Quitting your job without a plan

quitting your job without a plan

One of my most popular articles to date has been on the ‘10 lessons I learned since leaving my job‘. Initially written just six months after leaving my corporate role, it was first picked up by Business Insider and later shared on Inc. Magazine, Quartz and, most recently and in its updated form, by Arianna Huffington via her Thrive Global platform. When the article was first shared, Business Insider tweaked the title and added “…without a plan”. And I think that part of the message, the idea of “quitting your job without a plan”, has been especially attractive. But while it’s completely true in my case, it’s not something that I necessarily recommend to my clients! And it has taken a long time and a lot of twists and turns to get to where I am today.

Quitting your job without a plan

“I quit, wahoo!”

The appeal of not planning anything and just handing in your resignation is clear. You’re feeling completely fed up with your current job (see the ‘7 signs it’s time to re-think your career’) and even though you don’t know what to do next, the idea of quitting and things just working out provides a whole lot of relief and reassurance.

Now, first of all, the option of quitting without any kind of plan is really only available to you if you have a good amount of savings, no dependents, and, ideally, the possibility to cut right back on your spending and live for free or at least cheaply with family or friends.

Even then, when the initial euphoria has fizzled out and that immense sense of empowerment and freedom begins to settle as well, the panic begins to set in. There’s no structure to your day, no goal to work towards; you’re eating through your savings; and you have to constantly field questions and concerns from friends and family. As time passes, you feel more and more anxious about the whole thing and not at all fulfilled. You follow a scatter-gun approach with ideas and projects, hoping that something will eventually stick. In the meantime, you start blindly applying to jobs that you know that you don’t really want to do.

The power of a plan

So how can a plan help? Well, it provides you with an anchor when you feel yourself flying a little too free; it gives you a framework for taking action towards your goals while removing the emotion that comes with it; and it mitigates both your own fears and those of the people around you.

When I talk about a plan, I don’t mean an Excel spreadsheet with a detailed picture of what you want to do and every single step and milestone you need to take to get there. Creating a complete roadmap like that from behind your desk is impossible, as you will learn things about yourself and the possibilities as you go, and things will inevitably evolve.

There are a few elements that you do want, however:

1. Deadline

You absolutely need to set yourself a specific deadline to work towards. The nature of the deadline will vary according to the stage you’re at right now.

For example, you might give yourself:

  • 6 months to create a savings buffer so that you can quit and work on your project without the pressure to having money coming in
  • 6 months to validate your business idea and make sure it ‘has legs’ before you quit to pursue it full time
  • 1 year to work on your business idea before you ‘pivot’ and try something else

Having that set timeframe gives you a sense of urgency, a framework within which you have to do a certain number of things, and a clear point at which you can decide whether to continue or else change your plan.

2. Your definition of success

I go on about this all the time, but unless you know what you’re aiming for, how can you possibly know whether or not you’ve been successful? Establishing parameters, criteria, will help you to assess the different possibilities that are appearing while metrics will allow you to make a more objective decision when you reach your deadline.

Your criteria might include:

  • Able to work from home with flexible hours
  • Intellectually challenging work that allows me to be creative
  • Positive gut feel about the work and/or the client

Some examples of metrics:

  • Saving 6 months’ worth of buffer, or £x
  • Making at least 10 sales of your product or service
  • Being hired by 3 different clients

Once you reach the deadline that you’ve set, you can look at what you’ve achieved and make a decision as to whether you are comfortable now with quitting, or going full time with your business idea – bearing in mind that you’ll never be completely comfortable! – or if you need to come up with a new plan and a new deadline.

3. Steps you’re going to take

With a deadline and clear criteria and metrics, the final bit of your plan is taking action. Not just any action, the right action! The early part of the process will be about exploring and experiencing so don’t put pressure on yourself to make decisions early on, as you’ll just end up with something that isn’t meaningful or properly thought through. After a month or two, though, you’ll want to start narrowing down your options and get more focused, taking consistent action towards making your goal a reality.

Your action steps might include:

  • Renting out your extra room and cutting down on unnecessary expenses to accelerate your saving
  • Signing up for a course or a programme, or hire a coach to help you figure things out
  • Setting up a simple website and blog

Each of these steps can (and should) be split into different steps, for example, the website will include (1) research your different options, (2) choose a platform, (3) buy a domain name, etc.

The goal is to get to your deadline and be able to say that you’ve done everything that you could to make things work – so that either you’ve been successful, and you can move onto the next stage, or you can choose to abandon your idea in the knowledge that you’ve given it your best shot.

You may be impatient to get out of your current situation, get unstuck and start creating your alternative future – but the last thing you want is to make an impulsive decision that creates panic and anxiety and, ultimately, will lead you back to where you were to begin with.

If you’d like support in putting together an individual plan, book your free consultation call.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Get on the phone with Anna to discuss your unique goals and situation to determine the best programme for you, so you can start taking action towards creating the business and lifestyle you desire.

Get a free assessment of your business

Download this scorecard to review where you are on each of the 5 pillars of building a life outside of the 9 to 5, and get clear action steps to help you fill the gaps.

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

Looking to grow your expert business?

Download this FREE Business Assessment to identify the gaps that are preventing your growth so that you can take actionable steps towards building a more successful and sustainable business.

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

Download the brochure

Find out more about our flagship mentoring programme for experienced professionals who want to translate their skills and experience into a profitable business that brings them 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.


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


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.


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 >>