Thursday, January 17, 2008

Quiting Without Another Job - An Epidemic

Today, I found out that one of my coworkers is doing what I did, quitting without another job lined up. He is about my age, maybe a little bit younger, but he just didn't feel that the opportunity was right at our company and has decided to go and try it on his own. He doesn't have a real plan but knew that he had to move on. I know a few more people who have done this or are planning to do it. Most of them are younger without a lot of obligations. Most of them however have really good paying jobs. Free Money Finance just recently had a post on whether or not you should quit your job without another one lined up. He came down on the side of you should definitely not.

I however, having done it, really do see both sides of this argument. It really just depends. Most people are probably unhappy with their job in one form or another, especially younger people. I think my generation more so than any other before take job satisfaction to be very important. Our parents understood that a job was just that, a job. You didn't like your job, you did it to put food on the table. But somewhere along the way that changed. A job became who you were, it defined you. We constantly heard our parents tell us, "Do what you love" and we took it to heart. That has caused my generation to job hop until we find something that really makes us happy. The problem is that it is always still a job, and many people don't ever come to realize that. They jump from job to job always hoping to find something better. I know very few people my age that haven't had at least two different jobs. I myself am on my fourth while only being out of college for a little under eight years.

I disagree with the conventional wisdom for a few reasons.

  1. You can be doing a lot of other things besides a 9-5 job to earn money - This didn't use to be the case, but you can spend your time coming up with alternative ways to earn income. In the end, this might actually be smarter if you can make it passive, and then return to the work force. You will have double income!

  2. It really depends on your financial situation - If you are like me with no obligations or debt, and could survive years unemployed, than you have little to worry about. Believe me, the fear is bigger than the reality most of the time. This is where living frugally really pays off.

  3. Depends how much you make and how in demand your skills are - I make a lot of money. There aren't a lot of jobs that pay what I make now. It isn't easy for me to just find a job that will pay me what I want to make. However, I have the advantage of having skills highly in demand, so most of the time I have very little trouble finding a new job when I really want one.

  4. Money isn't everything - Coming from a guy who highly values money, this may be shocking, but it's true. I would rather have a job I liked and get paid less for it than a job I hated and got paid more for. So I would be willing to take a job that paid me less if I ever got so desperate. That being said, a lot of people are miserable no matter how much they get paid, so this makes the argument that perhaps you should just stick it out. Might as well get more money than less money for the same level of misery!

So what do you think? How bad of an idea is it to quit a job without another one? Do you think it really is an epidemic among the younger generation?


  1. The risk really isn't that by quitting your job you'll end up financially destitute. The real risk is that you'll end up in another job or situation that has you more miserable, less happy, and with no way out. For me, if I were to quit my day job, I'd be more worried that my social health would lapse and that I'd go stir crazy, and less worried that I'd run out of money and have to beg for quarters at freeway exits.

    For someone with skills in high demand, quitting your job is really just a way to take an extended vacation. Smart people will always be able to find a job.

  2. By doing so you are getting the fear. Without the fear, you won't have the motivation to seek the desired job that you are looking for.

  3. I agree Nick. It is a scary thing to quit your job, but once you do, it motivates you to really find what you are looking to do.

  4. [...] most of your costs are variable, not fixed. That way, when you have to scale back, such as when you quit your job, it is much easier to [...]

  5. If you never try something new, you'll continue to live in status quo. Do you know those whiners in the lunch room who always complain how they hate their jobs and they're undervalued? You could become one of them.... If you're unhappy, do something different to get out of that situation. And if you tried another job that made you miserable, keep searching. Life expectancy is now 90. You could be condemning yourself to a long life of self-inflicted misery.