The Surprising Truth About Using Minimalism to Leave Your Day Job

March 31, 2010

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7 ways why leaving your job doesn’t have to be hard.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

This is the 3rd part in a now 4-part series on leaving your day job. The 1st was on preparing to leave your day job the 2nd was on how to make money online.

The last article in this series will be on how to survive the first three months after leaving your day job. Don’t miss out! Sign up for free updates via RSS or EMAIL.

The idea of losing a day job is terrifying to most people in the modern world.

There are many reasons for this, but they’re pretty simple: we’re living overextended lives.

A number of factors contribute to permanent workplace servitude among them:

  • Expensive car payment and insurance.
  • Subscriptions to Cable TV, etc.
  • Consumer debt that hasn’t been paid off.
  • College debt, because of the rising cost of getting an education.
  • Large expensive houses.
  • Eating out at every meal, or pre-packed microwavable foods that make us fat and stupid.
  • Spending on stuff you don’t need because you thought you needed it.

We can further reduce these contributing factors to one simple message:

You have too much stuff.

This is why you can’t leave your job, because your life costs so much that the moment you don’t have $2000-$4000 coming in with every paycheck, everything comes crashing down around you.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one in this situation. Luckily, there are other options.

The story of stuff: too much to less.

Tammy Strobel was in this situation a few years ago. Two cars, a big house. She couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t able to break even. Then she employed a healthy dose of minimalism, sold her costly cars and recently started a very small writing business. She details her story, and how you can go car-free in her new e-book, Simply Car-free. Now she’s happily biking around Portland and works when she wants on the projects that she cares about.

Tammy Strobel isn’t alone. A small army of creative individuals are realizing that they don’t need the junk that the televisions told us to buy.

Perhaps you’re already applying the principles you learned in the last article on making money online to build a small online empire destined for world domination like Chris Guillebeau? It certainly takes some time and a lot of effort to make this move towards freedom, but if you’ve got the goal of visiting every country in the world by your 35th birthday (like Chris), two weeks of vacation a year just isn’t going to cut it.

What you need is freedom.

The funny thing is that freedom is so easy to attain.

In September of last year I asked myself a simple question: what would it take to leave my day job and live and work from anywhere? If you’ve read The Art of Being Minimalist, you already know the answer.

This answer is too good to keep a secret though, I’d rather share it with you. I’ve decided to pluck the secret out of my simple e-book and summarize it to you right her. I hope it helps you find your own personal liberation.

If you apply these guidelines below, you’ll have no trouble freeing yourself from the confines of your day job — or any other goals you may have.

Here are 7 ways to apply minimalism to leave your day job.

1. Reduce your possessions to a more manageable amount.

The biggest mistake people make when they decide to leave their jobs is thinking they can keep it all. If you have a McMansion full of junk and you leave your day job, you will have to pay for the space to store these things, and also spend money on upkeep. Living with a lot also encourages rabid consumerism. The secret is to reduce your possessions to a minimal amount.

I live with less than 75 things, and I’m attempting to reduce that amount to at least 50 by the time I move to San Francisco on May 15th.

I realize that living with 50 personal possessions seems crazy to most people, but it’s how I choose to live. With 50 things I can move whenever I want with a backpack. You might think you need more than 50, that’s okay! 150 things is more than enough for most people.

When you find yourself living with less than 150 possessions, you’ll start to notice how much freer you are. Suddenly your mind is free to think about things other than your junk.

Make a list of your 100 most important things. If you feel the need to buy something, it has to displace one of those things.

2. Remove all dependence on expensive and needless entertainment.

In the modern age we’ve been trained to think our human lives should be spent in front of a TV watching endless hours of television.

This is absurd, you’ve been duped.

Sell your TV, unsubscribe from your cable. If you have a show you really need to keep up with — pick only one! Chances are you can watch it online. Anything else that falls under the category of entertainment and is either an addiction or a subscription needs to go. All of these costs add up, this is when you get into the situation where you have to work 60 hours a week to survive.

3. Stop needless consumerism.

Stop buying stupid stuff. Many people are hooked in the little adrenalin boost they get from spending small sums of money every evening.

This boost from consumerism is NOT a momentary happiness experience, it’s actual parallel is a low-dosage hit of heroin.

Corporations have scammed you into thinking that the only way that other people will accept you is if you have a new H&M top every time you go out. This is not the case. A week’s worth of simple and durable clothes is all a person needs to live comfortably. This frees you from thousands of dollars a month of needless expense. Stop shopping, start living.

Personally, I’d rather spend more on a pair of jeans that can withstand 4-6 months of daily wear.

4. Find joy in simpler things.

Many of the best pleasures in life are free, and infinitely more fulfilling than shopping.

Go for a walk with no destination. Go sit on the beach for a day. Lie on your roof and watch the stars at night. Cook a meal for your friends. Plant a tree. Climb a mountain and sleep on the top. Read a book. Minimalism doesn’t have to be boring.

There are so many inexpensive ways to have great experiences, you don’t need to go spend hundreds of dollars to live your life.

5. Move to a city where you can live without a car.

Cars are the second most expensive purchase you will make in your adult lives. Did you know you can live without them? Well, you can. There are a number of cities in America where cars aren’t the norm, move to one of them and suddenly you’ll have huge hunks of cash that you forgot you had. Go car-free and the possibilities start to open up.

It’s a myth that living in a city is more expensive. It’s not, because you don’t need a car. Check out Portland, OR for amazing quality of life. Brooklyn, NY for amazing opportunities. Both of these cities are walkable, bike-able, and awesome.

More at SuburbanShift: How Cars Rob Americans of their Retirement.

6. Focus on the important.

When you focus on only a few very important things in your life, you actually succeed at them.

What is important to you? Write that down, now! It’s sad story when I ask a person what their priorities are, and I get blank faces.

Worse is the people who tell me they’re a painter (or any artist,) but they’ve only done two canvasses. If you’re a painter, reduce your possessions to the essentials: your brushes, your canvasses.

When the TV is gone, the only way to entertain yourself is to paint. Eventually you’ll start to make decent work, this can be translated easily into making a living from your art like Soniei does. Focus on the work that is important to you.

7. Stop searching for the next half-assed spike of adrenalin (go for the real stuff.)

Shopping gives you a temporary high. So does drugs, alcohol, TV, video games, etc. These things are fun over the short-term, but forty years down the road no one is going to care that you watched the entire Lost series three times through.

If you’re into adrenalin, do something crazy, like move to New Zealand and go skydiving.

Destroy your Guitar Hero (if you spent as much time playing guitar as you do on Guitar Hero, you’d actually be talented at music) and actually go on tour. Trade manufactured happiness for the real experience. Stop engaging in the detached distain of current affairs by reading the newspaper and go try and make a difference in the world.

Is this really so surprising?

I realize that the idea of adopting all of these systems is incredibly difficult for most people. I know this because I’ve been there.

You’re used to living in a fantasy world.

This world is propped up by over-extended credit and modern day wage-slavery.

You can either continue to live that life, and I know many of you will. Keep waking up every morning, stumbling to the car, sitting under fluorescent lights for the entire day.

Alternatively, you can pop the red pill and choose to wake up.

Reduce your possessions to the basic essentials that you need in order to build a life outside the confines of this corporate system.

When you get to this point you’ll start to notice long a basic amount of savings, such as $3000, will actually last you. Then you can start to build your own minimalist business and find your own personal liberation.

Here are a few links to check out, I hope they will help you.

Pavarotti’s Secret to Success by Chris Guillebeau.

How to Say ‘No’ Gracefully by Tammy Strobel.

An In-Depth Guide to Buying and Selling Websites by Glenn Allsopp.

A Little Celebration of Less by Jeffrey F. Tang.

The Reality of Digital Content by Seth Godin.

Did this article help you? The best way you can help me out is to take 10 seconds and share this post. If you have five minutes, I’d love if you could write about me on your blog, this really helps people discover my writing.

Thank you so much.

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