Believe it or not, a Gallup poll found that 85% of full-time employees are not engaged in their job. While employers might adopt professional development strategies to help boost job satisfaction, more and more workers are taking matters into their own hands. They're ditching the 9 to 5 to freelance full-time.
But while it's easy enough to fit a part time side hustle into the schedule on nights and weekends, can you really survive on your freelancing?
Of course! People quit their jobs to be their own boss every day. But just like any challenge in life, if you want to do it successfully, you've got to do it right.
That's why we've compiled this list of 3 tips to quit your job and freelance full-time.
In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, psychologist Carol Dweck identifies two kinds of mindsets that people tend to adopt: fixed and growth.
If you're trying to go freelance full-time, you can't approach the task with a loser's mindset. You are bucking the norm. You are sacrificing security for freedom. You are probably doing something that a lot of friends and family think is crazy.
You've got to prepare yourself–mentally prepare yourself–for setbacks of all kinds. Financial, personal, professional, and more. But rather than set yourself up for failure, you need to adopt a mindset that sees past all of the obstacles to the success on the other side.
A simple way to do this is to create a “big why”. This is just a brief statement that inspires you to overcome your fears and inhibitions and replace them with positive, growth-minded thoughts. Your big why should get at the heart of exactly why you want to succeed.
Something like this…
I need to succeed because my job makes it hard to get up in the morning. I need to succeed because I want more time to focus on my health, my family, and my fortune. I might doubt myself, and the world might doubt me too. But none of that matters because I will not stop until I have created the life I want for myself.
Once you've found your big why, write it down, commit it to memory, and repeat it to yourself often. Look yourself in the mirror every morning and use it to give yourself a pep talk. Whenever you face obstacles that shake your resolve, let your big why be the mantra that lets you find your center again.
Obviously, if 85% of people are working jobs that don't inspire them, they're doing it for a reason. They need to support themselves or their family.
Most likely, you can't financially afford to quit your job right now and live on your freelance full-time earnings.
So to prepare for your exit, it's generally recommended to save up a safety net that will keep a roof over your head and food on the table while you build up your freelancing business.
A good financial goal to shoot for is to put away enough to survive 100% on your savings for 4 months. For example, if you normally budget $3000 per month for rent, utilities, groceries, and other necessities–a good savings goal would be $12,000.
That way, even if worse comes to worse and you don't earn any freelance income for a third of the year, you'll still be able to pay the bills.
Of course, if you plan to still work part time at another job while you grow your freelancing business, you could aim a little bit lower. Just make sure that you have a decent enough safety net established to account for unexpected medical expenses and similar emergencies.
Beyond building up your savings, there are a few other steps you can take to establish a better exit plan.
Name your exit date. The late psychologist Milton Erickson said “a goal without a date is just a dream”. Our brains thrive on due dates because they drive action.
Once you've figured out how much money you need to put away to quit your 9 to 5 safely, calculate how long it will take you to reach that goal. Mark it on your calendar, post it on your vision board, and do whatever else it takes to remind yourself of your exit date as often as possible.
And don't beat yourself up if you don't make the date (remember what we said about growth mindsets?). Instead, measure your progress, set a new goal, and make a plan to achieve it.
Limit your expenses. Another thing that can help your exit go more smoothly is to slowly reduce your living expenses. As you get closer to your exit date, you can begin to cut out the non-essentials like eating out and movie night.
Learning to live without the little extras now will make it a lot easier when you are trying to build up a steady full-time freelance income stream. Keep in mind that this is just a temporary change, and once you've established your business you'll be able to work fun back into your budget.
Set future financial goals. Replacing your full-time income with freelancing should just be the beginning. Eventually, the hope is that you make more as your own boss than you did working for someone else. This will not only give you a deeper sense of satisfaction, but it will help you account for things like retirement.
As you craft your exit plan, establish your income goals at least for 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months after your exit date. For example, if your 9 to 5 is netting you $3,000 per month, your future goals might look something like this:
6 months after quitting: $3,000 per month from freelancing
12 months: $4,000 per month
18 months: $5,000 per month
24 months: $6,000 per month
No. We don't mean you should go quit your job in a dramatic exit right now. But your career as a full-time freelancer really starts long before you actually leave your 9 to 5.
It starts today when you adopt a winner's mindset. It starts today when you set goals for saving. It starts today when you establish an exit plan that envisions the future you deserve.