Sixteen months ago, I quit my $500,000 job in corporate sales to work for myself. It was the best career choice I’ve ever made.
Since then, countless people, from readers of my blog to my close friends, have come to me saying they want to quit their jobs, too.
Here is what I tell them:
1. Change is possible.
First and foremost, you can live your life by design, or by default. You have free will and the right to choose your own path. This is your birthright. You do not have to resign yourself to endless long days and a pension plan in your current career if you don’t want to. You’re also not selfish for wanting more or different things out of your life.
2. You’re not alone.
According to a 2012 Gallup poll, only 13% of Americans are engaged (or feel psychologically committed) at work. Let this reassure you! But only a few of these will be bold enough to make a change. Be one of them and live without regret.
3. Get clear.
What do you really, really, really want to do next? Don’t be shy or limit your thinking here. Most people are much more capable than they think. List all of the potential jobs you would want to do, and start moving in the direction of the easiest one to transition into.
This means you must:
4. Connect with other people!
How can you get around people doing what you want to do? This can be inside of your company or outside. I know an accountant who moved into HR through closely collaborating with the team, and I have people who email me almost every day asking about how to get into life coaching and blogging. Always place yourself near the people you want to emulate.
5. Think and plan ahead — especially if you want to work for yourself.
Want to work for yourself? People increasingly want the freedom and ownership of running their own business. Personally, I feel that the ultimate security is in being an entrepreneur.
If you want to go out solo, plan for it now. Have a corporate exit date. Save your money. Before I resigned from my job I was making up to $4,000 a month in my side hustle, working nights and weekends. I was terrified when I quit, yes but at least there was money in the bank and a steady income stream still coming in and I knew I would only expand this when it became my sole priority.
6. Having a day job is not an excuse for not setting yourself up with a side gig.
Build your skills every free moment you can and start charging for your services as soon as you are able. For many this is immediately. For example, I have coached people into side-hustling for profit pretty much overnight as photographers, math tutors, even personal stylists and organizers. Just be consistent with growing your side gig and make it a priority. Keep going. There are a million ways to make a living. As Seth Godin says, “When exactly were we brainwashed into thinking that the best way to earn a living is to have a job?”
If you feel signs of sluggishness at work, lack enthusiasm towards your career, and you live for the weekend, do not leave it to the point of desperation to change your career. Take action NOW!
Unless you are a trust fund recipient, have a wealthy spouse, or expect an imminent inheritance, you are just like the rest of us. We need a paycheck, a routine, and something to do with our lives most days of the week. Starting a side hustle is the smartest thing you can do to hedge against economic uncertainty and make money while making a difference doing work that you enjoy.
I’ve coached hundreds of people to start successful side hustles ranging from matchmakers to personal branding coaches, graphic designers to job interview trainers. You can be one of these people. What is your passion? How can you cash in on it, starting now?
As the old saying goes: A year from now, you’ll wish you started today.
This piece was originally published in Business Insider.