How I Quit my Job to Follow my Dream, by Reg Silva
Editor's note: The following is about someone who recently quit a profitable job to pursue her dream. I know many of you have this in mind but here are the specific steps she took. Notice her advice that "I just knew if you do something you love, everything else follows." Don't believe in this? I encourage you to see my list of how other people’s dreams come true.
Author: Reg Silva, http://www.wedgienet.net
I started my first job before I graduated from college. I had just finished my last day of classes and was all set to embrace contributing to statistics for the unemployed when I suddenly found myself in training for a motion graphics artist position at the biggest broadcasting network here in Manila, Philippines.
A classmate had recommended me for the position and I started working at the TV network's News and Current Affairs department in January 2005, a month before I received my college diploma. From a college classroom, I was transported into the rush and frenzy of a fast-paced news environment. I worked as a motion graphics artist for the longest running news program in the country.
I, along with a team of other artists, was responsible for the graphics one typically would see on television in a news program—crime statistics, over-the-phone interviews, show openers/intros. It was an exciting time for me. Not only was I was working in a good and reputable company, my starting salary was more than twice what a fresh graduate would usually get.
I got to work behind the scenes of a TV show I had grown up watching as a kid. I met the most prestigious and respected broadcast journalists in the country. I learned a lot and learned to work fast under time pressure. Through the news department's partnerships with outside advertisers, I worked on some big-name accounts like McDonald's, Johnson & Johnson, Globe Telecom, and other well-known brands in the Philippines.
After a year with the network, I was able to move into and furnish my own 1-bedroom condo unit a stone's throw away from the office. I bought myself a laptop, one I had only dreamt about for years. I designed graphics for multiple TV programs within the department and my work was aired not only nationwide but reached Australia, the US, Europe, and the Middle East via the network's cable channels across the globe. My salary, at this time, had more than tripled. I was making more than I could spend.
I had a job other people would only dream of having. Then I resigned. I wasn't happy. All that came at a price. I spent as much as 18 hours working on most days, and for a time I even had to work Sundays. The little time I had to myself was spent catching up on sleep. Since I worked in news, we didn't get holidays off, so Christmas and New Year was spent working in the newsroom. I was always missing from family gatherings and I started getting sick every so often. There were even times I wanted to get sick so that I would at least get to rest.
The worst part was I didn't even enjoy what I was doing. Making graphics for the daily news started to feel like routine and didn't pose much of a challenge to me.
Making graphical representations of how much gas prices have gone up and typing text onto premade graphics templates didn't sit well with me as an artist, especially since I basically just did the same things over and over again. There were more creative assignments I looked forward to sinking my teeth into but they came far and few in between. I felt like I was wasting my time and talent doing mundane design work.
Designing, for me, used to be fun. Now it just meant bleary eyes and an aching back while hunched in front of the computer from 2 pm to 6 am the next day. I had been thinking about resigning from the job as early as a year after I started working but it took me so long to actually go and do it because I knew how stable and financially-rewarding the job was. I held endless debates with myself and kept pushing back my self-imposed resignation deadlines because I was too busy entertaining fear and uncertainty over what could happen without this job.
Then one day I realized overanalyzing the situation only kept me there longer. The first step to resigning was to actually resign!
I took a month-long leave of absence in January 2008, three years after I started working at the network. I told my supervisor I wasn't sure I'd be coming back to work after my leave but deep down I already knew that I wasn't. And I didn't. I filed my official resignation three months later. I resigned without having another job to fall back on. I wasn't even sure I wanted to go back to a fulltime job ever again. Despite that, resigning felt like a breath of fresh air.
It was like a heavy weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Friends and family noticed I looked better and healthier. I was happier, too. I spent the rest of 2008 rekindling my love for design and illustration, things I previously did not have time to explore in a leisurely manner. I drew and designed for myself, not for a client-imposed deadline. I participated in Illustration Friday's weekly drawing challenges (http://illustrationfriday.com) and uploaded my drawings online where people can see them.
I added new work to my long-dead website/online portfolio (http://www.wedgienet.net). I lived off the money I had saved from my job and just as funds were getting low, I started getting freelance design and illustration projects from halfway around the world. I was essentially getting paid to have fun and the best part was I was relaxed and getting a full eight (sometimes ten) hours of sleep every night. I also stumbled across Etsy.com that year, a place for selling handmade goods. I experimented with it a bit before I opened a new shop (http://NotebooksEtc.etsy.com) earlier this year. I sell handmade paper goods with my designs and illustrations on them. I just started but it has been a rewarding experience so far— people are paying me not for design services rendered for them, but for art I made for myself!
That truly boggles my mind sometimes, coupled with the fact that my products have been to places I've never been to before: Canada, France, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Lebanon, USA, and Italy, just to name a few. I have started selling my products in local bazaars as well and I'm making plans to invest in a few machines to speed up production of my notebooks. People take the time to e-mail me and tell me how much they love my stuff and that makes me feel I really did make the right decision to leave my dead-end job.
I wouldn't have had the chance to do this if I had stayed at the network. I took a leap of faith. I just knew if you do something you love, everything else follows. I resigned to pursue something I believed I can do and it is with hard work, preseverance, and faith in my ability that I was able to turn my passion into a small business venture.
I'm not earning as much as what I used to (yet!) but that doesn't matter. Happiness, for me, does not mean more money than you can spend, having friends in high places, glamour, or fame and recognition. To me it means being surrounded by friends, family, and loved ones; living your dream, and simply being happy doing what you're doing.
For those looking to resign from their jobs despite the economy, make sure it is to pursue something you are passionate about. You cannot just sit around waiting for opportunity to come knocking on your door-- sometimes you have to be the one to pull it in. Do it while you're young and have no obligations yet like a family to support or children to send off to school. Do it before you regret staying at a toxic job for far too long that you start boxing yourself in and limiting what you can do. But the most important thing is to work hard and believe in yourself. It's a cliché but it works. Results don't happen overnight but they will in the long run as long as you persevere. Happiness is your choice. You have to be the one to make it happen.
To learn more about Reg, visit her portfolio website: http://www.wedgienet.net
Or see her products in her store: http://NotebooksEtc.etsy.com
Free Downloads from her illustration site: http://www.wedgienet.net/downloads/