In 2001, when I was in my early 20s, I just quit my job right out of the blue.
It may have been the right decision for me if I had followed through on it realistically. I traveled to Hawaii for the first time and did some writing. But I didn’t have a plan.
I didn’t know what I was doing.
So, I called my former boss back and asked if I could get my old job back. I think it was the worst decision I have ever made.
I was working in academia, and it was the only life I had ever known at that point. And now I wonder how different my life would be if I had followed through on my original plan.
Quitting Without a Plan
I wouldn’t develop the courage to become a full-time freelance writer until about a decade later. And I didn’t consider the ramifications of giving up a full-time salary until it was gone.
I had just graduated from college and felt like I had to find my calling in the world. But what I really did was put myself in a position where I had to start over from square one.
I think my intent was understandable. After all, I was a young kid with ambitions of traveling the world and becoming a writer. But I didn’t have any practical plans of how to take care of myself or pay my bills.
I didn’t have a plan. And the idea of quitting my job, the sheer romanticism of the concept, was fleeting satisfaction. When the reality of my situation set in, idyllic romanticism becomes dawning horror.
I quit my job in Spring 2001. By early September 2001, I was set to come back. I was supposed to go meet my former boss in the early morning of September 11, 2001. But I had slept in and missed getting embroiled in the horror of that day.
A week or two later, I was back at my old job.
So, I think I understand why 4 million Americans just quit their jobs.
Unless they have follow-up plans, I think it is sheer craziness.
4 Million Voluntarily Unemployed Americans
In April 2021, over 4 million Americans abruptly quit their jobs. It’s a social phenomenon that some call “The Great Resignation.” The last time that so many Americans quit their jobs was in the early 2000s like I did.
Why is this happening? Some blame the pandemic with awakening ambitious vocational wanderlust in people. Many Americans are unhappy with their jobs, their salaries, and want to pursue dream opportunities.
In other words, many Americans are confident they can find better work if they try. So, they just quit their jobs. Meanwhile, employers were grappling with over 6 million job vacancies in April 2021.
However, many of these jobs are arduous service sector jobs with low wages.
While I applaud anyone wanting to quit their jobs, I do recommend making aftermath action plans before you do.
Don’t quit your job without a plan.
Make sure you have enough money in savings to last you for a few months. Adjust your budgets accordingly.
Don’t burn bridges. Give your employer notice if you are going to leave. Don’t send angry emails to your boss or make a dramatic production out of leaving your job.
Stay connected to former coworkers and colleagues. Someone might give you a tip for your next job.
If you want to start a business or move to a new city, make realistic plans. Consider every conceivable cost and contingency on the way to achieving your goal.
And make these plans weeks or months before you leave your job.
Quitting your job can feel like a fantasy come true. But the cold world is like a horror movie for the unprepared.
Allen Francis was an academic advisor, librarian, and college adjunct for many years with no money, no financial literacy, and no responsibility when he had money. To him, the phrase “personal finance,” contains the power that anyone has to grow their own wealth. Allen is an advocate of best personal financial practices including focusing on your needs instead of your wants, asking for help when you need it, saving and investing in your own small business.