On The Decision to Leave a Secure and Stable Day Job

When I was initially thinking of leaving my secure day job to pursue music and creative work, I was very much thinking of it from an overall life perspective. I am about halfway through my life now and am increasingly mindful that I have limited time.

In his book, Show Your Work, Austin Kleon talks about reading obituaries as a way to get inspired by reminding yourself that you’ll be dead soon. I like this idea. It can be challenging sometimes to step away from your daily life and look at things from this wider perspective. It can be even more challenging to leave one’s comfort zone and take a big risk.

Death doesn’t make life pointless, but rather purposeful. And, fortunately, we don’t have to nearly die to tap into this energy. – The Obstacle Is The Way, Ryan Holiday

So, why do it? Why take the risk? Will it pay off? The point is that you won’t know if it will pay off unless you try it. Fear of failure plays an important role here as well. However, if you are doing something for the love of the process, the end result becomes less important. The definition of failure becomes difficult to pin down.

To put it differently, very often a risk is worth taking simply for the sake of taking it. There is something enlivening about expanding our self-definition, and a risk does exactly that. Selecting a challenge and meeting it creates a sense of self-empowerment that becomes the ground for further successful challenges. Viewed this way, running a marathon increases your chances of writing a full-length play. Writing a full-length play gives you a leg up on a marathon. – The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron

It is important to me to fully understand my capabilities specific to music and creativity. I didn’t feel that I could ever do this without being able to focus on it 24/7. I had never really written any songs until about 3 years ago. That’s a very late start. It was an important indicator that there may be other things I could do that I hadn’t realized yet. This has turned out to be true. I feel that I have quickly developed a proficiency in both music production and audio recording and mixing. Learning these new skills has been a joy.

So, what if someone derives great joy and fulfillment from learning new things? What does that mean in regards to his/her willingness to take risks in life by leaving stability for the unknown?

I know. At this point, many are just thinking about money and how to pay the bills. I’ll get to that later.

It seems that another obstacle is fear of not knowing what you’ll be doing in three, six or twelve months. I think you have to somehow gain some confidence that things will work out OK. This may be confidence in one’s skills, education and abilities. Or, it could also be faith in some form of spirituality that you identify with.

For me, I think it is some of both.

One could ask the question, wouldn’t it make more sense to maintain your day job and work on your music project on nights and weekends? I thought about this a lot. I know some people who have been able to do this. I was fairly certain that I would never make any significant progress if I had tried that.

One of the reasons is related to brain stuff which I talk about in a later section about creativity. Another reason is that sacrificing the stable, secure job really has forced me to be focused and determined to make that progress and to reach the initial goal of releasing an independent solo album. It’s almost like there is no choice now. If I still had a day job, it would always allow me to have an excuse.

People are open to exploring alternatives (and more forgiving of others who do the same), as many of the other options—the once “safe” options—have failed. When everything and everyone is failing, what is the cost of a little experimentation outside of the norm? Most often, nothing. – Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

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