Image: Over the past 4 years I’ve served over 10 corporate clients, worked for 2 large consulting firms and traveled over 600,000 airline miles. My bittersweet departure from corporate America has come – here’s to the next chapter!
Hey gang. As many of you already know, I recently quit my consulting career to open my own fitness studio, Dallas GRIT Fitness (my dream come true)! My double duty life is officially over. No more weekly travel, no more day-to-day interaction with corporate clients, no more expense account, no more health insurance (yikes). I’m terrified. I’m exhilarated!
To clarify, this was not a knee-jerk decision. I’ve been praying and preparing for this moment for 2 years. I don’t know if everything will work out. I may fall flat on my face. Nonetheless, I feel confident about my transition thanks to the wise insights from friends, family and mentors. I read a job hunting guide that my friend recommended to me, incase my business didn’t work, but thankfully it did. In the spirit of sharing these wonderful words of wisdom, I summarized these insights into 10 questions and my associated reflections.
10 Questions to Answer Before Quitting Your Job
1. What do I dislike about my current job?
Job dissatisfaction tends to fall in 1 of 2 camps:
- “I dislike my job because it’s hard”
- “I dislike my job because I don’t care about what I’m doing.”
If you fall in the latter camp, this may signal that you should change career paths.
Hardships and challenges are actually good. They build grit and help us achieve long-term goals. I highly discourage quitting your job because it’s hard or because you have to work with difficult people. These are temporary situations and you can control how you handle them. But if you don’t care about what you’re doing, it’s difficult to be passionate about your work.
This Summer I got to hear Jillian Michaels speak at fitness conference and she said, “Work with passion is purpose, work without passion is punishment.” When we lack passion, we lack energy. And we need energy and enthusiasm to be our best selves.
2. Am I emotionally stable?
My dad always told me to never send an email when I’m angry and to never make a decision in a valley. Likewise, it’s probably not a good idea to quit your job if you’re in the midst of tough life experience. I considered quitting earlier this year when I had to work with a leader that I simply did not like. At times I was so angry and frustrated I just wanted to throw in the towel. But now I’m glad that I toughed it out because I was able to reach my savings goals and leave my firm on good terms with a positive reputation.
3. What energizes me?
Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t dislike my consulting career. In fact I LOVED my job the first 2 years. However, once I started teaching group fitness, I realized that I had an excitement about leading workouts that I simply didn’t have in consulting. I can vividly remember auditioning for my first group fitness instructor position. I was more nervous for that audition than I had ever been for any corporate client engagement. I practiced for an entire week and even had my mom come over and watch me do mock auditions in my living room. I initially chalked up my nerves to being out of my element. But the more I taught group fitness classes, I noticed that I spent hours and hours making the “perfect playlist” and brainstorming ways to energize my class. I never put that much voluntary effort into my consulting work. This was that proof that my energy came from my fitness career not my consulting career. I’m learning to lean into the things that energize me and I encourage you to do the same.
4. What is my gift?
I love this quote from Pablo Picasso, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” I believe that our “gift” is any talent/skill that we can share with others to help them live life more abundantly. It’s often something that we are both naturally good at and enjoy doing. Often, you can discover you gift by answering question 3 – find what energizes you!
5. Do I have a vision for my future?
After I started teaching group fitness I knew I wanted to start a fitness business, but I didn’t know what it would look like. It took me 3 years to develop a vision for my fitness studio. Without a vision, it’s hard to prepare. Go ahead and ask yourself the fundamental questions of any new venture: What is my core product or service? Who is my target customer? Who are my competitors? What is my differentiator? What are the industry dynamics and trends?
6. Have I identified my “Champion Friends”?
When contemplating the “big corporate jump” it’s critical to have a solid support group. It’s equally important to avoid negative influences. Overall I’ve found that people fall into 3 camps:
- Champion Friends – This is your core support group. Champion friends will support you, love you and encourage you regardless. My champion friends each supported me in their own unique way: my friend from business school (cheerleader), my pastor (spiritual advisor) and my parents (risk managers). It’s a good idea to identify a core group of champion friends and stay closely connected with them during your transition.
- Hesitant Friends – These are good friends, however seeing you prepare to take a leap of faith strikes a chord within them. The reason is that deep down they also want to make a leap but haven’t or won’t for whatever reason. Be careful with this group, they may unintentionally discourage you.
- Haters – These folks aren’t happy with their own lives, so they can’t be happy for anyone else. Just disregard the negativity and spend more time with your champion friends.
7. Have I prepared and executed an action plan?
In preparation for my departure from corporate America, I literally created an Excel spreadsheet containing “Action Items Before My Last Day.” I included start and end dates for each action and closely tracked my progress. My action plan included things like: meet with a career coach, attend a fitness conference, secure a personal line of credit, research health insurance options, create a financial business plan, etc. I told myself I couldn’t quit my job until the action plan was 100% complete. I highly recommend you make an action plan. It served me well.
8. How much money do I need to save?
After chatting with some trusted advisors, I decided that I needed to save enough money to cover my living expenses for 6 months. I don’t think this is a hard and fast rule, but I highly recommend saving enough money to cover your living expenses for a few months + additional funds to invest in your business. At first I blurred the two funds, which made me think I was in better financial shape than I really was. I was better off setting a personal savings goal in addition to a business investment goal and making the sum of these two figures my overall savings target. Thinking about money is not necessarily something we all want to do, but it is very important. Even if you have already set up a business you should still be thinking about how to keep costs to a minimum and maximize profits. Even small things such as visiting a business energy comparison site could help you do this.
9. When is the right time to transition?
Don’t even think about jumping ship until you’ve completed your action plan and met your savings goal. That’s step one. After you’ve reached that point, it’s just a matter of trusting your gut. There was a very specific time when I knew deep in soul that if I didn’t leave immediately, a part of me would die. The part of me that’s super energetic, vibrant and excited about life would die and I would just be a person who wakes up each morning and goes through the motions. I responded to that gut reaction and gave my 2 weeks notice the very next day.
10. Do I truly believe in myself?
We are so much stronger than we think and we possess more power than we assume. I always say this in regards to fitness but this truth transcends to all aspects of life, including our careers. If you’re going to take the leap of faith to start your own business, you must be confident and you must BELIEVE in yourself! There will be ups and downs and many obstacles on your new journey, but when you work hard, serve others and pursue your passion, the reward will be great!