I don't know when the shift happened. I went from thinking I could never quit my job, to sitting down with my boss and confidently informing her that I would be traveling and therefore would be ending my contract. Prior to that moment, I didn't know I had it in me. As a personal finance blogger, I watched my peers start leaving their corporate jobs for a location independent lifestyle. But not me. I had a mortgage. I was getting married. I had gone to school for five years to get my degree. I worked hard to secure my position in my industry. I even really liked my job!
I couldn't imagine quitting to pursue a career online, let alone travel. But when I realized that I had to take on the incredibly difficult decision to choose between an opportunity to travel and a job I really liked, I began to conquer my fear of venturing out on my own, eventually finding myself sitting in my bosses office, having the conversation that I never thought I'd have. I think you can overcome the fear of quitting your job and building a business too. I certainly don't have all the answers. But here are the things that helped me..
How to Overcome Your Fear of Quitting Your Job and Building a Business
1. Eliminate The Driver Behind Your Worst Fear
Your worst quitting fear is that you might not succeed, right? That you might quit your job and your business will fail, and you won't make any money as an entrepreneur. Luckily, you can remove that fear completely by building your business while you're still working your 9-5. By doing this, you're removing the risk.
Quit only when you've replaced at least 60% of your day job income and it becomes apparent that the only way to scale your business is to put more time into it. Sure, it will take a bit longer. You'll have to build your business in your off time. And you'll be tired at first. Maybe even mentally exhausted. But if a few late nights each week and working through your lunch break will be the difference between quitting and doing meaningful work or staying at a job you don't love then what are you waiting for?
2. Stop Getting so Emotionally Involved.
Play this out in your head, or better yet, on paper: Your best friend tells you they hate their job. Or maybe they say they like their job, but they love photography. And they want to quit their job to pursue photography, but they're too scared to do it. They don't know what to do, so they want your advice.
What advice do you give your friend? You won't tell them that they don't have the knowledge and expertise necessary to earn a living with photography. If they really don't have the skills necessary, you'd probably help them find a solution so they could still pursue photography, but from a different angle (pun intended..). You'd support your friend through this hurdle, so take your own advice and apply it to yourself.
We get so emotionally wrapped up in our own situations that we can't see clearly, but we're removed from our friend's situations makes us more able to assess them objectively.
3. Kick Damaging Self-Doubt to the Curb
You don't think you are smart enough, capable enough, or good enough. You can't make it in self employment. You'll fail. You might not even realize that you believe these things about yourself, but self-doubt is feeding your fear. If you were confident in your ability to build a lifestyle business, if you were sure that you could replace your income, you wouldn't be fearful of quitting your job. Recognize your self-doubt, and then remove it as a barrier. Change your mantra, reprogram your mind to reject self-doubt, and prove it wrong,
4. Look at It Through a Different Lens
Have you ever told somebody you were planning on quitting your job to build a lifestyle business? If so, you probably enjoyed some blank stares and weird looks. From an early age, we're programmed to go to college and find a stable job with health benefits and a pension. Then, we're supposed to climb the corporate ladder and show up at our desks every day until retire at age 55 or 65.
Entrepreneurs are considered weird, off kilter, sometimes even untrustworthy. Your fear of quitting your job comes largely from this societal norm. Taking a different path goes against our programming to fit in. If entrepreneurship were the societal norm, you'd feel fear if you were entering the traditional work force. When you consider that your fear is rooted by norms, it makes the prospect of quitting your job far less daunting, doesn't it?
5. Channel Your Inner Tim Ferriss
In the 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss has a great method of challenging fears. I'll teach you the trick, but I want you to follow along. Find a piece of paper, and divide it into two.
In one section, write:
A) Quit My Job
And in the next section, write:
B) Stay At My Job
Now, ask yourself “what's the worst that can happen if I take this option?” for each. Brainstorm for a few minutes, then write the answers down in the appropriate section. Then, rate the consequences on a scale of 1-10: 10 being devastatingly bad, and 1 being not bad at all. So if you quit your job and it didn't go well, what is the worst that could happen?
Here are a few things:
– You could hate entrepreneurship
– You might not make any money with your business
– You could spend some of your savings building a business that never takes off.
And if this happened, you would either have to re-visit your business, change direction, and spend more of your savings, or you'd have to get another job. That might be a 6 on the pain scale, because nobody would have died, gone bankrupt, lost their house, or ended up in jail. If you didn't quit your job, what is the worst that could happen?
– You could be laid off
– You could be unhappy for the rest of your working life
– You might never gain flexibility and freedom to do more meaningful work
– Your earning potential would be limited to what the company will pay you
Because you would be less happy, this might be an 8 on the pain scale. Then, compare the two. Which alternative has the higher pain scale? Getting the “worst case scenario” out of your head and onto paper and seriously considering how painful each scenario would be is a powerful way to look at the situation through a different lens.
6. Set a deadline
Studies show that people who set deadlines for themselves – or, better yet have somebody else impose a deadline – are far more likely to meet their goal. Right now, you're just dreaming of quitting your job. If you set a deadline, it helps you visualize quitting. If you are uncomfortable with setting a deadline to quit your job, set yourself a deadline to make it more real.
– If you want to quit to become a freelancer, set a deadline to have 20 potential clients pitched
– If you want to quit to pursue a business in photography, set a deadline for a complete portfolio and website
– If you plan to open an eCommerce store, set a deadline to have your items listed, the store up and running, and a marketing plan in place.
7. Get off the Comfortable Couch
Remember when you were a kid, and you did something that was relatively minor – spilling something on your parent's favorite rug, for instance – and you didn't tell your parents right away? Then, with every hour that passed and you didn't tell them, it seemed like a bigger deal. You imagined them being furious, so you put it off until finally they found out on their own and become angrier than if you had told them in the first place?
Quitting your job is the spill on the rug, and your comfort zone is the fear of telling your parents. You want to quit your job, but you stay in your comfort zone for so long until quitting seems like Mount Everest and your job is the local park. The anxiety compounds.. You could end up being pushed out of your comfort zone involuntarily by being laid off or falling ill, and that's like the much bigger adult version of your parents finding out about the rug.
When making the decision to quit my regular, full-time job for a contract in mid 2014, my friend Cait said to me: “Comfortable is like sitting on a couch. It will get you nowhere”. So get your butt off that couch and push yourself out of your safe comfort zone. Do something outside of your comfort zone and suddenly, the idea of quitting your job doesn't seem so scary. Quitting my full-time job for a contract pushed me out of my comfort zone, and after I made that decision, the decision to venture out on my own wasn't so scary.
8. Let Others Influence You
Studies show that kids who have three or more friends who smoke are 2400% more likely to smoke than kids who don't have friends who smoke. It's easy to write that statistic off as a result of kids being easily influenced, but guess what? Adults are, too.
You've probably heard the Jim Rohn quote “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. So what if the 5 people you spend the most time with happened to be successful entrepreneurs who quit their jobs ages ago? You'd probably have no fear.
Surround yourself with people to whom your dream is normal.
It's Okay to Be a Quitter
Quitting your job is a huge step. It's normal to fear it. But if you're prepared – emotionally and financially – a lot of the fear slides away. And if manage to do these things, you'll be closer to finally putting in your notice and taking control of your career. Plus, if you need to, you can always try to go back to your job. But you'll never know whether you can make it on your own if you don't try.