Think about it for a second.
Could you walk into your workplace Monday morning, look at your boss, and hand in your letter of resignation? Could you do this without entering into an absolute financial apocalypse at home?
It’s a dream a lot of us have.
It’s something I actually did in February 2008, not because I disliked my boss or coworkers or even the interesting parts of my job, but because I felt like I was becoming the father I didn’t want to be and because I was really frustrated with bureaucracy.
I didn’t do it without a plan, though. I had spent the last two years pretty much planning non-stop for that moment, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at that plan. Sarah and I had turned around our financial situation. I had built up a side gig (The Simple Dollar) that could provide enough income to make a difference. I also had enough savings in the bank to make sure that if things went awry, we could find a new path quickly.
So, I walked. I don’t regret it, though I do miss the people, particularly the “elderly” fellow who was my office mate for six years.
The point is that quitting your job tomorrow is a very powerful yardstick by which you can figure out whether or not you’re truly financially independent.
If you could walk out on your job without panic, then you’re at least independent from your job, which is, in all likelihood, your primary method of earning income.
There’s something even more important than that, though.
Knowing that you could walk out in that way changes the balance of power at work.
If you know you can’t walk out in that fashion, then you’ve ceded power – a lot of it – to your boss. If you don’t do what your boss demands of you, you might just see a pink slip in the very near future, which would be devastating for you.
Your boss knows it, too. They recognize that many of their employees need this job and thus can be pushed when it’s warranted.
You don’t want to be that employee.
On the other hand, if you know you can walk out at any time if you wish, then the tables are turned. You have the power. That doesn’t mean that you can or should slack off at work. What it does mean is that you don’t have to sit back and take mistreatment.
It means you have far more power to have input about your job.
It means you don’t have to be afraid to raise your hand in a meeting and speak your mind.
It means you don’t have to have cold sweats about a challenging project failing; you can just focus on achieving it.
It means you don’t have to go into full panic mode when there are whispers of layoffs at work.
It’s not easy getting there, but achieving that level of financial independence completely turns the tables on your relationship with your job. It becomes drastically less stressful and much more fulfilling when you’re in the driver’s seat.
The first step is up to you.