In October 2021, I quit my job, without anything else lined up. Of course, there was the fear of how I was going to pay the bills, let alone live… but somehow or rather it’s worked out.
I don’t want to tell this as an inspirational story. But I tell this story because I want you to know that being tired of working for others – is okay. What’s not okay is choosing to stay in it, for no other reason than to stay.
Some context to the story
After university, I started my first fulltime job in a charity. Borne by ideas of wanting to save the world, and help people, I thought this was a noble cause that would keep me occupied.
I was bored to death. In my first month, I spent more time surfing stock prices than working. After all, there wasn’t much work for me to do, anyway. Despite being paid a graduate salary, I was asked to do simple things like write thank-you letters.
The job wasn’t challenging.
It was across these two years that I slowly got tired of working for others. I can’t tell you where the exact turning point was, but there were a series of incidents that convinced me that working for others probably wasn’t the way I wanted to live with my life.
The first was when I was issued with a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). A PIP is a get better or get sacked plan. It lays out clear conditions you need to follow, based on certain problems you displayed in the past.
Follow it, and you could keep your job. Stop following?
Time to find another one.
The problem wasn’t the PIP.
Why you’re feeling tired – you may feel hemmed in
During the PIP discussion when we were firming up the things I had to follow, I asked my boss,
But how about the other things I want to do?
Maybe you should just try to follow your job description first.
That was the day when I realised that my boss didn’t want anything special from me. He just wanted me to follow the job description. No initiative or creativity was required.
It was just do the job, and go home.
If you’re facing that now, that may be why you’re getting tired of working for someone else. After all the company isn’t yours.
Nor is it your manager’s.
This is key to grasp. Sometimes your manager is just there to do the job too. After working some time, you will realise that some people are just there for the paycheck.
They might not be as passionate as you to nurture new ideas and execute on them. They can’t understand why you’re trying to make things so difficult for them.
How difficult could it be for you to just do the job? Rather than trying to do all these other things?
You’re not playing with an A team
This is touchy to get around, but it must be said. Some teams, just aren’t A teams.
People who are there for the paycheck, have different motivations to you.
But work with an A team, people who are eager to make something happen, who keep running, fighting, falling, and getting up again, and you will realise what I mean.
The A team is a beautiful team to work with. You may have fights, but the heart is good. All of you want to go all out to make the best possible.
A B team is different.
B teamers are there for the paycheck. They are there to keep things safe. They rarely have great ambitions. They often hamper others because they see that as potentially harming their safe salaries. Their focus is often not on the job, but on the things that happen after the job. Like the meal, or the holiday, or the things you can buy with the money on the job.
They aren’t very interested in what the job can do in terms of changing the world.
I’ve tried playing with B teams, and each time the experience has been horrible. I would rather have 1 A team member, who’s
- Ace in the hole
Work with them long enough, and you will find yourself on similar frequencies. Things just get done. You don’t have to think too hard. You can rely on them to get things done. You can focus on the other things that need doing, because you know you have an equally capable partner in crime.
One business partner I have is one such A-teamer. When we work together, we get each other. We are eager to push the boundaries of what’s possible, and how things are done.
If you don’t find yourself challenged by the people you work with, that may be a sign of things to change.
It sounds extreme. Quit, if you’re tired of working for someone else?
Yes. Especially if you’re between 20 to 30 this year. You probably have fewer commitments, and this time will never come by again. You can never slip back into this time in your 20s, where you have fewer obligations, less responsibilities, and you’re in a stage where you’re searching for where your place is in this world.
I want to assure you that it’s okay not to know, but you need to commit to making something happen.
When I left my full-time job, I was scared of how I was going to meet the bills. But it forced me to the wall, and it forced me to start fighting.
I saw my income drop by 1/5, and further saw my income hover unsteadily for the next few months. But it gave me the freedom to pursue the projects that I felt was worth pursuing, rather than projects that I felt weren’t as worthy as pursuing.
I didn’t have to do projects that my bosses asked me to do because they ‘just needed to do it’. I could pursue projects that I felt would genuinely add to the world. Often, we don’t think very much about the fact that we would die.
And if you died using your talent to nurture projects that matter little to you, why bother doing it?
Please don’t waste your life doing something that someone else tells you to do, without you knowing why you’re doing it. Many of us take jobs because we would rather be told what to do than to do something on our own.
And if you’re beginning to feel tired of being told what to do, it’s a sign that things are changing within you. Listen to that. Don’t ignore it.
You may be scared of the income you’re going to earn
Just earn enough.
It’s not that hard. Go through your expenses for the past few months, and you may realise that you don’t actually need that much money. You may not need
- that Starbucks latte
- or that movie ticket
- or that Uber
- or that brunch at an expensive restaurant serving eggs Benedict that you could Instagram
Forget that. It’s not that hard to live a comfortable life shorn of these luxuries.
There’s beauty in living frugally.
And it puts you in a position where you’ve your back to the wall, and you’re forced to make something happen. That can be an incredibly liberating position to be in. You suddenly realise that you don’t have the security of a paycheck to lean back on, and you have to hustle everyday. It’s liberating because it forces you to get out to make something happen, rather than sitting back to wait for things to happen to you.
Often people talk about how you should ask yourself
What would I do if I had a billion dollars?
In essence, what would you do if money was no objection?
A better question might be,
What would you do if you have 2 dollars left in the bank?
Because if you have a lot of money, you may not be pushed to do anything. But if you’re in a place of do or die, where you have to make something happen or risk sleeping on the streets, you would definitely make something happen. It’s more likely that way.
You wouldn’t tell yourself,
Oh I will go and work for a boss I don’t like, at a job I care little about, just so that I can earn money.
You would be hustling for every dollar you can find. With your skill and your craft, that’s currently available to you.
I’ve been eating baked beans recently
I’ve been eating lots of baked beans recently. It reminds me that however bad it gets, I will still have baked beans.
It reminds me that the choice of eating baked beans or expensive baked rice is a choice. If you’re tired of working for others, you have a choice too. You can quit or keep staying.
The choice is yours.