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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?
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- 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!).
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.
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.
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.