I’m sure you’ve seen the classic scenario where a lottery winner quits his or her job the day after winning the big prize – before even cashing the check.
My opinion? A huge mistake.
No, not the quitting, necessarily, but the lack of thought put into the decision.
Having money doesn’t mean that quitting your day job is the right thing to do. There more to work than just a pay check. Much more.
What’s Your Purpose?
In an earlier essay I mentioned that I’d seen co-workers who’d “won the stock option lottery” leave, only to return a couple of years later nearly broke because they’d run through all their “winnings”. Well, I also saw folks leave, only to return after a time because they were bored, uninspired or just unhappy without the structure of “a job” in their lives.
Not working isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.
Now, I could get all metaphysical and talk about how people need to feel that they have a purpose in order to be happy, and that for many an important and appropriate purpose is their career or even just a job. And I’m sure there’s a very deep discussion that someone has probably already had on meaning and purpose and self-actualization as it relates to all that.
I’ll just put it this way: You need to have something to do.
Quitting your job is silly if you don’t know what you’re going to do next. That kind of retirement kills at any age.
Don’t Leave, Go Instead.
Don’t leave your job. Go to something else.
It’s an important difference in perspective.
Don’t leave your job just because you can. Leave your job because you have something else to go to. Something better, something that perhaps doesn’t generate income, but it’s some thing: travel, volunteering, a new business, a hobby, whatever, something. It just has to be specific and thought out before you jump ship.
Don’t leave until you know the answer to “What Next?” Once you have that answer, go there.
The only difference your newfound wealth really makes is that you can now choose “what next?” without as much regard to its income generating potential. That’s all.
But there still needs to be a “what next”.
I kept working at my company longer than I needed to financially; probably a couple of years longer. I kept asking myself “what would I be doing instead?” (aka “What Next?”), and for the longest time it looked so much like what I was doing at work that there was no reason to leave. (Yes, I really enjoyed my job.)
One day I decided that “other things” I wanted to do were creeping up on me, and that I needed more hours in the day. That’s all, just more hours in the day. I went part time for a while, but eventually when those other things called, I left my job in perhaps the most extreme example of simply trading time for money.
But I’m still working. In fact, I often joke that I’m working harder now in my “retirement” than I did at my job.
And I honestly think that that’s key; to find something that you’ll enjoy doing so much that not only does it give you “purpose”, but it gives your life a little direction and personal fulfillment.
And it doesn’t matter what you call it, “having a purpose”, “doing something”, “working”, “playing”. It’s just that when the opportunity arises don’t take it lightly. Think long and hard.
Don’t quit your day job.
At least not right away.