Jumping off a Cliff – Part 2
Yesterday, I wrote about the decision I made to leave my job. I got a lot of encouraging words and I appreciated all of them.
Today, I’m going to write about how and why I ended up keeping my day job and how it helps with my eventual goal to work for myself.
Before I explain what happened, let me offer a few pieces of advice anyone should keep in mind when they deicide it is time to leave their job.
1) Never “rage quit”
I don’t care how much your job sucks. Two weeks isn’t that long. If you did your job well and your boss could be a good reference, give notice. Even if your boss is a total asshole.
At some point, you might need another job. If you tell a prospective employer that they can’t call your last boss, that will make it that much harder to get that job.
I had been thinking about quitting for a long time. When I submitted my notice, I said I was willing to stick around for up to six weeks to help train my replacement. It meant that I was going have to wait six weeks before I started working my “real” job. But it also meant that if I needed to go job hunting again, I could list this job on a resume with the knowledge they would say good things about me to a potential employer.
Two weeks goes by quickly. Do yourself a favor and power through it.
I have burned very few bridges in my life and I’ve always come to regret making that choice.
2) Have nothing to Lose
I’d already decided to walk away from the job. When they asked me if I wanted to stay, I could tell them my terms and be completely OK with the possibility they might say no.
If they said yes, the job was more aligned with my priorities outside of the office. If they said no, I was simply going to be doing exactly what I’d already planned on doing.
3) Always do your job well – even when you don’t like doing it
When I made the decision that I wanted to quit, I also made the decision that I had to do my job as well as I possibly could because I wanted to leave on my terms and not someone else’s. I’d always done my job well so I was not deciding to do my job better. I was simply deciding that I wouldn’t allow myself to do it worse.
That way when I said I was walking away, nobody could say it was because I couldn’t do the job I was doing. I know that doesn’t sound like a big thing, but it is.
My intent had always been to leave the job but I’ll admit that I was nervous about health insurance. I felt that I could get a decent rate through the Affordable Care Act but I have two kids with Aspergers, a wife with chronic health problems and oh yeah, I have Diabetes. The medical expenses are still gong to be there and they had to be covered.
I still submitted my notice and I still fully intended to walk away from the job. But when I submitted my resignation, I was asked what needed to happen for me to stay.
I had nothing to lose. If they agreed to my requests, I’d stay in the job and have income and health insurance to support my transition. If they said no, I was going to end up exactly where I had planned.
So I told them what I needed.
I told them I needed to be allowed to engage in personal correspondence during work hours (if there was no other work to be done).
I told them that while I was willing to do many other tasks, I was not interested in the job if I was expected to make sales calls.
I told them that I needed to cut back to 30 hours so I could spend a couple days a week focused on writing, producing and performing.
I told them I needed time off (with notice) when I needed to complete a writing project, go out of town to perform or do anything else to support what I hope will be a growing list of great opportunities and projects.
And I got all of those things. And a raise.
I got them because I had nothing to lose and because I made myself valuable.
So what does this mean to my grand plan to become a full time writer and performer?
Well, my initial plan was to give myself a year to “make it work.” If I was able to progress as a writer and a performer and make money doing so, I’d get another year. If not, I’d start looking for a full time job.
By keeping my day job, I have more flexibility. I can focus hard on becoming what I want to be but avoid the stress of a self imposed deadline. I’ll still have to work very hard. But I have time to stumble a little bit. Time to learn how do to it right.
I know that this may seem like I’ve gave up on the big change and opted for a little change instead. I can tell you it doesn’t feel that way. If anything, I think I’m going to have to work harder to make sure that I’m not taking the easy path. I have to have adhere to a strict plan if I want to make things happen the right way.
And the fact is, I’ll be taking more unpaid time off of work and that money has to come from somewhere.
So what’s my plan?
1) Spend at least 2 hours writing when I’m in my home office.
2) Spend at least 1 hour working on theatrical projects when in my home office. That includes working on casting, promotion, etc. If I haven’t finished my work, I can’t move on to other things.
3) Adhere to a strict blogging schedule ever week. Writers get better when they write. Blogging is, at least in part, the kind of writing I’m interested in doing.
4) Meet with people who are doing what I want to do and ask for their advice
5) Find interesting projects. By that I mean, I need to go looking for them rather than waiting for them to land in my lap.
6) Write music at least once a month with whoever wants to write music
7) When I’m on stage, make sure that I’m in the moment and enjoying it.
8) I gotta start working out again because Diabetes. Also endorphins. Or something like that.
Does this mean that I’ve given up on my goal to do this full time? Nope. It means that I’m willing to take advantage of a good opportunity because they don’t come along too often.
My goal continues to be working for myself full time. I’ve just got a little more time to work on that goal. I plan to re-evaluate how things are going every six months to determine if it is time to transition to full time freelance work.
I’m not lucky. I don’t believe there is such a thing as luck in matters like this. I made the right decisions at the right times.
The trick at this point is to keep making good decisions.