I’ve been there. And you have too. Having such a terrible day at work you’re ready to just quit your job and move on with life.
But lots of people who quit their job find themselves asking: now what?
If you quit your job (or you’re thinking about quitting your job) and you’re not sure what to do next, then I’ve got some advice for you in this article.
- Quitting your job can be stressful and scary, don’t worry, there is a world of opportunity out there for your to explore
- Consider your different options, there are a lot of them, don’t feel overwhelmed, see what works best for you
- You are not your work. Say it with me, “I am not my work.”
In 2017, I left my job to run my then-side-business full-time.
So I know a thing or two about “what’s next” once you no longer have a “day job.” Here’s what I recommend:
1. Assess Your Situation
Before anything else, we need to assess your situation. Just because you quit your job, doesn’t mean all of the advice in this article will be perfect for your circumstances.
For example, if you quit your job with zero financial cushion just because you were tired of working, that presents a completely unique scenario compared to someone who quit their job with a 12-month financial runway.
Do I need to rush into a new job quickly?
Answers to this question will vary based on a number of factors including:
- If you have other people depending on your income (family, kids, etc.)
- If you have a partner with steady income
- If you have a financial “runway” or savings in the bank
These, of course, are not all the questions you should ask yourself.
But, in asking “what now?” after quitting your job, this first step is the most simple:
If you can’t financially afford to survive (food, a place to live, etc.) without a job, then the only option is to get another job as quickly as possible.
At least for now.
Important Note: The rest of this article will assume you do NOT have to rush into a new job immediately.
You may have a partner willing to support you while you figure out what’s next. Or you may have enough savings in the bank to take some time off until the next chapter of your career.
Either way, the advice in the rest of this article is for people who have a bit more flexibility and are not putting themselves or their family in financial trouble by delaying getting another job.
2. Take a Breath
Since you have a little flexibility on what happens now that you’ve quit your job, it may be important to just “take a breath.”
It can be easy to panic when you quit your job.
But I’ve seen close friends completely freak out and take another job just to turn around and hate that job even more less than a year later.
So instead of panicking, take a breath.
Slow down. Sleep on it. And remember this important advice from author Chris Guillebeau:
If you were employable once, you’ll be employable again in the future.
There’s no major rush to figure out “what now?” And, in fact, rushing into the next thing might just land you right back where you are.
Of course, I don’t recommend you “take a breath” for months or years, but a few days or even a week or two could add up to giving you some real clarity on what happens after you quit your job.
3. Consider your options
Once you’ve had a moment to pause, it’s time to consider your options for what’s next.
Sure, you could just go get “another job” but don’t you run the risk of just hating your job and wanting to quit again a year from now?
Instead, here are a few things you could try:
Freelancing is growing fast, with millions of people opting to take 1099 jobs instead of work as full-time employees.
That’s because getting started as a freelancer is incredible simple—and often pays very well.
If you can perform a service people will pay for, you can freelance.
Of course, this includes some of the most common freelancing jobs like writing, graphic design, or development. But there are lots of way more unique freelance jobs too.
In essence, if you can provide a service people are willing to pay for, you can be a freelancer. And you’re not any more tied down to a contract job as a freelancer than you are to a traditional job. If you need to quit a contract job because it’s not a right fit, there’s nothing stopping you.
Start a Microbusiness
Similar to freelancing, starting your own (very) small business is a great option if you’ve quit your job and are wondering “what now?”
I’m not talking about a full-fledged small business that requires a business loan, an in-depth business plan, and a large leased office space.
That’s always an option later.
But what I’m referring to is a microbusiness.
A microbusiness is a small-scale enterprise operated by a single individual or a small team, typically with limited resources and low operational costs.
What’s great about starting a microbusiness is it doesn’t usually require startup capital or investors of any kind. Often-times all you need is an idea and a computer and you can make it happen. You don’t even necessarily need to be an expert in anything yet.
That’s what I did when I left my full-time job: I started a microbusiness. And I’m still running one today. It gives me the flexibility to enjoy life while still making pretty good money.
Try the Gig Economy
If you’d like the flexibility of working for yourself, but want help finding clients and booking work, then the gig economy may be a good fit for you.
The Gig Economy spans an extremely wide array of options including dog walkers, delivery drivers, personal shoppers, and tons more.
Typically, to engage in the gig economy, you join a company like Lyft or Instacart as an independent contractor and then begin taking “gigs” through their apps.
The nice thing about becoming a gig worker is you can take on as much or as little work as you choose—which leaves you with tons of flexibility to only do work you enjoy on the schedule you want.
Take Part-Time Work
Finally, if all of the previous options sound too entrepreneurial for you, that’s ok.
As I once heard podcaster and entrepreneur Chase Reeves say: “Just because you hate your job, doesn’t mean you’re an entrepreneur.”
There’s nothing wrong with working for someone else full- or part-time. If that describes you, then you should consider taking part-time work while you figure out what’s next.
The nice thing about part-time work is it helps you bolster up your finances while still having time to figure out the long-term plan for what’s next in your career.
4. Make a Plan
Now that you’ve explored a few more options, it’s time to actually make a plan.
Maybe, like me, you’ve been making a plan on the side for years just waiting for the moment you could quit your job.
Or maybe you quit your job without a plan and have no idea what to do now.
But the time will come, either way, that you’ll need to actually formulate a plan and move forward with it.
What if I don’t make a plan?
Of course, you could just take your chances and see what life throws your way. And while there is definitely some charm and excitement to that route, consider where that method has gotten you so far:
Quitting your job and asking “what now?”
Lucky for you, if you crave less structure and bit more adventure, many of the options I’ve outlined still provide that for you.
Freelancing, for example, brings with it a whole host of unique, different and challenging experiences that change on a daily basis.
Starting and growing a business is anything but boring.
I’m not saying you have to have the next 20 years of your life planned out. What I am saying is: you need a plan.
What will you do tomorrow? And the next day? And maybe next week and next month now that you’ve quit your job?
Even if that plan is: “I will travel part-time while getting freelance jobs on Upwork” or “I will sleep all day and drive Lyft all night in Las Vegas for the next year”…you know what:
Go for it.
5. Remember, Work Doesn’t Define You
Above all, remember: you are NOT your job.
You are so much more than that. You’re a human being with real passions and emotions.
You were not put on this earth solely to sit at work and make money for someone else.
You were meant to live.
So…if today is the day you quit your job and are wondering “now what?” or if that day is still in the future for you, remember:
You are not your job.
And you’ve got this.
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