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You Know That Shit You Hate?

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What if you just quit today? What if, all of a sudden, you made the snap decision to quit doing everything you don’t care about and started doing only what’s truly important to you?

What would life be like if you finally pulled the trigger? I think that’s a question worth asking yourself.

Of course, it wouldn’t really be a snap decision at all, right? You’ve been thinking about doing it for months. Maybe even years. What’s stopped you?

Was it some sort of responsibility?

Who do you really owe it to? Your family? I don’t have a family to take care of and I won’t pretend I know what it’s like to have one, but if you’re sticking it out in a job you hate or doing something else that makes you grit your teeth to keep up the status quo for the family’s sake, I just want you to ask yourself one simple question:

What example am I really setting? I don’t necessarily think there’s a right answer, but I think it’s worth asking.

Was it a lack of imagination?

Maybe you don’t know what you’d do with all the extra free time? Is that worth worrying about? Sometimes, you just have to jump before the net appears. If you’re lost on the road, it’s pretty hard to find your way from where you are. Usually, you have to make a turn off of the map before you’ll ever see which direction you’re actually supposed to head.

We all get 24 hours each day, and somehow we manage to fill them up no matter what happens. What direction would you head if you had some time to explore new time-fillers?

Was it a fear of the repercussions?

What will your friends think of you if you just quit? What will your boss think? What will your family think? Do you really care what any of them say? Internalize that question—the real answer below the surface might not be what you think it is.

The people you care about and who care about you might be shocked, but they’ll get over it, won’t they? If they won’t, are they worth caring about? That’s the hardest question.

The Art of Making Things Better

Why didn’t you just quit a long time ago? You really wanted to, didn’t you? I know, now you’re comfortable and things seem to be working out. If you stick it out just a little bit longer, something might come along to make things better.

  • Maybe you’ll get a raise and then you’ll be happy.
  • Maybe all that work you’re doing will finally pay off, even though you hate it.
  • Maybe if you hide your feelings long enough, they’ll just go away.

That’s the conversation I had with myself for six years before things finally snapped. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t felt like the same person since. When I look at who I was just a few years ago and compare that person to the Tyler I know today, the two are almost unrecognizable.  Whenever I find myself complaining about something and wishing it were different, I try to remember that things get better when I actively make them better, not when I wait for them to get better on their own. That almost never happens.

  • You’ll get the raise, but you won’t be any happier.
  • The work will pay off, but you’ll still feel dead inside.
  • People will stop asking if you’re okay, but it won’t be because you are.

The day I quit trying to motivate myself to do things I hated was the day I came back to life. I’m still alive, I’m not homeless (yet), and my family doesn’t ask if I’m doing okay anymore because they know I am.

Do I get it perfect every time? No, I still do dumb stuff that I wish I didn’t—that I wish I’d said no to—but I’m working on it, and things are trending towards “more awesome” all the time. That’s progress I can live with.

Fear is always worse than reality. I can conjure up a spectacular failure in my mind every time I try something new, but how many times do you think any of those catastrophes have ever come to light?

If you guessed zero, and I think you did, then you’re right. So, why do I continue to be scared and think about how terrible things could get every time I try something new? The answer is probably for the same reason it happens to most of us—living your own life really is scary and hard, but it’s worth it.

An Outside Perspective

Sometimes, an outside perspective—the view from someone who isn’t so wrapped up in your situation—is what you need to finally get over yourself. I need it on a regular basis, so that’s what I want to give you today—an outside perspective.

  • If you quit your job, you’ll figure out how to make money again. The world demands it, so you will.
  • If you quit that project today, you’ll start another one. Your ego demands it, so you will.
  • If you walk out on that relationship that’s going nowhere, you’ll walk into a better one. Your soul demands it, so you will.

So, you know all that shit you hate doing? Stop it. Life is going to be okay, but not until you grant yourself permission to stop, because no one will grant it to you.

And once you stop, what will you start doing instead?


Image by: macwagen

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What smart people are saying about this...

  1. Hi Tyler -

    I’m not sure you can ever quit *everything*, but without doubt there is an awful lot you can weed out.

    It’s another variation of the 80/20 rule. Gain 80% by weeding out the worst 20%.

    I’m a great fan of that principle.

  2. Dead on as usual Tyler. It is very easy to get stuck and make excuses. When taking risks it’s all about doing. Once you stray doing, all the fear seems to go away. You get stuck again, but this time you are stuck in a situation you enjoy. Big difference.

    As a family man I can tell you there is no difference. Fear is fear. Wherever you are in life you have to bust fear in the head and do what you were made to do.

  3. Tyler – This is spot on, and it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been realizing that it’s due to taking on projects just because I should – not because I love them.

    Some of the things on my “kicking them to the curb” list include (for the time being, and until I see a major negative impact one way or another):

    *Being super active on Twitter
    *Building niche sites in the scrapbooking market
    *Limiting responding to comments on my sites to a few times a week

    Hopefully, clearing out some of these activities that I’m not seeing a huge return from will give me more time to focus on the projects that mean more to me.

    • Sarah, I kicked Twitter to the curb six months ago and don’t miss it all.

      This has had negative repercussions for my site traffic though. I do miss that.

  4. You ask “What example am I really setting?” by sitting in a pile of shit out of some sense of responsibility. The example I’m setting is that I fulfill my commitments. I made an agreement to support my wife and children, and that’s what I’m doing. And I’m teaching my children to make better commitments.

    • I agree with your point….AND I also want my kids to see an example of living authentically. I never want to see my kids unhappy due to some pre-determined obligation. I applaud your committment to your family! :-) I just think there are many ways to fulfill our committments that also make us happy. I am working on figuring out that piece of it due to being aingle mom with two kids I need to support. I am lucky in that my work allows me to support the journey of others, something I love. But there is more to my path to still figure out.

  5. This is so right. You throw us out in front of the crowd, naked, as we are! We are fearful of change. What we have, as mediocre as it is, is more comfortable than the risks of chasing a future 100 times better. I see it all the time. I am not an enlightened one who can think of an idea and simultaneously do it, but I am far better than many of my paralyzed friends and co-workers. It is shocking, seeing them from outside their circle, how strong the walls are. It must be that way when the super-successful see me too. So much to learn.

  6. This is great, I loved reading it. I want nothing more than to quit this job I hate that makes me miserable. But I have the fear because I have a huge amount of student loan debt to pay. If I quit without something lined up (which I’ve been trying for years, but you know this economy and lack of jobs), they will come after me if I don’t pay. Sallie Mae and Nelli Mae are bitches that come knocking on my door every month. I’d love to quit, but that’s not smart of me when I have these financial responsibilities. If I didn’t have these loans, I would have quit years ago. But I’m sort of trapped at the moment, until the job market gets better and I get a new job I like. I’ll be done paying my loans in 25 years, then I’ll be free do do what I want lol.

  7. Nice post. I’m exponentially happier since I quit my job 6 weeks ago. I landed my dream writing work about 3 weeks later and have had multiple freelance projects with the same company. It’s not always easy, it’s not always perfect, it’s not always dreamy; but it’s my life. The way I want it.

    I’ve also found I’m a better wife, friend, and creative since I quit. A job that eats away at you is so not worth it. Get an escape plan and jump.

  8. Haha! What’s better than one? All three! My job sucks, my boyfriend sucks and nothing I’m doing now is fulfilling. Next month (after months of planning, granted) I’m selling everything and biking around the country to find something or somewhere that will make me happy. I guess I’m lucky in a way-no family ties, no debts…hmm…maybe I’ve been subconsciously planning this my whole life. Either way, you’re an inspiration to me and many people Tyler! Thanks for such great insights.

  9. This post came along at a good time for me…closing in on two months until I walk away from my comfortable well-paying job.

    I have a couple ideas of what I’m gonna do…but nothing is certain or set in stone. Like you said… Sometimes, you just have to jump before the net appears. Keep up the solid work @ AR, its making a difference.

    • Colon,

      I could have written your post almost word-for-word. I’m only a month out now from being done. I turned in my resignation a month ago to a job– a career– I’ve held for years.

      Like you, I have ideas, but nothing solid yet. It reminds me of the Indiana Jones movie where he is seeking the holy grail and has to cross what seems like a deep cavern to his doom, but when he puts his foot out in faith, a rock bridge becomes apparent and he is able to make it to the other side. But first, he had to put his foot out not knowing what his fate would be.

      My husband said to me the other day, “My wife has her soul back.” Being happy and excited about life again shows in our faces, I guess.

      Here’s to having our souls again.

  10. Tyler,
    I loved this post. Fear keeps us from jumping into the adventurous life we’ve dreamed of every time. You’re right sometimes you do have to jump without a net and you’ll be surprised to find one when you do.

  11. Tyler, I’m gonna hit you back when I make my break happen. It’s coming too. My job is the shit I hate. Well, I dont hate it, but I’m not challenged. Its time to live with abandon!

  12. Good article, Tyler. Unfortunately in our society it seems 8 out of 10 times its the job that is what we hate the most! Well, I am three months away from retiring all my debt and looking at new options – AmeriCorps, starting a company with a couple friends, living simpler.

  13. Yes! Thank you for this, Tyler. I took the leap a year ago and while I’m still building, I am so much happier. I don’t know what my life will look like long term, but that jump was worth it.

  14. The universe has a funny way of moving you along if you don’t take action. If you don’t leave a job you are unhappy with, eventually you will be fired or leave. The same goes with relationships. If you you are unhappy and you don’t go, someone else may come into the relationship and force things to a head. You can take what would seem like the easier route and act before any of the scenarios come to pass, but sometimes one needs to be shaken out of their rut. In hindsight though, I have always wished I made decisions quicker than I did, so I am all for leaping before you figure it all out. Your blog is a great motivator to make people take more risks and leap.

  15. I’ve recently quit my boring/stressful job. My wife and I have a baby on the way, so some people think this is a terrible life decision I’ve made. I feel it’s a great decision, I would never be able to see my child grow up otherwise. Working for the Man in today’s corporate circus, means that you have to get up early to beat the traffic, work through your lunch break, and stay after hours to make sure stupid people get what they want. At the end of the day, you are too tired and just watch TV and your brain melts. No thanks!

  16. A critical component of making this easier, especially if you have a family, is to work towards building that reserve fund.

    I am in unpleasant contract right now, and the thing holding me back is debt to be serviced with no margin for movement. As a serial entrepreneur and risk-taker, jumping is not that scary for me – I have done it often.

    It sure does complicate things however when the first task on your post-job-to-do-list would be to get on your knees in your bank manager’s office ;-)

  17. This is actually a very common problem with a lot of people and most likely starts as early as childhood. As a child, we often are forced by our parents to do things that we don’t want to do…. and it can be practising a musical instrument that we aren’t really interested in but because our mum played it, we are obliged to play it too.

    Luckily with me my parent’s approach was: “if you don’t want to… I could save a few thousand dollars on fishing bait!”

    Your post has made me feel how lucky I am. And I hope people walk away with determination to begin what they truly care about.

    Thanks Tyler!

  18. Very timely as I dragged myself to work today. My goal is to work only 3 days a week someday, I dont hate my job but would like it a lot more if I only had to do it part time :-) I would much rather be home in my garden or reading in the hamoc but alas for now I push the paper!

  19. I first discovered your website last year, but only recently started visiting regularly. I really love your style, and how you manage to sum up in a few words what would likely cause me to ramble.

    Great stuff. I needed a reminder like this tonight.

  20. After a blue sky conversation with my wife about how it would be neat to travel a bit I quit 3 years ago and along with our 1 year son took off for an adventure. Everyone thought we were mad (I am well into my forties). We lived and worked about a year each in China, London and a beautiful little town in Switzerland. My sons first language became Chinese and he picked up English and German as well. The experience was far better / easier than I imagined, we never wanted for money and in fact have recently returned home with even some savings (plus another child born ‘on the road’). Im back in a 9 -5 job with a mortgage etc but I feel supremely confident that when I decide whats next it will work out.

    • That’s a great story, Steve. Thanks so much for sharing. I know a lot of people find it very comforting to hear about others with similar goals that have had a great experience.

  21. I read this post after watching “Office Space”. Haha…very fitting. And a very funny movie!

    I am starting to get rid of the shit I hate…I feel a bold move on the horizon…

  22. I feel like I should print out this post and pin it on my wall where I will read it every day. I had a baby at 19 and have lived a life I hate ever since.

    I am months away from finishing my MBA, and I have worked in a soul-sucking mortgage corporation for 2 years. I have a contract with them that I must work there at least 1 more year since they paid part of my college expenses.

    However, I just had the inspirational idea to quit my job when that year is up and take my son on a 3 month road trip. He’ll be 7 next year and I think it will be a blast. The thought of that is the only thing keeping me going some days. I can’t imagine how people live lives that they hate for 20 or even 40 years.

    Thank you for the continued inspiration – it means a lot!

  23. Tyler,

    I’ve been a shadow-reader of your blog for some time, and this post has officially kicked my ass out into the light. It really hit home for me, specifically today. I’m in this exact position and have had firestorms of thought in the mind about all the questions you’ve listed above, for quite a few months now. I honestly want to say thank you for the inspiration with this post. Action-taking begins NOW.


Founded with love by Tyler Tervooren