Why You Should Quit Your Job

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Why You Should Quit Your Job (2)

13%

That’s the number according to Gallup of people worldwide that actually like going to work. On the flip side, that means 87% hate their jobs.

Nearly 6.4 billion people wake up early, get dressed in something they wouldn’t normally wear, subject themselves to tiresome and stressful commutes, and then spend the day doing something they truly loathe. Why?!

Why do we subject ourselves to such a livelihood that most of us hate?

The top two things people regret on their deathbed are:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

Let us learn from our elders. So why not quit your job?

You know you want to. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’ve thought about it before. Perhaps even every, single, day. Take a deep breath, imagine you could be anywhere in the world doing anything. What would you do? Where would you be?

What’s stopping you? The answer is simple: We are taught from a young age that a job is the path to success.

As a product of the United States, I was taught that my identity is defined by my success. If I put my head down and do well in school, good things will come to me. I will achieve the “American Dream.”

What exactly is the “American Dream”? Well, it looks like this:

  • A high paying job (doctor, lawyer, investment banker, etc.)
  • Married with two kids
  • A big house with a beautiful yard and white picket fence
  • Two cars, both relatively new
  • A stable, yet ever growing retirement account

And in order to achieve the aforementioned achievements, we prescribe our lives to look something like this:

We work those 250+ days a year for 35+ years (that’s 70,000 working hours, or eight years, of our lives, folks) dreaming of the day we can retire and actually enjoy that good life. The good life is the end goal, right? We get those two weeks of vacation every year and go on some cruise or maybe to Disney Land with the kids. Each year, we put a little more money into that savings account, so that there’s money to live on Life after Work. If I do really well in my career, we can afford a second home or even buy that sweet convertible. And then we pass the motivation on to our own children, and the cycle continues.

Let me tell you the truth about the American Dream, the vanilla-prescribed life doesn’t really exist. Nearly 50% of Americans are divorced, people are having fewer children than ever before, that big house and stable of cars are overtly contributing to climate change, and a bullet-proof retirement savings plans is merely an illusion.

Here is another bubble buster for you old hat traditionalists; there is no guarantee that you’ll even live to retirement. The world is in the middle of a childhood obesity epidemic where 30% of young Americans are obese or overweight, 1 in 5 adults have some form of mental illness (in which most go untreated), and the number one killer of Americans is heart disease (thanks, Micky D’s!).

Grefsenkollen_Dave_Sora-1

Pondering my change in path.

My Aha Moment

Let me share with you two stories that rocked my mindset about the traditional work first play later approach to life.

First, my former boss at Greedy Corporation XYZ worked for more than 35 years at the same company, waiting for the day he could retire in Palm Springs, CA. When that day finally came, he cruised into the sunset. What was supposed to be the culmination of hard work only lasted six months post-retirement, as he unexpectedly died from a sudden heart attack. He worked his whole adult life enduring countless sacrifices for six months of play.

Second, an old acquaintance of mine from university passed away from an unknown and undiagnosed heart problem. She was married in her early 30’s with a one-year-old. And she was pregnant. Both she and her baby died, leaving a shattered husband to pick up the pieces.

These two deaths taught me that there are no guarantees in life. Zero. We can all die tomorrow so what good are a bunch of numbers in a bank account?

Life is hard. It’s filled with ups and downs and as much as we like to pretend the system is set up for success, it isn’t. It’s set up to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

This is Why You Should Quit Your Job

Quitting your job is the first step in changing your path. I’m a realist and I know the thought of quitting your job is difficult to comprehend. The thought alone can be quite overwhelming and scary. I’ve got student debt, as do most young Americans and that won’t just magically disappear. I’m not suggesting you go live in the forest and run away from society, but rather find your Ikigai.

Ikigai

Find Your Ikigai in Life

Don’t be a blind follower, lead your life the way you want to live. Do something that makes society better than it is now. Do something that you can look back upon and be proud of. Make a plan that works for you financially, decreases your stress load, and brings you a sense of well-being. Stick with that plan. Figure out a way to make it happen. Go back to school if need be and get a new degree, or train yourself in another discipline. The key is to redefine your version of success.

In 2014, Jen, Sora and I realized that the fantasy career path life was a big giant load of propaganda. We carefully crafted an out strategy – for us that meant quitting our jobs to cycle the world with our dog. We spent a year saving money and figured out how to make it happen. In 2015, we embarked on our new river of life. Nearly two years later, without a doubt, quitting our jobs and choosing a life we wanted rather than pursuing the “American Dream” was the smartest decision of our lives.

We are both immensely happier after changing our paths. We are filled with energy, inspired by the world, and appreciate the gift of limitless opportunity. Yes, we still have responsibilities and student debt, but we built a plan and follow that plan.

Reshaping Our Definition of Success

Reshaping our definition of success.

So I say screw it.

Break the spell that your success is defined by a bunch of numbers in your bank account when you die. Don’t be a slave to the system that wants to create more lemmings to boost Wall Street profits. Stop being held down by traditional values. Fight for our Mother Earth that we’re destroying in the name of “development.” Fuck it to working a job that you hate so much you want to throw you computer (and maybe yourself) out the window. Realize that life is just too short and you better make the most of it, because you never know what tomorrow can bring.

Let’s reverse the 87% percent of people who hate their jobs and create a world where we love the life we live.

If you need more inspiration on others who have quit their jobs to live their lives, check out Jen Beck Seymour’s book “Life Outside the Cubicle: Conversations with People Living Outside the Box.”

Have you quit your job and changed your path? If so, share your story in the comments below. 

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About Dave

Live. Laugh. Love. In that order…

54 Comments

  1. Loved the book, especially the authors story of how she got to the realization that her job was sucking the life out of her.

  2. I just quit my job for many of the reasons you discuss here. In fact, my last day was Friday! Loved this post! Awesome to read this when we are about to embark on a major lifestyle change 🙂

    • Three cheers for your last day Brittany! Congrats on changing your path, it is the hardest part. Let us know where you river of life takes you and buenas suerte.

  3. Good read but as you pointed out in the article, most folks won’t go for it. I was lucky enough to go play minor league baseball after college and did it for 6 seasons. I don’t regret it. It did take years to catch up on debt and feel “stable” again, though. Money doesn’t buy happiness but it sure does make things easier and affords peace of mind.

    Keep the blogs coming…I enjoy reading about your travels.

    -Fidel

    • Yes, it’s true, most folks won’t just jump at the opportunity to move along in life. I’m glad you had a chance to explore your own adventure with minor league ball. And it for certain that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it makes life easier for sure.

  4. Love this post! And I completely agree with you… While I’m not completely there yet, I know exactly where I want to be and what life I want to live. A life filled with travel and fun and a job that completes my life and doesn’t distract from it.

  5. Yes! Nice post, D$.

    Quitting my job is one of the fundamental positive moves I’ve made to my life. Not all jobs are bad, but mine wasn’t treating me well compared to starting my own business. That single change launched the flexible lifestyle we enjoy so much now.

    Cheers to more job-free adventuring!

  6. Working on it! Trying to make enough money at home to be able to quite bartending.

  7. 4 years ago my girlfriend and i quit our job to manage a kitesurfing school. We do this 8 months and 4 months in winter we are travelling. We love it and last winter we build a tiny house on wheels were we live in now! Have a look at http://www.tinyhouseholland.com keep up the good life and screw a tie and brown leather shoes

    • 4 months traveling? That sounds harsh. Just kidding, great job shifting your path and thanks for sharing your link. I’ll check it out.

  8. New follower here. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. I can relate to this post. I quit my job in March this year to pursue my passion for travel and writing.

    • Sounds familiar Tamz. 🙂 What’s your blog? Would love to check it out and thanks for sharing. Was quitting your job easy for you? How did you make the financial work out?

  10. Nice post! I quit my programmer job after 10 years in 2011, and than cycled to Turkey from Hungary (around 3000+ kms). Best choice in my life.

    • Funny. I quit my IT job after 12 years in 2014 to travel by bike as well. Best choice of my life too! Thanks for sharing your blog. Are you still touring? What’s keeping you busy now?

  11. Brilliant read, I walked away from a job of over 10 years at the end of April to cycle around the world – so far it’s been an amazing decision 🙂

  12. Love it, Dave! I’m out of the rat race by the end of the year. I’ll be 35. Never cared for eight to 10 hours of office work myself, grinding away just so I can do it all over again the very next day. That’s my definition of hell.

    Great post!

    • Steve! I got out at 34.3 years and 1.5 years later it was the best the best decision I’ve ever made. Got any tips on how you’re getting out of the race race?

  13. I agree we weren’t put on this planet to just work until we drop and pay bills! Great article!

  14. What a sad sad stat that only 13% of people enjoy going to work! I love my job, working with kids and adults on the autism spectrum, but it doesn’t fulfill all of me. I also need travel and creative pursuits to feel satisfied. I really enjoyed reading this article and would love a follow up on how you made quitting your job sustainable!

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  16. How did you let your family know your change in lifestyle? My parents are ageing, mid 70’s, I’m 35. Spent most of my life helping them as my dad became disabled when I was still in HS. I’ve always had the dream of being able to go, but then always I start to question myself. It’s hard!

    • Hi Justin. I just flat out told them and they weren’t happy about it. “You’ll never find a job” and “why would you quite a good job?” were the primary responses. Blah blah blah. On the flipside, I told my grandpa about our journey and his reply was something along the lines wishing he worked less and traveled more when he was younger. It all comes to down to sharing similar values and family will eventually come around. My parents have. Let me know how I can help!

  17. Hi Dave,
    I love this post! I followed my travel dreams for years and thought that I had finally seen enough and was ready for more stability in life. Turns out I was wrong. I’ve now truly found my ikigai – not just travelling for travel’s sake but doing something the world needs at the same time. Pretty soon I will be out there living it full time. I can’t wait!

  18. Hello Jen and Dave – It’s been a while since I commented even though I’ve been following along. As a quick update from New Mexico. Cool fall days are on the horizon and my dog, Latte, is still waiting to get into her Burley trailer. That will soon change. The new gravel/adventure bike, Jamis Renegade, is in town and I pick it up tomorrow. Also new man in my life who is favorable to jumping off the cliff of bicycle touring/bikepacking with me and Latte. Evidently he is willing to get out and view the world at 5 mph with a dog also. I’m exploring career changes to get me out of this cube farm and into fresh air. Just need a bit more patience. Glad you are all safe and moving forward. Keep up the posts, I’m enjoying them greatly.

    • Thanks for the update and feedback! Finding a partner in crime is one of the best things about life. Glad you’re on the road or soon to be. Keep us updated!

  19. I want the traditional American Dream, but I wanna do it without debt and through entrepreneurship. What can I say? I’m traditional like that LOL. =)

  20. Hi Dave, greetings from UK!
    We are 30 and after 10 years working and living the way “we should” my wife and i finally did what we wanted to do: downsize our lives, and moved into a caravan.
    From the caravan we are more mobile to go anywhere and when we go traveling we can have a place to return to as we wish because it’s cheaper to store a caravan than it is to buy a house and leave that renting!!
    Our goal is to be debt free and to cycle Europe, and hopefully the world with our three young kids!
    I am working on my own business but it’s slow going.
    But each step toward our goals is progress right?
    I work now in a place i enjoy. But soon it will end and a new adventure awaits!
    Just need to sort our blog and a business I can run from the road… 🙂
    We intend to go WWOOFing and volounteering with our kids to teach them values and skills not found in schools!
    We intend to ride from Portugal to Norway in 18 months. Right now we save up and organise! 🙂

    Thanks for your post!
    be brave and embrace life… 🙂

    • Hi Daniel! Sorry for the delay in replying, we’ve been making our way to Lima by bus and it’s been one crazy ride. Jen and I were just talking about the caravan life and comparing the pros/cons to cycle touring. I’m more cycle tour and she’s more caravan. 🙂

      As for starting a business, yes, it takes time, and from my experience, I’ve failed many times before I succeeded with one. WWOOFing is awesome AND there are many other options for volunteering too, especially with kids. You could have a variety of ways to volunteer thus diversifying their learning opportunities. For example, at animal rescues, house sitting, or wineries (maybe the last one is for you and your wife).

      Portugal and Norway sounds wonderful. We loved cycling in Europe and can’t wait to get back. Maybe 2017?

      Let us know how we can help…

      -Dave, Jen, and SORAAA

  21. Hi Jen and Dave,

    You are truly inspiring. I found out about your blog because me and my girlfriend want to do the same thing with our dog. Didn’t think I would find someone on the internet doing what we want to do…We are now trying to save some money to hit the road next year from Belgium to Mongolia with our dog. Although I was a little hesitant(still am) it was my girlfriend who convinced me to take the dog with us.

    The only thing that scares me is the sheperds dogs in Turkey, Iran… I’m afraid they are young to attack our dog. Any tips? Also, all the paperwork &vaccins that needs to be taken care of to be able to take the dog with us… I don’t know if it will be posible for our dog to enter Asia…

    I wish you all the best of luck on your journey! You’ve got new followers and hopefully next year you can find us on our bikes!

    • Hi Alejandro!

      What an awesome comment to find in our inbox. Thank you so much for your kind words. We are so glad that we’ve inspired you to bring your pup along. I also had reservations when Dave first suggested that we bring Sora along. I thought he was nuts! But she’s a part of our family and we didn’t want to leave her behind.

      As far as the shepherd dogs, we also had a fear of all the street dogs at first. Sora doesn’t really do well with other dogs, but we’ve found that in most cases, the dogs are very sweet and rarely attack. Sora has actually become waaaaaay more tolerant of meeting other dogs since departing on this journey. The same goes for meeting new people. If your dog is in a trailer, then he’ll be fine. Just use precaution and pick him up if you need to!

      As far as Asia, since we haven’t traveled there with Sora, we don’t know about entry requirements, but check in with Pablo and Hippie of Bike Canine, who will be traveling the Silk Road this year. He should have all the answers for you soon!

      We look forward to following your adventure once you take off!

      Cheers,

      Jen

      • Hi Jen,

        Thank you for your reply! 🙂 Really nice to hear everything went fine with Sora and that the trip changed her.
        Thank you also for the info about bikecanine. I will certainly contact Pablo!
        My girlfriend was also wondering about insurance. Is it necessary? How do you guys do it? A lot of things to think about… Anyway, Safe travels and the best of luck!

        Greetings from Belgium,

        Alejandro

        • We have travel health insurance and have insured all of our electronics. If you’re traveling long term, it’s a good idea to have both. I just had my phone stolen and I’m so glad we had the insurance. Both companies we use are from the US, but there are many options if you just hit up Google!

  22. I’m taking a stab at this work life balance. I have a part-time business that I can do some work remotely. When I’m in NYC, I substitute teach, and I’m aiming to travel one week a month. Money is trickling in slowly, but I think it will stabilize and become to perfect situation within a year or two!

    • That sounds like a great plan and I hope it works out for you! Ideally, I’d love to find a situation where I can have a home base and travel for several months a year, working remotely.

  23. Great article and very inspiring. I don’t think, however, that you’ll convince many people who think they are living an American dream to quit their jobs, but for those sitting on the fence this might be the final encouragement they need.
    I don’t think that everyone should just quit their jobs (I still want to be able to go see the doctor when I’m sick or do my grocery shopping, or get the car repaired ;)), but finding a job that makes you happy is very important. This might mean different things to different people.
    Enjoyed reading this. Happy travels!

    • You are absolutely correct – not everyone should quit their job, but everyone should find something to do that fulfills them on a daily basis. We’re not telling people to quit their jobs and go live on the street, but rather to find something to do that they love and that makes enough money for them to live. We also like to be able to buy food and go to the doctor! 🙂

  24. This is interesting post and very inspiring! I like how you mentioned the importance of following your own dreams. I’d love to quit a desk job and become a CS professor (I love teaching and research) or start my own business.

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