5 Tips to Quit the Job You Hate

1st April 2024

Want to quit your job? Those of you who have followed me know my backstory right? I quit my (admittedly) well-paying government gig that was one of the last careers in Brunei with a pension to jump into a financial advisory role. The decision was as sharp as a rubber band snap, realising the career wasn’t something I wanted for the long term.

Now, 6 years after I took off my blue uniform and rank, hey, I’m not only in one piece, I’m loving it! This is in no part smooth-sailing for the last 6 years. I’ve had my own battle of personal growth, mental health, financial crisis to name a few. But I’m not here to talk about that today.

For Readers who are still with me since I started this blog, this blog post title has been sitting there fermenting since I jumped out of my gov job. I really had no idea how I wanted to write this up back then but this is the time! After going through the rollercoaster and surviving, I feel I am a little bit more qualified to talk about this topic.

….Right?

Let’s talk quitting

Look, there are many views when you quit your job. One train of thought determines you’re not strong enough to stay on. On the other hand, it could simply mean the organisation was not a good fit for you.

Regardless of your reasons, exiting from a paying line of work should not be taken lightly; especially since you’re not going to receive an income after that! Financial burden was one of my biggest concerns when planning to jump out; no thanks to me having a mortgage to become a homeowner while I was in the Force. Fortunately, it worked out.

Here’s my 5 key advice for anyone else in a similar position.

1. Plan your exit

One thing that’s very tempting is to slap the letter on your boss’s table like in the movies. Don’t do it. As with many things in life, gauge your situation first before you pull the trigger. From support of loved ones to financial commitments, the before and after of the transition should be taken into consideration.

But do one thing though. Set an exit date.

For me, it was the day all my bond commitments have been served. Giving me a very light exit! By setting an exit date, you prime yourself and force yourself to think about the uncomfortable what-ifs and make the transition real.

2. Build your survival fund

Money is very important during the transition; I mean, when is it not right? Extra money set aside will help you in multiple ways. In my case, I didn’t have a good foresight to secure another line of work to jump into at that point (this is a story for another time) and in hindsight, I would really advise against it! Things could have really gone spiraling out of control because of this lack of planning.

But my saving grace was I saved super aggressively during my work months and years. On average, 15% or more was locked away and I would even put about 90% of my yearly bonuses aside. Any extra money I got from ang paus was also banked into this “war chest”. And boy did this savings save me (hah!) as I floundered about as a young financial advisor and even started Kitsu Models along the way.

3. Protect your survival fund

So, even with a good 21 months survival fund saved up, there were… uh… events that led to me tapping into it. To make it easy I’ll just list it down here:

  • Got pulled to do a Japan trip right after getting out from the previous job (financially viable but mentally stressful because I was using my “living” savings)
  • Taking a Financial Planning course with Bilif (back then it was CIBFM) and including certification costed $3,000.
  • “Dry” months because sales were slow and I need to make mortgage payment.
  • Car maintenance (of course, this and my emergency fund were the same fund)
  • House maintenance (hidden costs of homeownership)
  • Starting a business
  • My first child was born

And the list continues. Long story short, it came a point where the savings dwindled down to a near critical level; a place I don’t wish upon anyone.

Moral of the story: Don’t try to do too much before you get back your footing.

4. Secure a place to jump TO

Remember when I said I didn’t secure something before my exit? Well, I don’t know if the planets aligned or whatever but right as I reached my exit event, I bumped into an acquaintance in the gym locker room. This guy is Alex, my current Agency Lead and he opened the doors to learn more about a financial advisory role. And the rest was history.

If you want to get out of the frying pan, make sure you don’t land in the fire. Aggressively network and apply for jobs. Even a lateral move is great if you’re quitting from somewhere you can’t tolerate any further. But ideally, you should aim for one level up; strengthening your career path.

From a financial perspective, having another job lined up also alleviates all the cashflow stresses you would have if you transitioned into joblessness.

5. Mind your portfolio

Lastly is something close to my heart. At the point in time when I quit, I had a small portfolio of a term insurance and a small investment plan. These are crucial for me because of 2 things:

  1. I’m making a selfish move for ME; I wouldn’t have it any other way. The term plan is what will cover my loss of income and protect my family from financial crisis if anything happens.
  2. The investment plan also allowed me to tap into additional cash during one of my crisis periods. Not the best use case, but when you want to survive, this is where it shines.

If possible, meet up with your financial advisor before committing to the move and understand what you will be expecting financially and maybe they can do a runway analysis for you.

🤔 What if I don’t have a financial advisor?

Well, you’re in luck! I’m something of a financial advisor myself.

Conclusion – Quit your job or not?

Quitting your job isn’t as spontaneous as the horror stories of Bruneian workforce would have you believe. If you truly, madly, deeply despise your current job, then the best logical step to take is to make sure the exodus doesn’t blow up in your face. This could mean an extra month or two, but hey, they greater good will prevail and you can use the opportunity as a launchpad rather than landing strip.

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