An overwhelming amount of Americans dislike their current employment. The statistics vary depending on which source you trust, but Gallup conducted a survey in 2011 which suggested that a whopping 71% of people were ‘not engaged’ and even ‘actively disengaged’ from their current job. And that’s one of the more conservative figures doing the rounds on the Internet.

Naturally, things would go south pretty quickly if everyone just walked out of the jobs they loathe, both on an individual level and nationwide. But people do frequently up sticks despite the terror such a decision instills in most of us.

Perhaps you have also entertained notions of quitting work without much formal planning. Maybe you’re at that job right now, reading this when you should be working (tip: delete your browser history afterwards!).

Without wanting to sway your decision one way or another, here’s some practical advice to bear in mind before you dive into the great unknown.

No Plan? No Go.

There’s a sense of romance to just quitting without a plan in mind.


You don’t need to have enough savings to last three years, and nor do you need to plan your next move in intricate detail. But if you’re leaving because you dislike your job and have no idea what you want to do with your life, put the brakes on your plan to leave before you’ve figured out the second part.

The reason being that while leaving your job will give you a massive adrenaline rush and a new lease on life, it’ll also amplify any insecurities you have. Without a direction – even just a vague one -to channel your new-found energy and time, you’ll find yourself sinking into some level of despair and depression.

Sweat the Finances

A sensible thing to do before quitting would be to make sure you’ve got enough cash to last at least six months. The problem is that people often get stuck at this stage, forever spinning their wheels trying to bank money and never getting to the crucial figure they promised they’d stop at.

While giving up your only source of income when you’re already broke and have a family to feed would be reckless, don’t allow yourself to become so obsessed with the financial implications of work that you never pursue what you really want to do. But hopefully you’ve got a large enough financial safety net to save you from such high rates.

Don’t Burn Bridges

The temptation to storm out of the office with your middle fingers firmly raised in your manager’s direction might be overwhelming, but resist it at all costs. If things go horribly wrong and you need to meekly ask for your job back, it’ll be way easier if you left graciously in the first place.

The chances of that happening are slim, but even still it’s a small world and your reputation may precede you in the future – make sure it’s an impeccable one.

Make Yourself Available For New Opportunities

More often than not, fortune favors the brave and your decision to quit your job will be rewarded with opportunities – both career and leisure – which would never have come up otherwise.

When you’re newly unemployed, hesitancy can creep in and lead to inactivity; make sure you put yourself in the path of such opportunities, and capitalize on them when they crop up. It could be as simple as taking up an internship in a profession you’ve always wanted to try out, or getting back into higher education.

Either way, the only limit is the one you give yourself. Explore new avenues. Some will be fruitful, some won’t, but you won’t lose anything by getting yourself out there and will have a lot of fun in the process.

Doing Something You Don’t Love Is Pretty Stupid

The final point that kept coming up during my one year long decision to engineer my layoff was whether it was worth continuing to do something I no longer absolutely loved. My interest in the financial services business began to fade after the 10th consecutive year, partly because of the financial downturn that helped put more perspective on life and money.

Blogging came out of left field to supplant Wall St. as the most exciting “occupation” I could ever imagine. We have the power of choice and I chose to spend more time on something thrilling. My online interests will probably fade over time as well. But if I can get a full 10 consecutive years out of this latest venture, I’ll be ecstatic!

Need Inspiration? Meet Mr. Alan Watts

To close off, here’s a little video which might allay any fears you have as well as inspire you to make the leap in the first place.

Alan Watts was a British-born philosopher, wrier, speaker, and best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosphy for a Western audience. Alan was quite popular here in the San Francisco Bay Area while working as a volunteer programmer at KPFA, a Pacifica Radio station in Berkeley. His best selling book is The Way Of Zen (1957).

Photo: Don’t Be Up Sh*ts Creek Without A Paddle, Tiburon, CA, 2013, FS.

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Updated for 2017 and beyond.