It’s the cardinal rule of the workforce: Never quit a job without having another one lined up.
It’s a socially accepted rule for good reason. We all yearn for stability in our lives. Electing to be unemployed is doing the exact opposite—bringing uncertainty to your career and financial future.
Yet everyone has considered breaking this rule for one reason or another. And when you ask for guidance on how to approach it, most people will dissuade you. They may warn about the possibility that you won’t be able to support yourself or find a new job if you quit.
So you’re left wondering: Can you quit without another job offer and avoid committing career suicide or going broke?
It is possible to do the unthinkable with enough preparation. These 4 laws can help guide you in making a sensible plan before quitting. Be warned: it’s not a cakewalk!
Law #1: Cut Out Excess
The most important step towards leaving work without another job is creating a significant savings fund. The ideal amount of savings is 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses.
I know what you’re thinking—it will take me forever to save that type of money. Though it may seem daunting, you can cut down how much you need to save significantly by reducing your monthly expenses.
So cut it all out! If possible, downsize your living expenses or find a roommate. Cancel non-necessities like cable TV or gym memberships. And reduce your telephone data usage to a bare minimum.
You can also save quicker by making more. Raise funds with a side hustle like dog walking, babysitting, or mowing lawns. Sell some of your stuff in a yard sale, eBay, or Craigslist. And while you’re at, it see if your friends or family will donate items for you to sell.
Law #2: Fall Into the Gap
It’s generally understood that finding a job is harder if you’re jobless. As an unemployed worker, you’ll have to explain the reasoning behind your gap in work. Surprisingly, many employers are more interested in what skills you have to offer than why you took a break. To stay ahead of the game plan to do an activity during your employment gap to share with future employers.
And it can be lots of things. Think about volunteering, starting a passion project, traveling, or taking classes. If you explain the value of each skill you learn during a career break, what employer won’t want to hire you?
Law #3: Plan for “Game Over”
At some point after quitting, you’ll have to return to the workforce. Establish a circumstance when you’ll know that time has come. It may be when you deplete your savings to a certain dollar amount, when you’ve finished a volunteer effort, or when your classes are over.
A gap in employment can’t last forever and understanding when your “game over” is will help you prepare to reenter the workforce at the right time.
Law #4: Agree to Disagree
Not everyone is going to agree with your decision to quit without another job offer. Some call them “haters.” I call them “lovers.” If they’re taking the time to dissuade you from making the decision, they likely care so much that they want the best for you.
But no one knows you more than you. And it’s completely normal for others to feel a little uncomfortable when you take a road less traveled. If you’ve prepared yourself with a well thought out plan, make the decision that you believe in.
Deciding When to Quit
Every work situation is different and no two life circumstances are the same. To what degree you follow each law above depends on your situation.
When I quit my job last month, I had saved a little bit less than 3 months’ worth of expenses because I found part-time work and my husband works full-time. It took me a lot longer to make the final decision to quit because I felt uncomfortable taking a different path from those around me. But after I finally had a conversation with my own conscience, I knew what decision to make. Following these four laws helped me build a sustainable plan for being unemployment.
Now that you’re familiar with the principles that will help you quit your job and venture into the unemployed unknown, remember one more thing:
Be true to yourself and everything will fall into place.