in life

Derailed (And Why Day Jobs are for Suckers)

January 28, 2010. A cold, snowy morning in Chicago…

That was the day that everything changed.

When I got fired, just a couple months prior to the most important day of my life, I felt lost. Confused. Hurt. Shocked. Angry. Scared.

I remember driving home with a box full of my stuff, crying to my Mom. Crying to my wife. Crying to anyone who would listen. Anyone who would pick up the phone and tell me that it was going to be okay.

I thought to myself, “Everyone who doubted me all along was right”. There was a moment where everything seemed lost. When all felt hopeless. That I was screwed and that the end of the world was approaching.

But then, very shortly thereafter, something changed. Everything changed.

I thought back to something I had written only a couple weeks prior:

“As human beings, we are inherently afraid. Afraid of failure, afraid of what other people will think of us, afraid of being alone, afraid of change and the unknown, and afraid to let ourselves go and step outside of our comfortable little environment – our tight-knit circle of friends – never wanting to leave the path we’ve been told we’re “supposed” to take.

I’ve been there. Hell, I’m still there sometimes. I’ve let my fear control and define who I am. It took me a long time to realize that sometimes, even when it seems ridiculous or even inappropriate, you just have to let yourself go – and be YOU – in the purest sense of the word – you have to connect with what makes you unique and tap into your full potential. We’re told all the time that you have to do what’s best for you – but when you take a step back and think – are you actually doing it? Can you honestly say you feel like you’re the master of your own destiny, or are you riding on the coattails of faith in hopes that it will lead you in the right direction?

If you’re wandering around wondering how to take that first step – how to quit your job and find something better, move to a new place, try a new food, get back into working out – whatever it is, big or small – just do it…You can do whatever you set out to once you’re ready and believe in yourself.

To get there, you have to step outside your comfort zone – you have to throw away being content and rock the boat a bit until you figure things out. You have to experiment and try new things – sometimes without a back up plan. It’s not easy, it can’t always be calculated and strategic – but causing a riff every now and then and introducing a little “chaos” into your lifestyle is sometimes the only way to get things done.”

Little did I know that the advice I was looking for, the person I wanted to answer the phone to tell me everything was going to be okay, the voice of reason and confidence, was within me. It was me.

And suddenly, I felt free. I was free. And ever since, I’ve been in pursuit of freedom.

A couple years later, I’m running my own business, cherishing every day I have in front of me because I know that it’s my day to create. It’s my day to own. 

But I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for that car ride home, sobbing, more vulnerable than I’ve ever been. It was that moment of derailment, where all felt hopeless, when the ships had burned and I was stuck swimming in the middle of the ocean, that changed everything.

In that moment I found comfort in trusting others. I accepted support. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I embraced emotions. I understood.

And then I got to work. I persevered. I hustled. I overcame. I tried. I created. I learned. I did. 

Maybe we should get fired from our day jobs more often. Our day job of being in a broken relationship. Our day job of living in the wrong place. Our day job of pursuing the wrong path.

Our “day jobs”, whatever they may be, hold us back from the things we should really be doing. The things we want. The things we love.

It’s up to you if you’ll let them define you, or if you’ll be the one to define. And while nobody can go back and start a new beginning anyone can start today in making a new ending.

What about you? Have you been faced with a moment that threw you off course? How did you deal? How has it helped in where you find yourself today?

(Photo credit)

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  1. I love this post. I too was let go from my job not long ago and it’s easy to slip into negative thinking-I’m not good enough, I wasn’t doing a good enough job, etc. But it usually turns out to be a blessing in disguise. After taking some time off of working now I know what I really want to do and can embark on the steps to make it happen. 

    • Hey Elyse. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I’ve found, over these past couple years of chatting with other’s who have been through similar situations, that the phrase “blessing in disguise” comes up time and time again. Sometimes we need that forceful push to go and make great things happen. :)

  2. Preach.

    I was fired in 2008, 2 weeks after receiving a very large promotion and a day after being flown around in the company jet. I was flabbergasted and I did something I never did at work: I cried. Huge, nasty, mascara-riddled tears. I was supposed to be the star! I always had great feedback! I guess the masquerade had all fallen down and everyone realized that I was just a normal person after all.

    I landed a new job within 3 weeks – in my field and with a higher salary than the one before. Still, that anxiety and feeling of failure has haunted me nearly every day for the past 3 years. My confidence was rocked so hard that I couldn’t put the pieces back together. I started building it by scratch.

    This is the last week at my office job. The past year has been spent hustling with multiple proposals, contract work, and income from unexpected places. The more I asked for help, the more things started opening up. The day I put in my resignation, even more things opened up just by being able to share all the hustling I’ve done up to this point.

    Am I scared shitless at what might lay ahead? Heck yes. But I’m also excited, and for the first time in 3 years, I feel free.

    • I didn’t have any mascara on, but if I did, it wouldn’t have been pretty :)

      I know the life of the “side hustle” all-too-well, but at some point, whether it be by choice or by force, something’s gotta give. I’m so excited that you decided to side with going your own way and doing your own thing. I have no doubt you’ll be successful, and I’m excited for everything you’ll no-doubt have in store for us as you get rolling 100% on your own. Cheers!

  3. The battle against fear is something that has been especially prevalent for the past 5 years, ever since my wife and I took the plunge into the deep end and started our entrepreneurial journey. It is an exhilarating, scary, emotional ride, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The very thought of going back to work for the man gives me the push I need to keep moving forward. I don’t think the fear will ever go away. I just hope to push it far enough back that I am leaving it in my dust.

    • Exactly. You bring up another kind of fear – not the fear of taking the leap, but the fear of going back to the way things were. In that case, it’s the kind of fear that motivates you to do that much more, try that much harder, and never look back…

  4. I’m currently in a job that isn’t always looked at as being a value add, but I love what I do. And now that I’ve filled my outside work time with the gym, volunteer work, a wine education class, and friends – my outlook on life has much improved, and become overall more optimistic. Thanks for the extra motivation and pep talk.

    • I think that’s what’s so important, Christina. Finding other ways to occupy your time and to learn and grow away from the day job is so personally fulfilling, and extremely rewarding. Cheers!

  5. Great post! I recently quit my job and started my own business, and don’t think I can ever go back to working a “day job”. It was terrifying, but so exciting. I knew I was going to fail, I knew there would be days when I’d be miserable, but even that excited me. It was like I had just started living. 

    This line particularly resonated with me: In that moment I found comfort in trusting others. I accepted support. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I embraced emotions. I understood.

  6. I frequently tell people that jobs are for SUCKERS! I’ve never been fired or laid off, but I’ve quit several jobs after 3-6 months because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I am not meant to be a cube monkey. I recently started a blog without being paralyzed by fear that it will be heinous and no one will read it.

    Awesome post.

    P.S. I would like to challenge you to a Saved By The Bell Trivia game.

  7. I totally agree that employment is only for suckers !!
    M valli.. Aged 33yrs … I was with couple of companies in my past 10+ years of experience.. I started as an accountant and reached up to top position called Manger – Finance.. But I never enjoyed it…
    I came out of my job last a year ago and now m running my own project which is having earning potential of 30K-50K USD Per month…
    I believe entrepreneurship is all about mindset and willingness to change and learn…..
    Proud to be an entrepreneur … one of my dream is to have markets in 50 countries by 2016…. I will do it for a sure… 

  8. Not every person working in corporate is a sucker. Some people (aka me) actually enjoy it. I like what I do and I am good at it. True, I can get fired any day, but so what?! I will enjoy it while I can :)

    • Hello Sowm.

      If you read the post above, you’ll see that I’m not at all talking about and/or suggesting “corporate” is for suckers:

      “Maybe we should get fired from our day jobs more often. Our day job of being in a broken relationship. Our day job of living in the wrong place. Our day job of pursuing the wrong path. Our “day jobs”, whatever they may be, hold us back from the things we should really be doing. The things we want. The things we love.”

      “Day jobs” are a metaphor for something much bigger. They represent whatever things in our life hold us back from doing what you can be and SHOULD be doing. That’s really what this message is all about. Cheers!

  9. Thanks Matt – I appreciate the reminder, in 2008 I was let go from a job where I had done well and enjoyed. I spent 5 years on the road and missed a lot of family time – but as you said – everything works out in the end. If you believe in yourself and trust the insights of others – the businesses we work for are lucky to have us.