When you’ve worked in the media industry for many years you start to realize that there is a sick marketing strategy that feeds on people who are depressed, anxious and hopeless in their current job. This marketing strategy has become a multi-billion dollar self-help industry that pervades our society like the black plague.
The “gurus” who employ this marketing scam often write books, go on public speaking tours and will take any opportunity to have the spotlight placed on them. They are creating an illusion in our society that anyone can have exactly what they want, whether it be becoming a millionaire, a travel writer, an IG influencer who gets paid to show up at parties or the next Gary V. You may be familiar with their spiel: “I Quit My Job to Do What I Love and You Can Too!”
Over the last 10 years, I’ve watched many friends struggle as entrepreneurs, some whom have in fact figured out how to live sustainably and others who are living in a state of messy chaos to follow their passion. I commend these people, they are my inspiration, but having heard their stories firsthand, I know that for most people, simply quitting their job to do what they love with no backup plan or seed funding is usually a long tedious road that, at points, can feel like hell.I know that for most people, simply quitting their job to do what they love with no backup plan or seed funding is usually a long tedious road that, at points, can feel like hell.Click To Tweet
I’m writing this not to discourage people from doing what they were put on this planet to do, but to be straight about the fact that all this self-help content that bombards our social media channels, email and TVs is just a marketing ploy that is creating more and more unhappiness among people who are looking to escape the misery of their job.
I believe that if we really want to help people get out of their crappy situations, we need to stop making them think that they can become a Tim Ferris, Richard Branson, Gabby Bernstein, or any type of travel/yoga/YouTube influencer if they just try. Trying is not enough. Creating a business plan is not enough. Working your ass off day in and day out is not always enough.
If we are going to tell people who may have a lot at stake to take a risk by leaving their job we need to be real about things and the first way to start is by identifying the fact that saving for a rainy day is key.
For the past several months, I’ve been working on developing a microloan program for women living in extreme poverty in Rwanda to provide the startup capital necessary to launch small businesses. Much of the research shows that microloan programs don’t work longterm unless they are paired with a coinciding savings program. The evidence to why this happens points to the fact that when people are given startup capital, unless they put money aside every week or month for the chance incidences of a health crisis, profit loss and/or issues relating to family and shelter, the probability of their business failing is quite high.
The same concept also works in the West, where most people are not living in extreme poverty, but many people live check to check. The idea of saving is not such a big thing here in America and maybe it’s because ‘the powers that be’ want people to rely on credit, and to have a life where there’s just enough time to eat, sleep and take their kids to school so that no one has the time or energy to question much more. If the poorest of the poor can save, every American who is generating an income has the ability to save something. If you can muster the discipline to save enough money to live on for at least one year, taking a risk to pursue your passion lightens the financial stress and opens the doors to a full 10-12 months where you can focus your energy on building a viable business. It will also prove that you can be savvy with money increasing your chances at success.
The second offering I have for those who want to quit their job is to spend several months networking and building genuine professional relationships with people who have connections and expertise in the field you are looking to transition to. If you read some of the greatest entrepreneur success stories, you’ll notice that many of these people got miracle opportunities because of people in their networks. And skip the kitschy networking events. Schedule some time for coffee, a walk or a full meal to really get to know people. In life it’s always quality over quantity and you can’t cheat on forming valuable human connections.In life it's always quality over quantity and you can't cheat on forming valuable human connections.Click To Tweet
I’m a thirty something entrepreneur with a hubby who is toying with the idea of going off on his own after spending 16 crappy years in corporate America. We were pretty poor all throughout our 20s and even had to move in with our parents for three years to pay off $60k in student loans and credit card debt we accumulated from our wedding. Our 20s sucked, but we saved like hell and now in our mid-30s we have enough money to live on for two years not counting what we would make if we sold our condo and downsized or just traveled for a year. Saving was the best thing we ever did. And yes it took time and putting our wants aside at points, but nothing is sweeter than the feeling of freedom and knowing that if you need some time to breath, recoup, reconnect and wow maybe even relax, it’s right there waiting for you.
Photo by Anthony Russo