Checklist: If and When Should I Quit My Job to Follow My Passion?

I think it’s pretty safe to say that A LOT of people are miserable at their jobs. You just don’t ever hear phrases like, “I just cannot wait for this weekend to be over so I can get into work.” Yet, we spend a huge chunk of our lives working at jobs that don’t make us happy or fulfill us in any way. How does this happen?

I can’t hep but think a huge cause is the fact that we are made to choose our future career path at the wise old age of 18. When you’re 18, what do you believe will make your future self happy? For me, it was money. I decided to get a business degree because I figured that would earn me the highest income. I struggled through four years of Accounting, Finance, and Quantitative Statistics (did I mention I’m terrible at math?) just so that I could get an entry level job and climb the corporate ladder like it has been engrained in me to do. So now you find yourself in a career with no meaning, you’re depressed and you hate everyone. Now what? Should I quit my job to follow my passion? Here are some things to consider:


Do you think its just normal to be unhappy?

“But everyone hates their job.”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this. Yes, it’s called work for a reason, but don’t fall into the mindset that it’s unrealistic to actually wake up and be excited about the day ahead. Having to dread each day is exhausting, and will break you down both mentally and physically. If you find your job is wearing you out so much that you can’t enjoy the time you’re NOT working, then it’s time to assess what changes need to be made in order to make your quality of life better.

Is it just about the money?

Many people’s greatest complaint about their job is that they’re underpaid. The important question to ask yourself is, if I was making 20% more, would I be happy?  If the answer is yes, then you just may be in the right job, but you need more compensation. Research to see if you’re actually underpaid. If even doubling your income wouldn’t make you more satisfied with what you’re doing, or if you wouldn’t want your boss’ job, then you’re likely in the wrong place. For most people who aren’t satisfied with their work, it seems to be a lack of enrichment as opposed to actual riches that causes them to be dissatisfied.

Are you not learning or growing?

One of the number one factors associated to happiness is feeling as if you are making progress and growing. If you feel like your job has become boring and you’re not being challenged, it’s vital that you ask for a new position within your company or find a new opportunity that will help you to build new skills. It’s also important to assess your long-term goals in life and what will bring you real meaning. Does your current job help you to reach these things or does it really just hold you back? Keep your standards for yourself high – remember, we live the life we think we deserve. Make your happiness a priority.

quit your job for your passion

Is it simply fear keeping you in the same place?

This is likely, and it’s understandable. It’s scary to leave a place of comfort and certainty – but think about it, is even your job right now certain? You could get laid off or fired at any moment. It’s never going to be the “right” time to leave your job, but know that changing your situation is extremely empowering. Fear paralyzes us and leaves us feeling helpless, but without taking ACTION, your life is never going to be able to change for the better. A huge lesson for me was understanding that the only difference between fear and excitement is the word you use to describe it – so why not try being excited about change instead of being fearful, and see the difference it makes.

Ask Yourself: Will you ever be fully satisfied with your life if you keep working this job? Will you ever be satisfied if you don’t take a real shot at living your dreams?

Before you quit

Can this job be saved?

There are no doubt risks associated with leaving your job, like screwing up relationships or your resume, and lost income. Try sitting with your boss to discuss how you could potentially expand, change roles, or address issues that are causing you distress. If the meeting leaves you feeling even more helpless and depressed, plan your next move while maintaining a super positive attitude about your current position (I know, easier said than done).

Instead of bitching and complaining every day, try staying positive. Be grateful that you have the resource to provide the cushion you’ll need for when you’re ready to leave if you need to take an initial pay cut or some time off. Being negative nancy all day is exhausting, and will leave you no energy at the end of the day to pursue your true passion.

So what IS your passion?

Sometimes your “passion” isn’t necessarily going to be what results in your main source of income… at first. That’s why it’s important to keep your job while exploring what your passion is, but be truly dedicated to putting aside time each day to figuring it out. Focus on being very curious about as many things that interest you as possible, and ask yourself some of these questions:

If I didn’t care what anyone thought, I would…..

If I could be sure I’d do it right, I would….

What do I love to talk about, learn about or teach others about?

Observe what makes you happy, and realize that it may just start as a hobby. It’s easy to romanticize a “dream job” – maybe being a fashion photographer, without knowing how difficult it is to try and get clients, or the kind of jobs you’ll have to do starting out (like assisting by holding light reflectors- not very glamorous). Try to spend as much time in the field of your dreams as possible, soaking up information and most importantly, making contacts. You’re going to need these for when you’re ready to make the transition.

Ready to Leave?

Be professional

Like I stated before, even if you plan to quit, keep doing your job well. This way, when you decide to leave, you will have good recommendations and a network of contacts that could serve you in your new position. AOL did a great article on How to resign from a job gracefully that’s worth checking out.

Do what you love




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