I am not sure what I'd do if I'd quit. Maybe travel for a bit doing nothing and then start my own thing.
- You will have heavy selection bias here (people who did not succeed might be working at a crappier job and unable to comment at this moment)
- You will also have confirmation bias among those who willingly quit (“of course it was the right move”)
- You are asking a very unique set of people with very valuable skills in high demand (you may fall into this category, but worth keeping in mind)
- The last 10 years has been a historic bull market and hard to fail in if you fall into the last category. We don’t know what the future brings (Not knowing what the future holds has been true every year of the last 10 years, especially January 2020. But I bring it up to say past results from others in this thread do not guarantee future performance for you).
All in all, if you are financially stable or have a supportive safety net, it seems like a potentially good risk to take. It also looks like you should have a strong plan to do something (hobby, hike, or work in another capacity). If you don’t, you may just stagnate and waste some of your prime years for growth and development.
But absolutely - if you have support and a plan, you keep the downsides in mind (it will be painful at times, and not roses and butterflies the whole way through), then sure - give it a shot. If you are growing and developing skills in a field you don’t care about, you should definitely change it up.
Reframing it - nearly everyone who goes to grad school full time quits their job (or takes a leave). Quitting to do your own thing, as long as you show employers why you did it in a year or two, shouldn’t be a detriment for getting rehired. That said, hiring managers may question if you’d quit again in a year (depending on your past employment tenure)…
This thread has been unreal! I don't know who these people are who can just leave their jobs and go off to windsurf in Ibiza, but congratulations on how fortunate you are! I think the rest of us have bills to pay that can't be deferred, a need for health insurance, a family that likes food and shelter, and maybe a few months of an emergency fund. I would certainly not use an emergency fund to go "find myself" in Bali.
I know quite a few close friends, for instance, who are saving up "F You" money to be able to quit their job and do what they want (even short of full FIRE movement folks).
When it was my time to leave I didn't even have a car to live in. I maintain a complex agenda where I would invite myself a week in advance to sleep on vaguely familiar peoples sofa for 1 night never more than 1x every 14 days per household. The bargain was this: I clean your kitchen, I cook an elaborate meal, I clean the kitchen again, I sleep on your sofa and leave after coffee in the morning. If I had money I would spend it on the meal but usually I had the host pay for it. Some people I barely knew would compensate for it by turning their kitchen into something like a war zone. I joked how welcoming it looked. Others never bothered to cook anything elaborate and welcomed the formula. It was a surprisingly interesting period that lasted something like 8 months. I think I've actually helped a good number of burned out people who just gave up cleaning the house and/or cooking and badly needed a break from it.
Its not much honestly. Peace of mind and poker plays you can swing towards shity employer are worth it. 6 months to find new SWE job, when I constantly pinged by HR and have generally good relations with previous employers(they would take me if i ping them), is plenty of time
Having been on this journey too, I provide this reassurance for those on the edge of quitting: trust in your superego. Your superego is always there, always watching, always asking: "is this what you should be doing?". When you are working on someone else's project, doing something you don't want to, it is easy to ignore this inner voice, because in a way it is not your own. Procrastination, and stagnation, are natural when your job isn't your dream. But when you're on your own dime, things feel very different.
It is a mistake to extrapolate your tendency to procrastinate from the world of work to that of a free agent: with no immediate constraints it is much easier to recognize and slip out of those peculiar knots of irrational behavior that tend to trap smart people with unsatisfying jobs. But on the other hand, you will be forced to confront the terrifying choice of what to actually want! This is terrifying because, in a way, it is the most important choice you'll ever make.
You're totally exposed and get to see exactly what you're capable of accomplishing. It's like that machine in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that shows you exactly how insignificant you are in the universe.
What I've encountered:
1. I've never had bigger improvements in my financial outcomes than when I said 'f-it' and pulled the ripcord
2. Doing so dropped my into a stresspit that was grinding me into a red paste, resulting eventually in being Riffed
3. Which let me find a job that, while not great, has good work/life balance and is good for me, at this time, in my walk down my path.
Go into it informed and mindfully and you'll probably be fine, assuming you're in a market that needs you (A french chef in Washington, KS...population 1100, is probably not going to have a sustainable skillset in Washington, KS)
Dad told me 'Never quit on a Friday', but he was also a fan of trusting your skills to support you.
It's similar to the "count to ten" principle, before yelling at someone.
I'd also assume that it may be that having the weekend could put one in the mindset of relaxation and cause procrastination at the start of what could be an intense process that requires drive (depending on individual's circumstances).
Or maybe it's kinda the opposite where if one were to quit on say a Monday instead, there's a good chance that the work week mindset holds, kicks the individual into being productive (maybe more productive than usual out of necessity), and then that weekend would be very much needed to wind down/refresh and reflect on the progress that was made.
Again, just my assumptions, but seem like likely scenarios that could play out
If you still want to quit on Monday? Go right ahead...but a lot of times the stuff that seemed insurmountable on Friday, don't look quite so bad with a bit of reflection. Unless they still suck.
This is probably the biggest factor.
How long could you go without a regular paycheck? Personally, I could probably make my savings last a year, but that's only because I have a wife that makes enough to pay most of the bills herself if it came down to that.
But I imagine most people outside the HN bubble don't have that. The majority of Americans can't afford a sudden $1,000 expense. They can't just quit their job out of the blue.
It shouldn't be a detriment for getting rehired, period. If you are qualified for a role and pass an interview bar, there is no reason a potential employer should care about a break you took from working. I treated being asked about this as a yellow flag, as it may indicate the employer thinks you should be living to work.
Knowledge has a half life. If you have taken 6 months off, and have an interesting story, this is not a big deal. (For example, I took 8 months off to live in Istanbul. I had two interviews and two offers when coming back, one of which was completely outside my network.)
However, I had also just taken a month to do a functional course, and had worked half-heartedly on a startup that went nowhere. I had a story.
The longer you take off, the more of a story you will need, even if that's "in the last 3 months, I built a small toy to get myself reacquainted with React and Python" even if this is a Rails omakase shop.
Or, that story may be something completely different. All I care about is "can you hit the ground running?"
But some lessons learned. Manage your money carefully so you're not always in a inflexible spot, and manage your stress levels carefully. Pay attention to what is affecting you and why, and be good/take care of yourself emotionally so you're not always in stress/reactive mode.
Later on I met someone at a swing dance that I worked on a "side project" for a long time that became our current startup, which has been more meaningful to me than any job I've worked previously. (We're doing health and biotech and save people from horrible infections, but I'm a UX/full stack engineer).
I think that having had a tech job with tons of savings (and living in a cheap city in the South) really helped. Also, for many years I thought that a job was like air, and if you quit or lose your job you start suffocating, but the opposite has been true.
My wife and I are thinking about it.
Thankfully, the company I work(ed) for was unreasonably cool about it - they gave me a good 5-6 weeks off, kept in touch while making it clear I would be welcomed back, and finally, re-instated me and offered a significant promotion and raise if I could move to another office in another state.
That's what did the trick - I was unable to see clearly that it wasn't the job, it was the living conditions that were really the problem (shared a house with my brother as he descended into alcoholism). Accepting the new position and moving across country was reinvigorating, even though we got to the new city mere days before the lockdowns hit.
Anyway, turns out I got a massively lucky break here and doubt I'll ever pull such a stunt in the future. Despite the lockdowns _everything_ has improved and my child and I are flourishing.
Point is - if you are about to make such a stress induced, abrupt, massive decision with no backup plan... it's worth being clear about it to your employer, taking a leave and gaining some perspective. It really is the case that you may regret it!
This little episode messed up my credit, threatened the well being of my kid, put even _more_ stress on me to figure things out. Despite the good outcome I'd strongly recommend nobody ever do anything like this. I could very easily ended up in a hovel or out on the street or some sort of horrible crap like that.
Wow. You really got lucky with this company. Too many will easily cast you aside.
Everyone here is ridiculously hireable right now
If things suck, just save up 6 months' worth of expenses and quit to start a SaaS business. If it blows up in your face, start looking for a new job when you're down to about a month of runway.
Software engineers, technicians, build engineers, sysadmins, etc are a different story. You have the power to change your circumstances, and it sucks that the world works this way, but you're going to have to use that power.
If you are financially stable enough and are in a spot in your career where you don't think you'll need to worry about getting another job too much. DO IT. Looking back at the last 8 years, those periods off are the periods I remember the most.
One time I had a tougher time finding a job (but I was also only a little over a year into my career). The other times I haven't had a problem. One time my old company hired me back with a promotion/raise. Most recently, I did some VERY easy part time contract work for about 6 months. I think these breaks are becoming much more common and I don't think it impacts my resume too much.
I wish there was a way to get a new job with a starting date 3-6 months in the future. That would be the ideal situation.
"Having 10 years worth of salaries" is almost on the opposite side of spectrum than "without anything planned".
Money helps, but there are a huge number of other factors that are just as important. That is demonstrated by the number of answers here by people that quit without having money, and the variety of stories and outcomes.
I quit my job a few years back, and I believe I have the financial runway to do so, but I am still unsure if it was a good idea.
Not working is weird because most of my peer group works. I have found there are social costs to not working. I find that not working has other significant issues, even though I have had plenty of chance to learn mitigations (I have had multiple job sabbaticals in my life e.g. travelling when I had little money).
I would be happy to work again, if it were a job that invigorated me rather than slowly killing me. Our time is our most valuable asset, and every second our remaining balance diminishes.
There is a certain amount of mystical or wishful thinking while working, about quitting work and relaxing or refocusing for a while. I have found reality turns out to be more mundane.
It is still my ongoing choice not to work, but the consequences of that decision are not quite so clear cut.
Money is obviously a great help, and saving money aside is a great hedge against future risks (so you can call it a plan).
I think that the OP had no “career” plan in mind. You can burn through all the money in the world if you are not careful.
But again, having money helps immensely whether you have a plan or not. If possible do put some aside for future emergencies or crises.
The qualifying income cap is based on you anticipated "Modified Adjusted Gross Income". They don't count assets. This means that if you may have losses that bring your income for the year down to the income limits, then you can honestly say that and get subsidies. If you currently don't have any income, but you can imagine yourself earning the minimum income in the calendar year, then you can claim that. (If you are lower than the minimum for ACA, you will get MediCal for free)
For example, in California, for a family of 4, if you can honestly estimate that after potential losses and potential earnings, your modified adjusted gross income would be between $39,750 - $53,000, you can get top tier coverage for ~ $5 a month, no co-pay, very low prescription costs.
If your situation changes (you start working again) you just notify the state and either pay a higher rate or cancel and use your new company's plan.
Search for "2022 ACA Income limits [your state]"
Here is the 2022 chart for California: https://www.coveredca.com/pdfs/FPL-chart.pdf
coverage for an individual 40 year old making $150K/year will cost you $6k/year with an out-of-pocket max of $7K/year. Not great on either end. But, not disaster either.
But, if your income is $30K/year, the cost drops to $0.0 to $1200 per year.
If I didn't have a child in school I'd be on a plane to the Caribbean so fast.
COBRA is also an option for a limited amount of time after leaving.
After a few months it looked like the job perspectives weren't as good during the pandemic so I decided to finish my side project - get some more experience, maybe even earn some side income if all goes well.
After a bit over 1 year working on it on and off I can say it is really hard to stay focused and disciplined when being alone. I feel ashamed (I probably shouldn't) but it seems like I can only be a slave. When working along other people or under a boss I have no problem in getting things done.
I am determined to at least get to the minimum sensible demo to show potential users. It will probably take another few months to make it and if everything looks good, a few more to get to a point where it can be a a solid value proposition.
It really isn't great, I am not diagnosed with any mental illnesses but one day I feel it all is going to be great and help many people, the next day I can see in my mind how its value is seen as minuscule or Windows or Android API changes and kills it off in a year.
Keeping the good mental state and working reliably is very hard.
I am trying to get the scope down to the very core value. Then build on that if there is any traction with the basic service.
I find renting a desk in a co-working space has helped me stay a little more motivated and positive over the last several months (home office gets too monotone).
Just do your best and make a genuine effort, if you do and you still want to go back to a classic job, then do it. As long as you know you gave it a genuine effort, you have nothing to feel bad about.
Also if you see there is interest it will help you to finish. You cannot skip the sales part, so instead of after finishing put it in front (it is also the hardest part for developers).
I am a programmer and have a hard time "inverting" the process. This feels like a fraud or maybe is just a part of the imposter syndrome. I want to start with something that is at least a bit "interactive" to see how people behave using it. I think this may show a truer response, especially that this is directed to normal people (mostly nontechnical).
I read a lot about getting sales first but I really struggle with that concept especially when there's nothing to show other than screenshots and diagrams.
I believe sales doesn't get easier even if you have a fully fledged out product.
I was fortunate to have little debt, plenty of savings, and a supportive spouse. I ended up playing a lot of Counter-Strike Global Offensive and other computer games. I attended more meetups. I applied and interviewed for jobs that sounded interesting. I turned down two offers and accepted a third. In total, I took 9 months off work.
There's a piece of me that wished I had been more productive during that time off. But it was relaxing, and I attribute that time off as my best career move yet. The job I finally took paid 2x more to start and I still feel like I am thriving at my "new" job 5 years in.
I applied for unemployment and almost lost the case but then I learned of the term hostile workplace and won. Unemployment was backpaid. During the time of fighting for it. I studied for my A+ and Sec+ certs, learned to program, and worked odd jobs from CL until every IT job eventually called me back and I had a couple to choose from. Eventually found a gig that I have been at for about 10 years. I'm happy, the organization appreciates my contributions and I'm in a comfortable place financially. I am currently looking for an remote gig in the evening US EST hours. Some sort of grunt work that someone doesn't want to do. I'm open to anything.
I got fired from every job I ever had before I started working for myself. Each time I left I ended up in a better job until the last time when I got laid off from a telecom PM role. I went to look for another job and never found one. At the time I was living paycheck to paycheck (barely) so this was quite scary. I did have a small severance but that was it.
I decided to make a startup and begged my friends for enough money to get going (secretparty.io). It started to grow. At the same time, one of my dear friends told me to put all of my severance into ethereum. It helped that he said he’d give me the money back if I lost it, he just wanted me to see what was going to happen.
My severance 10x’d in a month. I stopped working on the startup and begged my friends for money to start a crypto hedge fund. That was crypto lotus and ended up being one of the first serious crypto funds.
While being at crypto lotus, I grew frustrated that no one was making a consumer-friendly crypto project. That’s when I started working on mobilecoin.
Now mobilecoin is worth over a billion dollars in equity and several billion in coins.
All I can say is that I never would’ve gotten any of this without an insane amount of luck. It all could’ve very easily have gone another way and I might be homeless right now. Life is a series of dice rolls. You’re lucky if you can avoid getting snake eyes every now and again.
If I had it to do all over again, I would’ve started working for myself much sooner despite all of the risk.
What kind of friends do you have that have loanable startup money?
I think you and I come from totally different classes in life.
I grew up very poor, like don’t know where your next meal is gonna come from poor. I networked into the tech community by working day in and day out to be something the tech community wanted. That meant changing who I was in deep and fundamental ways.
I grew up in the Bay Area but all of my friends were in the hood when I was a kid. I also dropped out of college. At a certain point I just started paying more attention to who had money and power.
Your mileage may vary. As I said I got very lucky.
My friends and I split the bill on a 30$ meal!
They deff don't have startup money.
The juxtaposition just threw me.
I'm glad it worked out for you, but this is a 1% of 1% tier of luck (especially situationally).
Uh, so why didn't he just buy the ETH?
Before I left, I was depressed, and now I'm not. IMO everything else is totally second order to not feeling so darn bad all the time.
My plans extend to about the end of this current month, and then, we shall see.
Do you have any advice for an AT hopeful for next year? I have done a fair amount of planning and have completed a ~250 mile thru-hike this past summer, but would still love some advice from a veteran (i.e. tent vs. hammock, how many sets of each type of clothing you ended up using, etc.)
I started learning web development but haven't had any ideas that stuck. I mean I had a lot of ideas before quitting but perhaps lack of motivation or discipline killed them all.
Try https://github.com/polymorphicshade/NewPipe. It has Sponsorblock integration. Meanwhile upstream newpipe refuses to integrate it: https://github.com/polymorphicshade/NewPipe#why-isnt-this-in...
ublock also can remove comments, the front page of youtube, etc.
I don't block youtube now, but I don't have "mindless" browsing, it's like the front page of google.com. I search for exactly what I want, and no ads.
I used all of my savings to go on an extended trip to Asia, the idea being that I'll travel around, work on my own projects, and do some freelancing to cover my expenses.
Things didn't go as planned though, I got robbed in the hostel I was staying at and lost my macbook. Eventually I decided to cut my trip short and go back home where I started freelancing (which I'm still doing currently) and I would say it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I could have:
- Picked a better hostel to stay at
- Backed up my data properly to minimize damage if it eventually happens
- Been more wary of other guests (99% of them were cool people but you still need to be aware of who's there with you)
- I used filevault, but forgot to enable find my device
Working on my startup now. Pays infinitely less but makes me a lot happier. I love getting put in situations I would've never dreamed I would be in.
My biggest lesson so far was that I should've left Google earlier. I didn't need nearly as much saved as I had expected. The only thing I could wish for is more friends who did the same. I do miss having coworkers.
It's so strange that we expect adults to work continuously until they are too old to do so. Do whatever you feel like and can reasonably make work. If you don't want to work for a while, don't. Make it happen. Go make some art or start a band or hike across the country or live in the woods or make a video game or play sports or party a lot or get in great shape or read a lot of books or do a lot of volunteering or have a garden. Whatever. it's your life.
THERE IS SO MUCH COOL STUFF TO DO/LEARN!! Jobs aren’t going to dry up and disappear! If you can take some time to yourself to learn and play and have fun, you should do it!
I spent two years working as an auditor for a large public accounting firm. This was my first post-college job. I disliked the job from the beginning, but was not confident I would find another good entry level job, so I stuck with it until I burnt myself out. Covid resulted in more work hours than usual. Compensation per hour was terrible for the number of hours worked, and I felt like I was wasting my life.
Near the end (August 2020), I struggled to do anything. Since I didn't have strong relationships with coworkers, I quit without much discussion or a plan. It was easy because: the parents paid for college, I don't spend much, I have minimal monthly expenses, and I have no major commitments.
After quitting, I drove around the US for two months seeing cool places and old friends. Eventually I was offered a short-term contract as an auditor again, and I took it. I really didn't want to be an auditor, but the hourly pay was great, and it was a promotion. Turns out, higher compensation made me a happier auditor.
Bonus points, after that contract I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, which I just finished. The 6 month gap from the hike did not cause any issues when finding a new job, and actually made interview conversations fun and easy.
2. Have your resume always up to date
3. Have a network of people who can hook you up
4. Take a deep breath, commit to leaving but do it on YOUR schedule - quitting on the spot is emotional, not rational - avoid doing that if you can.
Back in the day I learned something that my employer was doing that I knew I could not abide by. I did #4 but I had #1, #2 and #3. Within a month I had a job offer and so I THEN quit and took the new jobs. In the exit interview I told them exactly why I was leaving; and not surprisingly they didn't care. Decision validated!
First job at IBM - I quit in a heartbeat. Had no idea what to do next. Attended a Startupweekend event and started working on a startup, didn't go anywhere. After a year or so got hired at MSFT as a contractor. Quit that for another startup. Reason - this was just turning into another cushy job, no real focus just some high level strategy etc.
Again quit that startup, without any plan. I was the engineering manager I wanted to try building a startup again. A long time friend had come down so we teamed up. No idea, nothing to go with. We were not in our 20s and had families to support and all that. Tried multiple ideas for a year and we split. I pursued startups for about 5 years got tired and am now a DE at big tech. Like I said, in hindsight all this feels great - but during the journey I felt quite miserable. None of my ideas were taking off, damn frustrating.
If you want to start your own thing, it's best to not look for ideas. My approach is to get to a job where you'll get as close as humanly possible to interact with customers and find out where their pain points are. Are they happy with the current company, what are the issues etc. Try solving those pain points from within the company - and you'll know what it really feels like to run a startup. If you succeed, great the company will support you, you grow and all that. If you figure that the company is unsupportive, quit and start up. By then, you already know the pain points, and you have some idea of how to solve them. You just have to execute.
I was funemployed throughout the pandemic. I did a lot of childcare, art projects, home repairs, and yardwork for my family. I kept my eyes open, eventually finding a massive upgrade in QoL job after 12 months of looking.
You only have one life. If your job is unbearable, you need to make a change. Every year is 2% of your career, don't waste it at a dead end. If you can't afford to leave, figure out how to lower your expenses, or use time at your current job to search for other jobs.
Life is too short for miserable jobs.
When I left the Navy at age 25, I had just been overseas. I had applied to a Master's degree program at the same university where I got a BS. There was a mix-up and no one had ever looked at my application, but several people knew me and they had my grades from my BS, so when I showed up in person one week before classes, they accepted me (I was paying my own way) and I started. I ended up getting a Ph.D. instead.
In 1999 at age 34, I quit my job as CFO for a small unsuccessful hedge fund. I applied at Raytheon where I had worked briefly before (they were impressed with me) and I applied to work at a lab at the university where I got my degrees. I got offers from both places within a month, and I was working again.
In 2004 at age 39, I quit my research job at another small unsuccessful hedge fund (run by the same people). I once again applied at Raytheon and at the same university job and again got two offers. I was working again in two months.
In 2006 at age 41, I quit again. I spent a year taking fun classes in Machine Learning and Astrophysics. In 2007, the people at the small hedge fund convinced me to work again for them.
In 2009, I quit again because my son was having very serious health issues and I wanted to stay with him in the hospital for six months (he is OK now). In 2010, I applied at the university lab where I had worked before and I ended up working there for 7 years. After 7 years, I was laid off.
About a year later, I ended up getting a job a huge prestigious hedge fund as a quantitative analyst. I quit about six months later in 2017 (I just could not hack living in New York City). The same night that I quit, my old boss from the small hedge fund called me just to say hi. When he heard that I quit, he immediately offered me a position which gave me a small salary but also made me a partner in the firm. I still work there now.
Moved to Orlando (as my wife had a job there) and applied to roughly 300 IT jobs but only got 2 interviews. Nothing really came of it, as they either wanted to pay me pennies or I didn’t have enough experience. I had about 4 years of project management experience with a year as a senior project manager (and a MSc in CS). Maybe I was picky but coming from a $95k/y salary and going to a $20/h hourly position wasn’t what I wanted.
My wife’s job couldn’t sustain the both of us, so after 5 months our savings were kinda gone and I got an offer to move back to Denmark and get my old position back.
Pretty happy that I at least tried, else I’m sure I would regret it, but we are happier in Denmark than in the US.
> Maybe I was picky but coming from a $95k/y salary and going to a $20/h hourly position wasn’t what I wanted.
Nah. Orlando, and Florida in general, is a terrible tech market. Orlando is also a god-awful city. You might have better luck if you were in San Francisco, Austin, New York, or Chicago.
He ended up in a 6 month job search, and when he finally got a job it was in a role no more senior than either of the 2 he had just left. Those 6 months were pretty grueling for him, and I'm sure a lot of the reason it took so long was because it was hard to find a job in the pandemic, but when you're trying to find a job and failing to, it wears on your self esteem and your soul, in ways that compound the difficulty of finding the job. And realistically, 6 months isn't even that long when it could've become 1 or 2 years.
That said, I became insanely burnt out at my job after he left and kept telling him that I was going to quit with nothing lined up. He just kept telling me it would be the stupidest mistake for me to do that and for my situation (still early in my career, have some savings but not a ton, some minor family-related issues going on) he was definitely right. I did work through the burn-out, though I may have permanently lost some enthusiasm for software development because of it. Or possibly I'm just still burnt out.
- I was at an abusive job and was underpaid
- I had interviewed with Flickr and got the role, but didn't realize I'd have to move out west and so said no. I now understood I was marketable
- I quit the job with the plan to take a month+ to decide on my next move
- I shopped around a bit and had 2 roles lined up, and took the one that sounded the most fun to work at and most sustainable (the one I turned down had a 45+hour a week MINIMUM)
that company got acquired and I was once again without a job. A few of us thought about starting a company, and I seriously focused on leveling up my Ruby on Rails skills. Within 6 weeks I had a role at a new incubator which was one of the most fun jobs i ever had.
That incubator got shut down, and a few of us thought about spinning out one of the companies or raising money. In the end, 2 of us decided to start our own development shop. That was 10 years ago and it's been hard work but awesomely rewarding.
I would NEVER have achieved all of that if I didn't take the leap to leave the abusive job. I highly value the time I took between jobs to test things out and make the right decision at each turn.
I didn't have to take the time off to do it, but if it's financially viable for you to take a few weeks and see the playing field in front of you, my personal experience is that it pays off well in the medium to long term.
1. Early mornings and late nights
I really thought I would be able to unwind and relax but I guess that is just not my nature. I still find it very difficult to turn off, the stresses and thoughts that used to center around my job gone but new ones have replaced them. Eg. Current ones are based on inflation and my savings burn rates, investment bubbles and on and on.
I really do miss having those daily interactions with coworkers, even the "useless" meetings. Things may be different now as I left long before Covid so it could be that those interactions are gone forever.
3. Weight Gain
Correlation isn't causation and it is also likely as much to do with my aging as not having a job, but not being on a daily schedule has contributed to the extra weight I am carrying.
4. Stigma from financial and services institutions
This one might be more of a personal perception but when starting relationships with banks, investment firms and even utility providers there are always questions regarding employment. I have a very healthy bank account but still feel it is more difficult to get a credit card for example without filling out the employer section.
Anyways I don't want to stomp on anyone's dreams here, I just wanted to share a few things I found through personal experience. I am still content with my decision and the good outweighs the bad.
The first month or so was tough. It felt weird not working on something. Which I think is part of a healthy process to get used to not binding my self-worth to my productivity. I traveled a bit, reconnected with friends and did some freelancing. I tried finding enjoyment in programming again, something I felt I'd lost at my last job.
All in all, I'm really happy I quit before things got worse. I still don't have a plan really, but I know I will probably never accept a position as a full-time employee unless I am really passionate about the work and feel I have a lot of impact. I am considering continuing my CS degree (I'm 22). I'm in a pretty fortunate position financially because of some successful side projects, so I've decided to take advantage of that and just keep working for myself. It's what I truly enjoy, and as long as I make a decent living there's no point in earning more money if I'm miserable for it.
At the start of my career, I worked as a SWE at one of the FAANGs. After 3 years, I couldn't take it anymore. I hated everything I worked on, nothing was meeting my lofty expectations, and I thought about quitting constantly.
Eventually I pulled the trigger to go and "do my own thing." I didn't have a backup job - instead I worked on my own projects with a cofounder and tried to turn them into a startup. We struggled mightily. We didn't raise money, and we couldn't find product market fit. Every month I was watching my bank account drain, and I wasn't drawing a salary from anywhere. The stock in my own startup was worthless.
This continued for 2.5 years. Eventually, I had had enough, and I knew something had to change. I went and tried to get my old FAANG job back, but couldn't - probably due to my entitled attitude when I was there. I struggled with interviews for a couple of months, and eventually landed at a company several steps down from my old position, making about half of what I had at FAANG.
About a year ago, I switched back to a different FAANG after having been at that other company for 6.5 years. Why I stayed for so many years is a long story.
So ironically I'm back to where I started, but wow did I cause myself a lot of trouble. I watched for years as my old friends went on to make double and triple what I did, for doing the exact same job. In the meantime, I was more stressed out, dealing with a worse bureaucracy at a company that didn't value engineering.
Leaving FAANG was something I had to do. I had to get the startup out of my system, and I couldn't continue at my original job the way that I was. You can't buy perspective, but I probably cost myself something like 1-2 million dollars in the process. Many times over the years I've questioned "Why couldn't I have just stayed at that cushy job like so many of the people that I knew?" I know there's no way that I could have given my emotional state at the time, but I can't help thinking about it.
So I could tell you a bunch of lessons from my experiences, but unfortunately they're probably best learned yourself. You have to follow whatever you think is right and hope that things will work out for you. Usually they will in the long run - but the short term might be painful.
I do believe that those kinds of jobs are the best risk-adjusted ROI if you're trying to make money. But sometimes you just need to get the startup out of your system.
lol @ thinking this was a viable option. Who returns to a company nearly three years later thinking he or she will get their old job back? By that point, they've likely filled the position several times over.
My wife was enthusiastic about it and gave me the confidence to quit. Until then I'd been looking to get the transition locked in before quitting, which wasn't happening and probably never would have. At the time I was working in corporate finance and my first child had just been born.
I think the added pressure of being scared or uncomfortable gives you a huge edge when learning new skills, taking calculated risks and trying new things, and working super hard. Working hard in a grind or dead-end is sole destroying (I think), working harder on something you chose, with tangible personal benefits is exhilarating. My career took a new direction and a much steeper upwards trajectory.
That was 3 years ago. I've become a freelance data-scientist, working remotely in a new country, with a much higher quality of life.
I wrote a couple of blog posts at the time reflecting on corporate life in London with a young family. https://johnmathews.is/corporate.html, https://johnmathews.is/london.html
The first project I tried was writing a book. A few months in I realized I didn't enjoy writing as much as I thought I would, but I found myself taking longer and longer breaks to go out photographing with my camera.
Photography was something I had never done earlier in life, and it came pretty unexpectedly for me that I would enjoy it so much. Photography quickly became an obsession, while my book project never sold well at all. I took a couple of part time jobs to sustain myself while starting a youtube channel about photography in 2017.
Now 4 years later I have quit all part time engagements and can actually kind of make a living from my youtube channel, which is pretty amazing. I am so very happy and thankful for where I am today, as I truly love my new career. I would have never found it if I didn't give myself a year to explore different possibilities.
I worked at a company writing mathematical software for 8 years. The work was interesting, but I kept feeling there was a deeper way of thinking about some particular topic I was working on (e.g. data science, array programming, visualization, deep learning). Unfortunately, writing production code didn't leave me the time and energy to pursue these "deeper truths". Thinking deeply takes a lot of time!
It was a hugely difficult decision, but in 2018 I quit, without much of a plan. I attended some summer schools in different things, taught at some other summer schools, started reading papers and watching lectures on youtube about things that interested me. I trained with a friend to get a job as research engineer at DeepMind, but when it came time to apply, I worried I'd repeat the same pattern as before if I got the job. So I got cold feet.
The second decision, even more difficult, was to trust my instincts that I could learn topics and work on my own proto-ideas independently without the imprimatur of a PhD program or industrial lab. I had saved money, and I had enough runway for a couple years.
I have roughly 3 ideas in me that I need to formalize -- or die trying (meaning run out of money). I have cute names for them: hyperbooks, algebraic arrays, and discrete geometry. I'm working on the last one right now .
My inspiration was people like Andrew Kelley (author of Zig), and Rich Hickey (author of Clojure). They just did the things they believed in, worked hard, and have contributed something useful and novel to the world. Of course, I don't know if what I'm working on will be useful to others, but I have reason to be hopeful.
If one of my ideas succeeds, I'll be able to find a way to make a living off of it somehow. If they all fail, I'll have learned an enormous amount, had an adventure, and I can still go back to the ordinary career path.
In the end, the fundamental question was: "do I believe in an idea enough to pay my own salary to work on it?" Realizing I could honestly answer "yes" was a profound inflection point in my life.
I left with the stated goals of working on personal projects and of going on a road trip to national parks. I have now been on two significant road trips - one about 10 days, and the next about 35 days.
As far as projects go, I have created a few toys that scratched itches - a pi calculator, a sudoku solver, and a market data collector/analyzer. I also worked on establishing some passive income during this time.
I'm now working as a consultant in the same industry I was working in previously. I'm not sure yet when I will return to full time employment. My plan is to definitely find a job before the COBRA insurance coverage expires (October 2022 I believe.)
My advice to anyone planning to take time off is to have some idea of what you want to do. Don't end up quitting your job thinking all of the free time off will be great, then sit around and do nothing for months on end - at the time it may feel great, but after those months go by it's nice to be able to look back and see that you did something. You don't have to be productive, but at least get out of bed, have a routine, and do something besides sit around. To that end, I recommend journaling.
I also recommend that if you're going to quit and you like your job but just need some extended time off - talk with your manager! Mine wasn't very agreeable to a sabbatical on the timeframe I wanted, but my SO was able to secure 6 months of PAID time off just by talking to her manager about what was going on with her and her plans to leave (keep in mind her case may be unique due to cancer and working for the company for 8+ years).
Sorry to hear about all the stresses you were dealing with but if it's okay, i'd like to follow up on your sudoku solver.
Are you doing the brute force/general way or are you implementing sudoku specific logic?
Here's my understanding of the general way: it tries to insert different values in different squares until it finds a conflict.
A sudoku specific way, in my mind, would implement the algorithms we humans use to solve a sudoku. E.g., look at a block, see which numbers are missing, see if open squares in that block can be filled with numbers by eliminating options along the vertical or horizontal of that square.
Hope this isn't too callous given everything else you wrote. Also, big fan of journaling which you too have called out.
For any given position on the board, there are only 9 possible moves that can be made (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9). One could try each possible move without regard to the rules of Sudoku, then evaluate whether the new state is correct - and this is what I understand you mean by brute force.
My implementation goes to the next step and only considers valid moves for a given position by looking within the current 3x3 square, and also by looking along the row+column to eliminate numbers that have already been used. This is slightly better than brute force and reduces the search space quite a bit.
At a high level, my sudoku solver does a guided DFS by generating the full list of moves that can be made from the current board state, then sorts them according to heuristics that match how I play sudoku (first try to fill in positions with less options, first try to use numbers that have been used more), then starts trying values and backtracking once it reaches a point where there are no more remaining valid moves.
The problem with heuristics like those is that sudoku puzzles can be created that exploit the heuristics and make the search take forever. My implementation solves easy and medium sudokus very quickly. My implementation can't solve most hard sudokus even after letting it run for hours.
Securing that much time off is nearly impossible at many places.
> my SO was able to secure 6 months of PAID time off just by talking to her manager about what was going on with her and her plans to leave (keep in mind her case may be unique due to cancer and working for the company for 8+ years).
Don't be fooled by management's "kind" gesture. Your SO's cancer, while horrible, got her the six-month paid leave, not the eight years at the company.
As for SO, I suppose you could be right about the cancer (they also gave her 3 weeks of time off earlier this year that didn't impact her PTO bank), but even before cancer her job was super accommodating.
If you have the resources to do it without too much risk then I'd definitely recommend it. You'll get a lot from it in terms of personal development and skills, but you'll probably end up with less money than you went in with. You can always make more money though.
For me quitting would immediately mean I'd be losing four figures a month to rent before accounting for anything else so there wouldn't be much of a feeling of a grace period; the option of traveling or whatever else would also come with the knowledge that I'd likely have to set myself up somewhere else eventually. Then beyond that I'd have to be on a salary long enough to get a mortgage.
So like... there's a lot of stuff that needs to be accounted for where if I owned a place it'd just be "do I pack up my stuff and let this place for a couple of years if I want to travel or will I return regularly and keep it as a hub.
In between i’ve been cycling, reading and working on things I neglected for the past few years. I feel much better for it
Today I’m going to polish my CV up and have started letting my network know I’m keen to work again. I have a better sense of what I want to do this time and tools to prevent as much stress in future
But I also was pretty confident in my ability to find a new tech job in a good market. It worked well the last few times, and I changed my Linkedin location before I went just to see how many recruiters popped up. The traffic left me confident I'd be able to get a tech job there when I was ready.
I also had a rough idea of how long I planned to stay without a job and how much it would cost and had enough to cover that comfortably, with enough extra buffer to come up with a new plan if getting a new job turned out to be harder than I thought.
You don't necessarily need a "plan" like having a job, but you should do that sort of planning. Some people have enough rich family or friends that they'll never really end up on the streets somewhere if something goes wrong. If you don't, you'll just need to plan a little better, and beware of unknowns. There's a lot of ways things can go wrong, it'd be best to account for them. And to have the life experience to know what might go wrong and how.
I had more money than id ever had before and no commitments beyond rent and my gf. There were a bunch of things I wanted to do, so I did them. Lots of small things like seeing family (spread all across tye country, most of whom I hadn't seen as an adult/since parents divorce), side projects, and exploring nearby cities.
I started freelancing part-time after 6 months (bored mainly) and six months after that joined a great company (that I had freelanced for).
Honestly, I keep my finances and lifestyle in a place such that I can quit when I want, as a result I'm happier and can choose work I want when I am prioritising money.
I'm fully remote now and with covid "in decline" have been able to spend high quality time with family and friends whilst working. Remote work is the best work, no work is better. However it is certainly the money that makes it low stress.
Although NYC is fun to visit from time to time, I don't miss living there one bit. And nowhere else in the U.S really appealed to me as someone who actually likes cities, though who knows maybe that would change when I start a family.
Spent this year living in South/Central America and Europe, and currently in Rome of all places. Not my ideal city, but been seeing a girl here and want to see where it goes.
Financially, lucked out on going all in on crypto a year ago at some friends' advice. That being said I still wouldn't consider myself FIRE. I would have millions had I not sold my altcoins a month or two too early against my friends' wishes (who's now definitely FIRE). I might've been better off focusing more on crypto and less on my day job, but can't blame anyone but myself, and it takes some real cajones to hold for a year and not sell even after 5-10xing. Once this contract ends though, I'll definitely be doing something in the crypto space.
One of the personal projects was writing up a short memoir for family/friends. This was a mistake as it fed some mental health issues that had contributed to me walking out of my job. Things got a bit serious for a while, and then the money ran out. Thankfully I had the massive good fortune to get a referral to a psychotherapist who helped guide me to a safer place. Then Covid struck.
All-in-all I was without a pay check for just under 2 and a half years. I did manage to complete some projects in that time, which I'm really proud of ... but next time I think I'll listen to my Mum's advice: don't walk out of a job until you've got another job to walk into.
 - https://rikverse2020.rikweb.org.uk/book/riks-army-career
Some of my reasoning for leaving was that it was much better for my mental health for me to leave and also, I would have some good job prospects since I had already gained 7 years of experience from it.
I took a month off to recharge and reset mentally and then I began my job search. After about a month, I was lucky enough to find a good job that was a better fit for my interests.
My network did help me out during this difficult transition. So I'd recommend having a good network for such a move.
I was also a little bit lucky since it was through my network that I came to know of my new company and so if not for my network then I probably would have had a much more difficult time in getting a better job and in worse case, I could have been unemployed for a long-time.
I did take the risk though because I was already at the a low point during that time. I guess sometimes that works out but it was indeed a risky thing for me to do as well.
I realized it might not be a good time to not work, so I applied to a bunch of remote websites (Toptal, Upwork and others) and after 2 months I had a full-time remote position.
That year I earned a bit less, living in a high life-standard country than I did at my first job.
Figured out remote work sucks and most companies aren't as great as my first job. Also, figured that it's hard to find meaningful programming work. Work that pays seem to be mobile apps and the teams are much less experienced that the one from my first job. No idea how to get back to something that pays more but on-site (no one can match remote US/UK salaries).
I would say it was a mistake. Probably wouldn't be if the pandemic did not start. Wasted 18 months earning money doing silly work and not showing my full potential.
I went part-time at my coding job before the pandemic due to stress/anxiety from some unknown work-related source. I then quit during the pandemic from constant erosion of salary and quality of work life.
I ended up kinda floating undecided for a couple months. Tried a couple game jams and realized my dreams of game design were not my life-long calling.
Then needed money so ended up starting to freelance. I didn't really market myself, so I didn't have many clients, but I had one big one through a friend that paid well and I did a couple really big things for them.
I'm now doing a contract that's 3x my previous salary (but also 1099 so more taxes) and struggling to figure out if I'd ever want to be W2/full time employee again.
I also got about 6 or so months of near full-time work on a personal project, and it's been very enlightening to get that much effort behind something of my own for once. Also isolating socially
That was a spectacular failure where I realized that most of my mental models were either explicitly broken or the Fischer Price version of the actual model. I learned an outrageous amount. By the end I was glad I did it and wondered if I would do it again.
I found it easy to get a new job. Quitting and working on my own project was probably the best career move that I had made up to that point.
I took the next job and realized that I no longer enjoyed working for other people. I had seen too much. Office politics now seemed extra goofy too. It's just hard to take seriously.
So I reloaded my savings and then after a while quit again and I'm back to working on my own projects.
I learned a lot since last time but I'm sure I still have a lot to learn. Learning has always been the fun part for me. This time rather than working on just one thing I wanted to experiment with a bunch of different projects which is proving to be fun and already yielding more traction.
I'll tell you what the not fun part of the whole thing is, part of this is just the part of the world I live in and people I hang out with. People hate it! Boy do they hate it. Did you remember the part in pulp fiction where Jules is telling Vincent "I'm just gonna walk the earth, like Caine" and Vincent is going "No, Jules you're gonna be a god damn bum". Most conversations I have seem to have that undertone.
Not having a boss, especially before you reach success seems to make people really uncomfortable and sometimes upset. On the other hand not everyone reacts that way and I feel like it can shine a light on who your best friends are so thats cool.
It's a weird path, but I've enjoyed it quite a lot so far. I'm also sort of a weird person so I don't think it would work for everyone. I don't have any kids. I'm not really into material things so my expenses are extremely low. I usually work for longer than this but I've done the math and I'm pretty sure I could cover 1 year of expenses with 1 month of work. It's a good ratio.
I've also thought about doing this in SEA or Eastern Europe to cut expenses more. The idea of being a "digital nomad" (if thats what they still call it) seems super fun.
The final boost was talking to someone who said I should recognize my own strengths, like having the bravery to leave home at a young age to go to college. I told her "I didn't feel very brave, I had my parents to fall back to in case things went wrong.", and I realized, if the freelancing idea didn't work out straight away I currently also have enough saved to fall back to.
Don’t burn any bridges and keep regular contacts with people from your prior work. Do not completely unplug. Lastly, do focus on your mental health. I am assuming people who do this are burnt out and have worked stupid hours for years on end. It takes longer than you think to recover from all the physical and mental stress. Focus on yourself!
In the end I spent about 4 months unemployed. I did get a new job, which paid better than my previous one (and had less assholes). And then about month into that, a FAANG recruiter hit me up and I got a job at one of those places. Ended up doubling the salary I had originally quit at. So it all worked out. But I feel I got very lucky.
I moved from Seattle -> Hong Kong, circa 2012, with a contracting job to an old team in Seattle. About 6-7 months in HK, the team said no more contractors or remote members, and I was effectively out of a job.
The original goal of moving to HK was to learn Cantonese (mother tongue) so I said maybe I should actually do my goal and started taking classes. That didn't work out so well. While I learned Cantonese, it's not at any useful left (can't even speak to 5 year olds for any meaningful length). I did get married instead! So it worked out.
If you're young with little responsibilities, I say do it.
"They" always say it's harder to do it while you're older. For me and everyone I know, this is 100% true. While always possible, a lot more care and planning needs to happen even with a significant other.
I've tried working on side projects and startups while fully employed in the past and never made any serious progress. It was always too easy for things to drag on for months. For my personality type, I needed the pressure and continuous blocks of focus time to make any meaningful progress.
During 2020 I went through a few ideas and eventually landed on one that has since found some traction. I found a cofounder, went through YC and am now finding our place in a competitive market.
All-in-all, it was a great decision, and one I would do again in a heartbeat.
I will say that a cash reserve is definitely key. The second time I left a job without a plan, I underestimated how much cash I would need to sustain myself for a long period of time. I ended up moving in with a friend and did a combination of contract work and GrubHub for around 6 months. In that time I also wrote and shipped a mobile app that I ultimately abandoned because I didn't have a good model for monetization.
The closest thing I had to a "plan" for if things really went south was to live out of my car. I spent some time to retrofit the trunk of my car into covert sleeping quarters and practiced sleeping in it. LOL
When I started applying for jobs again, I simply explained that I took the time off from traditional employment because I had a few apps I wanted to write and needed to dedicate my time to, which was 100% true. Employers seemed to have no problem with this at all; I actually got more interviews that year than I did in the past.
The last time I left I had quite a bit of cash saved up and had less rent to pay, thus it was much easier to simply leave without another job lined up. I had a few business and engineering projects to work on, so my plan was to work on those.
IMO, having more than a simple financial plan is overrated. It's industry dependent, no doubt, but as a developer it can be scary to leave a job without another one lined up, and everyone will tell you to never quit without already having another job. If you are single or at least don't have kids, it's not that hard to recover from mistakes, especially if you have a support system.
The one other thing I would say is that I think it's best to have a purpose when quitting. Definitely quit if you are miserable, but quitting and then not having something to do can also be bad.
In that time I travelled with my wife, found and nurtured a passion for guitar, and in retrospect it's been one of my favourite and most satisfying years in memory. I say in retrospect because I find it incredibly hard to recognize "happy times" in the moment. The hard parts of life always seem more apparent day to day. Also, it took me about a month to start feeling anything other than emptiness after I quit.
Having savings was SUPER helpful. It's taken a lot longer to find a job than I thought it would. I have a new one lined up, but at the moment I'm a little worried it's too soon.
Work is a conditioning program for your brain. Own your thoughts for a while. Experience your own stress and solve your own problems.
I think I will do it every 5 years of work.
Afterwards, I spent a month seeing members of my family. Unfortunately, while I was away on my travels, my car happened to be damaged. Had to spend several days fixing that amongst other things. Then I just spent about another month of just relaxing, before even looking for a new job.
From there I took about 3 months of 8 hour days looking for, applying and interviewing for jobs in two metros I wanted to live in. I think I had applied to ~80 jobs, had ~20 interviews, and received 3 job offers. Accepted an offer in late June, approximately 5 months after leaving my last employer.
Was it worth it? Yes in some aspects. I now make 25% more, have an easier work-life balance, and was able to resolve some things I was putting off for years. The process wasn't easy though, and even though I make more now, it'll take ~18 months for me to recoup the money I missed from being unemployed for 5 months. I also learned a lot I otherwise wouldn't have. Only downside I'd say, is that I feel this may just be a temporary stepping stone in my career...
On the other hand, I developed quite a bit of anxiety and felt a little lost and depressed at times.
My advice to get the most out of your time would be: make sure the other key areas of your life are stable first (e.g. relationships, geography, finances, social life).
If you change multiple major facets of your life all at once, you are running the risk of becoming a bit untethered.
That being said, maybe it's the feeling of being untethered that catalyzes the growth in the first place.
I didn't set any goals for myself. I just woke up and did what made me happy every day, which was exactly what I needed. After 6 months off, I also put nearly all of my belongings in a storage unit and traveled around the US in my car.
Had a blast. Would do again.
1.5 years later I joined a startup, with 3 other ambitious guys which was super successful.
The first years was really a lot of fun and work. But over time that changed. Now I have left that startup and I am planning on building another one, just need to find the right ambitious people with a good and realistic business plan.
I had a very good margins, so overall it wasn't a bad business with long hours. For many this would have been fine. But for me it got boring really quick, shut down after about 18 months.
This thread seems to take a very optimistic view of quitting, and that getting another job was easy as a fallback option. I can say as an average dev in the Bay Area, I've failed the vast majority of first round technical screens I've encountered. Consequently, I basically have nothing to show for the last 3 months. For someone like me, I guess I'll be working the same job (which I am rated highly at) until I can actually retire.
I find vacationing between jobs more rewarding than during a job. My mind is clear and I have increasingly more willingness to try and do new stuff. It's easier for me to pick up new hobbies where there is no unpleasantness that I have to go back to soon.
I have a comfort of working in a field where landing a job is easy enough not to worry that quitting will result in homelessness.
For me it went very well in terms of overall exposure, experience but in terms of finance it was not that good.
But I never regretted it.
During, journey I failed in 4 business attempts, but I never stop learning and exploring new opportunities.
Fast forward, after 9 months of break, I again joined full time and I have been running a digital side hustle along with the job.
During those 9 months of break I learned so many things and developed new high income Digital skills like Blogging, Content Writing, SEO, Marketing, Web Development, Graphics design, etc.
I have noted my entire journey of side hustle here in this job free life post: https://www.growthfunda.com/job-free-life/
Feel free to read and share you thoughts. And Here are my closing thoughts: If anyone of you planning to quit job then don't quit it without any backup (backup as in backup plan, finances) I would rather recommend one should parallely start side hustle.
Looking for inspiration?
Virtually everyone is living paycheck to paycheck, some live a frugal lifestyle others live an extravagant lifestyle and bang it on finance hoping judgement day never arrives. Even businesses are only as good as their long term contracts and share of a market, so are not much different to people, if we are to be honest about things.
Some big name companies are still only going because they have diversified, and that's it, so working many jobs is for most people just a form of diversification in all but name, but then spreading the risk amongst employers in todays world can be a good thing, reducing exposure is common in finance and there are parallels for people as well.
Besides running a business gives you access to finance/credit which will have less impact on your personal life if things don't work out, than taking on finance/credit in your personal life and things then not working out. Most shareholders of small businesses take out a lot of money which keeps their personal finances a lot cleaner. I don't know why more people don't do it?
The only other thing is remember that the global population is still going up, so prices will continue to go up as populations in develop countries can undercut developed countries, so choose your business venture wisely for a multitude of reasons.
Honestly I thought I was going to take a while to get the ball rolling but nah it was super easy. Best choice I ever made. My life is 10 times better now. If you're thinking about it make sure you've got a bit of money saved just in case but otherwise go for it. Life is short.
However, out of nowhere during the end of 2019 I was approached by a startup here which works in Document AI space. I am the only senior. I am juggling through research + engineering ML. But in some ways, I didn't anticipate that I would be enjoying so much here. But still, imposter syndrome hits hard often.
If I hadn't quit my initial startup plan, I don't know what might have happened to my research and career. I might have been more miserable.
Another post mentions the common expectation that, without a job, you would "suffocate" (though it's far from that). I like that idea.
My worldview is pretty similar. To me, money is just a way of organizing value. So if I'm a valuable person, why worry about money?
I'm very relaxed and better attuned to the humdrum of the world.
Maybe I will start my own entrepreneurial journey in my late-20's but for now I am young.
- I planned on quitting my FAANG job in February 2020 to go travel the world for 9 months (midlife crisis, sabbatical, whatever you want to call it).
- COVID hit, we came back March 2020.
- Decided to take the opportunity to leave the Bay Area and try our hand at freelance / contracting for time flexibility so we could go travel again once lockdown ended and international travel became a possibility.
- We thought we might come back to the Bay Area once "it was over" and we'd travelled.
- Lockdown stretched on, borders stayed closed.
- Contracting picked up, was able to negotiate part-time hours making enough to live on.
- My partner switched careers successfully, starting a new business.
- Fast forward to now, I'm still contracting. We've put down roots in the small town we moved to. My partner's business is thriving. We're saving up for a house.
Overall life is good. We've traded the stresses of the Bay Area for a different set of stresses - it's equally difficult finding housing here, starting a new business has been hard, and figuring out what I want out of a freelance career has been a struggle as well. We've got a lot more free time, and the flexible hours have been a huge blessing.
I don't have a recommendation either way, on the one hand I really needed the time away and I felt much much better after not working full-time for a few months. It has been a major relief to not have to stick to someone else's schedule, do scrum, pick up jira tickets, etc.
On the other hand, it is super stressful looking for a job when you don't have a fallback. Even with lots of experience, demand, ease of getting interviews, it is still hard. Interviews have gotten crazy hard and luck is such a huge factor as to passing an interview (talking about big tech, leetcode style ones), the pressure is immense when you know you _need_ to pass because you don't have a fallback plan.
I had a ton of cash runway saved up, but still it has been scary at times. Got pretty sick once and so did one of my parents. US society is structured such that you really need the safety net provided by an employer to feel capable of handling these kind of emergencies.
Personally, I can't say I regret quitting, but I'm never going to do it again without something lined up. Just not worth it for me.
I've started a job board for FPGA/RTL engineers at www.rtljobs.com. The mailing list is growing at an appreciable clip and paid postings should be live early in the new year.
I've also been doing some electronics consulting work. Not much. Only about 2-3 hours a day.
I'm making about half as much as I was at my job, but with functionally no stress.
Also, for the filters, could you make it so that when a user clicks outside of the filter choices, it closes the menu that pops up?
1) get a mailing list signup (Mailchimp, ConvertKit, whatever) into your page STAT. Don't miss out on email signups because you think your page isn't "good enough". Let your users tell you whether or not your site is good enough - they will sign up if it is. I got on the frontpage of a relevant subreddit and probably missed 10-20 email signups as a result.
2) don't be afraid to talk about your project online, a lot. Tweet about it, blog about it, post to Reddit as much as you feasibly can.
I've been trying to fix that filter thing for weeks. Don't know the answer lol. Probably going to have to wait until I finish some backend junk and start transferring the frontend over to a React or Vue frontend.
This probably won't work for everyone. I have a LOT of public bona fides as an elixir developer (I have six libraries on the public elixir repository that I pinned to the top of my github), elixir companies are hiring a LOT, and as an elixir dev, you don't have to compete as much with the market of lemons among programmers. I also had no debt, and about seven months of drawdown.
I got pretty high up on the traditional engineering corporate ladder (junior to senior to lead to managing managers at a startup) and realized, even though I was pretty good at it, it just wasn't where I wanted my life to go.
I enrolled in a part time language learning school for Chinese and spend the other half trying to get a engineer training business off the ground. I figure the worst case scenario was I'd learn Chinese and have plenty content in my portfolio to become a Developer Advocate for The Man later. Worst worst case scenario I'd already developed a great reputation with previous colleagues in the past I could send a text message to and get work fixing broken websites again.
I further hedged my risk by giving a 1 month notice at my last job to ensure no bridges were burned. Also relocated from California to Taiwan which halved my living expenses and doubled my quality of life.
Even though I had a multi year run way of savings, an impending IPO that would give me even more cash, and the bonkers bull market of 2021, I _still_ got a bit anxious about not making an income right away at first.
Instead of planning on doing nothing I'd recommend finding a 10-20 hour a week contract gig, or interviewing at somewhere like karat.com to give freelance interviews. At the very least, have a plan of WHAT you'll be doing if you're not working, maybe it's signing up for a foreign language course, or grad school, or flamenco dancing, whatever. Just make sure you have some sort of routine planned. You can start your own thing while taking a part time class, and it'll make it much easier to make friends and not accidentally waste your time on social media by accident.
That being said, if you have a plan of what you'll do, have a specific place in mind, and have the cash saved up, go for it.
> The causal effect of quitting a job is estimated to be a gain of 5.2 happiness points out of 10, and breaking up as a gain of 2.7 out of 10! This is the kind of welfare jump you might expect if you moved from one of the least happiness countries in the world to one of the happiest, though presumably these effects would fade over time.
> Both results are significant at the p=0.04 level, and fortunately I don’t think Levitt had many if any opportunities for specification mining here to artificially drive down the p value.
^^ big caveat emptor in the top comment though ;-)
I think if you don't know what you'd do, there's a chance you'll end up regretting it. But there's also a chance you realize there's a ton of life you aren't living, and find ways to reconnect with it.
My advice: be sure to have at least some cushion of money, it's a hell of a lot easier when single and no kids, force yourself to have some structure and discipline after a month or so of grace period, consider staying with family and friends to save on money, and finally try to live a little. You only live once.
Keep in mind, I have an advantage of being a decent software engineer in the biggest industry boom in history. So it has always been easy for me to step back into the market when I wanted.
The first time was for about 6 months to welcome a child. I had had enough of my job at the time and decided to stop without a plan. It was great and possibly planted the seed of future breaks. After 6 months I was ready to start again and got a job within a week or two.
The second time was for 4 years. I moved my family to another continent. Eventually, moved back for personal reasons and so had to find employment again. This time I found a job through connections.
I’m now financially at the point that I likely don’t need to work anymore and I’m itching to break free again so I’m likely to do it in the near future.
My advice is to have enough saved up for at least a year and to jump. It’s liberating.
Whatever you decide to do, if you don't have people that can (and want to) accompany you during this time, this is just a recipe for loneliness and depression.
Not for the faint hearted, but I definitely recommend it.
Just don’t wait too long to find something new.
This is just me... You will hear a lot of positives about taking the plunge|risk|adventure. I learned the hard way to stop recommending stuff that works for me to other people without heavy disclaimers and caveats. What works for one, does not necessarily works for the other. There are simply too many variables not including the biggest one - yourself.
So, if I was you, and had savings and no dependents, I'd go roam the world "like Cain in Kong-Fu" AND do my own thing while I'm at it. But I'm not you. Nobody is so take everything being said to you here with large grains of crystal salt.
A cool thing is I had so much time, like months of time to learn. I dove into web development, I didn't know what a CSR was, how to get a server to work, learned about XSS/sql injection, etc...
This was in 2016 left from NY moved to Missouri/KS.
I still have that fear of "what if I go homeless" but I've also learned not to get too attached to my possessions I can in theory sell them on the spot at 70% of their price to get immediate buyers. It's not great but guarantees me cash. I can do computing on second-hand stuff, in a better position to freelance. I have a burn rate of my net worth based on assets/cash/CL divided by my monthly needs so I know how many months I can live for ha not to get dramatic.
I shouldn't be poor now, I make more than I really need but I also keep saying yes to my families, I've given away $30K so far which is a lot for me. Funny I could have paid off my student loans with that money or I could have saved that. Oh well adapt and survive that's the name of the game. Also try not to be too much of a nice guy.
I had some crazy experiences though, like riding a bike at midnight through a road cutting across a huge field (like a mile or two in length) pitch black at night that was scary.
Spend 4 months doing interview after interview and failing miserably (not in the bay area). Until I finally found my current position.
But I always got better job next time, because when I was unemployed, I learned lots of new things in webdevelopment and app development.
I quit a job about 15 years ago with no plans and enough money to last me a year or two. It taught me a lot about myself. I had planned on hiking and skiing and maybe starting my own company, but mostly I just sat around catching up on TV shows and movies because all my friends were working full-time. I also did some volunteer work to fill the time and keep up contact with other people.
After about a year of that, I was really bored, and it only took a month or two to line up another job, even in the 2008 recession. I took a pay cut relative to my previous job, but I met great new people, learned a lot of new stuff, and eventually got enough equity to more than make up the salary difference.
In retrospect, it was correct from a career standpoint, but I will not quit a job again without having another job lined up, especially since for data science in particular the industry is competitive and would result in another prolonged job search.
The only thing I will say is that you are in a much worse negotiating position which can be a problem if you're heading towards the top of the payscale in your area when you quit.
Then business started taking off and now I'm too busy for my own good. I learned a lot. Biggest lesson is that I need to charge more. A lot more. Another thing that surprised me was what brought in the most income, both in absolute terms and in a per hour rate, so I'll have to reconsider my positioning and marketing strategy for next year.
And I love what I'm doing and I feel like growing a lot. There have been many moments where I doubted things (The Dip as Seth Godin calls it), but somehow I got over them.
I still don't feel like I'm 100% back to normal, but I'm definitely improving. I didn't even want to touch tech before, but lately I've been tinkering around with some light things. I feel no desire to go back to work, but I also feel little to no dread anymore, which is good. Probably give it a bit longer and then get back to the grind. If you can afford it, I would recommend it. It took over a month before I stopped feeling stressed about work memories.
I've been working as a contractor for several years now, and for about 2 years now I am also working on my own start up together with a partner but it's earning 0 because reasons. After having worked A LOT over the past few years, I had a big financial buffer that allowed me complete freedom in my decision to quit, which was a very important factor.
For a long time I felt like I might be close to burning out due to working too much, getting bored of work, being unable to get anything changed at the company I was working for (as a software architect), and dealing with relationship issues. I took all of March off to see if that would help, but within 1-2 weeks after getting back I realized I wasn't really ready yet but I kept going because it was a very convenient job. Second last week of April something small happened that pissed me off more than it should, revealing to me that I wasn't in a good state of mind to keep working there. The next day I informed the company I would quit as soon as possible (which ended up end of April).
I decided I was going to be working on my own startup for the foreseeable future while taking it easy to get my head straight again. I ended up just coding endlessly on the project as a means of being distracted while never really dealing with real issues because I did not have the energy to confront them. Meanwhile I keep going in circles dealing with the end of my relationship and I seem to be unable to move on. I've come to realize spending so much time on my own with little distraction has been an issue.
I ended up deciding to try to find a new job again and work for my start up only 2 days a week, but it has been hard finding something for 3 days a week. I obviously want to work on location 1-2 days, which is also not ideal with Covid.
The lesson I learned from this is not to quit when you're not happy about your personal situation, even if you can afford to financially and professionally. The distraction is probably healthy, and if your current job isn't, find another one that is instead of quitting altogether.
I would say it's not going great, but my hand was forced a bit.
In the first I discovered I had a passion for helping other people learn and ended up working at MIT on the Scratch project and then with Bret Victor (http://worrydream.com) at his research lab, both really amazing opportunities.
In the second I decided to quit tech to become a therapist. You can read about that here: http://glench.com/WhyIQuitTechAndBecameATherapist/
Your mileage may vary.
I kind of just explored the city every day, tried new food, got myself in slightly better shape, and formed some new habits.
Obvious caveat here is I was fairly young (mid 20s) with no responsibilities.
I have traveled for the past 6 months and haven't really found myself yet. I want the freedom so I could do what I want, but now I feel like I don't have a purpose.
I have been taking voice/acting classes and taking singing lessons, and reading alot.
I don't want to go back to a W2 job, unless I absolutely have to.
I spent a couple months lazying around until I felt like going back to work, then spent a month doing interviews until I got a couple offers I liked. Nobody seemed to care that I took a break between jobs, and the only time it came up I said I had the chance to relax for a bit so I just took advantage of it and they didn't question it or anything.
If you can afford it and have some confidence that you can easily get a job afterwards, I'd highly recommend it.
For me, it really helped not at all thinking about what was next until 2.5 months in. If you start interviewing already after a few weeks you don't get proper headspace to really relax and get out of the work mindset.