8 min read
Since quitting, I’ve had a lot of free time to sit and ponder about life now that I’m no longer stuck in the “fog of work.” Here are 10 thoughts about work and life I’ve had since quitting my job.
1. Now That I’m Out of the 9-5 Schedule, I Realize Just How Ridiculous It Is
I wrote an entire post around this realization. The eight-hour, five-day workweek schedule became the standard across all industries in 1938 because it was optimal for the manual work done by most workers back then. Yet, here were are 80 years later working in completely different environments doing mostly mental work, and we still adhere to the same schedule. It’s insane.
As I wrote in that post:
The average person who works in an office nowadays is faced with challenging problems that they must solve with their brains. This means writing code, creating designs, developing algorithms, thinking through strategies, brainstorming ideas, and a bunch of other mental tasks.
It turns out that this type of work is done best in alternating periods of intense work and intense relaxation, not in one eight-hour block of sitting in front of a computer with brief breaks for eating lunch, sitting in meetings, and going to the bathroom.
Thus, it’s no coincidence that the schedule I’ve found works best for me involves alternating periods of work and relaxation. Here’s what a typical day looks like for me now:
This schedule of deep work, followed by intentional relaxation, followed by light work, followed by no work, has been optimal for both my productivity and my happiness. My old 9-5 schedule seems absolutely ridiculous and sub-optimal compared to this new schedule, and it’s a shame that most office workers have to follow it.
2. I Don’t Need a Day Job to Have a Social Circle
One of the “benefits” that many people argue a day job offers is an inherent social circle. As humans, we naturally tend to be friends with people we’re around the most, which means we tend to be friends with at least a few of our coworkers since we’re around them for 40 hours or more each week.
While I did make a few friends at my day job that I hung out with outside of work, most of my social circle consists of people I’ve met outside of my job. So for me, quitting my day job didn’t alter my social life much at all. During the day I get to work by myself (which I strongly prefer over group work) and during the evening I get to hang out with my girlfriend, my friends, and my family.
For me, quitting my job didn’t have a negative impact on my social life.
3. Most of the World Operates on the Same Schedule. Getting to Live Outside of this Schedule is Amazing.
Most people work during the day Monday through Friday. This means that traffic is naturally heaviest in the morning and the afternoon while people are commuting to and from work. This also means that grocery stores, libraries, parks, and public attractions are busiest during the evenings and weekends when people are off work.
One massive benefit of not having a 9-5 schedule is that I can go grocery shopping and run other errands during the day on weekdays without fighting traffic. Also, I can go other places during the day when crowds are nonexistent.
For example, last week I went kayaking on a river with my sister for four hours on a Tuesday afternoon and there were zero other people on the water. And earlier this week I went hiking at a nature center with my girlfriend on a Wednesday morning when the weather was perfect and the trails weren’t crowded.
Not having a 9-5 job allows me to live in a way such that I don’t have to battle crowds ever, and I love it.
4. My Energy is Much Higher Now That I Don’t Have a 9-5 Job.
When I had a day job, I would feel tired and unmotivated most mornings because I dreaded going into the office. And when I would come home in the evenings, I would feel mentally exhausted and I would usually want to take a nap or crash on the couch.
Now, each morning I wake up excited to get to work on this blog and my other sites. And as I shared in my daily schedule from earlier, when I get tired after working for three to four hours in the morning, I simply take a few hours off to go to the gym, lay by the pool, or go for a walk. Then I do some more work when I feel ready.
At my day job, if I felt tired I simply had to keep sitting in front of a damn computer screen and pretend to be busy. Now I can actually take extended breaks to recharge.
This flexibility over when I work and when I take breaks, along with the fact that I’m doing work that excites me, has lead to a huge increase in my overall energy and alertness throughout the day. It’s an incredible feeling.
5. The Amount of Negative Thoughts I Had Towards My Day Job Was Definitely Unhealthy
Since quitting my day job, I’ve developed a daily meditation practice. Each morning when I wake up, I sit up in bed and meditate for 15 minutes. Since doing this, I feel like I’ve been able to monitor my thoughts much more clearly.
Specifically, I’ve realized just how many negative thoughts I used to have that I no longer have. I didn’t realize it when I had a job, but each morning I would literally think to myself “I hate this damn job. I can’t believe I have to go into the office again and do meaningless work.” Then, throughout the day I would have negative thoughts about the project I was working on and about how incompetent the managers were.
It’s wildly obvious to me now just how unhealthy this negative thinking was. I suspect that constantly having negative thoughts floating around in my head also added to my mental exhaustion, which partially explained my lack of energy in the evenings when I would come home from work.
6. A Day Job Consumed More than 40 Hours of My Mental Energy Each Week
Since being away from the 9-5 schedule, it’s clear that my day job consumed more than just 40 hours of my mental energy each week. For example, I couldn’t help but think about work in the mornings when I was getting ready, in the evenings when I was winding down after a long day, and on Sundays when I knew another five-day workweek was about to start.
My random thoughts about work included replaying conversations I had with coworkers and managers, and thinking about different aspects of a project I was working on. I may have only been physically in the office for 40 hours each week, but the job consumed more than just 40 hours of my mental energy each week.
Perhaps the greatest gift I’ve received from quitting my job is the freedom over my mind. I spend zero time thinking about how much I dislike my job, my coworkers, or my managers, and I spend zero time dreading the upcoming workweek on Sunday evenings. I have complete peace of mind and I feel much more calm on a daily basis. No more wasting my mental energy thinking about work even when I’m not at work.
7. Most People Only Know How to Trade Time for Money
Whenever I tell someone that I no longer have a day job and that I instead build websites that earn money online, they struggle to comprehend how exactly this is possible.
Specifically, most people have a hard time understanding that I don’t actually have to be physically present or even actively working to earn money.
For example, when I explain to people that my stats site Statology earns money through ads, they often ask questions like:
“How much time do you have to spend working on the site to make sure you earn money everyday?”
“Do you have clients that pay you money to teach them stats?”
“Do you have to get permission from Google to publish articles?”
I then explain that I can write whatever articles I want, I can work as long or as little as I want each day, and that I don’t have to be present to earn money. People can simply search for specific stats tutorials on Google, find my site (thanks to the power of SEO), read through my tutorial, and then I earn ad revenue based off of how many pageviews I receive.
The bottom line is: My website is an asset that earns money for me even when I’m not working on it. The more people I explain this to, the more I realize that most people only know how to trade time for money. Most don’t understand the concept of owning an asset that makes money for you while you sleep.
It’s easy to forget that even though I know owning assets is the key to building wealth and gaining freedom, most people don’t.
8. Given Enough Free Time, I Can Figure Anything Out
Although I’ve been blogging for almost three years, I actually know very little about the business side of blogging like how to set up an LLC (and if I should), how to record revenue and expenses, how to know what I can deduct as business expenses, and how to make sure I’m paying the right amount of taxes. The reason I know so little about this is because I’ve focused exclusively on producing content.
However, I’ve gained a significant amount of free time since quitting my job, which has given me the mental capacity to actually sit down and figure out the answers to these questions.
Over the last two weeks I’ve successfully set up an LLC in my state, received my EIN tax number, and set up a business checking account. I’m also in the process of getting a business credit card and setting up a Quickbooks account to automate my taxes.
None of these things have been particularly difficult to figure out, I just needed the free time to actually sit and figure them out. I suspect that this will be the case with many things moving forward including choosing a healthcare plan, setting up a solo 401(k), and everything else that comes with running a business. Now that I have plenty of free time, I feel confident that I’ll naturally figure things out as I go.
9. It’s Possible to Live My Dream Life Without Being Financially Independent
I was floating around in my empty apartment pool in the middle of a weekday last week when I had the sudden realization that I’m basically living my dream life. During the day I get to do work I love and during the evening I get to be around people I love. I have complete freedom over my time and nobody can tell me what to do on a daily basis. That’s pretty much all that is required to have a good life.
With a net worth of around $150k, I’m not even close to being financially independent, and yet if I was financially independent I don’t think anything about my schedule would change. I would still want to do meaningful work and spend plenty of time with people I care about.
What made this freedom-filled schedule possible was the realization that I don’t care about obtaining a high net worth as much as I care about obtaining enjoyable income streams that cover all of my living expenses.
That’s why I decided to work on my online businesses full-time instead of grinding it out at my corporate job. I earn far less money now, but I have much more freedom. And with this freedom, I suspect that I can increase my online income over time to a point that surpasses my old salary anyway.
10. You Couldn’t Pay Me to Go Back to Corporate America
When I left Corporate America, I was earning about $80k per year. If someone walked up to me on the street and offered to double my salary to come back to Corporate America, I genuinely don’t think I would accept because going back to that 9-5 schedule would rob me of two things I care deeply about:
1. The ability to do meaningful work.
2. The ability to have complete freedom over my time.
Now that I’ve tasted the freedom that comes with working for myself and the fulfillment that comes with doing work I care about, the thought of working at a corporation with a boss, a commute, a strict schedule, and meaningless projects sounds absolutely dreadful, no matter how high the salary.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
Although the bulk of his net worth is invested in index funds, his favorite place to invest in individual stocks is M1 Finance, a site that allows you to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite micro-investing app is Acorns, a free financial app that takes just 5 minutes to set up and allows you to invest your spare change in a diversified portfolio.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
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