I was met with two kinds of reaction when I quit my three and a half year PR career.
The first one was enthusiasm. I got this from family and friends, who for so long, had been on the receiving end of my meltdowns and breakdowns. They understood why I wanted to leave, despite moving to a life of instability. Sure it wasn’t practical. And yes, I’m going to need some time to find my feet. But they saw how it will be good for me in the end, and I repeatedly assured them that I will figure it out eventually.
The second one was disappointment. They couldn’t believe how I can just quit when I had everything going for me: I was an account manager, maybe on my way to a promotion in a year or two. I could travel whenever my vacation leaves would allow. I handled topnotch clients, received the occasional freebies, attended fashion weeks, met celebrities, even flew in to Hong Kong for a media trip. And while I appreciate the concern and the panic over my decision, I always answered back with: You have to go with what makes you happy.
So for those who managed to get here because they typed in the Google search bar the magic words should I quit my job or how to follow your passion (I know I did that at one point), here’s a little guide that will hopefully help you figure out the next steps.
Know what you’re good at
When I reached the crossroad of staying vs. leaving, I began to think about the things I like doing.
I enjoy traveling, writing and photography. I spend my weekends daydreaming and reading about travel or connecting via social media. When I added up everything – my interests and my strengths – it suddenly clicked.
I have a good handle of social media and PR thanks to my former job. I love traveling and I enjoy researching and writing about it. And to round it up, I want a digital nomad lifestyle, so I can come and go as I please and still earn money while I’m on the road. Who says I can’t make a living while I’m living?
Understand the consequences
Yes, you can make a living out of your passion. But it’s not as easy as 1-2-3.
Before jumping out of the boat you’re in, take the time to think if you will still love what you love when you do it for a living. It’s one thing to make a hobby out of writing, and it’s completely another thing to make a living out of writing. There will be editors or clients to please, deadlines to meet and let’s not forget, you have to build a solid portfolio to pitch.
What I’m saying is, it’s still work and you still need to make money. Take note of your financial responsibilities, whether you can afford to actually follow what makes you happy. If this is not possible, try to do it on the side first and balance it out with a better-paying, more stable job.
Build your savings
I’ll be honest with you: I don’t have savings. I found myself knee-deep in debt because I had to get a new laptop to keep up with my new workload, along with other expenses that just kept piling up. So take it from another person who decided to be crazy and quit ahead without a decent amount of savings – SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. It’s always a good idea to be smart about savings.
Connect with like-minded people
Good relationships have the power to open doors for you. Be genuine and reach out to like-minded people – who knows, your next colleague or client might be sitting at the next table.
I signed up for writing and blogging workshops, befriended other creatives, read a lot of travel blogs and left little comments all over social media. It’s a never ending cycle of networking, but I learned that it’s easier to connect when you’re on the same ground of loving the same stuff.
You also need to find your tribe, your core group who will support you and rally for you. I have two former colleagues who are now my best friends for life and the three of us are starting over this year. One of them went back to school to take up film, while the other plans to enroll in a flying school to become a pilot. We may have different interests and we don’t stay in the same office anymore, but by virtue of being in the same stage of living out our dreams, we’ve managed to be even closer.
There are so many opportunities to keep learning new things. You can sign up for classes or workshops if you have the money, or you can make further good use of Google and research for free materials.
These days I divide my time on the following: preparing, researching and mapping out social media content plans, working on personal writing projects and learning Pixelmator (a good Photoshop alternative!). On the side, I’m also trying to find my way through SEO and Google Analytics – things that will boost up my resume as I move towards a more solid digital nomad lifestyle.
Decide if you really want it
I know it’s not as easy as it seems. Not everyone can just quit in a snap: there are families to take care of, bills to pay, a career to grow.
But the great thing nowadays is that you can choose to not let these things hold you back. You can choose to strike a balance between work and play, to live both with purpose and with passion.
Now if you’re here because you like traveling and you’re planning to quit because you hope to live a life of travel, let me tell you this: there’s no rule saying you have to quit to travel.
I was tied to a corporate job for three and a half years and I had 15 days worth of vacation leave. I also know enough people who travel and work at the same time (including myself), those who call themselves digital nomads and location independent workers.
It’s just a matter of knowing, right in your heart, what truly matters to you, and then accepting and working your way through the challenges and consequences that come with it.
Follow your bliss
Now that you’ve built the foundation of your new life, it’s time to start living it. Take a deep breath, give yourself a pat on the back and make those dreams a reality.
Go all out because now is definitely not the time to hold yourself back. Stoke that fire in your heart and follow your bliss – these are the things that make life worth living! The world is a better place when you allow some happiness in your life by doing what you love.