Quitting your job without a backup takes a lot of guts. Maybe you’re ecstatic, but also a little petrified. You’ll have less money, but also less stress. Despite the doubts and naysayers, follow your heart and do what feels right. Here’s a suggestion: Before you quit, write down exactly why you’re sure this is the best decision for you. That way, if you later second-guess yourself, you’ll have tangible testimony that you did the right thing.
Feather Your Nest
If you’re quitting your job without another one lined up, you’ll need plenty of dough saved up to float you along until you get your next gig. In the months before giving your two weeks notice, cut back on expenses to stop spending and start stacking. Until you quit, bring your lunch and cook dinner instead of eating out. Start walking, biking and taking public transportation instead of pouring money into your gas tank. Make coffee and tea at home instead of paying the local barista to wake you up. Instead of buying new clothes, go shopping in your own closet. Use accessories and creative combinations to make over what you already have. Consider downgrading your cable, Internet and cell phone plans. If you’ve been putting money into a retirement plan or investment account, inquire about the penalties for early withdrawal. You might already have a nest egg and not even know it.
Relax a While
Once you actually quit, take a real break. You’ll need to clear your head and get in touch with your own thoughts and feelings in order to plan the next step of your journey. Perhaps you quit your job because you realized you were headed for a dead end, or because you didn’t want to be stuck in a career you didn’t love. Congratulate yourself for following your own intuition. Take a few weeks to re-evaluate your career direction. Refuse to respond to pressure about your future or your finances. Trust yourself, and believe you’ll end up exactly where you are supposed to be. During your break, ask yourself: What do I really love to do? What exactly was so unbearable about my old job? What role did I play in my own unhappiness? What am I learning from this experience?
Find Your Mojo
Chances are, you stopped doing many of the things you loved while working. Now that you’ve quit, it's time to reacquaint yourself with your favorite hobbies and activities. Do the things you’ve always wanted, but never had time for. Ask yourself, “If money were no object, what would I really like to do?” Find out what excites you; with enough brainstorming, you might discover how to turn your passion into a paycheck, or at least get some ideas about the next step in your career.
Communicate Your Needs
You’re in a transitional phase, and that’s OK. Be gentle with yourself, and ask that family and friends do the same. They might not understand why you’ve made such a drastic choice without a backup plan, but it's your journey. Make it clear that they don’t have to agree with your choices, but they must respect them. Tell them what you need, whether it's fewer phone calls for a while, a jogging buddy or someone to look over your new resume. Or, maybe you just need someone to listen. Whatever it is, your loved ones won’t know what you need if you don’t ask.
Revamp Your Image
Pretty soon, you’ll be back on the job prowl, and you’ll want to look your best. Get your hair done. Buy yourself a pretty new dress -- not too expensive though, since you’re still living off your savings. Take a few classy yet stunning photos and update your social and professional network profiles. Update your resume and post that online, as well. If you’ve decided to change professions, contact people who are successful in your future field. Make valuable connections and learn what you can. If you’ve decided to remain in the same industry, alert your old contacts that you’re back on the market.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.