When should you quit your job

When should you quit your job, to be self-employed and live your dream(s)?

Do you want the short answer? I can give it to you, but ahaa! you are not reading this for the short answer, are you? You already know what the short, one-worded answer is. So let me give you the long answer:

Long answer = True story

Quit your job

Consider the following true story: ONCE UPON A TIME, I visited an old college buddy that I hadn’t seen in months. Huddled around his latest guitar and amp set, after reminiscing about the college days, downing like a billion cups of tea, I asked him about how his job was going.

He has a Master degree in Multimedia & Animation from the reputed National College of Arts here in Lahore, and he currently works at this big TV channel, earning an OK salary.

He told me, “it is going alright. Very hectic, but yeah, it’s alright.”

Then the eerie silence.

I noticed the 5D lying next to his PC, and I mentioned how expensive these items are now, especially with the dollar rate (to the Pakistani rupee) going to high heavens and all.

That is when he started talking all about his camera, shutter speed this and focal length this, his weekly photography missions (at the break of dawn) to this mosque here and that fort there, his photography buddies, how he once drove all the way back from work to pick up his camera because the “sky demanded to be photographed”. He wouldn’t stop.

He told me about how he had teamed up with another photographer friend who has a studio, and they’ve been doing wedding photography on the side, and how he charges like 30,000 rupees for it (around US $ 450), and how his clients appreciate his ‘spontaneous approach’ towards wedding photography.

He should quit his job immediately.

Like most enterprises, it won’t be easy. Apart from keeping a business afloat, he would have to fend off social pressure; not many people appreciate ‘wedding photographer’ as a job description (people are bigots, I know). He would have to work at it to be at a level where he doesn’t have to look for work, but he wouldn’t mind; he is already “making time out of his busy schedule ” to take some seriously awesome pictures.

So what is stopping him?


This is not a clinical diagnosis obviously. But ‘change’ in itself in scary. The long, long line of “what ifs” just paralyzes  you, and you end up living a life you didn’t want.

But what about the “circumstances”, man?

What about them? I will not even try to go there, because circumstances are always difficult enough. No, I won’t even get into that argument. I have a better different way of looking at this; what have you got to lose?

Whatever your answer, please know that your threshold of risk is much, much higher than you think it is (as Julien Smith not-so-gently points out in his article here).

Even IF you fail utterly and completely, you just need to give it some time, and people would have forgotten and moved on (yes, I am sorry to report, we all are insignificant in that sense – go watch Fight Club again).

Just sit down and imagine the worst case scenario – and this totally goes against the ‘visualize your success’ school of thought; Are you going to die? Get a really nasty disease? Lose all – yes, all – of your and your parent’s money? Will you have to ‘move out’ in to the streets? Really, will you? If the answer to any of the above questions is a resounding “yes” then you are already crazier than I am and you shouldn’t be reading this – go away.

But in MOST cases *ahem* the worst that will happen is that you will be another story for your kinfolks to talk about for a day or three, and that’s that. That’s the risk; a freakin’ story that will die out before you can even start explaining. Think about the negative possibilities only to REALIZE that most of your ‘what ifs’ are ill-disguised manifestations of your fears.

I sincerely hope that my friend takes the leap. There is no such thing as permenance in this world after all.

And I sincerely hope you find a way to prioritize your life around your duties and interests, instead of your fears and greed.

Happy living!

God bless and good luck!

P.S. If you have a similar story to share, let’s hear it (in the comments section). And are you considering ‘pursuing your dream(s)’? Let’s hear that first!


image courtesy DarkEmerald

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  1. I am already pursuing my dreams and often suggests other people to do the same. I guess it is a lot easier for me, as I don’t have too much responsibilities yet and I am not doing anything else for which I will have any fear of losing something.

    As for your advice, I am going to follow it right now and watch Fight Club. 🙂

  2. I’ve been going through your website for the last couple of days and find it one of the most refreshing on the local scene.

    This is yet another thought-provoking post. Let me borrow some thoughts from your ‘You wish you knew this..’ article to give my two cents worth.

    Taking your friend as an example, let’s say he quits his job to take on wedding photography as a full-time endeavor. First of all, how would he define it?

    Would he treat it as his business to “put the proverbial bread on the ever-so-proverbial table” or as a profession he’s passionate about?

    If he treats it as his business then he may have to take on assignments he may hate just because he can’t afford to let any money-making opportunity pass by, this being his sole source of livelihood.

    On the other hand, if he treats it as his profession doing selective work, then like you said about hating to write an article just because you had to, he may end up being broke.

    Under the circumstances, is it really advisable for him to quit his job when he doesn’t have a business to bank on?

    What about your advice that “your profession and your business are two separate things, and you must have both” ?

    Going with your line of thinking, he ought to convert his existing job from full-time to freelancing/project-based so that he could spend the rest of the freed time setting up his photography business. That way he would have multiple streams of income and be able to live a slightly enriched life than what he’s living now.

    I would strongly recommend anyone who’s interested in creating a business for the sole purpose of generating income to read Loral Langemeier’s Millionaire Maker’s Guide to Creating a Cash Machine For Life.

    Don’t be put off by the name as it is not one of those sleazy get-rich-quick guides. It’s the best and the most realistic book I’ve read on becoming an entrepreneur. Instead of taking the conventional approach of going it alone, it teaches you how to get your cash machine up and running within seven weeks based not on your passions but your current skills set.

    The basic premise is that you can always start a business about which you’re passionate about but your first few businesses (referred to as a cash machine) should be those which have the most realistic chance of earning you a livelihood.

    What’s more, they shouldn’t try to be original but rather emulations of successful businesses based on a need of a target market.

    Once they are churning out a decent steady income without your constant vigilance, you can start doing what you love.

    1. First of all, thank you for such a thought-provoking comment!

      Let me dive right into it… 🙂

      The first and foremost is to know that there is a difference between business and profession. This little piece of knowledge itself is sometimes enough to get people thinking in terms of what they are working for.

      I know this because I had this chat with a friend, about business and profession essentially being different, and a few days later he told me he used the same concept while delivering a presentation at this big software house where he works – he says that people later contacted him to tell him how this little difference has shed good light on their careers etc. Especially given that software developers love to work a full time job AND do freelancing work etc.

      You asked:

      Under the circumstances, is it really advisable for him to quit his job when he doesn’t have a business to bank on?

      My friend’s specific example works because he is already earning decently from his side gigs. He already has monetized his hobby (essentially becoming what I call a ProHobbyist 🙂 ). I think it is great to have a profession that also serves the purpose of a business (it makes life simpler, for one, and it is easier to benchmark etc).

      Selling one’s self short (the example you gave of writing something that one doesn’t want to write) is always a danger, and I think one must not “give in” to go for the low hanging fruit. That is why a ’emotionally detached’ business helps to let you pick the projects that are in line with your professional goals.

      And all businesses solve a problem, essentially helping people out. That is why people buy the solutions a business provides. May it be a detergents, websites or consultancy work.

      Again, thank you for such a well thought-out comment. It is definitely refreshing to see one’s concepts being questioned, probed and taken further. Thank you Saqib 🙂

  3. Ultimate Words:

    “prioritize your life around your duties and interests, instead of your fears and greed”

  4. This is an excellent article. I was actually doing a google search on Pakistan and I came across this blog. I currently live in the US and have been debating about going back to Pakistan to start a business. I am currently going through the same predicament. In the end, it is not always about money as much as it is about how much of an impact you make with your time here an Earth. In America, it is all work and no play now, regardless of what people in Pakistan think living is here. There is an excellent book called “Think and Grow Rich” that deals with the subject of taking risks and making money.

    1. Hey thanks Naveed for the appreciation.
      And that’s the thing isn’t it? Some things are constant no matter where you are, because they are “personal”. Everyone is the same underneath. And that knowledge in itself is powerful.

      Welcome to the community and I look forward to your progress! 🙂

  5. But i think there is no free time in business. businessman is more busy than jobber.
    what you say??