6 Months to Quit Your Job
Everything You Need to Pull the Trigger
Hey there fellow Apprentices,
This week’s co-authored piece is written with Nick Lafferty, a 34 year old digital marketing expert who quit his full-time job in May to go all-in on working for himself. He’d been following the FIRE strategy of saving for retirement in his 40s for the last 9 years. But, then he read The Pathless Path & Die With Zero and they forever shifted his perspective on career risk and maximising experiences. He couldn’t go back. And he knew he had to leave.
Come quit day Nick had a shower thought - he wanted to share his vulnerable journey to build a $20k/month solo business for others looking to do the same. No highlight reel bullsh*t. Just the transparent updates on his finances, incomes, costs and projects every week. So, he startedand has already built a community of over 500 aspiring solopreneurs. This is where our paths crossed. He recommended to his subscribers, I checked out his work and I knew we had to collaborate.
So, here we are… delving into how you can also pull the trigger.
Creating The Exit Plan
Not everyone should quit their job.
For some the steady pay-check, the connection to a supportive team and the belief in a meaningful mission is more than enough for a fulfilling career.
And that’s definitely okay.
But, if you are craving the freedom to choose how, when and with whom you work then going full-time solopreneur is an option well worth exploring.
It won’t be easy. But, where would the fun be in that?
To make it work you’ll need to:
Be fed up enough with your current situation.
Have the financial savings to take on the risk.
Trust that your experience is worth paying for.
Build a rough plan of how you’ll make money.
If you’ve got all four then it’s time to turn the idea of quitting into a reality. By building your exit plan that gives you the confidence to pull the trigger.
Here’s how you do exactly that…
Define Your Ultimate Goal
Get defiantly clear on your WHY. And repeat it yourself everyday until you can’t get it out of your head. It will be your motivation to show up on the days when it feels like the world is against you - and there’ll be a lot of them.
For Nick this was to “stop trading his time for dollars”. For you it can be anything. Just make sure it resonates. And set reminders to revisit it often to make sure your WHY is still aligned to who you are. It’s ok if it changes. Because frequent self-reflection is important no matter what path you’re on.
Track Your Monthly Expenses
Understand how much you currently spend each month. Then work out your ‘rice and beans budget’: the bare minimum you need to cover living costs. Be willing to dial down and accept the sacrifices you might need to take from years of living with golden handcuffs around your wrists.
Don’t wait until you’ve already left to start tracking your spending. Begin a few months in advance as one-time purchases can skew a particular month. The old management saying of “What gets measured gets managed” is so true for finances. Knowing exactly how much you’re spending in each category will make you more present when evaluating future purchases.
Find Short-Term Income
Break down your ultimate goal into short, medium and long-term focuses:
Short-term - trading time for dollars; ie. consulting, freelance writing.
Medium-term - building digital products; ie. courses, guides, templates.
Long-term - making 1-2 year bets; paid community, building an agency.
The short-term buys the time for the medium-term. Then the medium-term buys the time for the long-term. Pursue one from each focus at once. And watch the momentum build week by week.
Then set aside time at the start of each month to evaluate your progress. Ask yourself “Are you on track?”. Reflect on the choices you made last month (the inputs) and what those choices resulted in (the outputs). Are you working on the right inputs to make progress towards your outputs?
Frame this all around your WHY as a north star to keep you marching forward.
Build An Emergency Fund
Save enough money to cover the bare minimum of living expenses for 6-12 months. Define your number and stick to it. And if you’re struggling to cover your costs of living right now don’t need to wait until the big day to earn your short-term income. Use your evenings and weekends to add to the emergency fund. Along the way you might even prove to yourself that your solopreneurship dream isn’t so crazy after all.
Pulling The Trigger
There’ll always be one more milestone just around the corner. For Nick a couple more weeks would have bought him a company trip to Portugal, a few months a nice looking savings milestone and just under a year the ability to exercise his vested options in the start-up.
This 1 more year syndrome is where dreams go to die.
The right time to take action is now. So, move yourself closer to the agreed financial milestone. And once you hit it, then pull the trigger. Your brain will create an infinite number of “What If” scenarios. Realise they’re bullshit.
And then go for it.
Navigating Quit Day
So, you’ve made it this far. Logically you know it’s time to quit. But, the day comes for you to face your manager and hand them your notice and you get cold feet. Everything feels like it rests on this one decision…
Know that it’s often underwhelming. You build up the hype in your head for what others will say. And then, like was the case for Nick, your boss will likely be super understanding, thank you for your hard work and wish you well.
It’s over to you now. For better or worse.
Great. So, Now What?
What will follow is a reality check.
“What the f*ck did I just do?” you’ll ask yourself.
But, this isn’t the time to debate your decision. Now is the moment to turn your rough plan into reality. To scale up the short-term income and start extending your runway. Because no-one else is going to do it for you.
Do the basics well. Network. Create. Pitch yourself. And build your confidence through consistency. But, don't forget to explore those little ideas that come along the way. For they might just become your favourite part.
For Nick, this was exactly the case. His Substack wasn’t on the plan. But, he decided to try it anyway. He launched expecting no-one to tune in. But, they did. En masse in fact. And now his budding community has become a well of inspiration and encouragement that he can draw on in difficult moments. All while finding meaning from helping others live the life he is too.
Taking Away Plan B
The temptation to create a plan B when starting your own thing is real. It could be as simple as a reminder that you could always get another job. Or as complex as an existing application for higher education.
For some, this can be a useful way to de-risk taking action.
But, for others like Nick, this can sap their motivation to make plan A work. Nick has committed to the solopreneurship life without a plan B. For the thought of giving up control over his schedule, time and vacation is horrifying. Which is enough of a reason to do everything he can, be it evenings or weekends to ensure it never happens again.
Don’t wait forever to quit. If you heart calls you elsewhere, then listen to it. Avoid firing from your hip in response to one last terrible day at work in the false belief that you’ll hit your target. Instead, decide how much you need to save, take aim at your emergency fund and pull the trigger before the time is right. Because there’ll never be a perfect time. Only a good one.