Quitting your corporate job

Quitting your corporate job

We’ve spent the last months looking at the freedom and flexibility that comes with running your own business, in recent weeks zooming in on how this can be especially valuable when you’re running that business alongside having a young family. With all this in mind, then, we come to the key question: should you quit your corporate job to set up your own business?

There is so much hype now, especially on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, about launching that 6-figure business – no, forget the 6-figure business, you can create 6-figure months! – while working fewer hours, outsourcing most of the hard work so that you can remove yourself almost entirely from the business, and maybe also traveling the world and sipping that pina colada on the beach as you check in now and then on your laptop. I’m always reluctant to be part of this propaganda and for a long time tiptoed around the topic of quitting.

For me, it’s not as simple as telling everyone to quit their job (in fact, I don’t want to be telling anyone to do anything!) and I feel much more passionate about my broader message of ‘reimagining success‘: questioning the conventional definitions of what you ‘should’ be aiming for, getting clear on what’s truly important and meaningful to you – which, let’s face it, may well include quitting your corporate job as you build your own business that you’re really passionate about – and then working towards that new definition.

Of course, I’m a little biased.

Leaving the corporate 9 to 5

In September 2013, I walked out of my office and into the unknown. I had resigned from my job, the first after my studies, with no concrete plans as to what I would be doing next.

It had started with a request to my boss to take a three-month sabbatical. Off I went to South America to travel from Quito, Ecuador, through to Buenos Aires, Argentina. During my travels, I devoured every personal development and career book I could find on Kindle, I chatted to people I met in hostels and listened to their very different stories about what they were doing and why, and I did a whole lot of soul searching. Then halfway through that trip, I called up HR and I officially gave my resignation.

Looking back on that decision, it’s the best one I ever made and I can only rave about the amazing experiences I’ve had and people I’ve met since taking that leap back in 2013.

But it’s not just my personal experience that’s leading me to push this message. I wrote an article a while back that was published by Business Insider and shared by Arianna Huffington, after which I received a deluge of messages from people with whom my experience resonated. I’ve been working with clients since training and certifying as a coach in 2015 and I hear the same frustrations and desires again and again. I’ve collected the stories of 50 individuals together in my book, Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5, so you don’t even have to take my word for it but, instead, you can hear what they all have to say about their own experiences of quitting their jobs to do something different.

More and more people are waking up to the fact that the 9 to 5 is NOT the best way to work anymore, and more and more people want to do something about it.

Why this obsession with the ‘9 to 5’?

The idea of working 9 to 5 emerged at the turn of the previous century. It was a revolutionary idea, for its time, and involved cutting back on excessive hours at a time when people were working 16-hour days, or 100 hours a week, in factories in the 1890s (the 9 to 5 doesn’t sound so bad now, eh?).

So, what has happened since then?

Well, at least half of managers actually work more than those 40 hours a week, while 4 in 10 say that their hours have increased in the last few years (Source).

There are many more working mums, and many more families with two working parents.

Technology has made it possible to work anytime, anyplace. There are two sides to this, of course: on the one hand, it means that you’re expected to be ‘always on’, working late into the evenings, weekends and holidays; on the other hand, it means that you don’t need to be in the office all the time and you can work more flexible hours (YES to flexibility!). Surveys have found that 4 out of 5 office workers check their work email after leaving the office and 1 in 3 log on before even getting out of bed (Source), while 54% of commuters are sending work emails en route to and from the office (Source).

Bizarrely, this isn’t what we thought would happen. Or, at least, it’s not what John Maynard Keynes thought would happen. In 1930, Keynes predicted that technology would allow us to cut our working week down to just 15 hours as our material needs were satisfied. (Tim Ferriss, of course, would have us work just 4 hours a week.)

So why are we working so hard?

Well, for one thing, there are a lot of good things that come with a corporate job: promotions and salary increases, the prestige of working for a big-name brand, not to mention the office parties and socialising with colleagues.

Another reason is that we’ve been socialised to this way of ‘life’. It’s perfectly normal and expected that people hate Mondays, that they live for weekends and that work is work and it’s not meant to be fun.

Of course, there are also many who have no choice but to work long hours for little pay.

What’s wrong with the 9 to 5?

Let’s start from the perspective of the corporation, or even of the overall economy: working long hours in an office in no way guarantees productivity. A lot of time is wasted at work with all the distractions that happen in an office environment; we each have different natural rhythms, from early birds to night owls, which don’t necessarily match the strict office hours; and, in fact, our brains can’t even focus on tasks for more than a few hours at a time anyway, or maybe even for more than 20 minutes. Modern research suggests that the average employee works productively for just two hours and 53 minutes in an eight-hour day. *Ahem!*

Despite those statistics, people are ‘working’ longer hours and never really taking a proper break. Successful corporate managers and directors have plenty of money but no time to spend it. They’ll buy luxury holidays, snazzy cars and big houses with hefty mortgages to make them feel better. Of course, those same purchases then lock them into this way of life and keep them in their corporate 9 to 5 so that they can afford the lifestyle that they’re so used to by now.

The health risks of working those longer hours have been widely reported. Almost 60 per cent of adults are drinking alcohol to cope with the stresses of everyday life while 38 per cent drink to forget their problems (Source). In the UK, half a million people now suffer from work-related stress (Source). Burnout has become ‘a sinister and insidious epidemic’ and, although it’s a subjective term, it usually manifests as exhaustion and irritability, disinterest, a lack of empathy, poor performance at work, and family issues and relationship problems at home. Medication, vacation – these provide only temporary relief.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are countless lost souls wandering the corridors, people who are “okay”, “fine”. These are the people who are under-challenged, just as there are many who are over-challenged. They spend 10 to 15 years climbing the corporate ladder, reach the top and then ask, “Now what?” They’re surprised and disappointed to find that it doesn’t really bring any meaningful reward and, if anything, simply means working harder for the next step, if there is one.

And yet no one ever says, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office”. Instead of that, the top five regrets of the dying include “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard,” “I wish that I had let myself be happier,” and in the number one spot my personal favourite: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

What’s the alternative to the 9 to 5?

Working in “the corporate 9 to 5” involves:

  • working in a private corporation, the primary motivation of which is profit and in which you are a small part of a big machine;
  • working in an office-type environment;
  • reporting to a more senior manager (your boss);
  • working standard hours of Monday to Friday, the so-called ‘9 to 5’; and
  • receiving a regular monthly salary and other benefits such as insurance and a pension.

So alternatives to this type of job could include working in a different type of company or organisation, with different motivations; working at home or in a different environment; working for yourself or for a number of different clients; working more flexible hours; and no longer receiving a regular salary and benefits. And, as you know by now, I believe the best alternative is to set up your very own business.

Of course, there’s no one alternative, no single schedule or set-up, that works for everyone – but that’s the whole point! You can create your own schedule, based on your own definition of success, your core personal values, and your individual situation.

Having said that, most of us – and, no, not just those Millennial ‘snowflakes! – want flexibility; we want to be able to manage work alongside our family priorities and hobbies; and we want to feel like we’re doing something meaningful, that’s making a difference in the world. Running your own business allows you to do all of those things (and more).

And the good news is that there are more opportunities than ever to work flexibly and remotely; there are more tools and resources available than ever before to allow you to start and grow a business without a massive investment; and there is more information and support available than ever too, in the form of online courses, business coaches and programmes to guide you through the process.

More to the point, the reasons that a lot of people will cite for staying in their corporate 9 to 5 – perceived job security in a large company, a comfortable retirement and generous pension, and so on – no longer really apply. There’s no such thing anymore as a job or even a career for life; even the most established companies have had to let people go; and the way in which our parents and grandparents structured their lives and careers just isn’t going to work anymore.

So, what’s next?

If all this resonates with you and you find the idea of all that freedom and flexibility alluring, you may well have been reading the post up to this point while thinking, “Yes, but…”

Yes, it sounds amazing, and, yes, you’d love to run your own business, BUT… you can’t afford to just quit and you wouldn’t have time to launch a business alongside your full-time job; you’re not an entrepreneurial person; you don’t know what business to start; you don’t even know where to begin; and what if you mess up and ruin your career prospects forever?!

Well, you’re in luck, as we’ll be exploring all these ‘buts’ – reasons or, dare I say it, excuses why you think all this can’t apply to you – over the coming weeks. We’ll look at the thorny question of money and how you can find the time to start a ‘side hustle’; how you can overcome your insecurities around being ‘good enough’; how you can work out what it is you want to do and then how you can get started… and much more!

Quitting your corporate job is no magical solution to your woes, and starting your own business will be hard work (not to mention working out what it is that you really want to do in the first place – that’s actually the hardest part!). However, this one decision has the potential to put you on a steeper learning curve; to reignite your passion for your work; and, ultimately, bring you everything you’ve ever truly wanted.

Now doesn’t that sound like it’s worth a shot?

Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people as we explore what it takes to reimagine success and leave the corporate 9 to 5 behind, with access to all the latest resources and free training sessions. Join the group here >>

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email

2 Responses

  1. I love your point about there being no one single alternative or schedule/set-up that works for everyone, Anna. That’s so true – and, as you say, that’s what can make it so exciting.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You might also be interested in these articles

“Everything you’ve ever
wanted is one step outside
your comfort zone.”

Book a free consultation

If you’re feeling a bit stuck and not sure how to move forward, let’s get on the phone to explore how we can work together to help you achieve your goals, and which option is the best fit for you.

Find a way to quit your job and start your own business

Download this free roadmap to start planning your transition out of the ‘9 to 5’ and into working for yourself.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Find a way to quit your job and start your own business

Download this free roadmap to start planning your transition out of the ‘9 to 5’ and into working for yourself.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Outside of the 9 to 5

Anna continues the journey in her new book, where she details what’s needed to sustain your initial escape from the 9 to 5 in a guide to designing and building a profitable business that gives you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Privacy Policy

This privacy policy sets out how One Step Outside uses and protects any information that you give One Step Outside when you use this website (https://onestepoutside.com/).

One Step Outside is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement.

One Step Outside may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes.

What information we collect and why

We only ever collect the information that we need in order to serve you.

Generally, this just means collecting your first name and email address that you enter, for example, when you request a resource, register for a webinar, or submit a message via a contact form.

If you are a paying customer, we also collect your billing information including your last name and your postal address.

Comments

When visitors leave comments on the site we collect the data shown in the comments form, and also the visitor’s IP address and browser user agent string to help spam detection.

An anonymised string created from your email address (also called a hash) may be provided to the Gravatar service to see if you are using it. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here: https://automattic.com/privacy/. After approval of your comment, your profile picture is visible to the public in the context of your comment.

Contact forms

We use Gravity Forms to allow you to contact us via the website. We will use the information you submit for the sole purpose of that specific form and will explicitly ask you to provide your consent to allow us to do so.

Embedded content from other websites

Articles on this site may include embedded content (e.g. videos, images, articles, etc.). Embedded content from other websites behaves in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website.

These websites may collect data about you, use cookies, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including tracking your interaction with the embedded content if you have an account and are logged in to that website.

Advertising and Analytics

Google

We use Google Analytics to track and optimise performance on this site as well as embedding video content from YouTube, and this means that your web browser automatically sends certain information to Google. This includes the URL of the page that you’re visiting and your IP address. Google may also set cookies on your browser or read cookies that are already there. Apps that use Google advertising services also share information with Google, such as the name of the app and a unique identifier for advertising.

Google uses the information shared by sites and apps to deliver our services, maintain and improve them, develop new services, measure the effectiveness of advertising, protect against fraud and abuse and personalise content and ads that you see on Google and on our partners’ sites and apps. See their Privacy Policy to learn more about how they process data for each of these purposes, and their Advertising page for more about Google ads, how your information is used in the context of advertising and how long Google stores this information.

Facebook

We use the conversion tracking and custom audiences via the Facebook pixel on our website. This allows user behaviour to be tracked after they have been redirected to our website by clicking on a Facebook ad and enables us to measure the effectiveness of our Facebook ads. The data collected in this way is anonymous to us, i.e. we do not see the personal data of individual users. However, this data is stored and processed by Facebook, who may link this information to your Facebook account and also use it for its own promotional purposes, in accordance with Facebook’s Data Usage Policy https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/.

You can allow Facebook and its partners to place ads on and off Facebook. A cookie may also be stored on your computer for these purposes. You can revoke your permission directly on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences/?entry_product=ad_settings_screen. For more guidance on opting out you can also consult http://www.aboutads.info/choices.

Who we share your data with

We use a number of third parties to provide us with services which are necessary to run our business or to assist us with running our business and who process your information for us on our behalf. These include a hosting and email provider (Siteground), mailing list provider (GetResponse), and a payment provider (Stripe).

Your information will be shared with these service providers only where necessary to enable us to run our business.

How long we maintain your data

If you leave a comment, the comment and its metadata are retained indefinitely. This is so we can recognise and approve any follow-up comments automatically instead of holding them in a moderation queue.

For users that register on our website, we also store the personal information they provide in their user profile. All users can see, edit, or delete their personal information at any time (except they cannot change their username). Website administrators can also see and edit that information.

The main reason for collecting this information is to be able to send you resources, updates and, sometimes, information and products and services, as well as for internal record keeping.

The rights you have over your data

If you have an account on this site, or have left comments, you can request to receive an exported file of the personal data we hold about you, including any data you have provided to us. You can also request that we erase any personal data we hold about you. This does not include any data we are obliged to keep for administrative, legal, or security purposes.

How we protect your data

We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure.

Where we have given you (or where you have chosen) a password that lets you access certain parts of our site, you are responsible for keeping this password confidential and we ask you not to share a password with anyone.

Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to our site; any transmission is at your own risk. Once we have received your information, we will use strict procedures and security features to try to prevent unauthorised access.

Links to other websites

Our website contains links to other websites. This privacy policy only applies to this website so once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

Changes to our privacy policy

We keep our privacy policy under regular review. Initially created on 18th November 2016, it was last updated on 23rd May 2018 to be compliant with GDPR.

Contact information

If you have any questions or concerns related to your privacy, you can get in touch here >>