This article was originally published on Forbes.com
Transitioning from your day job and into a different venture may be well thought out, but the actual moment never is. When I studied the lives of entrepreneurs who started out in day jobs before taking the plunge, I found a common element among the moment they officially left one realm for another: It just happened. For some, it was sooner than they’d planned. For others, it was much later than they’d anticipated. For me, it was seven years too soon based on my conservative estimate. And yet, how can you tell whether the moment is right or whether it is a knee-jerk reaction to an unpleasant work situation?
Here are a few things to consider if you are two steps away from quitting your day job for entrepreneurship:
- Does the grass look greener on the other side? If you’re driven by the thought that “out there” must be better than your current situation, you are emotion-driven. There is little research and lived experience to back up your position and you’re likely primarily motivated by the desire to move away from a seemingly dead-end situation.
- Are your peers jumping ship? Social influence is closer than we think. If you’re making a decision that most people in your peer groups and settings are making, then you are a part of a movement — not an independent lifestyle choice dependent on your unique needs.
- Have you just started dabbling in your passion and discovered how easy it is? If so, it’s advisable that you play past the point of pleasantries and into the trenches of hard work. Question your sanity. When people tell me, “This is easy, I wonder why I never did it before,” I smile. One is soon weaned off the high of starting a great thing when the hard work knocks.
On the other hand, here are some proactive indicators you may be able to check off:
- You have not allowed yourself to become desperate by a less-than-pleasant work experience. Instead, you have focused your energy on researching your options and acquiring specialized knowledge. For four years, I used all my evenings, weekends, long weekends, vacation time (including unpaid time off), and the long commutes to work on my mindset, do my research, acquire specialized knowledge, establish a plan and set it in motion.
- Whether you achieve success, hit your revenue goals, gain recognition or not, you would still make the same choice. Much of entrepreneurship is advertised as freedom. The price for freedom, however, is immense discipline. To get out of the corporate lifestyle mindset, I made drastic choices: I changed my diet, how I thought about money, my friendships, my time, where I directed my energy, the activities I participated in, the things I consumed on media, so on and so forth. I worked through several holidays including New Years and I turned down many offers to hang out with friends so that I could work. I woke up every day at 4 a.m. so that I would work on myself and my business until 6 a.m. when it was time to get ready for my day job. I worked after my day job religiously until late in the evening, sacrificing my social life. I worked through past-due payments, increasing conflict in relationships, and many other stressful situations. And when I asked myself if it was time to quit, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Are you there?
- You’ve first worked on your inner self before venturing out to change your outer world. My first and hardest task to date was streamlining my inner world, getting rid of old programming and getting a firm handle on myself and my faith. It is as a result of this inner working that I have been able to succeed in my transition. If you don’t have a set compass on yourself, your goals, desires, your good and bad traits, it becomes difficult to stay the course. If you are influenced by money, your peers, the current fad, or a need to alleviate boredom, you’ll soon find that fulfillment will never materialize in the outside world. You as you are must be enough to be successful in a world that will demand more, more, more and then more. If this is you, you’ll notice that you are not among a crowd but that you’re walking alone. And that indeed is probably the best indicator that you are being proactive rather than reactive about your next career decision.
Take some time out for yourself in non-judgemental silence and learn your true motives for wanting to leave your day job. If you’re in a difficult situation, consider all your options before you leave. Often, if we don’t address the things about us that contribute to conflict or negative outcomes, we repeat the same behaviours even in new work environments. But if you find that you’re more in alignment with the entrepreneurial route, take the time to study, prepare and practice so that at your moment, you’re courageous enough to take it.