I Quit My Job: Where I Went Wrong

I tried, through my previous posts, to adequately cover the reasoning, and process, of quitting my job.  One thing that I didn’t cover, however, was the mistakes I made along the way.  I think that, partially, I couldn’t because I hadn’t had enough time to ruminate on them.  I also think that I couldn’t because I didn’t want to expose my weaknesses.  Now, I’ve had time to think about it, and I think I can easily identify the things that I would do differently should I have the opportunity to try again.  Maybe they aren’t all mistakes (I don’t count some of them that way).

Quitting Your Job The Right Way

One of the biggest changes I would likely have made would have been to quit the right way.  The decision I made, while necessary, was made quickly (over two days), and without much fore-planning.  Part of the motivation was that I had wanted out of the job for quite some time.  How much I wanted out wasn’t really clear until after I was out.  In hindsight, I should have started making moves well before I did.  Unfortunately, I was mired in the comfort of a position that I had held for over seven years.  Lesson learned: comfort is nice, but freedom is nicer.

Have a Full Plan B

Because of the hastiness of my departure from my position, I didn’t have a full plan B.  I had no idea where the money was coming from to even partially replace my income.  What income I had wasn’t dependable.  In a way, I was smart enough to at least get a part-time job.  But, without a full plan B, I think it was likely doomed to fail.

Wrong Way

Get After IT

This is probably the biggest mistake I made through the whole ordeal.  I quit my job, without a plan B, and then didn’t get after it nearly as much as I could have.  I wanted to focus entirely on my blogs and websites and grow them to at least a part-time income.  I severely underestimated the time it would take to do so, and should have spread my roots a bit and taken on other small projects to fill in dead time, and especially, fill in dead income spots.  Towards the end of this round of self-employment, I started to realize that I needed to pick up my game, but by then it was too little, too late.

Have an Exit Plan

Nobody likes to think that they are going to fail.  Just like nobody likes to think that they are going to get into a car accident or die, but we still buy car insurance and life insurance anyways.  While you can’t just go out and buy entrepreneurial failure insurance, you can have an exit plan so that you not only know when it’s time to move on to the next thing, but you also have a plan on how to get there.  I had none of that.  As a consequence, I probably waited several weeks too long to even begin looking for a new full-time job, and risked not getting something in time to fill in the income I needed when our savings was depleted.  I got lucky.  My first paycheck at my new position came only a few days after the last transfer from the savings account happened.  Even so, we’re still struggling to keep up without that cushion that we had grown accustomed to.

I Would Do It All Over Again

Despite all those mistakes I made, I would still do it all over again.  I know the mistakes I made, and am better able to prepare myself to not make them again.  I’m not afraid of failing.  At least not to such a degree that it prevents me from trying.  It’s a little bit like riding a bike.  You’re going to fall off.  It’s going to hurt.  But, you’re going to get back on the bike because you like riding your bike.  I like riding the entrepreneurial bike!

img credit : Crystl, on Flickr

Are You Afraid of Failing?

As I was watching the USA basketball team on their way to a gold medal in the Olympics yesterday, the commentators said something that stuck out to me.  I don’t remember it verbatim, but it went something like this: Is it joy on their faces, or relief?  The commentator went on to say maybe it was a bit of both, after all, this was a team that wasn’t supposed to lose.  So, yes, in a way, there was some relief in the fact that they didn’t lose when they weren’t expected to.

someecards.com - You're great at pretending to be successfulWhich got me to thinking.  Are we afraid of failing?  And the answer is, of course we are.  We’re afraid of failing at lots of things.  It’s another of those learned fears that we aren’t born with.  Watch any young child trying something, and you’ll notice that they fail several times before they finally get it right.  Sometimes they just learn that something just doesn’t work that way, and find the way that it does work.  If that square peg doesn’t fit in the round hole, they’ll eventually find the square hole that it goes in.

But, somewhere along the way, many of us gain a fear of failing.  So much pressure and expectation is laid upon us to succeed, both by our parents and by society at large.  No longer is it something where we’re learning something new (even though we usually are), but expected to get that new thing right on the first try.  And, like the USA basketball team, when we do get it right, we are just as full of relief that we didn’t fail as we are full of joy that we succeeded.

Do or do not.  There is no try. ~Yoda

That quote is probably one of the most quoted lines of dialogue in the entire Star Wars series of movies.  David Brin, a sci-fi author thinks that and many of the other actions of Yoda make him “about the most evil character that I’ve ever seen in the history of literature“. Why does Brin hate Yoda so much?  It’s better if I let him say it:

unable to name for me one scene in which Yoda is ever helpful to anybody, or says anything that’s genuinely wise. “Do or do not, there is no try.” Up yours, you horrible little oven mitt! “Try” is how human beings get better. That’s how people learn, they try some of their muscles, or their Force mechanism heads in the right direction, that part gets reinforced and rewarded with positive feedback, which you never give.

I’ll repeat it for you.  Trying is how people learn.  When we try, and succeed, that’s positive feedback and that success is reinforced.  When we try and fail, that’s negative feedback.  We learn that the action we performed and failed is the wrong way to go about it, and then go about trying to find a new way to go about that action.

There’s also a very nice commercial that features Michael Jordan talking about how many times he’s missed shots, lost games, and been counted on to make the game winning shot and missed.  He goes on to say that it’s because he failed all those times that he was as good as he was.

So.  Why are you afraid of failing?  Failure is a part of the learning process.  It’s how we learn how things work, what methods will succeed, and how we make ourselves better.  Don’t be afraid of failure.  Be afraid of not trying.

Get an Amazon Kindle for Under $20

If you’re anything like me, and like to read, the surge in ebooks and ebook readers has left you wanting your own reader.  If you’re also like me and hesitate when you see the price of an ebook reader, then this deal might be for you.

For a limited time (looks like it expires on 8/15/12), Amazon.com Reward Visa card holders can get an extra 40% off of a few select Kindle e-readers.  It only includes the original style kindles (3rd generation) and not the Kindle Touch or the Kindle Fire.  The Kindle with special offers is normally $79.  The Kindle without special offers is normally $109.  After the 40% discount code, the Kindle with special offers is about $48, and the one without special offers is about $66.  That’s a ridiculously good price on the Kindle readers.

But, I said under $20 in the title didn’t I?  Well, I wasn’t lying, if that’s what you mean. :)  If you’re one of the people who doesn’t have an Amazon.com Rewards Visa card, they offer a bonus gift card when you sign up and are accepted for a new account.  When I signed up last week, and bought my Kindle, the bonus offered was $50.  Today, when I look, it’s offering a $30 gift card.  So, depending on what it shows for you, you might get either a $30 card or a $50 card.  Or, maybe the $50 card was only for a day or two.  I don’t know.  Even so.  If you sign up and get the $30 gift card, and buy the Kindle with special offers, that brings the price of the reader down to about $18.  That exceeds ridiculous, and borders on a crazy good price.  Even if you opt for the Kindle without the special offers, it’s still only about $36.  Again with the crazy prices!

Last week, I signed up for the card, got a $50 gift card, and bought the Kindle with special offers.  Once the gift card was applied, that made the Kindle free.  With a little bit of gift card to spare.  Even if you don’t get as good of a deal, it might still be worth it if you’ve been hankering for a Kindle.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the big white elephant in the room here.  You do have to sign up for a credit card to get the discount and the gift card.  It’s an old marketing trick to get you into the card, which, statistically, you won’t use correctly, and will rack up a nice balance that you’ll carry over from month to month and make them tons of money in interest payments.  And, unless you’re smart about it, that’s likely what will happen.  However, if you are disciplined, you can do what I plan to do.  Apply for the card, use the bonus gift card, and the bonus discount to get a crazy good price on a Kindle.  Once that’s done, I’ll either close the account, or set the card aside and never use it again.

So, let me be clear.  Yes it’s a crazy good deal on a Kindle.  But, let’s keep our wits about us.  If you can’t be held responsible (to yourself or anyone else) when you get a new credit card with a big ol’ limit on it, then it’s not a deal for you.  Keep on walking.

If, on the other hand, you have learned to be responsible with credit cards, and you’ve been wanting a Kindle, you aren’t likely to see deals like this again until Black Friday.  If even then.

Quick how-to:

Do you have an Amazon Rewards Visa?  Then you won’t get the gift card, but you’ll still get the 40% off.  Go straight to the discount page and get your Kindle.

If you don’t have the card, you can go to that page, then click on the offer that should be appearing in the upper right hand side of the page.  It should say something about a bonus gift card, or will on the next page.  Obviously, if it’s not giving you the gift card, there’s no point in signing up.  Once you’ve gone through the application process, you can go back to the promo page and buy your Kindle.