Last Week I Quit My Day Job — Here’s Why You Don’t Need To Do The Same

At 19, I was trying to lift my video production business off the ground.

I wondered, “Why would anyone have a full-time job when you can create a job of your own?”

Back then, I never thought I’d be having a “day job.”

Then again, you often say and think things that aren’t necessarily true when you’re young.

In 2020, I quit the business I dedicated three years of my life to, moved to London, and, because I was quickly running out of money, started looking for a job.

After several (failed) attempts to go the “general” route — that is, sending out CVs into the void, hoping someone would care — I finally landed a job at an e-commerce startup founded by my father’s friend’s brother.

I remember the thrill and the excitement when I received that job offer. It was after three months of searching. My bank account was almost depleted. I tried to stay confident, but deep inside, I was secretly wondering what it would be like moving back to Moscow and stay at my parents’ apartment.

And here it was, late in December — a promise of a stable paycheck, doing something I love (media, content, writing).

On New Year’s, I clinked champagne glasses, saying, “Here’s to a new chapter in life.”

During the next nine months, I’ve learned all sorts of things: how to growth hack a SaaS company; what the hell is an “Amazon FBA”; how to interview successful entrepreneurs who were at least twice my age (in English!).

Since I operated a growing business before, wearing many hats wasn’t new for me. However, it was still fun to be a marketing director, head of content, show host, PR/salesperson, and head of partnerships — at once.

I worked at that company through the COVID. And I was lucky to have a great boss, who was also my mentor and someone I could talk to when I needed support.

Most importantly, the job gave me a financial opportunity — a cushion to fall back on — to pursue this, which means, Medium, writing, being an “honest creative,” and starting a community.

But last week, I called my boss and quit.

It was scary. I was nervous.

But I remembered what my partner once told me,

“I trust men who trust themselves.”

So — I closed my eyes, dialed the number, and went straight into vulnerability.

I said what I thought.

I didn’t hide anything. I said, “I want to pursue my projects full-time. I want creative freedom.”

My boss understood and wished me good luck.

I hung up and thought, “OK. Here’s to another chapter in life.”

Too bad there weren’t any champagne glasses nearby.

I see a lot of content online about “quitting your day job.” Most people wear it like a badge of honor. Some don’t know whether they should quit and stay at a job they hate. Others listen to gurus online and take reckless bets, trying to start a business, only to return to their job when the money runs out.

In this piece, I want to get honest and talk about why you should quit and why sometimes, you shouldn’t.

And if you take away one thing from this article, let it be this: no article or piece of advice can decide for you. If you want to quit your job, you have to own your decision.


1. If You’re Working Full-Time, You Can Still Be an Entrepreneur

“If you’re working full-time, you’re not an entrepreneur.”

Gary Vaynerchuk’s of the world like to say sharp things like that.

But life has its own plans. Sometimes, circumstances change. Sometimes, you need a job to pay the bills. There’s nothing wrong with trying to survive.

When I came to London — a place where I’ve never been and knew nobody — I couldn’t start a business. And I needed a job, fast, and I got it.

Yet, I think of myself as an entrepreneur — I’ve started businesses in the past, and I like to build my way in life.

At the company I worked at, I organized the processes in a way that almost made me a CEO within the company’s content production. I could do everything myself. But instead, I hired VAs and freelancers to help me handle the workload and spent most of my time managing the team.

You can be a full-time employee and still be an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship is not a “profession” — it’s a mindset, an attitude, a way of life.

2. Learn to Follow Before You Lead

Great leaders are also great followers.

Good leadership is rare. But I was lucky to land a job with good leadership. And during the past nine months, I learned a ton simply from watching how my boss operated the company.

A few months ago, we had a call, and I said, “You know Paul [that’s my boss’s name], sometimes I am full of doubt. I want to be an entrepreneur, yet here I am, working for you.”

He said, “That’s a wrong attitude to life. You need to be a good follower before you learn to be a good leader.”

People aren’t born as generals, CEOs; leadership isn’t an innate talent.

It’s a skill.

If you can’t lead yourself, you won’t be able to lead others. And if you can’t be a follower, you can’t be a leader.

3. Be Smart About Money: Build Bridges

Most people are terrible with money. I know I am.

People take on what Kiyosaki calls “bad debts” without knowing how they will repay them. They don’t calculate their “burn rate” — that is, their monthly expenses that burn through the savings.

My great-grandfather (who is still alive and healthy at 91) worked at a Soviet factory that built missiles for the war. He dedicated his whole life to that factory. He also read only one book in his life — an instruction manual for building the missile.

In this new world, nobody wants to be like my grandfather, spending their lives chained to one company.

Most people want to do their own thing, and that’s fine.

But — there’s always a “but.”

Sometimes you need cash.

And a steady paycheck can that much-needed “bridge” between where you are now and where you want to be in the future.

The term “day job” exists for a reason. It was invented by jazz musicians of the 20th century, who played music at night and waited tables by day until they made enough from their art.

Their “day job” was their bridge.

Yes, in today’s world, it’s easier — much easier — to make money doing something you love, but sometimes you need something to rely on before you make a good income.

It’s not “playing safe,” it’s rational, practical, and mature.

When I started working at my job, I made $0.1 per month from my writing.

But because I could fall back on a steady salary, I could confidently build my writing career without forcing myself to write for the money. Nine months later, I am averaging more than $1,000 a month from writing.

If I didn’t have “the bridge,” I don’t think that would have been possible. I would have squeezed every cent out of my writing, and I would have written shitty pieces.

Stories online might paint a different picture: of someone quitting their job, burning the bridges, never looking back.

But there’s no nobility in being naive, impractical, and stupid about money.

Build bridges — not burn them.

4. Never Say Never

My mother always told me when I was a kid, “Never say never. Life changes.”

I like to think that “life has many chapters” — and sometimes, you need to work full-time. Other times, it’s OK to quit and try to pursue your own thing. If it doesn’t work out, you can always come back again to a steady paycheck.

In this world of fast entrepreneurship, there’s a lot of stigma around people who need (or want) to work full-time. This is why so many people are full of doubt, not quite sure whether they should find a job because they call themselves “entrepreneurs.”

The solution?

Don’t call yourself anything. Just do whatever moves you closer to accomplishing goals. If you need a job for the next six months to serve as a “bridge,” let it be.

Saying things like, “I will never work full-time!” is a sign of immaturity.

Patience is a sign of wisdom. When you are ready, you’ll know.

I wanted to quit my day job for four months before I finally did it. I hesitated. I had doubts. It was the wrong time.

But when the time came to bet on me, I felt it.

Gurus online often make it seem so easy, saying things like, “follow your passion.” But life is never black or white, right or wrong. It’s all gray. And there are no instructions, no blueprint which you can follow.

Ultimately, your life comes down to a handful of important decisions you make. And the best way to make those is to get in touch with yourself.

To know what you want.

Today, I don’t wonder anymore why some people have full-time jobs. I understand that everybody’s circumstances are different. Yes, you can create a job of your own, make money blogging, travel the world, and make money on Instagram, but sometimes you need time.

Whenever I watch a bartender pouring me a drink at a pub, I am less judgemental. I think, “Perhaps he’s working on something cool on the side. Perhaps he’s just practical.”

If you’re thinking about quitting your job, know this: you must make this decision yourself. Don’t let somebody else’s story get into your head.

People can give advice all day, but ultimately, you pay the price for wrong decisions. It’s your life.

I trust people who trust themselves.

And so, I believe, does everybody else.

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