Job.