Have you been thinking of quitting your job lately? Do you feel like it is time for you to start your own business, and begin your journey towards that ‘financial freedom’ you’ve been longing for?
As much as that may sound like a dream, the journey comes with its own package of trials and challenges. The ride begins when you start building the courage to leave your job for good, with a plan to start your own business in mind, and continues with what happens after you leave.
The emotional stages I’m talking about are more specific to someone who leaves his or her job without another job lined up, or without an intention of going back to corporate life.
Let’s have a look at those 10 stages.
Stage 1: The Honeymoon Phase
This is the phase where you’ve signed your full-time offer, you’ve anticipated for the moment when you start the first day at work, you’re dressed to the nines, you’re wearing your best pair of shoes, you have an amazing attitude, and you’re just so grateful that you’re there.
During the honeymoon phase, you walk around with your notebook, you have your integration meetings with everyone on your team, and you’re literally a sponge. You’re soaking all of the information in. You’re typing or you’re writing a ton of notes, to the point where you’re pretty much transcribing what everyone is telling you. And you just want to tell everyone where you work.
Stage 2: The Try Hard Phase
This is the stage where no one’s really treating you like a baby anymore, and they’re starting to give you real work. As you’re getting all this real work, you just want to go above and beyond. You’re willing to take on more projects than you can handle. You just want to learn everything that there is to learn. And you want to get as much feedback as possible so you can continually improve. You’re constantly trying to know areas of opportunity that you have in order for you to grow in the company.
But at the same time, during this try hard phase, you realize that you’re really not the super employee anymore, and you’re starting from the bottom. All the work seems incredibly challenging, and you’re just eager to be able to master all the tasks that are given to you.
Stage 3: Denial and Frustration
The work isn’t getting any easier, hours aren’t getting any shorter, and you’re starting to resent staying up late doing work all the time, but you don’t want to say anything because you’ve announced on all your social media accounts that you really love your job. You’re at the stage where it’s starting to get extremely uncomfortable at work, and you’re doubting and having second thoughts about whether or not this was the right path for you.
Stage 4: Pressure makes Diamonds
In this stage, you’re really in denial. You know that things aren’t good, but you have a strong belief that it will get better, and you realize it’s definitely no longer the honeymoon stage. This stage is basically filled with anger and feeling very, very jaded. You have so much resentment for your job because it’s not getting better, and you’re starting to feel frustrated, you’re starting to feel anger, you’re starting to complain almost every single day, and you’re also starting to become a person that you don’t even recognize anymore.
When you’re in this stage, it’s probably one of the most frustrating, debilitating stages to be in. It’s as if you have this cloud of negativity that’s just circling around you and following you around, whether that’s at work, after work, when you wake up, or when you hang out with your friends. It’s as if work never really leaves your mind, and you’re at a spot where you are just feeling hopeless. In turn, you turn that hopelessness into constant anger and resentment. This stage is probably the worse stage to be in.
Stage 5: Fear
At this stage, you’ve already pretty much committed to resigning from your job because of the frustration you have built, or because of the resentment that you feel. You are just ready for a stinking change. Even though you’re still talking to your colleagues and friends, you’re saying things in your head like, “Forget it, I’m done, I don’t care anymore. Peace out.”
But, when it actually comes to the moment or the night before when you have to hand in that letter of resignation, you literally lose sleep over it. Maybe even a week or a couple days leading up to that big moment where you hand in that resignation, every meeting you go to, you literally feel so guilty because you know that you’re going to be leaving soon. It is in this fear stage that you blow everything out of proportion. “What if my boss yells at me?” “What if she slaps me in the face?” “What if the company escorts me out?” “Can I eve get a better job than this?” “Oh my God!”
In a nutshell, you’re just too scared to pull the plug, but you do know that it’s necessary in order for you to move forward. Plus at this point, you’ve pretty much told enough people that you’re going to be doing it, so you really can’t back out.
Stage 6: Empowerment
At this stage, you’ve handed in your resignation letter. The moment you hand it in, it’s literally as if you feel your life has changed. You feel like you were going this way, and then because you handed in that letter, you suddenly are going that way.
You feel incredibly empowered that you are about to take control of your life, that you have taken ownership, and that you have finally acted on the thing that you’ve been complaining about for months, and planning about for years, that is, to leave the corporate life and start your own new business venture!
Stage 7: Awkwardness
Now that you’ve handed in your resignation on a two weeks notice, you have two weeks left to work at that job, and you just feel too awkward. You basically know that everyone is talking about you, including the managers, the HR, your co-workers, and everyone is just shaken that you actually made the decision to pull the plug.
The rumors are starting to spread and you just don’t really know how to handle it all. Not only this, in this stage of awkwardness, you are also responsible for wrapping up all of the projects that you had, and train the person or leave transition documents for the person who will be replacing you. So during this awkward stage, it is quite sad and bittersweet to know that you’ll be passing a lot of the big projects that you’ve been working on for years to someone else. Having that conversation with your team and with your manager is quite bittersweet.
As much as you have been complaining about your job the whole time or feeling miserable, during these last two weeks, you do get a reality check of how much you’ve grown in the company, and how much you appreciate your colleagues, and how much you’ll actually miss this place!
Stage 8: Pure Happiness
You no longer work from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. You wake up Monday morning at 10:00 AM, realizing that you don’t have to go to work anymore. You don’t have to wear pants, and you’re basically a free man or free woman who can do anything that they want. That’s a fantastic feeling that you could get the moment after you quit your job. This is when you realize the freedom there is on the other side of sitting in a cubicle.
But of course, this newfound freedom and amazing happiness doesn’t last long. Eventually thy hype really dies down.
Stage 9: Loneliness and Social Pressure
Now that the hype has died down, you’re starting to feel lonely that all of your friends are at work and you’re on your own. You have no one really to talk to from the hours of 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. At the same time, you start to reflect back on your corporate life and you ask yourself, “Was it really that bad?”
You really start to miss that feeling of having someone telling you what to do, and you miss having that structure in your life. After you leave your job, especially if you don’t have another job lined up, the world is truly your oyster. As much as you had anticipated this moment for so long, it comes with its cons, just like anything else.
The freedom comes with lack of structure, and with not having any direction whatsoever of what to do in your life. That causes a lot of stress. Not only this, the amount of social pressure that you receive after you leave your job is immense. Really, the main reason you begin to question whether you made the right decision or not is that everyone else around you begins questioning you.
It doesn’t make it better knowing that you don’t really have anyone else to lean on in order to figure out your life. You don’t have a boss to talk to, you don’t have colleagues to talk to, and it just becomes a really lonely journey.
Stage 10: Adjustment
This stage is basically where you’ve accepted the new normal – the life that you have after corporate. You basically erase everything that you’ve ever known in your life and you start over, and you’re okay with that. You create new routines. You start to have new habits and new interests.
During this adjustment phase, you’re basically relearning life. You’re taking courses, you’re reading books, you’re soul searching, you’re networking. You finally start to have a little system in place that keeps you sane. At this stage, you’ve basically accepted the fact that your corporate job was a thing of the past. It was a thing that happened to you, and now you move forward. Once you hit this stage, you no longer look at your corporate job with resentment. Rather you look at it with a lot of appreciation. You wouldn’t necessarily go back to it, but at the same time you are just grateful that you had that opportunity, and now use those skills and experiences to your advantage with whatever project that you might be pursuing.
You now have a better idea of the new path that you want to take, and all your efforts are really concentrated on how you get yourself from point A to point B, in order to work towards that new life that you have always dreamed of.
So this is where I would say, “Good luck for your new business venture!”