Quitting my job without having a job — One year later

Last year, I attempted a high-risk career experiment and quit my job without having another job lined up. It flies in the face of traditional wisdom and I’ve seen people never recover financially from similar decisions. So, why did I do it and how did it work out?

The Why

I was working as a management consultant with PwC, previously known as PriceWaterhouseCoopers. While challenging it was the type of job that provides a very comfortable living and presents unique opportunities. I found that overall, I just wasn’t happy in my job. It’s not lost on me that most people aren’t happy with their jobs. As I talked to people and got a ton of advice, it was difficult to find anyone that would sympathize. If one of my adult children came to me complaining about not loving their work, I’d give some sage advice about persevering and continuing until they found something new.

Over a year prior, I had gotten a bug in my ear about the idea of social selling. The premise of social selling is that consumers make up their mind what they are going to purchase even before contacting a sales person. I wondered if the same concept applied to a job search. I invest a great deal of time on social media interacting with my professional network. There seemed to be a parallel.

Was there enough power in my brand to socially sell myself to hiring managers even before they receive applications? Would I get customers (employers) coming to me with openings I never knew existed?

In my mind at least, I’d developed a reputation for being a geek with business skill. It’s an intriguing combination that normally doesn’t exist. I felt I had a unique brand and wanted to put that branding to the test. For months, I contemplated how I could leverage the perceived value of my brand while putting in 50 to 60 hours a week at PwC. My conclusion was that it wasn’t possible. If I wanted to leverage my social media platforms, I’d needed to leave the firm.

To recap, I was leaving a great paying job with a prestigious firm because I wasn’t happy with the work or the work/life balance. How did I get here?

The process

After much prayer and discussion with my wife, I decided to leave PwC. You might be thinking — my spouse would have a cow if you came to them with such an idea. My wife was no exception. I spent a month just thinking about how I was going to approach her about it. Some people call it a gut feeling. I’m Christian and believe that God’s Spirit talks to us if we are willing to listen. What does it mean to step out of faith if you are just following a well-known path?

I wasn’t going to do it unless she was 100%(ish) onboard. It was with this confidence that I discussed it with my wife. I explained that it sounded crazy even when I said it to myself. I couldn’t just ignore what I’d been thinking. I’d contemplated it too long. I’m humbled that after a week of discussion she just simply trusted my judgment.

My wife did have some practical advice. One suggestion was to give one month’s notice opposed to two weeks. It would give me two additional weeks to look for work while still receiving a paycheck. So, I followed her advice and put in my notice and immediately announced my availability. I have a pretty detailed interview over on the Geek Whisperers Podcast talking about the actual search. It was an experience to say the least.

Would I do it again?

Common sense tells me no. I believe quitting my job and using this technique was a once in a lifetime event. Does it mean if I got a similar feeling I wouldn’t again? I’d never say never. In the end, I am much happier than I was a year ago. My life has balance, and the things that are important to me are in the forefront. While no situation is perfect, I’d be extremely reluctant to give up what I have now.

Would I advise anyone else to do the same thing? It’s as scary as it sounds. But, I wouldn’t deter anyone from doing it either. I’d only caution that you examine your heart and motives in your decisions. In life, I try to be consistent when making big decisions. I never make a big decision out of emotions especially out of pride. I’ve changed jobs in the past out of pride, and the results were never what I expected. So, if you are considering a similar move, I highly recommend you listen to the podcast. While it was worthwhile, it was a humbling experience.

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