Lessons I Learned From Quitting My Job With No Back-up Plan

I sat fidgeting in an uncomfortable chair that was placed adjacent to my boss’ expansive desk, feeling the sweat already start to tickle my forehead. I kept picking at a piece of torn upholstery toward the bottom of the seat, despite my best attempts to look cool, calm, and collected. But, no matter how many articles I crank out about successfully putting in your two weeks notice, I’ll admit it’s pretty tough to look confident and composed when you’re quitting your job.

That’s exactly what I was doing. I was seated across from a man who had been my manager for years—starting when I was just a college intern to when the company took me on full-time—and explaining to him that I was hitting the road.

“So, I guess you could consider this my two weeks’ notice,” I said to him while doing my best to avoid any direct eye contact. “Oh, here, I put it in writing too, in case you need that or, like, something,” I added while practically throwing him an unsealed envelope and simultaneously trying to edge my way out of the room.

“Well, this is a surprise,” he said, with a forced smile on his face. “Where are you going? Did you receive a better offer elsewhere?”

I swallowed nervously, took a deep breath, and attempted to keep my voice from trembling. “No, not exactly,” I replied, trying to stifle the nauseous feeling that was slowly rising from my stomach to my throat.

“So, why are you leaving?” he pressed, “Where are you going?”

“I want to be a freelance writer . I’m going to do that full-time,” I quickly responded.

His face said it all. Like so many others, he was confused as to why I would leave the comfort and security of a traditional, full-time job (and, hello, health benefits!) for a life of uncertainty as a freelancer.

I wanted to explain to him that this was something I just had to do. I’d been thinking about it for ages, and I could no longer tolerate it being only that—a thought. I needed to take action and give it a try.

But, in reality, I didn’t say any of that. Instead, I kept my mouth shut. Why? Well, the truth of the matter was I didn’t really have a plan that I could share with him. Sure, I had one big client that I was hoping would carry me until I could get things off the ground (that client actually ended up dropping me only a few months later, but that’s a story for another time). But beyond that, I didn’t have any other potential opportunities lined up. I lived in a small town with very few connections to the type of work I wanted to be doing. I really had no idea how I was going to go about running my own freelance business. Oh, and I had absolutely zero clue how I was going to pay those pesky things called bills.

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