13 Steps To Leaving Work Behind – From The People Who Know

13 Steps To Leaving Work Behind – From The People Who KnowI dream of location independence – having the time and freedom to travel as I wish, whilst still producing a fulltime income.

Your dream may be different. You may want to spend more time with your kids. You may simply hate working for someone, and want that to change. It could be any number of things.

It is possible to realize your dream. It is possible to leave work behind. It is possible to be your own boss, and work on your own terms.

But don’t just take my word for it. Read instead the insights of 12 people who have already done it.

One of the best methods of learning is to study those who are already living your dream, or could live your dream if they wanted to. Why? Because you don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to leave work behind. All you need to do is adjust a proven formula to fit your own personal mold.

So please do not underestimate the value of the following advice. If you put in enough of your own energy, and follow the principles below, you can succeed.

1. Dream

Joseph ArchibaldDream BIG and make sure that you trust in your dreams! Without big dreams for want of a better life, you will forever more be an employee, making a fat cat richer while you stay on the bread line, week after week, month after month, year after year…

Joseph Archibald : Life And Times Of An Internet Marketer

2. Want It

Glen AllsoppI’ve got to say that I’m with Napoloen Hill on this one: you have to want to escape the rat race more than you want anything else. More than you want to watch TV. More than you want to bitch about companies on Twitter. More than you want to click on that related YouTube video. More than you want to check your notifications on Facebook. In his words:

Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat. If you find yourself lacking in persistence, this weakness may be remedied by building a stronger fire under your desires.

When I finally managed to quit my day job, you can be certain that not much else had been on my mind for the few months leading up to it.

Glen Allsopp : ViperChill

3. Embrace Your Genius

Marcus SheridanFor a reason unbeknownst to me, recognizing genius is frowned upon in today’s society. From an early age, we’re taught again and again not to brag or think our talents and abilities to be greater than they really are.

Now don’t get me wrong, foolish pride can be a killer of progress. But there is a true genius within each and every one of us. Sometimes, it just takes a while to find out what said genius is. As an example, it wasn’t until I was 17 years old that I was able to overcome my huge fear of public speaking. But once I realized I had a talent to communicate, especially in a public forum, I accepted it for what it was. I embraced it. And I ran with it.

Today, my public speaking career is exploding. But honestly, I’m not surprised. Since I was a teenager I’ve had a knowing this would happen. And furthermore, I know I’m just getting started as well.

Marcus Sheridan : The Sales Lion

4. Discover What You Can Offer

Chris GuillebeauAsk yourself, what do I know how to do that other people are always asking me about? For example, are you the person who gets the call when a computer crashes? Are you the “creative one” that people go to with questions about art? What is it?

Think carefully about this question – figure out what is easy to you that is difficult to other people. It will be much easier to leave work behind when you craft your exit strategy in line with the skills you have that are desirable to others.

Chris Guillebeau : The Art Of Non-Conformity

5. Set Your Goal

Alex WhalleyIf you want to quit your day job and leave work behind then by far the most important thing you can have in your arsenal is a realistic and tangible goal. Yeah sure you need to find what works, get passionate about it – take consistent action, and then do it all again tomorrow – but outweighing all of this is a need for the ongoing drive to actually ‘do it again tomorrow’ instead of looking at the shiny objects that the internet is full … oh look, a pop up.

Having a Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time managed goal (SMART Goal) is the key to success in any endeavor – and it is never more true than in the online world.

Napolean Hill says “A Goal is a Dream with a deadline” and I could not have put it better myself. I can attribute all of my major successes to the times when I have actually made myself accountable and set a realistic goal with a timeframe on it.

Making sure I maintained a positive attitude and consistently took action everyday became a lot easier when I was working toward a single outcome. Keep this in mind and you will find yourself leaving work behind in no time at all.

Alex Whalley : Build Rank Profit

6. Focus

Thomas SinfieldMy tip would be to focus on one thing. If you want to focus on SEO, then just focus on SEO, if you are focusing on freelancing just do freelancing.

When I first started online (and for the next couple of years), I tried to have my hand in every different pie, and it left me over worked with nothing really to show for myself. I’d recommend that you focus on one thing, get some runs on the board, and once you have a steady income coming in, start to diversify.

Thomas Sinfield : StandOut Blogger

7. Learn

Colin WrightRead anything you can get your hands on, especially on subjects you know nothing about. Seek out new experiences and take away whatever lessons you can from your failures and successes. Keep your eyes wide and listen to people (especially those with lifestyles and opinions you don’t share).

School can be a good investment, but make sure you aren’t paying more than the education is worth. If you can learn the same or more elsewhere and cheaper (through a self-built curriculum, or using pre-built resources like Josh Kaufman’s Personal MBA) do that instead.

Anything else you buy can be lost, stolen or destroyed. Self-investment, however, is something that pays off immediately and forever. It also makes all of your future investments more valuable, as you’ll make better choices and be more capable of spending (and living) intelligently.

Colin Wright : Exile Lifestyle

8. Network

Robert DempseyConnect with as many people as possible. This network of people can help you fully launch your side business, send you referrals, give you guest posting opportunities, provide guidance and unofficial or official mentors.

The best way to connect is with social media (go figure). Network like mad on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. LinkedIn is also an option but you may run into more “business-ey” people there.

Start a blog, syndicate it, comment on other blogs, take those conversations to Skype, and ask for advice.

And then once you leave work behind, never look back again.

Robert Dempsey : Dempsey Marketing

9. Understand Your Required Income

Yaro StarakIn order to leave work behind, you need to be realistic about how much money you actually need. This is particularly important during transition stages.

Chances are you can live off less than you actually do so now. In which case you can start dropping your hours at whatever job you currently do to keep an income coming in, and use the spare time to begin building a more leveraged income stream.

A leveraged income stream is one that requires only a few hours of work for significant income. For example two hours of work to make as much as you would make in a day working a paid-by-the-hour job.

It can be a juggle at first balancing enough paid work to survive with enough free time to start an independent income stream. It won’t happen unless you start planning and then take action.

Yaro Starak : Entrepreneurs Journey

10. Love Your Work

Derek HalpernWork on things you enjoy. Once you start doing that, you’ll need to focus on two things. First, make sure what you enjoy can become a business. Secondly, make sure you love what you do, and it will never feel like work.

Derek Halpern : Social Triggers

11. Eliminate Debt

Kelly McCauseyThe most important thing I did to leave work behind was get debt-free.  I focused almost all of my moonlighting income on paying off debts for the better part of three years.  When the last bill zeroed out, I was earning as much from my online business as I was through my job, and giving notice was painless.  Being debt-free took a lot of stress out of being a new self-supporting solopreneur.

Kelly McCausey : Solo Smarts

12. Be Prepared

Robert DempseyNever leave a job until you have something else lined up. I didn’t take that advice for my first business and later wished I had. So there are two ways you can take that advice – have another job lined up or reach critical mass with your side business. For me it was the latter – critical mass. The trick is knowing what critical mass means for you. I would suggest it looks like the following:

  • 6 months of money in the bank, in case you aren’t making any money for a bit, you will have a nice cushion.
  • So much client work (or money coming in from a business) that it’s getting in the way of your full-time job.

If you’re particularly worried about going off on your own full-time that isn’t a bad thing. Go part-time. That will give you time to build the business and have some cash coming in.

Robert Dempsey : Dempsey Marketing

13. Don’t Stop

Kristin LajeunesseDon’t stop. Don’t stop pushing forward. Don’t stop doing what you can to make it (whatever “it” is) work. Don’t stop following and networking with those that inspire you. Don’t stop believing in yourself. If you want it badly enough you’ll make it happen no matter who or what gets in your way. Be strong and don’t ever stop.

Kristin Lajeunesse : WTF Vegan Food

Over To You

Now if that hasn’t got you fired up, I don’t know what will!

A huge thanks goes out to the 12 wonderful guys and girls who made this possible.

There is honestly nothing holding you back from taking ownership of your life and carving out a long-term path that will give you all that you want. Keep dreaming, want it, and never stop.

I want this message to reach as many people as possible, so please be generous and share it in whatever way you see fit. You will have my humble gratitude!

I will leave you with the words of Steve Jobs, whose persistence, endeavor, and genius should be an inspiration to us all:

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Comments

  1. Ryan Biddulph says

    Hi Tom,

    Spot on advice from a group of online leaders.

    I luv dreaming. Do it all the time. Like, as I’m working, I visualize myself as the person who I really am. Again, and again, and again. I visualize detailed dreams, detailed results, and fall in love with the feelings of these dreams. Which attracts to me all I need to make the dream come true: ideas, people, circumstances.

    1 Add: Give like a mad man/woman. Keep giving. As Robert notes, networking is huge. RTing, Facebook Sharing, and leaving deep, thoughtful, value-packed comments – like that RB guy ;) – makes a positive impress…and the more freely you give, the more generously you receive. Your network explodes, and so does your bank account, because you happily helped other people get what they wanted to get.

    Thanks!

    Ryan

    • says

      Couldn’t agree with you more Ryan – great addition. Giving is great for so many reasons – (1) it makes you feel good, (2) it makes the other person feel good, and (3) it does come back around! Plus giving is just a nice thing to do, above all else.

      Thanks for contributing – I really appreciate it :)

  2. says

    Great collection of advice Tom!

    1. Dream (I do)
    2. Want It (I do)
    3. Embrace Your Genius (Need to work on that)
    4. Discover What You Can Offer (Have done that, need to do it more)
    5. Set Your Goal (Done!)
    6. Focus (One of my favorite topics!)
    7. Learn (Always)
    8. Network (I met you didn’t i?)
    9. Understand Your Required Income (Need to plan more there)
    10. Love Your Work (Yes!)
    11. Eliminate Debt (Oh – I being debt free!)
    12. Be Prepared (Planning my work and working my plan)
    13. Don’t Stop (I’m keepin in keepin on)

    I’m so honored to be included here :)

  3. says

    Amazing post with a ton of great advice.

    I have to say Glen’s quote probably inspired me the most, true motivation will get done all of the things that need to get done to make it happen.

    • says

      I emailed Glen yesterday thanking him for his input, and I felt obliged to tell him that I found the following words among the most inspirational I have ever read when it comes to leaving work behind: “When I finally managed to quit my day job, you can be certain that not much else had been on my mind for the few months leading up to it.”

      It just encapsulates in one sentence everything that you need in terms of mindset.

  4. says

    Brilliant work on this one!

    However, I would add to the “Be Prepared” also the necessity of being ready to sacrifice a “piece of yourself” any moment. When you dream big, you can’t get it painlessly. I guess it is just a stupid law of the universe and all we can do about it is obey… :(

    • says

      Couldn’t agree with you more. As I get closer to leaving work behind, I see that there is no possible way of being 100% prepared. There comes a point where you have to take the leap. It will feel scary and dangerous – and that’s because to a certain extent, it is.

      Awesome thoughts Maxim – thank you! :)

  5. says

    Hey Tom,

    you have a great post here. Very inspirational. You’ve chosen some of the best bloggers out there to tell us something that we all should read from time to time, just to keep it fresh in our memory.

    Cristina

  6. says

    My favorites: Dream, Embrace Your Genius, and Get out of Debt. The debt one is probably the least glamorous, but one of the most important in my opinion. This has some killer advice in it Tom! Thanks for putting this together!

  7. says

    Some interesting thoughts there.

    I could do with a list of things to succeed once you have quit the day job as my income has dropped significantly since going full time.

    • says

      Hi Joe,

      I must say – I have had a look around your site and it seems like you are doing extremely well! I can see that you’ve hit some rough patches, but it seems like you’re definitely moving in the right direction.

      The best advice I could give you (off the top of my head) would be to assess where your time is going and be ruthless in ditching time taken on things that do not give you an ample return.

      Although working on internet marketing full time gives you many more hours in the day to work with, that does not make your time any less valuable.

      One other thing – it appears that you focus primarily (or solely?) on affiliate marketing. Diversification could be the key to lessening the damage of Google panda updates, etc.

      You might consider freelance writing – you clearly write well so I wouldn’t discount it. I’ve got an article coming out in just a few minutes that might be of interest to you :)

      Cheers,

      Tom

      • says

        Hi Tom,

        Things were going well but each month seems to be stagnating or going backwards. It is frustrating but I’ve had a few months off and am only getting back into it properly now so I guess it is to be expected.

        Will be interested in reading that article as other income sources would be good.

        I’m trying a few adsense sites at the moment which although still relying on google will help diversify a little bit.

        Thanks,

        Joe

  8. says

    Love this post, Tom!

    Great advice. I can relate to so many. Years ago, I jumped into another career field after going to school and getting a certification. I thought I would be able to seamlessly transition to self-employment. I thought wrong because I did not plan effectively, I did not know what I did not know, and I was not in a financial position to do so.

    Of course, those lessons are learned from “hard knocks” and I’m thankful now that I went through them.

    Now many of the lessons I have to focus on center around focus, setting goals and clarifying my intention.

    I so appreciate you compiling these tips from a variety of perspectives. It’s always so helpful to get advice from others who have actually done it.

  9. Jen says

    Although I’ve already left work behind, these step will definitely help in re-evaluating my situation and steer me down the path to making improvement.

  10. says

    Tom,

    Thank your for posting a very inspirational article. I have been following Yaro’s blog for quite some time and he also posted a very realistic view of expenses one has to incur abroad. I also agree with Thomas’s idea that it is better to focus on just one thing.

    Keep the good stuff coming!

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