I took an extended road trip, unplugged for the duration and returned to find that my post on leaving tech had been quite popular. Wow! Thank you, sweet Internet!
I received a lot of email and some comments, including some flavor of “Are there resources I consulted or found helpful in making my decision?” Yes. Many. I had many oracles and work questioning, table flipping sherpas who did much of the mental heavy lifting for me. It’s my pleasure to share them with you, in no particular order.
How To Quit Your Job
Behold, my cobbled together collection from my many freedom sherpas. These will help you find your way, not feel crazy and get your courage up.
As noted in my original post, Cate Huston’s blog has been a source of solace and guidance. Her writing convinced me that there was at least one other person who felt the way I did, and that I was possibly neither crazy nor alone. Notable are her posts on the day she’ll leave the tech industry and the day she actually did.
Tim Chevalier’s post on leaving tech and his Twitter feed have been immensely helpful, reassuring, kind and thoughtful. Tim’s post resonated so much that I don’t think it’s coincidence that he posted it in April and I resigned a few weeks after I read it.
When I look back on it, Crawford’s first book, Shop Class as Soul Craft, was a turning point in my life. I read it twice in a row. I was back at a tech company after having made furniture for a while and feeling very much the sell out, as well as crazy. How could I even consider leaving tech for a poorly paid craft? Shop Class is an engaging meditation that digs into what’s wrong with work, and work culture, in the U.S. I recently read Crawford’s second book, a polemic titled The World Beyond Your Head, and it’s glorious.
I generally adore Monbiot’s writing, but his Choose Life essay definitely forced my hand: “You know you have only one life. You know it is a precious, extraordinary, unrepeatable thing: the product of billions of years of serendipity and evolution. So why waste it by handing it over to the living dead?”
Alain de Botton
Read The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work and watch his TED talk on a kinder, gentler philosophy of success.
Read the book How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric. I was able to read the e-book for free from my library. It’s a life changer and courage giver.
Read the book How I Survived My First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment: Going it Alone at 40 by Liz Broomfield, who also has a terrific blog on self-employment.
(What’s all this about self-employment if I’m financially independent and retired early, hmm? Early retirement does not mean “doing nothing” and there is work I very much enjoy doing, and want to keep doing, and I really didn’t know how best to go about that.)
You can’t go wrong with any of Schor’s books, but I read The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure. This is a book that, many years ago, made me realize that we don’t need to work as hard as we are, and thus planted the seed in my brain that it was possible to stop, or work less. Schor’s books are helpful tools in examining your own behaviors and digging into your motivations for those behaviors.
You know it’s bad when you begin to fantasize about your farewell email and feel envious while reading those of others. But Sherwood Anderson’s resignation letter beats all.
Read Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. I realized, when I felt “called” to do work that outwardly didn’t make sense, that I needed to think more on the idea vocation instead of “a job.”
McHugh gives an inspiring (and, depending on your emotional state, possibly tear-inducing) TED talk called The Art of Being Yourself.
I hesitate to post this one, as I’m not sure if Ben Franklin actually put it this way, or did so in this context. But when it came to pulling the trigger, I found George Monbiot’s attribution to Franklin helpful: “Whenever you are faced with a choice between liberty and security, choose liberty. Otherwise you will end up with neither.”
Dr. Doom is the online moniker of a financially independent, retired early (FIRE) fellow. I his entire blog over the past two months. In particular, I found his post on quitting a cushy job and midlife FI-sis to be just what I needed. Start with his “Post Collections” menu item and read the Backstory and The Quit Series collections.
Though I didn’t see it until my last day of work, this post on I Quit My Job to be Happy is good reading at any time. “I just wanted to be happier, and in order to achieve that, I had to become someone I’ve always looked down on: a quitter.”
Susanka wrote The Not So Big House, which I read when it became a best seller over a decade ago. At the time, I was living in a tiny, one-room studio kitchenette for $500/month. One wall was the kitchen, another was windows and — as I slept on my $200, deluxe version futon — my toes touched the refrigerator door and my head nearly touched the steam heater. I was happier than I’d ever been and didn’t understand why everyone kept asking me when I was going to move to a bigger place and how I could stand it. They also couldn’t understand how I could afford $20,000/year for grad school when I was making $37,000/year, especially when I told them it really wasn’t hard.
Anyway, long story short, I read The Not So Big House to make me feel less alone and crazy (an overarching theme of this post). It’s a good book to keep you from overspending on housing as you go through life. Less is more.
This one is a bit off topic. Kirsten is half off a nomadic Canadian couple who lives out of a beautifully converted van. Do I want to leave my sweet little house to live in a van? No. Does the video of the Dirkens inspire thinking about life’s possibilities when not constrained by an office, and include thoughtful observations on the role of work and higher values? Yes.