I left my job without a next step and honestly, this isn’t anything new. I’ve had 4 jobs in the two-ish years I’ve been here in LA, and every job since I arrived to LA I have willingly resigned from. I moved from NYC to LA without a job (which was not ideal but just how things go) and everytime I felt that the job was not a good fit or was limiting my professional/personal growth, I fired myself. Simply put, I didn’t move here to settle for just an “OK” job or life.
Back to the present. I know it sounds crazy. How can I leave my current job without another lined up? Unfortunately for me, it’s always been that way. I work in the creative industry of marketing and digital media and it’s been difficult for me to find a position that I can see myself in for more than a year just because of the size of the company and ever-changing nature of the industry. Trust me I wish I could have another job lined up so that I can have an easy transition and paycheck lined up after another, but for me I find it difficult to job hunt for another position without being mentally/emotionally/physically checked out of one. When I was leaving my job, everyone was asking what my next step was and my answer was an enthusiastic “I don’t have one!” (blogpost on what I’m doing during my unemployment here).
So how did I decide to leave a job without a next step in mind? This is where my mind was… and of course it’s not for everyone but perhaps something to think about if you’re at a job where you’re even questioning if you want to stay.
- I have savings. It’s not a years’ worth or anything crazy but it’s enough to serve as a cushion in case I don’t find a job quickly. The savings was enough for me to feel safe to leave my current position and enough to sustain my living expenses for awhile as I look for something else. I don’t spend extravagantly as it is and try to keep costs to a minimum. I’m also single and don’t have children which definitely helps in this situation. There is also the possibility of picking up an odd job here.
- I took a career clarity course. Leaving my job wasn’t something I randomly decided to do one day. I knew exactly what the consequences and risks were. Over the years I’ve realized that the career and line of work I would be happiest doing is working for myself, so I made that a future goal for myself. It’s not in my path to be a founder of a tech company or partner at a firm so I have to take intentional steps to set myself up for the possibility to be my own boss someday. I took a career clarity course taught by Joy Lin (aka Quarter Life Joy) which happened to be a webinar when I came across it, and it asked me the questions I needed to really think about to move forward with my next role. Things like, writing a career vision statement, reflecting on my ideal day and the kind of work I want to do, my core values, and my top traits of my ideal work. After simmering on these for awhile (read: months), I finally came to a clear idea of what I was looking for, compared it to my job, decided that wasn’t it, and kindly ejected myself so I can move onto the next chapter. Once you become clear on what you need and want, it makes it that much easier for you to let go. Even if you can’t take a course, I recommend really figuring out what it is you want to do, spend less time doing what doesn’t help you get there, and finding something and committing to what will make you the person you need to be to do the thing you want to do.
- I have become comfortable in not knowing. Innately, I’m a planner. I like to have an idea of what I’m getting into and where I’m spending my time. HOWEVER, in the past few months I’ve learned to let go of what I can’t control and have started to trust more “in the universe.” I’ve had really subtle random things happen to me that made me realize that if I’m qualified, available and allow myself to be seen, things slowly but surely work out. Going to meditation and starting that practice has allowed me to breathe easier and helped to calm my monkey mind and all of the “what if’s.” I’ve become more comfortable and less stressed with how fast or slow things are happening. I just make sure I bring my best self to the table, control my emotions and actions and stay focused on what is important. Everything else happens (or doesn’t happen) in due time.
- I planted seeds. Over the last year I’ve been reaching out, connecting to, asking, reading about people who are or do positions that I might be interested in. I’ve also explored working remotely, working freelance, working in industries that might be related but not exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve been exploring. I’d apply for any positions that piqued my interest and reach out to any brands that I really love/enjoy using to see if I could be a part of their growth in any way. Though a lot of this doesn’t always turn into an offer, it has definitely led me to resources that I would’ve otherwise looked past. I think it’s important to always be exploring and connecting with things that resonate with you and are of interest even if you are happily employed. You just never know!
My life is not normal by any means. There’s a degree of instability that comes with that which would freak most normal people out, but I believe that’s what has helped me to grow and mature decades within just a few years.
Though I’m not encouraging anyone to quit their job and be reckless or irresponsible, I am encouraging anyone who is reading this to always be challenging themselves and question the status quo. There’s nothing wrong with a steady paycheck and the creative/entrepreneurial life isn’t for everybody but I believe everyone has a definition of success that they can achieve if they’re intentional and trusting of the process.
Doing what’s uncomfortable, making the harder choice, is what will propel you forward.
It will help you become stronger, more adaptable and courageous. It’s what helps you feel more free, less concerned and ultimately better at relationships, business and life.