You Don’t Have To Quit Your Job

Make your life about embracing the good instead of escaping the bad.

You don’t have to quit your job to live a simpler life. If you read blogs about minimalism and simple living, you might notice that it seems like everyone quits their job, travels the world, writes a book and lives the life of their dreams.

Living your life on purpose does not require you to have a blog, quit your job, travel the world, or even practice yoga. A simple life looks different for each of us.

Even if your 9-5 isn’t your dream, it might be the way you provide health insurance for your family, pay off debt and save for college or retirement. Can you still start working towards your dream and make slow, deliberate change to recreate your life? Yes. Does that mean you have to quit your job and declare your freedom to be a success? Absolutely not.

If you like your job, but are feeling stressed…

  • Commit to a lunch hour. (Leave your desk/workspace)
  • Take a day off
  • Try a cooking class or learn a new language
  • Volunteer
  • Exercise

Celebrate with people that did quit their day jobs, but don’t be discouraged from living more simply if you work for someone else.

If you don’t like your job, start planning. What would it take to find another job or to work for yourself? It might take a year or more to be in a position to make that kind of change, so why not start your search and make your plan.

If you want a new career…

  • Pay off your debt
  • Start an emergency fund
  • Determine how much money you really need to fund your simpler life
  • Take classes or educate yourself if you are considering a new field
  • Start a microbusiness
  • Hang out with other people doing what you want to do
  • Be patient

You know what’s best for you and your family, and you know that what’s best can change over time. What is best for you today may be different in six months. What is best for you might not be best for me or anyone else.

By paying off your debt, reducing your expenses and craving less instead of more, you can start to make choices based on something other than the almighty dollar.

The simpler your life becomes, the easier it will be to define the next step.


Sign up below for inbox inspiration

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been having a difficult time with my job lately. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it, and I’m feeling very frustrated. Thanks for making me feel a bit better about my unhappy situation :)

    • says

      Hey Clara–

      It’s all about small steps. Take one small issue and see how you can better that situation. Keep your chin high.

      David Damron
      Life Excursion

      • says

        Thanks for the encouragement! I’d email you – but I’m lacking clarity on my goals at the moment. Thanks for your generous offer, though! :)

  2. says

    Hi Courtney,

    Wow. Thanks for so clearly and simply summing up my predicament and its potential solution! ;)

    I’ve noticed that it’s generally young, childless people with no obligations to others who find it easy to criticize those holding “zombie/drone jobs”…or who write off the notion of work as just plain conservative and conformist.

    I’d like to offer another possible approach to working in a less-than-ideal job: try to work less of it. I’m very lucky in that my employer allows me to work 4 days per week at a reduced salary so I can spend more time with my family)…of course, I’m doing 5 days of work in 4, so they’re getting their money’s worth from me, but it is SO worth it.

    take care,
    Lisa

    • Courtney Carver says

      Great idea Lisa. Good Employers value good employees, so in most cases, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a less than traditional schedule.

  3. says

    I appreciate this post. At a time when so many are struggling to find a job and make a living, it can seem rather glib for the minimalists to say “quit your job and be happier.” It’s hard to quit your job when you don’t have one to begin with. I often wonder how sustainable quitting your job is anyway, unless you don’t intend on supporting a family and sending your kids to college. Anyway, thank you so much for this post, it was a welcome read this morning.

    • says

      Sergio—

      It’s all about choices. Often we can support ourselves and our families on much less. We just “choose” to have a cell phone and tv service and expensive dinners and nicer clothes and so on. I am not saying you live this way. I am saying most who say it would be tough to establish a life to support their families that doesn’t involve reliance on a company rarely are willing to sacrifice their time now for their time later. I hope you can find something that supports your family and hope I can help in any way.

      David Damron
      Life Excursion

  4. says

    Although I consider myself to have minimalist tendancies, I never felt I could define myself as minimalist because I love my day job. I work for a garden and arboretum 40 hours a week. It’s the job I always wanted and I’m happy (and yes, a little stressed out) because I know what I’m doing makes a difference.

  5. says

    Very good post!
    This was essencial I think, specially for newcommers in minimalism.

    As I read some of other minimalists blogs, like Zen Habbits and The Minimalists; I was wondering if I was the only person on Earth that loved my job…

    I really do, love my job, so much that I had several other proposals and had to decline for so much passion I have in this company, my bosses and the team.

    And I figured out before your post, that I can live a simple life without trowing this wonderful thing that is my job out the window.

    This was great to read as it made my conclusion based on your wisdom. (And that means a lot for me.)

    Thank you again :)

  6. says

    Another great post, Courtney! Thanks for balancing out the voices of minimalism–both by giving alternatives to quitting your job and by pointing out those teachers/leaders in minimalist circles who have not quit their jobs. People need to hear this balance instead of simply the clarion call some put forth to quit their jobs, etc. For some, quitting is impractical or impossible. For some, they are happy in their vocations and are just looking to simplify their lives without dropping everything and starting over.

    Your well-reasoned approach continues to shine through! Keep up the great writing, please.

    Again, thanks. Definitely linking here!

    • Courtney Carver says

      Thanks T.C. – Seems clear that there is no RIGHT way for everyone. We all have to define our lives and work situations based on individual needs/wants.

    • says

      The balance and acceptance is not as prevalent as it should be. Sure, I preach creating a lifestyle that is supported rather than supporting a company one doesn’t believe in, but I also feel that if you love what you are doing then it doesn’t matter if you work 16 hour days or live on a beach. All that matters is that you are happy. Unfortunately, many, not all, people who are in the 9-5 rut are not. I have found that creating a life where you can do as you please and not relying on one’s job really changes the outlook of a job and the approach people take to their life.

      Anyways….thought I’d share my thoughts TC

      David Damron
      Life Excursion

  7. says

    Great Post – I love writing and living simply, but also love my job as a youth pastor. Sometimes I need a reminder that there are others out there like me!

  8. says

    Just wanted to stop by and say I am loving all the contributions to my goal-crushing request. Keep them coming folks. Loving it!

    David Damron
    LifeExcursion

    • Courtney Carver says

      David – Thanks for the great offer. Readers here are brilliant – thoughtful & insightful so it doesn’t surprise me that they are emailing you great ideas.

      • says

        I have about 10 submissions with people having a sense of desire to achieve more. I am loving every moment of it. I am on the finishing touches and it will soon be reviewed, edited and designed by smarter people. I can’t wait for this project to launch and help so many. Thanks for sharing Courtney.

        David Damron
        Life Excursion

  9. says

    There are some people who do love their jobs. They are doing something that fits their personality and they are doing something meaningful. They are fulfilled, so therefore it is not really necessary for them to quit their job.
    And then there are the others, those who do work out of responsibility, which is totally understandable. What I think IS sad, though, Courtney, is those who are working that job out of responsibility and they are letting it suck the life out of the rest of their life. I write about balance on my blog and we sometimes just have to balance things out in our lives. So we have to work hard,learn to play hard and rest hard and recreat hard. Do what you can to get fulfillment out of the rest of your life that is not spent at the J-O-B.
    Great post!
    Bernice
    Finally Find Your Balance!

  10. says

    Very important – especially because I think it can be tempting to throw out the whole concept of living simply if you can’t do it all exactly the way you see someone else doing it.

  11. says

    I had to share on this post Courtney. I did quit the 9-5 and took my ‘profession’ on the road so to speak. What I try and get across when I speak to those who wish to quit is that not everyone will earn a living through internet marketing nor do you have too so they shouldn’t be discouraged it’s not the only way – you can work for yourself by using your current skills – particularly in the current economic climate (not being committed to employ someone permanently can be very attractive to companies etc – it also means my rate of pay is higher so I can work less for the same/more because I receive no additional benefits or security) . Rather instead of working in an office environment/senior management for Not For Profits, I became self-employed and now contract to charities. I do a similar job, but on my terms. I do what I want, with whom and when – I choose and that is the priority for me. Hope you don’t mind me dropping a link in but I posted about it in December which explains further Quitting the 9-5 simplybeingmum’s Story

  12. says

    Great post! I just have to share: I spent 17 years of my life living the ‘free life’ – I worked as a freelance writer, author, parent educator, life coach, and integrative nutritional health coach, while raising my kids as a single homeschooling mom. We spent 6 months on the road traveling across the states (as homeschoolers this was the best American History and Geography lesson imaginable!) and many more months overseas. Now that the kids are grown, though, I work a location dependent ”job.” I put ”job” in quotes because it isn’t work to me, it is in fact one of the most beautiful gifts I could ever imagine having. I work as a birth doula, helping to usher new babies into the world, and helping them arrive naturally. I work closely with their moms prior to birth, demystifying the process, helping them re-frame labor as not something to be terrified at (all we have to reference in our culture is what the media portrays and they portray it very unnaturally frightening!), but something empowering, something beautiful.

    I live a lot of my life ‘on call’ now, but even when I am yanked out of bed at 3 a.m, I can’t possibly resent my work, or see it as a negative in any way….I am being called to help usher a beautiful little bundle of joy into the world. I have not experienced a single moment of resentment, upset, or frustration in this line of ”work” and I see it not as work, but as a gift given to me – couples are inviting me into the most personal moments of their lives to share in an intimate journey, culminating in a welcome celebration for new life.

    I am not the only one – others too have ”work” they feel gifted to be performing. So, ironically my experience has been the opposite: When younger, I ‘escaped’ work, now I have been called to ”work” and view it as the gift it is, when it is something done for the right reasons, and serving multiple different goals and visions in your life.

    The truth be told, regardless of what ‘work’ I did at this moment, were I doing it to care for my family, I would feel equally fortunate to be blessed with the opportunity to provide for my family. Do we forget so easily how many in the world are deprived of that opportunity? If instead of seeing our ‘job’ as something we are ‘forced’ to do, and instead realize it as an opportunity to meet our bigger goals of caring for loved ones, and having the tool of money to create the other areas of our lives, we will find more joy in the moment. The truth is, if we ‘escape’ to something else, we will eventually tire of that as well. The real secret to happiness is, actually, recognizing the happiness that is hidden in every moment, just waiting for you to uncover it – even when you can’t imagine it is there. All it takes is a simple shift of the mind.

    We are in any situation because we choose to be there over the opposite. We choose to work because we like that choice better than what comes to us if we don’t have income; we choose to stay in a relationship because we like that better than as perhaps seeing ourselves as someone who quits or divorces. The reality is we are NEVER forced to stay anywhere – we just like that choice better than the other. Any of us have the power to quit at any time here in the US. We are not slaves – slaves don’t have the opportunity to quit. We may have sold ourselves into indentured servitude, through debt, but again, we made that choice. And as there are no debtors prisons, we even could reneg on that, if we so wished – but we stay at our jobs and keep paying our bills because, much as we say we hate it and are trapped by it, it is really that we prefer to stay in the job than to face lack of funds. But – we do have choice, always. No one is forcing you to stay in your work. Quit if you want, wait at home until the eviction or foreclosure notice comes; run out of money and panhandle if that’s what it takes; no one is forcing you to stay in the job. If we own that we are CHOOSING the job over those other options, there is a sense of empowerment that comes with it. We are choosing that, over the alternative.

    When we say we feel trapped, it creates a victim mindset, and we then spend a lot of time feeling sorry for ourselves for being so trapped, and go all ‘poor me!’ But if we instead own that no, we can quit, we just DON’T LIKE where that would land us, so we prefer to stay, it can empower us through the ownership of our decision to stay where we are. And with that ownership, a HUGE SHIFT can happen. We can then begin to notice other opportunities, or other paths we can take to improve our lives. We can begin to own our own lunch hour, or to take up a new hobby, and to improve our lives. The problem is, we invest so much emotional energy into ruminating on how ‘trapped’ we are, that we can’t even find the wherewithall to notice all the things we CAN do to make our lives incredible, right here right now. If you are worrying about how awful your lot in life is, you won’t notice that flyer for Italian lessons. You may not notice how beautiful a day is, and how nice it would be to take a walk in the park on your lunch break; you may not even notice that sexy someone checking you out. No, your head is too lost in your woes of being trapped. But it is the very attention you are paying to being trapped that is trapping you. I promise you, unless you are truly living somewhere within a repressed regime, or are incarcerated in some way, this will prove true.

    Start owning that you have chosen to be where you are, and that no one forced you to do so other than your own unwillingness to take the consequences of choosing otherwise, and you will free yourself up a lot of mental energy that will allow the space for you to begin to notice the beauty and joy around you at any given moment. I promise you, do this and you will see it is true!

    And then…if you realize you want to chuck everything and travel the world, figure out a plan to make it so, and slowly but surely begin to work toward it. But I’ll tell you a little secret: I’ve done that, and it is fun for awhile. But that gets old too, eventually, at least for most people. Are you really going to do that for 40 or 50 years? I’ve been there, done that. It was great. But now….I’m settled down and ‘working’ at work I LOVE. And I’ve never been more grateful. Everything in life comes in phases. You can choose and control some of that – just make choices and slowly and steadily work toward change – just as this BRILLIANT BLOG POST ABOVE suggests!!

    Kudos to you on an AMAZING entry and overall stellar blog!

    ~Laura Saba

      • says

        You’re welcome – your response to it encouraged me further to start thinking of setting up a blog I’ve been thinking of starting for a long time, which addresses my own take on all of this. With all the talk on minimalist sites of ‘quitting work and traveling the world’ I didn’t know if people would respond to my own voice. But Courtney’s post and the response, and your particular comment, have inspired me to think that indeed, people would be interested in hearing my take as well. So watch soon for http://www.BeautifulBeautifulLife.com – I have the infrastructure set up, and will be launching my first post this week. Thank you Jennifer for letting me know my words helped you out!

      • says

        Hi Kristy!

        As I just wrote to Jennifer, thank you! I had been toying with the idea of blogging about my own take on all of this, and wasn’t sure if people would want to hear my angle on minimalism, and again, Courtney’s post and the response, and your direct comment, have helped inspire me. So I’m going to be launching http://www.BeautifulBeautifulLife.com this week, I hope. Thanks for the encouragement. Isn’t it amazing? We never know what things we say or do will move people, or how often we do without even knowing so!

        Thank you again :-)
        Laura

  13. says

    Excellent post…

    Actually, I went back to work a couple years back. Got a well paid job, but it was not a good fit and I hated it. While people may think of quitting their work, simplying your lifestyle might give you the freedom to switch work to a lower paying job that you love.

    I was lucky and that’s exactly what I did about 1-1/2 year ago!
    This is also a form of freedom… :o)

  14. says

    Yes one does not have to quit there job (if they love it.) Your suggestion to have a fund, and starting to do research is key. I really didnt’ do either see my http://bit.ly/hHH95j, How to Quit Your Life: with out Becoming Homeless. I was not a minimalist. I was in academia in an abusive work environment. I hung on for six years. The last 5 were horrrible and started to affect my health. Luckily I did not have children to think of or I would perhaps still be there. Everyone is different and I think the goal is to LOVE YOUR WORK-minimalist or not!
    Namaste,
    Kala

  15. Lisa says

    There are a couple of minimalist websites out there that keep INSISTING I hate my job! But I really like my job. And the idea of being responsible for figuring out my own benefits and insurance and all the worry of being an entrepreneur- that’s doesn’t sound freeing to me. It sounds terrifying. A few years ago, I was in a profession that just was not for me. I went back to school and used up my savings… and now I am in a profession I love. So there are other paths to take. Thanks for recognizing that.

  16. Karen T. says

    Courtney, THANK YOU for this post. It does seem that many minimalists advocate a life free of ties — which doesn’t work well for people with children, aging parents, a church or other organization they care about, or a job of any kind. My husband is a 6th grade teacher, and I tutor immigrant adults learning English, so while our jobs can sometimes be stressful and time-consuming, we also feel that we are contributing to the world in our own way. In addition, I home unschooled our daughters all the way through high school, and we are currently helping both of them pay their way through college. We couldn’t do that without jobs! That said, Laura Saba’s comments about choice and attitude are true and wonderfully expressed.

    To me, minimalism is about finding what is essential to you and going after that, while ignoring the siren calls of one-upmanship consumerism and hectic busy-ness. I was able to stay home with our kids for many years while my husband supported us because we decided that was essential, and we radically pared our material wants accordingly. Now we’re in a new phase of our life, and we will probably concentrate on getting and remaining debt-free while preparing for retirement in a decade or so. Then we anticipate having even more freedom to take lower-paying jobs just because they sound fun or challenging, or volunteering more, or taking up a new hobby, or simply spending time together with our kids and (possibly) grandkids.

    Courtney, thanks for reminding us that minimalism is an empowering lifestyle that doesn’t look the same for everyone.

  17. says

    Wow. Excellent post to start with and then Laura Saba’s reply.
    Maybe her reply should be a post all its own so more people will read it.
    Good stuff.

    • says

      Marty, Marty, Marty, thank you so much for the inspiration! As I just noted to others who commented above on my words, my own blog has been something I’ve been toying with for some time now (I actually set up the infrastructure for it a long while ago), but was never sure if my voice would have a place amongst the other minimalists out there. You and the others who have so wonderfully supported my comments today have inspired me to move ahead and launch it later this week. So please, know that you are a part of the inspiration for a new blog to launch, due to your encouragement. Thank you so very much! When you see http://www.BeautifulBeautifulLife.com launch, know you had a little something to help bring it into the world :-)

      ~Laura

  18. says

    Great stuff again, Courtney! Like several others, I love my job. In fact, I often tell people that I am living the dream. My current occupation is more of a calling and I dreamed about it for almost 19 years before it came to be.

    It occurred to me several years ago that if I wrote the great American novel/won the lottery/received a huge inheritance or otherwise became financially-independent somehow that I would still do what I’m doing now with one exception. I would probably reduce my work week by one day to give myself an extra day to pursue writing projects. Other than that (and maybe a couple of extra weeks vacation) I’m pretty content right now.

    Based on some of the comments, it seems you’ve touched a nerve here. I too have noticed that the location independent world travelers are young and single. They have quite an advantage over us old married folks with kids in college. While I envy their freedom somewhat, I’m content to be pursuing my goals and dreams at this stage in my life and working my dream job with an awesome staff.

    Keep up the good posts!

  19. says

    Courtney – thank you for posting this. It’s about time someone wrote on this subject. So many of the popular posts these days seem to say you should leave your dead end job (fine if that’s what you want) – however for many people that is difficult because of commitments – debts, families etc. It’s not always as easy as just jumping on a plane tomorrow – for some yes, for others no.

    Me – I’m battling debt – huge debt – once that’s sorted (I have a plan! Neh strategy!) I will feel (and be) free and will be able focus on what I really want to do. The most important thing though is to find peace with yourself in the moment – and that can be found whether you have a shitty job or whether you’re travelling the world.

    Way to go!

  20. says

    Thanks for the reminder that there’s more than one way to have a minimalist lifestyle! It’s not necessary to quit our job, live off the grid, write an ebook or even have a blog. Although I admire people who do these things, minimalism isn’t a one size fits all kind of thing.

  21. says

    Oh I do love this blog. You MAY have just saved my life today after an appallingly shocking working week. You’re quite right. I think as well as the physical (lunch breaks, exercise etc) there’s also a mental shift – to accepting that there are downsides to even great jobs, and resilience that you don’t HAVE to get stressed just because other people are pushing you.

    But thanks again – perfectly timed post! Sasha x

    • Courtney Carver says

      Sasha, sometimes it’s hard to remember, but you do get to decide how you react to any situation. You can be stressed, worried, annoyed or figure out how to redirect those emotions. Sometimes easier said than done, but very possible. Thanks for pointing out the importance of a mental shift.

  22. says

    I am a pro-job minimalist too.
    In fact, if I’d quit mine, I would probably be under-challenged. I’m all for doing creative things like writing, but there are enough hours during the day where I don’t feel creative and then I’m happy to have something else to do. I do travel a lot for my job, but it’s something I have to earn by performing well during off-time. Not all fairies and roses here either! It’s so important choosing a profession that one likes though – and sticking to it, even if there are hard times, which I think is can help you to grow as a person. Always seeing the grass on the other side as being greener, might lead to disappointment. All lifestyles have their pro’s and con’s.

  23. Marion N says

    Even if you hate your job – are you sure it’s the job. My husband had a job he didn’t much like but it was in easy walking distance. I had a job I loved but a murderous commute. Guess which of us was more stressed! sometimes you just need to figure out where a small change might make life simpler. Getting control of your spending might mean you could take a lower paid job if the payoff was more free time.

    • says

      You are so right, Marion. My husband has a commute that is over an hour (about 50 miles) each way in heavy traffic and he’s experiencing high blood pressure. We are pretty sure it’s the commute, because after he’s been home for about half an hour it goes back down to normal. We are doing exactly what you suggest…getting control over our spending and debt so he can hopefully find a closer job even if it pays less than his current one.

  24. says

    I quit my job before I went minimalist, so that doesn’t really count does it?

    I like the post Courtney. Sometimes it can feel like if everyone (meaning many people) are doing something, that’s how it has to be done. Minimalism is much too varied and dynamic for everyone to have the same dream and there are a lot of “become a minimalist, quit your job, and follow your dream” posts rolling around the minimalist blog world.

    I wanted to be self-employed well before I wanted to live minimally. I don’t see the two as having anything to do with one another so I don’t talk about “working for myself” much on my blog at all, because it just doesn’t seem important enough to talk about. I’d rather dig into another post about decluttering photos and kitchen cabinets :)

  25. Heather says

    Thank you for this post. It seems a lot of minimalist/simple living blogs are geared towards those who work from home or do not have a family commitment. I am one of those who happens to love her career but maintains a minimalist/simple life in order to focus on what is important to me- family, career, health.

  26. says

    This hits home for me as I am not thrilled in my current job and am considering taking a nutrition course on the side. I know it’s not the responsible thing to quit right now – and this post helped me know that I’m doing the right thing!

  27. says

    Technically I quit my corporate job and am now traveling a lot more, but it’s only because I could make more money as a freelancer than with a company.

    If not, I’d have kept my job. :)

    I do the same work, work less, travel more, have more money. Win win.

    I also don’t plan on writing a book, giving up TV, going on TV and going to an ashram to do yoga.

  28. says

    Courtney, Karen, Kristy, and Marty –

    I want to thank you all personally for the support, and Courtney, to you for providing the space within which the conversations happen! I simply love your blog, and have read it through and through. I did want to let you folks know that my site is now running, and I hope you check it out (and hopefully subscribe!). I am eager to lend my voice to the conversation.

    Much love and gratitude,
    Laura (aka Serenity)

  29. says

    Courtney, Karen, Kristy, and Marty –

    I want to express gratitude personally for your presence and encouragement, and Courtney, to you for providing the space within which the conversations happen! I simply love your blog, and have read it through and through. I did want to let you folks know that my site is now running, and I hope you check it out (and hopefully subscribe!). I am eager to lend my voice to the conversation.

    Much love and gratitude,
    Laura (aka Serenity)

  30. says

    Thanks for this lovely insight. You would have saved many impulsive job quitters like me, before they are ready and have enough cash in savings. Patience is the key.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I’ve been having a difficult time with pretty much everything lately. I tend to look at my bread & butter as priority # 1 and feel chained to my surroundings for the sake of keeping a decent livelihood. Sounds familiar? It’s a way of life in Pakistan. I found this blog to be particularly insightful and this one helped me sort out some of my priorities: http://www.bemorewithless.com/2011/you-dont-have-to-quit-your-job/ [...]

  2. [...] You Don’t Have To Quit Your Job “You don’t have to quit your job to live a simpler life. If you read blogs about minimalism and simple living, you might notice that it seems like everyone quits their job, travels the world, writes a book and lives the life of their dreams. [...]