November 10

Thinking of quitting without a job in Singapore? Here’s how I did it.


In October 2021, I left my job, without another job lined up.

There was no Big Bang. Nor a stomping out of doors, throwing my resignation letter at my boss’ face.

Yup, I know you’re tired of waking up to the big black dog of that lousy job

Rather, my contract had come to an end, and I had seen enough to realise that I didn’t want to continue working at that company.

Perhaps it had part to do with me seeing that I demonstrated more weaknesses than strengths as a social worker. My social work interventions didn’t always work out well and several clients asked to change me as their social worker. Ouch. You can imagine how that felt. Maybe I just couldn’t engage them well.

Part of it also had to do with the fact that I probably didn’t enjoy most of the paperwork I had to do on SSNET, the case management system in social work.

Or perhaps it was just that the social work salary didn’t match the amount of work I was doing.

At some point, it just didn’t make sense anymore.

But don’t get me wrong.

I was still applying for jobs. But I had not been offered any.

I didn’t know what to do

I was trained as a social worker, which probably is the furthest thing away from any business venture. You’re taught to do good for free, not to make profit.

But I was fortunate.

And if you’re thinking of that, here’s how to make it work out.

But maybe on a deeper layer, you might be asking,

Why should I quit?

Before you think I’m a conman

Of course, before you think I’m some conman, these are the earnings over the past 24 months since quitting 2 years ago.

Whilst I’m no millionaire, the average monthly pay this year has been $3021 (I do not contribute CPF with this amount).

I don’t say this to turn you away from quitting, but to share the realities.

Some might say you would do better.

But this is still lower than the $3690 (including CPF) I used to earn in the social services.

As you can see, the earnings do fluctuate massively.
As you can see, the earnings do fluctuate massively.

You get that backs to the wall experience

There’s no faster way to learn than in a position of discomfort and uncertainty.

I confess.

The hardest thing after quitting my job was those long bus rides home from the library, as that was the only quiet place I could find to write.

I would look longingly at the long queues outside the Korean hotpot restaurant, and wonder when I would ever be able to afford such a meal again.

But it was also that backs to the wall experience that pushed me to make something happen. We grow up in relative amounts of comfort. If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you have a fairly professional job that pays you a decent wage (north of $3000 a month), and that you’re educated beyond secondary school.

That’s already a big headstart.

When you leave your job, you realise you have to do something, or risk losing everything. You can no longer hide behind the veneer of a job, expecting someone to help you.

You’ve to make something happen, yourself. For me, that’s liberating.

But for you, it may not be.

It’s not for everyone. You don’t have to force yourself to do it if you don’t feel up to it.

You learn the fastest

Over the past year, I’ve gotten opportunities to lead teams, work with international clients, and take on jobs that I’d never have gotten if I was still in my previous job.

It wasn’t planned.

But I knew that the wider goal was to make enough money to survive.

You don’t have many options when you first start, and you have to take everything that comes to you.

That means that you have to learn across the 6 different domains listed below.

When you’re in a job, you might feel stymied by the bosses around you, who cap your progress.

Credit: Shane Melaugh, the founder of Thrive Themes
Credit: Shane Melaugh, the founder of Thrive Themes

You grow at the fastest ever pace

Sink or swim.

There’s no other way. You make it, or you sink.

In coming out on your own to do something, anything, you have to make something work out.

I hated my previous job because I felt that my bosses wanted me to fit into a certain mould and when I wanted to grow across various domains like tech, finance, and operations, I couldn’t.

But when I finally ran my own business, I could.

And you can too. Just don’t stop.

What’s your side hustle?

Ideally, you should have had some side hustle.

Mine was writing and training, which fortunately began just 2 months before I left my job.

Whilst it was only a few hundred dollars initially, it helped me to survive for a few months while trying to grow a more consistent stream of income.

Finding a side hustle isn’t tough. Often it’s tied to something you’re already doing. Ones that I’ve done or seen others doing are:

Gigs you can do How much it pays Why its great What’s not great
Fitness instructor $60 per hour when you’re just starting out You just need a certificate Finding initial clients can be tough, but you just need some ads running on Facebook to start the ball rolling
Group facilitator Ranges from $50/hour to about $100/hour You don’t need any certification. Places like Facilitators Network Singapore and Sequoia do take in freelancers as facilitators These gigs can be few and far between. It might be once every 2 months.
Writer About $60 to 250 per article, the average is about $150 You can work from pretty much anywhere. Finding your initial clients can be tough, but you can reach out to places like Singapore Kindness Movement, Focus on the Family, Dollars and Sense, StackedHomes, or Digital Senior. They have been some of my clients over the years.
Trainer About $250 per hour There’s a high hourly rate Again, finding the clients initially can be really difficult

Ask people for gigs

The word of mouth referral will probably lead you somewhere faster, than any other way.

Simply saying,

I’m now doing X.

Do you know of someone who might benefit from these services?

Stop doing social media

But it’s also important what you stop doing.

From what I’ve seen, social media can be a big vanity metric that leads nowhere.

Quitting without a job can be liberating

Whilst quitting without a job can sound sexy, what’s needed is a plan of what service you will provide.

It could be coaching, writing, whatever.

But you need to make sure that there’s some viable way of you:

Even if you get your first client, and have no way of fulfilling that client’s needs well, you might end up losing clients badly.

Winning clients is hard.

Winning new clients is even harder.

You would want to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to keep the clients you have.

After reading this, I hope you’re filled with a greater sense of hope that you can do this, if you want to.

Life, for me, is an adventure, and is best lived pushing the limits of what I can do with my life, finding new challenges, and places where I can have intense growth experiences.

But you might not agree.

Either way, it’s your life. Live the one you want, not what others want.



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  • Thanks for sharing. I have nothing but respect for entrepreneurs. I know of many people who talks a lot about wanting to an entrepreneur but never did take the leap due to fear.

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