A year and a half before I actually left my job I thought I was ready. In reality, I was just impatient and wanted out. I thought I had it all figured out. Leave at the end of the year, cash out my vacation and go with the savings I had. I realized I was thinking with my emotions and not my head. Things were difficult at work for a variety of reasons and some days it was a struggle to get through. After taking a hard look at my finances I knew I had to wait.
How did I know when it was truly time to go? For me, it was a few factors. My finances, a final big project at work, and an awesome trip in the works.
First up, and for me the most important, my finances. My car had been paid off for a year, allowing me to put that money into my savings.
With my vacation bank built up, I could cash out that time and add it to my savings. Finally, my small retirement fund could be transferred to an outside retirement account. With plenty of calculating and re-calculating, I would have enough in reserve to get me through for a comfortable period of time. This time was crucial for me, as I would need time to build my clientele.
There is no perfect amount, there is simply a level you feel comfortable with. Some never find this. For some, the thought of giving up a steady paycheck terrifies them. In all honesty, I worried about making a living after leaving my job. On the flip side, I knew I had to take this plunge. If I did not, I would regret it. With my finances in check, the time was approaching.
Secondly, I had taken on a big project at work. This project gave me something new to do and kept me motivated at work. In addition, this project once completed would help my fellow co-workers immensely. Allowing me to leave and not feel guilty leaving them with a ton of extra work. In fact, this new system could effectively replace a person. With a target completion date of Spring 2014, my date of exit would be shortly after.
Lastly, my son’s graduation from high school coincided with my exit date. As a graduation gift, I wanted to take him on a month long trip to the western U.S. He had an interest, at the time, in being a park ranger. I thought a trip to some of our most beautiful National Parks, along with camping and hiking would be the perfect gift. Despite having the time to take, it would have been difficult to take off that much time from work at once, making my exit time perfect.
Projecting my savings out, finishing a major project at work, and planning a month long trip, I was able to prepare 6 months in advance of leaving my job.
How did I prepare for my exit? I took advantage of having my steady paycheck to get a few things in order for running my business. At the time, all I had to edit photos was a laptop. It was older and worked well for blogging, but it was very slow when using Lightroom to edit. As a photographer, I would be spending a lot of time editing. Enter my awesome life partner, Shane. He built me a kick ass desktop computer. With my steady income, I was able to afford the price tag.
In addition, I knew my old office space and desk would not work for the long haul. At the time, I was using our spare bedroom as my office. The desk was old and not set up for what I would need. After jumping on Amazon, I found the perfect, simple desk. We decided to convert our master bedroom (it was slightly larger) into my office and use the spare bedroom as our own. This gave me room to spread out. My office also became my yoga space, with plenty of floor space.
In the end, staying the extra year and a half really paid off. I had a new desk, plenty of working/yoga space, a fast computer, money in my savings, and a fantastic trip planned to kick off my new adventure.
Next up: The first 6 months after leaving my job.