How to quit job and do what you love for a living

You don’t like what you do? But you do it anyway because you need to pay the bills? It turns out you’re not the only one. In USA alone, 52.3% of people are not happy with their jobs. And the number is growing.

I grew up in Eastern Europe, in Romania. If Americans are unhappy, wait to see us. I was 6 when the revolution hit the country. All my childhood and adolescence I lived in uncertainty.

To us, choosing a certain career it wasn’t about getting rich but surviving. At most, living a decent life. How can you pursue your passion in this environment?

When I was a kid I loved to draw and write. Yet when I had to choose the high school I went for IT and mathemathics. Why do you choose that, people around me asked? Because I don’t want to be a starving artist. And literature doesn’t pay the bills. They agreed I was right, in silence.

I was 14 years old. And I was trading my future for money. Of course, I hated high school most of the time. The people and professors were ok. But it wasn’t my place there. After two years, I become friend to Florin. He did design and creative work. And had a website. In 1999. I was fascinated. I started to learn design too. And two years later when it was the time, I made another big decision.

I choosed an IT college. I thought design it’s something nice, but the real deal was computer programming. Remember, this was in 2003, before the Apple’s second rise and before design was considered important. Especially in a poor country.

I survived for three years before I decided to quit. I was 21 and I thought it was too late for me. I felt like a loser, with no direction in life. But I had to do it. This time I choose a design college. It felt so right. I was like fish in the water. I started to get design jobs and gigs and to make money. I lived three very happy years.

In my last year in college I decided to make another big decision: start my own web development agency. I didn’t hire any designer but I hired three programmers. I know, I know, I was a really slow learner. I closed the agency 4 years later and rediscovered my passion for design at 29. I started a new agency, with focus on design this time.

Why do we choose careers and jobs we don’t like? Why do we choose to trade our life for money? Why do we choose to trade our soul like a merchandise?

Well, we do it because this is how the world is. Money don’t grow on trees. Life is hard. Be thankful you have a job. It’s not about what you love, but about what’s “necessary”. And other bullshit stories.

Imagine two people working in a huge office. One of them is a salesman. He hates his job. He hates talking to new people all day long. He would just love to organize things all day long. But how do you make a living from that?

The other one is an accountant.

He hates his job. But he chooses this career because his rich aunt Maureen was an accountant. And he always wanted her lifestyle. He would love to talk to new people all day long. But how do you make a good living from that?

The world is full of people working in the wrong places or careers. What would happen if we just switch places? We would live in a much happier and rich world.

So how do you make that switch? How do you change from your sucky job to what you love? And more importantly, what’s the way to do it without a financial disaster? Living on the streets or in parent’s basement isn’t fun after a certain age.

The thing is most of us suck at what we love. Yes, you’ve heard me right. We’ve trained for 5 or 10 years for the things we’re “supposed to do”. We had a couple of jobs and maybe some significant experience. We’re professionals at what we don’t like! How crazy is that?

Let’s say your passion is to sing, draw, write, entertain, work with numbers, create things from scratch. What’s your current level in that field? If someone comes tomorrow and wants to pay you well to do, would you take the money? For real, do you think you deserve it? Do you deliver enough value in return?

Chances are you don’t deserve it yet. If you’re that good, you would probably get requests just by exposing your work or talking to people.

To do what you love all day and get paid, you need to be good! You don’t get good at it unless you practice. You need to practice constantly. The talent is never enough.

To land your sucky job you worked for a lot of years. And you were supported to do that. High school, college, maybe internships. You got pretty good at it.

Now you need to go through that process again while still working that job to put food on the table. But it’s hard! Yes, it is. Working 1-2 extra hours every day and on the weekend it’s an extra effort. The alternative it’s to keep the job you don’t like for 10-2-30 more years. To kill your soul. To get sower while still young. To battle with regrets. What do you think it’s the easier route to take?

A couple of things to consider when you’re changing careers:

1. Talent it’s not enough

2. Constant practice it’s the most important thing to get good fast

3. Education helps a lot

4. Surround yourself with people who do it already. It will help tremendously

5. Even if you choose a creative career discipline is mandatory. Great artists don’t drink or sniff cocaine all day long. Well maybe those who died before 40 were

6. When you work for yourself, marketing and sales is your job. You can outsource that, but usually it doesn’t go well

7. Be willing to earn little at first. Remember, you’re still learning things and building a new personal brand

8. If you see a new way do things just go with it. Any industry can have certain rigid “standards” that are just old mindsets. You can bring an outsider perspective and shake things up

9. Keep things in perspective. Becoming a full-time singer in 6 months may be impossible. Becoming a full-time singer in 6 years may be a fun ride

10. Time will pass anyway. Start today.

What if I just quit my job tomorrow and start doing what I love? If you’re good and you can make a steady income, do it. If you have enough money to live for 3-4 years, do it. If you don’t qualify, you can still do it. But it’s a gamble.

I’ve done it a couple of times. It was not pleasant, to say the least. I was living a hell for the couple of months or years it took to get up on my feet again. I may be wrong, but next time I’ll opt in for the smooth transition. And until I quit, I’ll work to make my current job more pleasant every day.

So after all it’s said and done, quitting your job and doing what you love is about hard work? For a while yes. Then again, a wise man once told: “Chose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

Just go for what you love. It’s about time.

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and experiences in the comments below. Let’s chat!

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4 comments

  • I find myself crying and feeling very touched by this. I am 28 and realized I do not want to continue in the career I am in. I feel scared at the possibility of “wasting my life.” I am willing to work and take the time to re-educate myself if it means I get to spend my time practicing what I love doing. Thank you for the advice and encouragement! Now I am wondering how to get in touch with people who have the job I want to find out how to do it…

    • Hey, Red.

      Thank you for sharing your story and feelings here! Glad to hear you’re listening to your heart. About starting: in my experience anywhere is good starting point. You just need to do it and keep doing it more and more. Surrounding yourself with people who are living it already usually helps a lot.

      Good luck on your path!

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