The years 2020 and beyond marked the turning point for the entire labor market.
It re-defined what it meant to have a “job”, traditional sources of income, how one makes a living, and re-defined the meaning of purpose, passion, and time from financial, health, social, family, spiritual, and relationship standpoints.
The “Great Resignation” is a coin termed after the COVID-19 pandemic in which it was predicted that many workers would simply walk away from their jobs.
The reasons for this trend are multifactorial including:
Realizing that life is finite, not infinite.
Wanting better work-life balance.
Prioritizing family, relationships, health over one’s career.
Redefining the meaning of career, income sources, redefining status, significance, and the impact on someone’s place in today’s world.
Taking a stand against toxic customers, employees, co-workers, employers, corporations, and workplace bullying, discrimination, inequality, and harassment.
Realizing that there is no such thing as job security.
More efficient and effective ways of work including work-from-home, decreased commute, increased flexibility, and more control over one’s schedule and time.
This trend was not only seen in the retail, hospitality, leisure, and service industries, but also spilled over into the professional services. The Bureau of Labor statistics reported 706,000 resignations, and the healthcare sector saw over 579,000 people walking away from their jobs in August 2021, which I personally witnessed from some of my colleagues.
The bigger question is this:
Are you a worker contemplating quitting your 9-to-5?
If so, this article will dissect the reasons for quitting your job and practical steps to achieving your goals, and having more freedom and joy in your life.
Financial freedom — the ability to generate income, pay bills, save, invest, and afford one’s lifestyle according to one’s values, beliefs, and choices. During the Industrial Age, financial freedom was equated with climbing the corporate ladder, being a professional (doctor, lawyer, investment banker, broker, accountant, or engineer). However, with the Information Age, changing demographics, shifting values, beliefs, along with financial crises in 2001, 2008, 2020, and 2022 has shifted this belief on its head. The easiest example to illustrate this point is a highly-paid employee, who despite his financial “freedom” hates his company and boss, is angry, depressed, divorced, lonely, single, in debt, and has no time for himself, family, or friends. You want to avoid this type of “freedom”.
Time freedom — the ability to choose how one spends their time is the greatest freedom of all. From early beginnings, we have been conditioned to trade our limited time for money. We have been conditioned to work for others, to seek jobs, as opposed to creating value and creating jobs for others, and changing the world. There is a severe lack of financial literacy in today’s world. As a result, the majority of the world is struggling financially, while the elite few get further and further ahead at everyone else’s expense. The idea of multiple streams of passive income flips this idea on its head, and it is how the ultra-rich and ultra-wealthy create an abundance of time and resources for themselves through partnerships, businesses, and investments. The best quote around this idea is from Robert Kiyosaki, “the rich do not work for money”.
Location freedom — One of the greatest advantages of the internet was that it allowed 24/7, instantaneous access to information and resources at a fraction of the cost. You now had access to billions of potential clients and customers 24/7, 365 days a year. You could connect and communicate with others instantaneously at a fraction of the cost. This had enormous implications as it democratized access to information and resources, and broke down previously impenetrable barriers. This resulted in an exponentially increased ability to build a business and to scale a company around a single idea. With the shift from physical into digital products, goods, and services, along with the invention of social media, anyone with a cell phone and internet connection could start a lucrative business almost for free, much faster, effectively, and with greater efficiency. Perhaps the greatest example of this phenomenon can be seen with the rise of platform technologies including Uber-Lyft, AirBNB, DoorDash, along with social media influencers and the rise of digital nomadism.
Health — the pillar of a happy life is great health. Health (both physical and emotional) are required. It is the foundation from which you can start to build and create the life of your dreams and to fulfill your potential. Without health there is no wealth.
All of these components are critical to attaining self actualization according to Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs. From these foundational pillars, we can start to breakdown the preconceived notions that we were taught from an early age, model successful individuals embodying these principles, reverse engineer the steps, and start to develop the same mindsets, habits and daily action steps in order to create and live life out on our own terms.
Top 5 Questions to Consider Before Quitting Your 9-to-5 Job
This may sound cliche, but first and foremost, the most important questions to consider is “WHY?” do you want to quit your job.
Why is the most important question as it forms the basis of our values and beliefs, and drives our underlying behavior. Below is a list of considerations (not exhaustive) to think about as you are planning your exit strategy.
You want novelty, change, something more exciting. You want to transition from having a job to being self employed (solo-preneur) and eventually a business owner, investor, or entrepreneur
You want to take a risk. You want to try something new.
You are contemplating starting a business that you’ve always dreamt about
You want more out of life. To do something bigger. Be more, do more, have more.
You want to work more on your health, family, marriage, and relationships.
You are seeking more balance in your life, including financial, emotional, time, location, and health freedom.
You want to live life on your own terms.
Or you are simply miserable, burnt out, hate your job, hate your boss, manager, employer, co-workers, customers, and/or clients.
Now that we’ve determined your why, the next step is putting into motion an actual plan to help you achieve what you set out to do in the first place.
Developing a backup plan and top considerations:
Dependents — spouse, significant other, children
Expenses — house, car, education
Amount of savings, investments
Income sources: Pension, social security, savings, real estate investments, stock investments, businesses
Are your insurance needs such as health, home, and car taken care of?
The main question is do you have enough money to sustain your lifestyle without your job. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 2 years worth of finances before quitting your 9-to-5.
How long will this take?
Creating a plan and implementing a plan to ditch your 9-to-5 can take months to years. I typically advise clients 3–5 years (worst case scenario). Sometime it can take shorter and other times it takes longer. However, it takes proper planning and strategy, so the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be.
I also recommend that clients start a side business, and to start saving, and investing more so that they are able to reach financial independence and financial freedom earlier and faster.
Taking the leap
Once you have your why, and you’ve created a strategy to help you implement your plan, the biggest step is to take the leap.
The predominant emotion during this time is FEAR. Our reptilian minds are conditioned to seek safety, comfort, familiarity. Thoughts will flood your mind, such as:
“What if you fail”
“What will others think about me?”
“I am a failure for quitting my job”
In order to get to the next step, it is important to do what I am going to describe next. Quitting your job is very similar to skydiving.
You are 20,000 feet in the air, with the wind blowing at your face. As you are about to take the leap, thoughts such as those described above are swirling in your head.
But you have a parachute and instructor behind you.
And you just have to take that leap, knowing that all will work out in the end.
If you feel called to try something new and daring, then you must take the leap.
This is one of the most important steps that you must take in order to create the freedom and type of life that you are seeking. This is also the hardest part, but will be the most rewarding.
Can you do this cold-turkey?
Yes, but I would not recommend it. Making a major change such as quitting your job is a major change, and takes proper planning and preparation. People start planning 3–5 years in advance.
So start talking with people and start reading, learning, and start implementing a plan to get you to where you want to go.
The world is undergoing rapid tectonic changes. It is imperative that we recognize that old ways of thinking and doing things no longer serve us. The Great Resignation of 2020 is symbolic of the collective societal consciousness around work and the rapidly shifting cultural and social landscape. We must change and adapt in order to keep up with our rapidly changing trends.
About: Dr. Christopher Loo is a physician who became financially free at the age of 29, and retired early at the age of 38, as a result of making strategic investments after the 2008 financial crisis. A graduate of the MD-PhD program offered jointly through the Baylor College of Medicine and Department of Bioengineering at Rice University, he is the author of “How I Quit My Lucrative Career and Achieved Financial Freedom Using Real Estate”, and is the host of the Financial Freedom for Physicians Podcast. He is a regular contributor to KevinMD and has spoken about the importance of financial literacy for Passive Income MD, the White Coat Investor, Board Vitals, SEAK Non-Clinical Careers, SoMe Docs, Doximity, Medpage Today, FinCon, and other high-profile financial brands geared towards high-income professionals.