I have quit my job twice with nowhere to go and with no certainty of future income. Both have been a way to force a change in my life: a drastic way to start again. This is a story about the first time.

I got into work one morning, sat at my desk and sighed a breath of helplessness and depression. I have a decent job, I’ve been promoted, I’ve learnt lots and I have outlived the team of salespeople that started the same day as I did. But I’m not happy. I have got to a point where I am beginning to question if this is all I can do, and even worse, I have started to gradually dream less and less… What happened to that plan for total world domination!?

 

The Risk:

I don’t know what made that morning any different, but for some reason I began to type my resignation letter. It didn’t take long to write; it was the standard script used by thousands of others; who are usually excited about the new job they will start soon. I was different; I didn’t have a job to go to. I didn’t even have a plan.

I still didn’t fully believe that I was actually quitting, but later when I passed my manager on the stairs I casually said I needed to speak to him at some point (which usually meant it would happen sometime over the next week).

At 11am on the dot he appeared at my desk and announced he had 2 mins now: meet him in his office. Crunch time. I either had to come up with a really interesting issue to discuss or I actually had to quit my job. Right there and then. As I walked to his office, every daunting scenario of being unemployed went through my head. I (somewhat dramatically!) pictured myself homeless, hungry and humiliated. A failure.

I sat down in his office and said, “I’m leaving”. “OK” he said, “what are you going to do?”…”I think I’m going to travel for a while and then just see what happens”. He wished me luck and that was it: just a 2 minute conversation to change everything.

I felt an unexpected calm feeling as though a weight had been lifted. I had made my decision; I had seen the worst in my mind and accepted it as a potential reality. I had also accepted that it was within my power to get myself out of that situation if it occurred and that I was willing to do whatever it took.

I realized that I was actually the one with the power; nobody was forcing me to stay in a job I didn’t enjoy. I was in a prison but the door wasn’t locked, it just seemed so as I hadn’t seen it open for so long… Now that I had opened it, my ‘captors’ were even cheering me on and complementing my brave decision!!!

 

The Escape:

So I went about planning my escape. And what a great escape it was. I went straight home that evening and threw out bags and bags of rubbish; giving 6 bin bags and a few boxes full of clothes, shoes and anything else to charity.

I gave notice to leave my house share in London and booked an around the world ticket. Anything that was left – mostly souvenirs and items that held some sentimental value and a few clothes – was boxed up for storage.

I even managed to sell my car on the last possible day. I knew I needed £1600 for it to cover my plane ticket and I knew it needed to go that day. I’d had it advertised for the past week for £2000, but hadn’t had much luck – until on the last day a young guy and his dad showed up to view it and without saying much stated that they could only give me £1600 and that they ‘had to take it today’. So I held back the grin and fist pump and gave a very serious handshake.

A couple days later I flew out to Sydney on my own with no plan, just a carry-on rucksack of possessions and no idea if I would be returning to England. It didn’t seem real, and the fear of the unknown didn’t hit until the plane banked to the right and revealed the city lights of Sydney sprawling beneath me.

The adventures that followed, the people I met and the notes I scrawled on the blank pages of my moleskin diary would take too long to cover in this post. But it is sufficient to say, I had a fantastically cliché ‘backpacker journey’ that taught me a great deal, refreshed my enthusiasm and gave me a rather enviable tan.

Months later I was back in the UK sleeping on my brothers couch, deep into my bank overdraft and annoying everyone with philosophies and quotes from ‘Plato’s Republic’.

The day I got back I received an email out of the blue from a company that I had spoken to at the beginning of the year. They wanted to know what I was up to now and if I was available to meet up to discuss a job, and if so could I be in London the next day for coffee.

After months living out of one small backpack it was strange to pull out my old clothes to hunt down a suit and shirt.

I met the director for coffee the next day and was offered the job on the spot, with a salary of my choice, to start a month away on January 4th.

Not only had I not ended up homeless and on the street, but I had even doubled my salary and was excited to get back to work. The risk had paid off with an amazing number of instances that seemed to be beyond good luck.

My brother kindly lent me some money to get a room in London and I took a short term job folding clothes in order to buy Christmas presents and survive until my first pay check from the new job.

The next year I made more money than I had ever had before. I wasn’t ’rich’ yet, but I was beyond comfortable and even enjoyed what I was doing and the people I worked with.

 

The Luck:

When I took the leap and imagined the worst, I would never have guessed it would have worked out so well. However, having an understanding and acceptance that I was happy to face the worst made it possible to take the risk.

It would be easy to say that I got lucky or that this is an isolated situation:

  • Luckily my manager was supportive in my decision
  • Luckily I sold my car for the exact amount I needed to cover the flight
  • Luckily I didn’t own my house so I could give just a month’s notice before leaving
  • Luckily my brother had a fold out couch for my return
  • Luckily I managed to get an interview for a great job on my first day back
  • Luckily I was offered the job and even found part time work
  • Luckily the part time job was due to end the exact day before my new one started

…The list could go on forever!

Isn’t it strange just how much luck suddenly seems to appear as soon as you get off your ass and start attacking life with courage? I don’t think so. I think there is an ocean of ‘luck’ out there waiting to be claimed if people will just have the bravery to jump in and swim away from the safety boat.

The lesson I learnt, that helped me to take the risk for a second time a few years later, was to ask this question:

“If you lost everything – your home, your job, your business, your partner, your family, your friends, your money and even the clothes on your back -what would you do? Would you give up, except defeat and die or would you do what it takes to not only survive, but to thrive again?”

I decided that even in this extreme situation, I was still the same person, I still had a chance and I could still get myself back to at least where I had started. In fact, if I can think of ways to come back from something so extreme, then suddenly the more likely and less horrific reality didn’t seem all that risky after all. Bring it on!

Once you have the confidence to face a come-back from nothing, then you start to also see the opportunities in advancing from whatever stage you are at now.  Even after my risk had paid off I started to see ways to push on further.

Take stock of what you have. Not only your possessions, but also the support from friends and family and the opportunities provided to you by living in a free country and a strong economy. Not everyone gets such a great head start.

As a final thought, while on my travels at a remote bus stop in Australia, miles from any town, I sat on a bench waiting for the driver to refuel (himself and the vehicle). Beside me on the bench, someone had left his or her pocket Bible. With time to kill I had a quick read and opened to a random page. The passage that jumped out seemed fitting:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV)

 

Did you like this post? Have you had a similar experience?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

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