When Is It Time to Quit the 9-5?

A little over two years ago, I worked my final day at my full-time job.

I worked at a very popular restaurant in Salt Lake City and was the Director of Private Dining and was in charge of all the private events in the building — booking, planning, staffing. When I was hired, I thought I’d finally found my dream job. I’d been an event planner for 10 years at that point and my dream was to have my own department where I could set up all the systems and structure it how I wanted. And, that is what I had — my own department where I laid the foundation, systemized it and made it efficient.

So, why would I want to quit my dream job?

As I worked to create a department of my own with my rules and my systems, I soon realized it wasn’t really mine.  I was creating a system and structure for someone else. I was answering to a higher authority who set goal I was expected to reach without even being consulted first. And, when I didn’t meet the goals they set, they adjusted my spending by doing things like cutting my staff, which made my days longer and job harder.

I was working 12 hour days, 50+ hour weeks and was soooo tired. I worked so much, I was missing the important things like weekends with my kids, school programs, dates with my husband, and time for myself. I spent all my energy at work and didn’t have enough to survive outside of it. It was sucking my soul.

One night, after a long day at work, I found myself sitting in my car in the parking lot outside of the building. I was sobbing — sobbing so hard I couldn’t stop. With tears streaming down my face, I pleaded with the Universe, “There HAS to be something else. Why am I doing this to myself?!?”

That was the moment I promised myself I would figure out a way to quit. I would figure out a way to make a living doing what I loved.

Working in My Zone of Genius

I’d started my side hustle as an Idea Implementation Strategist a year before I hit rock bottom at my 9-5. I knew what I loved to do, which was helping visionaries bring their ideas to life. It made my soul sing; it was my Zone of Genius.

So, how could I take it from side hustle to full-time business? I had a plan. I determined a 3-Step Formula to get me ready to give my notice and finally QUIT MY DAY JOB.

Step 1: Do the Math

Being the breadwinner of the family, I knew I couldn’t suddenly quit my job without having a MAJOR impact on my family. The last thing I wanted was my husband to file for divorce. That is why is was important for me to figure out what I needed to sell in order to bring in enough cash for my family to maintain our lifestyle. In order to calculate this, I figured out:

  1. How much revenue I needed to bring in to survive? — This number is part of determining your critical assumptions. Once you know the minimum amount you need to earn, you have a starting point. Consider things like paying your bills, buying groceries, business expenses, and extra for having fun. What does your income need to be?
  2. What you can sell to bring in the revenue? — It isn’t enough to know how much you need, you also need to know how where the revenue is coming from by identifying your revenue streams. What do you have to sell? How much is it? How many do you need to sell to hit your revenue goals? Is it realistic?
  3. How much buffer do you need and how will you acquire it? — Having paying customers from the beginning is unlikely. In reality, it will take time to build your audience and customer base. Giving yourself four to six months (or more) of time to build up momentum is essential so you won’t feel pressure or anxiety about making money. Figure out how much money you need to save up to give you time to grow. How will you save this money? Create a plan.

Step 2: Set a Date

Choosing your last day at work can be an extremely liberating and terrifying experience all at the same time. BUT… if you don’t choose a date, it isn’t going to happen.

Once you have your finances figured out, determine a date that will fit in with your revenue strategy. Put it on your calendar. Make it real. Once you are within two to four weeks, put in your notice.

Step 3: Have a Back Up Plan

Now, I know what you are thinking. If you put it out that there that you need a back-up plan, it is like telling the Universe you will fail. BUT, that is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE.

Losing the security of a job is stressful and causes TONS of anxiety. I’m sure some of you are hyperventilating simply by the THOUGHT of quitting your job. Your back-up plan is there to help ease the anxiety of the unknown. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Think of your worst case scenario — Is the world going to explode and envelope you with magma and destruction? No. It won’t. Are you going to die of embarrassment and ridicule? No. You won’t. So, what, in actuality, is the worst thing that is going to happen? For me it was that I would have to get a new job.
  2. Come to peace with your worst case scenario — If your worst case scenario is something you CAN’T handle, then don’t do it. BUT, if it is, then what are you waiting for? My worst case scenario was having to get another job. It wasn’t something I ever wanted to do, and having to find a job would be a kick in the ego, but I could do it. I’ve had a lot of jobs. It is something I could easily do.

Once you know what your back-up plan is, you can let go of the stress and anxiety of not knowing if your business venture will work out. You can focus on making your business succeed and stop worrying about failing.

There is no black and white answer to tell you when it’s the right time to quit your 9-5. It takes a lot of deep thought, listening to your intuition, and connection with your soul. But, once you’ve hit the point of “I can’t do this anymore,” you’ll know. When you follow these three steps, you’ll be well on your way to stepping into your passion and living in your Zone of Genius.


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About the Author

Kathy Rasmussen is the Cofounder and Artistic Director of Badassery Magazine and Co-host of Badassery Podcast. She’s passionate about giving entrepreneurs the tools they need to follow their dreams and live a life of happiness and purpose.

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