how to quit your job – 5 steps

If you want to quit your job, you are like a staggering number of people in America today. CBS News recently reported that only 45% of US workers find their jobs satisfying. And that’s lowest rate ever recorded in the 22 years they’ve been studying the issue.

If you aren’t happy at your job, why not take the plunge? Yes, there are risks. Yes, it can be scary. But quitting your job to pursue something that makes you happier and more fulfilled is never riskier and scarier than the alternative: remaining stuck a mindless cycle of dreading every day and complaining over a tub of ice cream or a bottle of wine every night.

I quit my job and lived to tell the tale. I worked as a grouchy office assistant for many boring years and it made me want to commit mass murder. I was the ugliest version of myself when I worked at that job. I was dismissive, short-tempered, difficult and I loved rolling my eyes behind people’s backs. (Okay, I still do that.)

Now, 7 months after quitting, I’m happier and more hopeful than I’ve been in years. I might even be a little smarter too. I’m not an expert, I’m just someone who’s been through it and come out thriving on the other side.

The list I’m about to share might seem simple. That’s on purpose. No matter what we may have been led to believe by maybe our parents, our culture, or our bank accounts, quitting your job is simple.

Scary? Risky? Non-traditional? Maybe.

Rocket science? Absolutely not.

Here’s how I did it:

1. Decide WHY. I knew I felt unhappy at my job, but I had to determine exactly why, or I wouldn’t know what I was aiming to fix.

Start by asking yourself why you don’t like the work you do. Is it the people? The atmosphere? The work itself? Is it you? Are you making the situation worse than it is?

Be honest and specific. Make sure you truly know why you want to quit.

2. Decide WHAT. What next? New office? Home office? New career entirely? New city? Decide what you want out of your new lifestyle. If you already know what you want to do – great! You’re well on your way.

For some people, deciding what’s next is the hardest part. Just remember, it doesn’t have to happen right away. Spend some time paying attention to details about yourself that you might not always consider. Like, do you like walking to work? Do you mind commuting? Do you want to work with people, or by yourself? Ask friends and family to tell you where they think your strengths lie. There’s information in those details. Take the time to figure it out.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do next when I set out to quit. I knew I wanted to work for myself, have more control over my own schedule, feel creative, productive and active. It took me about a year to mold that into a career direction. Once I quit my job, I ended up opening an online bakery, becoming a freelance writer and focusing more on my comedy career. And I’m still growing and changing all the time.

3. Decide WHEN. Give yourself a goal date. This helped me tremendously. When I was 27 years old I promised myself that I would quit my desk job by the time I turned 29. When that date rolled around a year and a half later, I briefly considered NOT quitting yet – maybe I could save more money, maybe it wasn’t the right time?

Ultimately, though, I knew I owed it to myself meet the deadline I’d set. When I really thought about it, a new reality was already within reach…so why not go for it? It was the right move. It got me out of a job that I could have stayed in my whole life.

What will it take to get to the next step? Classes? Networking with a new group of people? Delving deeper into a hobby to discover how you might be paid to do what you love? Determine what smaller steps you’ll need to take between now and then. Then set a deadline and commit to it.

4. Save money. From the moment you decide you want to quit your job – in fact, even if it’s just an inkling in the back of your mind – start saving money. Check out my article “10 ways to save for a desk job escape,” which I wrote a few weeks before I quit. Cut corners when you can and trust that you are building an essential nest egg to help fuel your journey outta the doldrums.

My savings was account one of the best things I did for myself. I was able to pull in new income shortly after my desk job ended, but I needed that savings to float me through a few tough months later on and to make ends meet along the way. I was really amazed at how far it took me.

5. Commit to yourself. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. If you want to quit your job, only your commitment to doing so will make it possible. People who decide to change their lives actively change them, they don’t sit around waiting for it to happen. Lay the traps, write the plans, shake off the fear, bide your time – yes. But after that time is up, take action. There will definitely be days when it feels like a big mistake, the wrong decision, the path of most resistance. On those days, return to the WHY and the WHAT to strengthen your resolve.

You’ll never know what can be if you don’t follow your bliss. Go for it.

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what’s to come

After a successful first month as a writer for Gather.com, I was so excited when they recently told me they’re happy with my work and asked me to help pilot a new Home & Garden program on their site! Yay!

Right now, I write Food/Seasonal stories, and I also write Women’s Lifestyle stuff. I haven’t ever written a ton about home decor, design, or outdoor stuff – there are many more capable home designers out there than I am – but when Gather asked me to help pilot the program, I knew I could certainly give it a whirl. The “keywords” relating to Home & Garden articles hit on a variety of topics, from “apartment design ideas” to “dinner party menu ideas” to “vegetable gardening for beginners,” and all imaginable topics in between. So I’m really excited (and honored) to have the opportunity to learn more about that stuff, try out some ideas myself, and write articles about all of it.

The experience, overall, of writing for Gather these last few months has been a good one. (And no, I am in no way compensated for saying any of this, it’s just my personal opinion and experience.) I am so lucky to have found this gig, because my bank account really needed the extra supplementary income. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but my creative brain really needed the new energy. I have been a writer since I was a kid – something I’ve talked about many times on this blog – and it’s no surprise that I turned to writing this blog to help boost myself up and out of my Corporate Job Rut a year and a half ago. I’m someone who processes things through writing about them.

So having the chance to write for a living is something I’ve always dreamed I’d get to do, something I’ve often (wrongly) doubted I’d ever have a chance to do, and something I’m very grateful to have found. It’s also provided me some mental space and clarity with Fanny & Jane, and an opportunity to let the bakery grow and change at its own pace – which feels more comfortable to me than forcing it to fit into whatever mold or direction I hope it will.

I’m feeling very content lately, but also very antsy. It reminds me of being a little kid – when you want to fast forward your life to find who you will be and how things will look when you’re an adult. I am dreaming of business trips around the country, weeks spent on location shooting something, traveling for research. I’m dreaming of vacations to interesting places – all the photos I’ll take and cuisines I’ll try.

(Speaking of different cuisines, my dear friend Marina just got back from a business trip to South Korea, of all places. She’s literally a celebrity there now, if you can believe it. She starred in a feature film a while back that just opened a film festival over there last month. She had to buy a fancy gown, was flown in to attend press conferences, walk the red carpet, and schmooze with the fans. She took it all in stride and came back with amazing stories to tell. I’m so proud of her – just had to share that.)

The point is, I’m dreaming of what is possible and what’s to come.

In that vein, you’re probably going to see some changes coming soon to follow my bliss. My personal experience will still be the central thread of this site. After all, sharing my story is why I started this blog to begin with, why it’s grown, and it will be a key piece of how it continues. But there’re a lot of other things I’d love to write about and explore too.

I’m not sure exactly what that will mean or how things will end up, but I’ve been having some meetings about where to take this site and where my creative impulses lie, and I’m so excited about what’s possible. That’s all I’ll say for now, so let’s just see what happens!

It’s a gloomy, cloudy, windy Mother’s Day here in NYC. I slept for 13 hours last night, after two days of lotsa work with Harvard Sailing Team (which was, as always, fun, exciting and exhausting), but now I’m feeling sluggish and a little under the weather. So I’m going to take this day to relax, rest, and snuggle in with the cats. And maybe I’ll make some notes and do some daydreaming about what’s to come!

The photos in this post, by the way, are a handful of older, random photos I’ve taken in the last couple years.

(p.s. One more thing – speaking of what’s to come, my web friend Kathleen, has recently made over her blog and I love her new site! Check it out. Yay, Kath!)

and now it’s quiet

You guys. I’m tired and I need a haircut. Otherwise, all is well and I’m looking forward to falling into my bed tonight, knowing that my life today looks more like I’ve always wanted it to look than it did 7 months ago when I was still working at my boring desk job.

The world has been racing and whirring around me and past me for the last ten days. More has happened in this short amount of time than occured in my life in the entire months of January and February combined. Hmm, that might be an exaggeration, but that’s definitely how I feel. I’m not sure if it’s slowing down quite yet – plenty of stuff looms including my kitchen is a mess and I’m desperate to exercise. But tonight, I will sleep well.

And tomorrow is a new, beautiful day.

happiness is a state of mind

I’ve been thinking a lot about this entry today, the one I wrote the day I quit my job.

I’ve been thinking about how much has changed for me since September 1, 2009.

My life is no longer monotonous like it was back then.

And I’ve decided to start standing up to the people that have chosen to judge me.

I spend more time doing the things I love, like taking yoga class more often, going for walks and jogs when the mood strikes me, and spending more time with my friends.

I’ve also had to continue to make tough decisions, like taking a break from my beloved sketch comedy group because I know it’s the best thing for me right now. And dealing with the unnecessary guilt that accompanies a choice like that.

I’ve confronted incredible challenges with my new business, the bakery Fanny & Jane. And learned a lot about what it means to be a small business owner, someone who works for herself and makes her own schedule – things I dreamed about having before I had them, and things I sometimes now wish I could trade back in for just a day.

I’ve also been blessed with exciting success and progress on this company’s journey. Those little steps boost me up every day. And every time I get an email from someone who’s sampled and loved our stuff, or every time we land a new account, attract a new customer, or come up with a smart new marketing idea, I feel inspired and re-invigorated. I don’t have kids, but I can only imagine, as I’ve said before, that starting a new business probably feels, in some small (and much less significant) way, challenging, terrifying, exciting and rewarding in a similar fashion.

But more than all of that stuff, more than the lessons, the joys, the mornings of sleeping in, the evenings of staying out late, the days of eating lunch on my own schedule, more than the excitement and stress of being the captain of my own ship, I have learned one singular thing that stands above everything else:

That old job, that desk job that I blogged for months about leaving, and planned for weeks to escape from, did not make me happy. NOR did it make me unhappy.

Only I control my happiness. My circumstances do not.

I knew that all along, but it’s been really hammered home for me in these last several months during which I”ve been “living the dream,” so to speak.

I am just as occasionally grouchy and stressed out as I was then. I am just as occasionally joyful for no reason and excited about the little things as I was then. I have different stressors now, and I have different challenges. I struggle with different issues and different concerns. I also have new sources of contentment and some of the same old ones.

In essence: I am the exact same person. I just wear pajamas more often. I am just as happy, sad, confused, eager, frustrated, conflicted and optimistic as I always was.

Is that disappointing to hear? I hope not. It’s the truth. The truth is what we all know to be true – happiness is a state of mind.

Duh.

feelin’ festive

I love this time of year.

I spent the day finishing up odds and ends that need to be taken care of before we go out of town tomorrow. Oh and I also took a nap. Mmmm..

I had some last minute Fanny & Jane shipments and deliveries to make this evening, along with a quick trip to the grocery store to get the ingredients for our contributions to the Thanksgiving weekend (garlic mashed potatoes from scratch, a big salad, and apples, cheese and crackers as an appetizer) and now I’m home for good until we leave tomorrow evening to drive upstate. I can’t wait!

The city has a magical feeling about it right now. The holidays are in full swing. Everyone’s out and about buying gifts and flowers and food and wine. People are already traveling, lugging suitcases on the subway and hailing cabs to the airport. I just love the idea that so many people are working at once toward the same event, the same big meal, the same indulgent afternoon that they will share with family, friends or even strangers.

Of course there are many people who won’t get to have that this year, who never get to have it. And that makes me incredibly grateful for this blessed life I’m living.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone! I’ll be back next week!

p.s. Faryn and I are gearing up for Fanny & Jane Holiday Craze. I’m excited, nervous, terrified and thrilled to embark on this holiday season as a baker and sweets purveyor. Last year right around this time, I came up with the idea of baking sweets for my friends and family instead of buying gifts for people for the holidays. I just wanted to get a little creative with my gifts, save money, and stop the pattern of buying people a bunch of crap they don’t need or want. Even so, it blows my mind to realize that now, just a year later, I co-own my own little sweets company, I’m a small business owner. And the first spark of that idea happened last year when I was baking and gifting sweets for my friends. I would not have believed for a second, 12 months ago, that I’d be in this position now. But here I am.

Again. I’m really lucky.

the first month

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Yesterday, I happened upon an old post of mine, entitled “do what makes you happy (?)“, which I wrote back in May when I was still very much at the desk job. I knew I desperately wanted to leave but I didn’t see when or how I’d be able to make it happen any time in the immediate future. I’d been writing follow my bliss for almost six months.

I remember that particular day quite well, in fact. It was a beautiful day, one of the first very warm and summery ones of the season and I was absolutely beside myself at having to be inside sitting at a desk. Not being able to enjoy amazing-weather days was one of the reasons I had decided, back at the beginning of that year, that I couldn’t work in an office any more. I wanted to be able to enjoy the world and not let my youth pass me by. Maybe it sounded frivolous and childish to some, but yes, I wanted to be out in the sunshine.

I was so frustrated that morning. I’d been good about being positive and hopeful and working toward my goals. I’d felt proud of how I’d stayed focused on making progress and not wallowing in the discontent of my present circumstances, but I woke up that morning just feeling overwhelmed by everything. I wanted to gripe and moan.

I wrote:

It’s rewarding to be working toward the small business venture and other personal goals. But I’m feeling down today. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I want to snap my fingers and change it all in an instant. I want to have left this job, be baking and selling sweets, be freelance writing, be taking yoga class every single day. I want an instant lifestyle makeover. I know that’s a lot to ask for.

I had to stop and reread that paragraph two or three times yesterday. I know that I set out to leave my job and do things that made me happier, which is why I’m where I am today. And I know that I started a bakery with a friend so that I could bake and sell sweet treats. But it was still strange – and thrilling – to read what I’d wanted out of my life six months ago, what I’d daydreamed about and felt like I might never achieve.

AND HERE I AM! AHHH!

I have to tell you that it was a personally awesome moment for me when I read that paragraph, took a look around and found myself having finally made my wish into reality. How amazing.

It was akin to remembering the middle of my journey to lose 115 pounds. There were times when it was easy, when the pounds melted off. But there were also times when it was hard as hell. When I wanted french fries, nachos, eleven slices of pizza and every cookie in the box. And I just wished and hoped and prayed that losing all the weight would one day become real. And then, one day, it did. Making progress is so fulfilling.

Another thing that struck me about that particular paragraph was that I’d said I wanted to bake and sell sweets. And I also said that I wanted to be taking yoga class every day. And that I wanted to be writing.

Now, I know those things about myself – that I love to write and take yoga class. But it’s very easy to make excuses for not doing things that I love to do, even now. I’m too busy, the bakery needs my attention, I’m too tired, I have nothing to write about, I don’t need to do yoga every day, I don’t need to do yoga every other day, I’m still finding out who I am and what I want. Going to yoga class costs money, it’s not going to earn me any money. Sitting down to write takes time, it’s not my focus right now.

All those things might be true. But it’s also true that there was a time when my vision for my perfect life included a few simple things. And sure, that vision will always be morphing and changing, but those are such easy things to add into my life! There was a time when I wanted more yoga and more writing, and I still want more of those things. And there’s no reason I can’t have them today. In that sense, it was enlightening to check back in with who I was when this reality was just a dream. And I owe it to the girl who sat at that desk every day for years and years to make sure I’m now really doing the things I set out to do. I am reminded of how much I craved this time back them. I am reminded of how desperately I wanted and needed to have a different lifestyle, and how elated I would have been if I’d actually been able to snap my fingers and change it all in an instant.

I’m still as pleased as ever with my decision to leave my job. It was, I maintain, one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. It almost makes me want to cry sometimes to realize how grateful I am that I’ve done this.

But life is life. Good, bad, hard, fun, boring, thrilling, tiring, rewarding and all the rest of it in between. And it can be easy to grow accustomed to the day to day. And there are good days and harder days.

There are days when I’m content and relaxed. When I just want to scoop the whole world up and hug it because I’m so happy and feel so lucky to be alive, to be 29 years old (which remains, one week into it, to be an excellent age, by the way), to be standing at the beginning of the best years of my life, with my fantastic boyfriend, who happens to be my best friend, by my side, living in the best city in the world, building my life to be exactly what I want it to be.

And then there are days when I feel grouchy, moody, frustrated, worried, stressed and when I feel small and incapable. Sometimes I feel like I won’t succeed. Like I will be back in a paycheck job in six months. There are days when I feel completely blah. Human. Normal. Days when I feel nothing. Because you can’t have joy without pain and you can’t have excitement without boredom.

And that’s okay with me. Being blissfully happy all the time was not the goal. The goal was living my life how I wanted to live it. The honeymoon is ending and I’m coming into the phase of this journey where it’s my normal. I left my job almost exactly one month ago. And I can sometimes hardly remember what it was like to go to that office every day. (On second though, if I try for a second I could probably remember it exactly.)

This is my life now – the good, the bad, the indifferent.

I also wrote in that post about the fear that was sometimes crippling to me:

…fear of being broke, fear of leaving a “good” job that allows the people who care about me (myself included) to sleep at night, fear of ending up exactly where I dream of going and discovering that it’s not what I wanted at all, fear of having what I want and learning how hard it really is, fear of missing my desk job, fear of choosing a road less traveled, fear of making the wrong choice, the right choice, the impulsive choice, the overly-planned choice, fear that I’m running away from something or toward the unknown, fear of not having built any kind of real career for myself by now, fear of being judged, fear of being laughed at, fear of being lonely…

And the truth is? All those fears are still here. But they’ve quieted substantially. Because the quickest and easiest way to quiet fear is to do what you’re afraid of. Done and done. If you think there’s a ghost in the closet, open the closet and find out. (That’s a real life example.)

I will still worry and have anxieties about whether or not I will succeed. But the very act of getting up every day and actively living my new lifestyle gives those fears no true voice. And that’s something I want to share with anyone who’s still at the beginning of their journey to follow their bliss:  the fears we have will never go away, but they are completely meaningless. Holding onto the fear and making decisions based on the fear does nothing to bring us closer to our goals and dreams, it only provides something for our tired brains to chew on when we’ve got nothing else to obsess about. And it also gives the fear all the power. If anyone’s holding the power, it should be YOU. You are not your anxieties and worries.

The last paragraph of that old post said:

The beautiful and painful bottom line of the whole self-created saga I’ve laid out here is that I and I alone am the only person who can make these choices and take these actions and nothing anyone says – not my boyfriend or my mother or my boss or my grandfather – is going to create what’s true for me. What’s true for me is what I decide to make true for me.

So I made it true. Here I am. I still don’t have a solid understanding of what will happen, what my life will look like, say, a year from now – when I turn 30, for instance. But if the last month is any indication, it’s going to look pretty great. I’m happy, healthy, active, LIVING MY DREAM, and creating more dreams to work toward. And it’s The Best.

after one work week

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Before I write this post, I wanted to mention that I’ve gotten a couple emails from readers recently who want to see more photos of me on the blog. Hm! This surprised me to hear, but I appreciate the feedback. I’m not sure I’m going to start adding a lot of photos of myself as a regular thing, but I’ve saturated this post with them, at least. If you don’t wanna see my face over and over, skip this entry.

Today marks the end of my first week working for myself.

My last day at the desk job was in mid October. And once I was finally free and clear, we had a big ol’ party, and then I took a vacation. It was blissful.

The vacation involved spending an entire week right here in New York doing next to nothing. Naturally, the days still got filled up – I cooked, baked, hung out with friends, saw shows, exercised, grocery shopped in the middle of the day – I didn’t end up doing much lolling around. But it was still time very well spent. I felt relaxed, in control, peaceful, content. And even though I had to constantly remind myself that this wasn’t just a vacation week from my desk job, but actually the beginning of an entire lifestyle change, I was thrilled and grateful every time I remembered.

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True to my word, I woke up on Monday morning of this week, the vacation week having ended, and got to work on my own stuff. No more laying around watching TV or drinking beer with friends at 4:30 in the afternoon. (Although if I had a strong urge to do that, I’d probably check with my boss to see if it was okay. And she (me) would probably say, HELL YES.)

This week it was finally time to focus on my own projects and to do what I set out to do when I told my old job that I was quitting: Pursue work I’m passionate about. So far, it’s been interesting. And awesome. And, at times, challenging. But I’m all in all, I’m loving it.

As I mentioned, I have decided, not surprisingly I suppose, that the bakery my girlfriend and I have been working to get off the ground since the spring, can now use some of my more focused attention. Faryn and I began building Fanny & Jane when we were both working full time, and it was hard to fit it all in. We spent lots of late nights and weekends and early mornings organizing our little business.

Before I left my desk job, I wasn’t sure if I’d want to focus some of my energy on the bakery or not.  But now that I’m here, it hasn’t taken long for it to dawn on me that the business we’ve been tirelessly setting up for ourselves would be the perfect way for me to spend my time and earn some extra money.  Besides, our recipes are burning holes in our desk drawers – why not really go for it and sell some sweets this holiday season!  So that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

And that’s precisely what most of my week this week has involved.

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(This is Faryn and me. Photo by the gifted photographer, Eric Michael.)

I spent a relatively leisurely day on Monday at the computer, emailing with Faryn, working to build our new website, complete with an online shop (which we hope to launch in the next few days!), and generally organizing myself around the idea of spending now until December 20th, more or less, baking and shipping and invoicing and baking. I took a long break in the middle of the day for a run, and I got a lot accomplished. All in all, it was a delightful day “at the office,” where my coworkers are two sleepy cats and the sunshine is right outside my front door.

Heaven. And exactly what I’d wanted and imagined when I daydreamed of quitting my job a year ago.

The rest of the week, however, wasn’t so luxuriously ideal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not stuck in an office. And “anything but the office” has been my motto for quite some time.

But I don’t have it all quite figured out yet.

My sleep schedule has been screwy, finding me wide awake at 4am, and having to take a nap here or there in the middle of the day to catch up.

Harvard Sailing Team and Baldwins rehearsals and shows were added back into my life this week, where, miraculously, I didn’t have any rehearsals or shows during my vacation week. That’s something that happens maybe only twice a year – a week without any shows. So those things became part of my schedule again this week – not a big deal, but something to work with.

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(This is my good friend Meg and me during one of our Baldwins improv shows. Photo courtesy of the incredibly talented Keith Huang, who is also a good friend.)

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(This is me during the Harvard Sailing Team Holiday Special last December, doing a sketch with my friend Adam. This photo is also courtesy of Keith Huang, who has never taken a bad photograph.)

Not to mention, the large amount of baking I’ve gotten done this week – fulfilling several orders from Faryn’s coworkers and our friends and family. This has not been the first week that I’ve had to bake during every free moment this year, and it will not be the last. But it was the first time I was doing it instead of a full time job – baking when I would have otherwise been answering phones at reception or signing for fed ex packages.

Of course, I loved that. That, again, is why I quit. Because I imagined myself doing things like baking all day, instead of filing paperwork or sending faxes. But getting organized and staying within a baking schedule was something new and sometimes difficult.

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(That’s me standing in my mom’s kitchen in Illinois in the spring, in the middle of a long day baking sweets for my aunt’s surprise birthday party.)

A common struggle I’ve heard from people who’ve left their jobs for one reason or another is that you imagine you’ll have all this time. And then the days pass and they get filled right up and suddenly you’re busier than you’ve ever been, even though you’re no longer going to an office for 9 hours every day. I’ve had the exact same experience this week. Where did the time go!?

And I’m choosing to find a way to make peace with it all. Because I didn’t quit my job to be all stressed out and upset over how many fun, easy, cool things I now get to do all day long. Fitting them all in takes finesse, but the rewards are great and I will learn.

Forgive me if I’m repeating myself from earlier posts this week. I just needed to reiterate this for myself.

Financially, I’ve done pretty well for myself this week, which is excellent. It’s only week one, but it’s a good feeling to know that money is still coming into my life, even when I’m not a salaried employee.

I’ve learned that I need to be gentle with myself. Just because I have many more available hours in my day now doesn’t mean that I can and should pack them full and expect to accomplish everything under the sun. I cannot make promises to people that I can’t keep in terms of my time just because I’m no longer working a desk job. I cannot create a To Do list that is ten miles long and then feel disappointed, rushed, and stressed when it doesn’t get completed. I cannot be unrealistic with how much I can fit into a day. And I cannot start shoving aside the very things that I require to feel whole – like exercise, yoga, sleep, eating healthy food – in order to make everything fit into its place. I skipped a couple workouts this week and I don’t have the “I’m so busy with this stupid desk job!” excuse any more. The only excuse I have now is that I chose not to make the time for myself. It’s eye-opening to realize that the desk job wasn’t the only thing – and maybe not even the main thing – keeping me from spending my time how I wanted to.

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I’ve also been reminded this week that nothing is perfect – that even this time, which is, in theory, one of the most exciting times of my life, will still have unpleasant aspects. I will still be running late to things sometimes, and I will still have to break promises sometimes, and I will still oversleep and be upset with myself for half of the day over it sometimes, and I will still overeat sometimes, and I will still not do things perfectly sometimes. It’s life.

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(Me, just after waking up, in Charleston, SC on a trip last year with Harvard Sailing Team.)

Beyond those challenges though, this has also been an amazing week, and the net result of all this is that I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my adult life.

I realize that might sound like a grand statement, but it’s true. My life from ages 17-21 sucked, to be blunt. And then, as I improved things slowly but surely, I had to swallow the bitter pills of young adulthood that we’re all faced with: working jobs I hate, living in apartments that are crappy, living paycheck to paycheck. And as earnestly as I tried to find happiness within those unpleasant experiences, it’s not until now that I’ve finally found myself in a place where I can take matters into my own hands, where money doesn’t dictate what I do day in and day out, where I finally feel all the pieces falling into place in ways that I only dreamed of when I was 21 years old and despondent over the mess I’d made of my life.

Things are so good right now. This is all so good. I’m spending my days and nights baking sweets, taking photos, rehearsing comedy, exercising, cooking, and commuting around New York City. And I’m not broke and I’m not overweight and I’m not unhappy and I’m not uninspired and I am about to turn 29. And it’s just so incredibly good.

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(Kevin and me in Florida last year.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to clean up my apartment and start making a huge feast of veggie lasagna, chopped salad and garlic parmesan bread – some of my very best friends are coming over tonight for our first monthly Western Brooklyn Supper Club (which is basically just the members of Biggest Loser Club getting together to eat dinner, instead of getting together to watch Biggest Loser). I can’t wait to hang out with my friends on this HallowsEve!

Thank you again to everyone who has been so incredibly supportive and kind toward me throughout the experience of leaving my job and starting a new life. I cannot thank you all enough for your readership and for your cheerleading. I could not do this without you. And I would not be where I am right now without the experiences and friendships that writing this blog has brought into my life. So, thank you.

day one

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Today was Day One.

My vacation week is over. I was employed by myself today. I woke up, “went to work,” took a couple breaks, and then I stopped for the evening. It was pretty great.

So what, exactly, am I doing?

Well, today I did a lot of work on Fanny & Jane, the new bakery my friend Faryn and I have been building for the last few months. In March, we started toying around with the idea of opening a bakery, we began taking it really seriously a couple weeks later, and since then, we’ve been growing ourselves into a small business, having done NYC Fashion Week events, wedding showers, and corporate and private occasions. Plus we’ve received a regular stream of orders from our incredibly supportive friends and families! Thanks, everyone!!

All of our orders so far have been due to word of mouth. We haven’t done any marketing or even pushed our website because it wasn’t set up for online purchases.

But that might all be changing soon! I think we’re going to make a go at expanding business a bit this holiday season! After our e-meeting today, Faryn and I are hoping we can “open” an online business and be ready to take holiday orders beginning November 1st.  That’s just a week away!

(Keep an eye out because we’ll have special deals for my blog readers!)

To prepare for November 1st, I’ll need to spend some time this week building our new website and setting up our e-commerce. I’ll also be baking several orders that need to be ready by Friday. Faryn’s got a few things to handle too.

I’m excited.

To be 100% honest, when I left my job ten days ago, I wasn’t sure whether I’d want to focus on the bakery over the holidays or not. I’d figured we either needed to really go for it, or shut down over the holidays completely. And I didn’t want to push myself in any specific direction until I was ready.

But it was just a couple days out of my old job and into my vacation last week that I realized – what better way to spend some of my energy this fall, and what better way to earn a little extra rent money, than to put some focus on the bakery for a few months?

I love to bake, I enjoy working on our business, and as soon as I wasn’t working full time for someone else, the stress of trying to fit it all in miraculously lifted. And instead of “I can’t do it all!” I thought, “I’m going to have more than enough time to do this.” In fact, it will be a great way to structure some of my days.

I didn’t quit my job for the bakery. But now that I’ve quit, I’m glad the bakery is here for me. We’ve been working on it steadily, sometimes a lot, sometimes not quite as much, for the last six or seven months. And right now seems like perfect time to expand the business and grow our expertise a bit. The opportunity to experience The Holiday Season with Fanny & Jane will be an exciting new challenge for us.

After the holidays, we’ll reassess and decide what next steps to take. I already know we’re doing our signature red velvet cake bites for a wedding in February… One thing at a time though. Right now, the season is upon us! Yesssss, I love the holidays. I cannot wait to create some new festive, delicious treats to share with everyone.

So until January, when we’ll probably close up shop for a couple weeks, I’m going to be baking! I’m still going to work on my own projects as well – freelance writing, blogging and guest blogging. I honestly don’t know where owning this small bakery business will take me, so I’m looking forward to finding out, while carving out plenty of time to follow my other interests too.

I’m also going to, as I’ve mentioned, really tend to myself during this time. I know that doesn’t necessarily fall under the category of “pursue work I’m passionate about,” but it’s just as important to me. And I have to devote time to it every day.

Today for example, I went out for a run around Prospect Park in the afternoon. It was another stunning, perfect day and I was happy as can be to have unlimited time to spend exercising in the sun. THAT is why I quit my job. The desire to spend my time in ways that make me happy is what inspired me, 10 months ago, to set my sights on something beyond that desk. And I fulfilled that dream for the first of what will probably be many times, today.

After my run, I had a late lunch, took a break to watch some Oprah, finished up my work day on the computer, then enjoyed a nice, long shower and headed into the city to meet up with Kevin for a movie date. I worked from 10am to 6:30pm today, with probably a total of 90 minutes “off” in between. That feels much healthier to me than my old 9 hour office days with an hour commute on either end of it.

As I got on the train to head into Manhattan just before 7pm tonight, I realized, had I still been at the desk job, I wouldn’t have even been done with work for the day yet.

I’ve gotten my life back. And I’m having fun discovering a new direction.

wednesday

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I’m quite content, y’all. I can actually feel my internal pace slowing down. And it feels really good. I’ve needed this.

After a great night last night hanging out with some of my very best friends, watching The Biggest Loser (we have a new Biggest Loser Club) and eating a big meal that we all prepared together, I woke up this morning with no real plans for the whole entire day. That wasn’t the case on Monday and Tuesday, when I had most of the day free, but still had an obligation in the afternoon.

But today, nothin.

I slept in a bit, just a bit, and when I woke up, Kevin took a break from his work and decided to make us a big breakfast. He’s a master of the breakfasts in this house. He made scrambled eggs with cheese, red pepper and onion and it was delicious.

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After some computer time while I finished my coffee, I took a long, invigorating jog/walk through Prospect Park, stopped off at the bank, and then continued on gawking at the incredible fall colors and exploring new paths in the park that I hadn’t visited before. Prospect Park is absolutely stunning right now, so I’m going to go for a bike ride tomorrow to snap a few shots to share with everyone.

So that was awesome. Obviously.

And the whole time my mind raced with ideas for what I’m going to start doing with myself come Monday, how I’m going to loosely organize my time and what I’ll work on. A priority, I’ve identified, besides the work I do, will be self care. Time each and every day for myself. A workout, a therapy session, time alone to read and relax, or time to watch TV and veg out – things that make me feel happy and pampered. I deserve that. We all do. I work too hard in my life not to take those hours for myself each and every day. (So do you, by the way.)

When I came home from my run, I found this:

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And this:

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And this! Which came in the mail from my mom! Awwww…

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Thanks, Mom!! (She also sent us a little cash! We’re gonna go out for a drink with it sometime soon.)

In the afternoon, I laid around on the couch for a while, then made Kevin and I some lunch – just leftovers – and eventually I went to the grocery store, meal plan in hand. It was a fun, relaxing stress-free trip. It wasn’t rush hour, I had my plan all figured out, and I wasn’t in a hurry. Imagine that.

This was a great day.

I don’t plan to continue writing about this journey just by telling you what I do each day. I realized that that has been the theme of my last few entries. But the truth is that the details of what I’m doing right now and how I’m spending my time are fascinating to me so far. I almost can’t believe it. Except that I’m living it, so I know it’s real.

I’m really happy. I’m in heaven. I recognize that this feeling might end, or change, or shift. I recognize that this too will become old someday. I also know that things will soon be busier for me, as I start to add more things onto my list. But no matter how things shift in the immediate or distant future, all that matters to me today is how happy I am today.

Honestly, as mundane and regular as the last few days have been, they’ve almost have been reason enough to quit my job. The sense of freedom, relaxation, and respect for myself that I have found in this short time is very refreshing.

I’m excited about next week. I’m eager to structure things a bit more. But in the meantime, I’m still enforcing this week’s vacation as much as possible until Monday. It’s important for me to really take this time for myself. Beyond that, Kevin and I have been having excited conversations about my options, what I intend to do and how best to execute it come Monday. He’s such a great support.

I went to see a friend’s show in the city tonight, and Kevin had rehearsal, and now we’re home each enjoying a beer.

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Tomorrow is more fulfilling simple stuff: lunch with my good friend Sara, a workout, a photography bike ride, and then! A late night comedy show – a “secret” Comedy Central showcase. We’re on The List. Fun!

the last day

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This post has been over a year in the making.

Today’s the day. The big day. The last day at my desk job. I’ve anticipated this day more than I’ve anticipated my birthday this year. (And I love birthdays.)

But I’m feeling some unexpected things!

I’m feeling scared.

Now, I consider myself a brave young lady. I’ve been through some complicated, grown up stuff in my life, all of which has taught me to be courageous in the face of almost anything. So I’m shocked, frankly, to feel scared today.

Maybe scared is the wrong word. Maybe I’m anxious. Anticipating. Questioning. Feeling nervous.

A million questions have been running through my mind in the last 48 hours: Was this the right decision? Is this the right timing? Am I going to miss my coworkers? I only really enjoy the company of a few of them! Is that only because of my attitude? Am I going to miss the busy work? Maybe it’s good for me to have busy work! How am I going to KNOW what to DO?! Why didn’t I figure it out more specifically? What progress have I made in the last year that makes today a more logical day to quit than this day last year? Why didn’t I stay on through the holidays? What if I end up in another office job? NO. THAT CAN’T HAPPEN.

Madness. I know. And I also know that these feelings of mine will shift, change and grow and in the next few weeks, days, and even hours. So I’m not genuinely worried that I’ve made a terrible mistake.

But change can be very scary.

I’ve said before that I didn’t start writing this blog to share only the wonderful, exciting parts of making a huge life change. I started this blog to share the journey. And journeys are, by their very nature, all over the map. So here we are.

Earlier this week, I was very fortunate to have so many of you warmly receive my article about Kath Younger from Kath Eats Real Food. And after I posted it, I ended up “meeting” a few insightful people who I may not have otherwise met, including a popular blogger named Angela, who writes a beautiful, inspiring blog called Oh She Glows. Oh She Glows is about Angela’s journey to pursue a lifelong dream of starting her own healthy bakery and also about her passion for healthy living. I discovered her lovely blog just in time.

Today, she’s written a post that is subtitled “Knowing Yourself Is The Beginning of All Wisdom,” which is a quote that her mother had inscribed on the outside of a beautiful time capsule she gave to Angela as a graduation present. Inside the gorgeous wooden box, there were pictures, notes and a letter from her mother, all about how important it is to stay true to yourself and to live a life that fulfills you, while never taking for granted the simple joys of being human. It was a lovely gift from her mother and I’m so glad Angela shared it today.

Near the end of today’s post, Angela writes:

When I first read (the letter from my mom), I didn’t really know how to apply it to my current situation. I felt stuck in a job where I was unhappy and I felt like I was destined to do work that I didn’t really enjoy. Perhaps, this letter planted the seed for me though.

Reading it over last night, everything sort of clicked for me.

Over the past 8 months, I have learned these lessons. I have learned that money doesn’t bring happiness and it sure as hell won’t give you self-esteem or character. I have learned that being true to myself is possibly one of the most beneficial things that I could ever achieve. I have learned that if you do something you love and are passionate about, the money will eventually follow.

She then goes on to describe how she used to be a guarded person, because she felt that showing her true, sensitive side was discouraged by other people, especially in a workplace atmosphere. She explains that she finally felt free when she decided to take her walls down, let herself be vulnerable and use her strengths and abilities to her advantage, instead of hiding them. She says:

I now believe that one of the keys to pursuing your dreams is to let go of all those walls. Stop hiding who you are because society is telling you to be someone who you are not. Each and every one of us has some unique ability to share with others. A way that we can contribute and feel that our purpose for life is fulfilled.

This was exactly what I needed to read this morning. In a rush, the reason I decided long ago to leave this job and find a lifestyle and a career more suitable to who I am came flooding back to me.

Sure, I could work at this company for years, for the rest of my life if I wanted to. And I’d be financially comfortable, I’d have health insurance and I’d take my two weeks of vacation every year, chat with my coworkers from time to time, and immerse myself in my hobbies during my free time. And there is nothing wrong with that path. That might be the perfect life for someone. It sounds quite content, in many respects.

It just doesn’t appeal to me, personally. I hate sitting in one place all day, I like to be creative, to be innovative, to have new experiences all the time, to stretch myself and grow and learn and change. And I want my career, where I spend the bulk of my waking hours, to reflect those interests. Unfortunately, this job, and others like it, can’t offer me that. Angela wrote, “Stop hiding who you are because society is telling you to be someone you are not.”

Thank you for writing that post today, Angela. It helped me shake myself out of my nervous place.

I decided long ago to embrace that I’m not meant to be an office worker. It might offend some people. It might not be the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It might not be the most financially safe thing I’ve ever done.

But the choice to embrace precisely who I am is the greatest gift I could give myself right now. Nothing else in this world will make me happier than being myself. That is one thing I know for sure. Knowing that, and being reminded of it by Angela’s post, has taken some of my fear away this morning.

And lastly, as if there aren’t enough good vibes flowing around me already today, my darling boyfriend just sent me an amazing email, one that he typed on his blackberry no less, probably while sitting in a busy bagel shop. What a guy. He’s honestly the best guy I know. He wrote:

I love you and am inspired by you, please remind yourself of how many
others you’ve inspired and enjoy this day you’ve given yourself. You
took action in September when you quit, you’re taking action today by
committing to it being your last day and in the coming weeks you will
be taking daily action to produce the working life that you desire. Be
proud, be strong and own it, baby!

I’m so lucky to have him.

Perhaps all my entries leading up to today, and today’s entry, and the big night out with margaritas, Mexican food and great friends that’s happening tonight (YES!), is all together too much fanfare for quitting one’s dumb job. But it’s my fanfare. And I’m so blessed to get to have this awesome experience.

Thank you all for your insight and encouragement. Because of the incredible support I’ve received from all of you through this blog, and in my real life, one of the goals I set out to achieve when I started follow my bliss almost a year ago has been achieved today. And this is only just beginning! Stay tuned to see what happens next. Here we go!

YAAAY!!