Here’s a ‘scary’ email I received from a reader recently…
…I am writing this email to seek your opinion on a career move I’ve made recently. Taking inspiration from you, I’ve quit my job and have started as a full time investor. This I think was the best route for me to attain financial freedom, like you have attained.
I have been highly inspired by you and your work, and thus wanted to seek your view on what I can do to become a successful value investor and attain financial freedom…
It feels great to be an inspiration to someone, but it feels scary if the “inspired” gets the wrong inspiration.
In fact, I’ve received several such emails and calls in the past with people asking me how they can become full time investors like me, and achieve financial freedom at a young age.
The reason I call these emails ‘scary’ is because…
- I am not a full time investor.
- I have not yet attained financial freedom.
In fact, investing is what I do to keep and grow my money, like you do. Plus, I still work to earn my bread.
Yes I quit my job last year to work on Safal Niveshak…but quitting a job does not always follows/or is followed by attaining financial freedom.
It’s just that I now work from my home, work as much as I can to earn enough to survive now and in the future, and spend a lot of time with my family and things that give me happiness. Things like…
- Helping people get simple and sensible with their money, via Safal Niveshak
- Helping parents and grandparents share their life lessons with children to enable the latter to live a life of compassion and integrity, via A Letter to My Child
- Helping children with multidisciplinary learning, via a small library that I’m starting soon out of my living room
- Spending time in activities like reading and Silent Wednesday
Researching stocks and investing is just small part of my daily life.
As far as financial freedom is concerned, I have not yet attained it (it’s work-in-progress).
I work as a copywriter and content writer – writing website content and marketing mailers for companies in the financial space. This is what earns me money.
Some of my friends, cousins and ex-colleagues (and also some tribesmen) think I am “lucky” to be living this life…but few know about the scare I went through without any work or income for the first two months after I’d quit my job.
That was a choice I made, and it’s a choice that’s open for anyone to make. But when I came to know of a few who quit their jobs or are looking to quit their jobs to ‘live like me’, I was scared enough…and thus thought of writing this post about why I quit my job and how I made the decision.
Before I quit my job…
Getting out of your comfort zone is the most difficult thing in the world to do. But then, the thing that I learnt early in my life (through an advice from someone I respect a lot) was that the time to quit is before it feels painful. The worst time to quit is when the pain is the greatest, simply because decisions made during great pain are rarely good decisions.
So I decided to quit when I thought I was starting to get comfortable in my job…because that comfort was leading me to stagnation, and thus pain.
I wanted to do bigger and better things in life than to spend my precious hours working on lifeless excel models, worrying what companies were planning to do in the future, searching (in vain) for stocks that would do well in the future, and making my employer happy by doing what he wanted me to do!
I thus decided to quit, but not before I answered the following five questions…
1. Why do I want to quit?
I’m a big believer in the concept of “opportunity cost”. So I look at all my decisions on a relative basis. Even quitting my job wasn’t a decision in isolation.
I didn’t quit because I hated my boss or my job. (Yes, yes…I did that, but that was not the driving reason) 🙂
I quit because, as I wrote above, I had bigger and better things to do with my little time on this planet than work on a job that wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and that took away almost 15 hours of my daily life…including the arduous 3.5 hours of travel in stuffed suburban trains.
I quit because I wanted to stay close to my family, even if that meant a lower income (some people have called this an irrational decision, but so am I…irrational!)
I quit because I wanted to work towards improving my health that I’d ignored during the first eight years of my career.
I quit because I wanted to live in idleness whenever and for however long I wanted, not whenever my boss allowed.
Once I knew exactly what I wanted, I asked myself, “How much do I want it?” I wanted it very much, and thus I quit.
2. Can I do, what I want to do, without quitting?
The thought of sacrificing a big salary ( stock market analysts draw much bigger salaries than they deserve) was scary at first. But then I realized that the life I wanted to live was not possible in the situation I was in when I was working on a job. I tried changing my work schedule to allow time for other things, but failed in that attempt.
I had to get the workload off my back if I wanted to run free, and thus I quit.
3. Do I have a plan B?
I did not quit without preparation. It would have been a suicide if I’d done that.
Instead, I worked towards improving my skills in simple writing, and learned the basics of technology and online marketing, to be able to do things on my own.
I bought a laptop and started developing content for Safal Niveshak during my travel to and from office (at times, I found people staring at me as I typed on my laptop while standing in the local train).
But then, I never prepared a business plan and never had a plan B.
This might sound like a foolish decision, but in hindsight, I think whatever little success I’ve made of my writing business and Safal Niveshak, it’s because I focused…because I had no plan B…no escape route.
All I said to myself was, “You want it so much, then just do it!”
…and thus I quit.
4. Do I have the support of my family?
Now this is one of the most important parts of the process of quitting your job, especially if you have dependents.
When I decided to quit my job, I had my wife and daughter to take care of…plus another child was on its way. So I “had to have” a buy in into this decision from my wife.
Not only did I get her unending support, I also found support from my daughter who was ready to sacrifice her future toys and gifts just to see Papa with her…and thus I quit.
5. Am I placed comfortably on my finances?
Quitting a job to follow your passion is a lovely thought, except when it comes to your finances.
So here are three things that I ensured before I quit my job:
- I paid off my home loan out of my savings and some help from the family – I cut my financial liability to zero.
- I had enough saved to cover 35 months of expenses (so this was a sort of plan B for me)
- As a family, we were willing to cut down on our lifestyle expenses.
I now earn just 50% of what I would have earned if I was on a job now, but I’m 5x more content with what I’m doing now.
Plus, as far as my financial life is concerned, I have not compromised on my savings at all. I still save and invest 50% of my monthly income, which if I can compound at 15% per year, I would be able to spend my retirement comfortably.
In fact, if I were to stop earning now, I can survive financially for the next 70 months…or 3 years more than when I had quit my job.
All this because for me and my wife, the equation of “Earn – Save = Spend” holds paramount. That’s the simplest financial plan we continue to work on.
Some lessons I want to share
Here are some lessons from my experience in quitting my job and living a life my way…just in case you are sailing in the same boat as I was 20 months back:
- You don’t need to quit your job if you can work on your passion alongside.
- Quitting your job must be the last resort, or when you find the burden unbearable and abusive.
- Quitting a job and living a fulfilling life isn’t as easy as those who have done it would make out to be. Things get scary at times.
- Quitting you job will affect others in your life, so it’s critical that you have an honest conversation with your family first and get their buy into the decision.
- Learn an important and sellable skill before you quit your job to start on your own.
- Quitting a job to live as an investor can be a path to hell. Don’t expect investing to make you rich, but to keep you rich. It’s the earning from your work, and what you do with it, that will make you rich.
- Practice minimalism and lean living at least a year before you plan to quit your job. Instant compromises are heart breaking!
- Save money to use as initial capital for your business, and then keep your expenses low. Don’t borrow money for your business till the time you aren’t generating cash. As an investor, you hate cash guzzling businesses, right?
- Don’t believe people who tell you – “How I quit my job, doubled my pay and cut my hours in half”…or something like this. They will not help you if you reach a point of no return.
Before you quit your job…
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~ Mark Twain
Writing, meditating, sharing, caring, and giving. That’s what I’m doing now.
I’ve refused to be a slave to others’ expectations, and have decided to avoid the traps of money, status, and perceived success. So, to my old life, I’ve bid farewell.
But I won’t advise you to take inspiration from me and quit your job.
This is because I believe there are two ways to live a fulfilling life…
- To have passion in your life, and
- To have life in your passion
I have chosen the second way, because that is where my heart lies.
Your heart might lie somewhere else. But if you are still considering quitting your job, I would suggest you answer the above five questions (and maybe more like these) to understand clearly what you are getting into.
If the answers give you the confidence to quit your job and break free, read the following passage and get going. I came across this passage just when I was about to quit my job (as I was searching for inspiration), and then yesterday.
Not me, this should serve the real inspiration for you!
Love Your Path by Paolo Coelho
- The path begins at a crossroads. There you can stop and think what direction you want to take. But don’t spend too much time thinking or you’ll never leave the spot. Ask yourself the classic Carlos Castaneda question: Which of these paths has a heart?
- The path doesn’t last forever. It’s a blessing to travel the path for some time, but one day it will come to an end, so be prepared to take leave of it at any moment.
- Honor your path. It was your choice, your decision, and just as you respect the ground you step on, that ground will respect your feet. Always do what’s best to conserve and keep your path and it will do the same for you.
- Be well-equipped. Carry a small rake, a spade, a penknife. Understand that penknives are no use for dry leaves, and rakes are useless for herbs that are deep-rooted. Know what tool to use at each moment. And take care of your tools, because they’re your best allies.
- The path goes forward and backward. At times you have to go back because something was lost, or a message to be delivered was forgotten in your pocket. A well tended path enables you to go back without any great problem.
- Take care of the path before you take care of what’s around you. Attention and concentration are fundamental. Don’t be distracted by the dry leaves at the edges. Use your energy to tend and conserve the ground that accepts your steps.
- Be patient. Sometimes the same tasks have to be repeated, like tearing up weeds or closing holes that appear after unexpected rain. Don’t let that annoy you; it’s part of the journey. Even though you’re tired, even though certain tasks are repeated so often, be patient.
- Paths cross. People can tell you what the weather is like elsewhere. Listen to advice, but make your own decisions. You’re responsible for the path entrusted to you.
- Nature follows its own rules. You have to be prepared for sudden changes in the fall, slippery ice in winter, the temptations of flowers in spring, thirst and showers in the summer. Make the most of each of these seasons, and don’t complain about their characteristics.
- Make your path a mirror of yourself. By no means let yourself be influenced by the way others care for their paths. You have your own soul to listen to, and the birds to whisper translations of what your soul is saying.
- Love your path. Without this, nothing makes any sense.
By the way, my doors and windows are open if you need any help and guidance in making the decision to quit your job. I’d love to play the devil’s advocate!
As for my consultancy fee, it’s a cup of coffee and your promise to share the learning with someone needy in the future…again for just a cup of coffee. 🙂