Why I left my full-time job

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why I left my full time job

It’s official! Today I left my full time counseling job.

Holy cow, I actually did it.

Here’s a worksheet to help you know when you can leave your full-time counseling job: How to Leave Your Full-time Job Worksheet

My full-time story

Here’s the quick version In 1997 I graduated from St. Francis High School in Traverse City, MI. Like many late-90s graduates, I was told that college would equal a secure future. For me, this WAS the case. I graduated early with honors, took a year off and travelled to Nepal, Thailand, Haiti, Paris, and New Orleans, then went on to graduate school.

In 2004, I graduated with a double Master’s degree and also got married (my graduation date and wedding date is actually the same).

According to all the statics, I was on-track with life.

Then, in 2011, my daughter was diagnosed with heart issues and I was diagnosed with cancer.

But I didn’t leave today because of cancer. So often I hear about people that get cancer and the only way to explain the life change is through metaphors. Words like it was a “wake up call” or it “shocked me” or “it was a lifeline” are phrases that come to mind. But for me it wasn’t.

Since 2006, when I launched my counseling private practice, I had worked a side business as a private practice counselor. I’d work my 40 hours per week and then also have some counseling clients. At the time it was:

  • A way to pay off debt
  • A channel for my creativity
  • Something different to do within the field of counseling

Thus, every week from 2006 until late 2014 I was working 45-50 hours per week.

What changed in my full-time job

In my town, Traverse City, there aren’t a ton of counselor jobs. What does the average counselor make? According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Job Outlook, the average counselor makes $41,500, but our town is fairly saturated with counselors. Thus, a number of them work at not-for-profit organizations making just over $30k/year.

I loved my full time job. My boss was amazing. Most of the work was amazing. The benefits were fairly good. The salary for the area, alright. But what changed?

In 2012 I read Tim Ferriss’ now classic entrepreneur book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated). I didn’t love everything he said, but the concept of working smarter, not harder really helped. Also, around the same time, I started reading the blog and listening to Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Podcast. Here’s what I took away from the book and podcast:

  • LEARN: Learning about technology and business can help make someone money.
  • TEACH: There are ways to teach people online and make money doing it.
  • CREATE: If you create great content, serve an audience, and create ways for them to give back to you, you can make money.

This was a new way to look at work

These thoughts were revolutionary for me. Both my parents worked for the school system. Both parent-in-laws worked for the school system. The typical narrative had always been:

  1. Go to a good college and graduate with honors.
  2. Get a job.
  3. Provide for your family.
  4. Retire well.

My parents never out-right said this, but I think that most of our society supports this narrative.

The quote that changed my full-time job

I’ve scanned through Timothy’s book, and I’m sure I’ll find the exact quote exactly (put it in the comments if you find it). The quote was something like this:

If you work really hard for 40 hours, someday you’ll get to be a supervisor and work 60 hours. -Found somewhere in The 4-hour Workweek

I started to look around, not just at my own job, but at my peers, consulting clients, and actually most of society. We are all stressed, overworked, and missing out on time with out families. Let’s think about the average week of 168 hours:

  • Sleep, 8 hours a night: 56 hours per week 33.33%
  • Work related, including prep and driving, 10 hours per day: 50 hours per week 29.76% of the week
  • That leaves 62 hours per week (36.9%) of the week: I can use this however I want, eating, showering, hanging out with kids, etc.

Could I justify having a minimum of 30% of my job-life spent away from my family? Did it provide me a feeling of 30% more security, happiness, or satisfaction?

Over the long haul, what does a typical full-time job offer to me?

  • “Security” where no matter how I perform: I won’t make more or less. This works really well for under-achievers or moderate achievers. I can’t sit around.
  • An income and benefits that are steady: This is often true, but the quote (that I misquoted earlier) points out a major flaw in having a full-time job. For me to make more money in my private practice I just have to launch a new product, see more clients, or do more advertising. In a typical full-time job, you are not directly rewarded for growing the business, non-profit, or college.
  • Good resume builder: Working at a reputable location allows you to build skills that are transferrable to other locations.

Why I left my full-time job

If it is true that the primary way to make more money at a typical business, non-profit, or college is to move up, work more hours, or change roles, than that’s not for me! I realized that if I am already working hard and not seeing a positive change in my financial, family, or physical self, why would become a supervisor or moving up in an organization change that?

So here I am, typing about why I left my full-time job.

I asked my wife, “Should I name this: ‘How I left my full-time job’ or ‘Why I left my full-time job’?”

“Sounds like two different blog posts,” she said.

In the future, I will be writing about exactly how to plan to leave a full-time job, but for now, I’m just writing this.

My central question was:

In 5 years which would I regret more: 1. Staying in my full-time job and not trying to make it on my own 2. Trying and failing?

I determined that leaving and failing was better than staying and never trying to leave my full-time job. Who knows exactly how it will play out, but here are central questions as I move forward in this new chapter of my career:

  • How can I physically be more grounded and healthy?
  • How can I structure my time to provide the most income, happiness, and powerful influence on the world, while getting rid of unnecessary clutter and distractions?
  • What are the most important ways to use my time?
  • How can I stay motivated and moving forward?
  • How do I connect more with my kids and maintain progress in my business?

Over the coming months, I’ll be letting you know more about this journey on this blog, the podcast, and the newsletter.

How to leave a full-time counseling job

Here are some quick tips that helped me to leave my full-time counseling job. At some point, I’ll be writing more about this, but if you want to get started now, here are some tips:

  • Get out of debt.
  • Find ways to make extra money now, even if it is only $100 extra per week.
  • Learn by reading more books about business.
  • Find time in your day to learn. Listen to a podcast while walking from your car. At lunch read a book or talk business with a friend. Turn off the radio and brainstorm business ideas while you drive (safely of course).
  • Reduce you family expenses.
  • Keep track of your monthly income for a while.
  • Save up as much money as you can, at least to cover 6-12 months of your family’s basic needs.

This seems like a ton to do, but over time, you can do it!

Photo of private practice consultant Joe Sanok with the words "WHY I LEFT my full-time job"

What is your ONE STEP toward leaving your full-time job? Leave it in the comments below

 Photo of private practice consultant Joe Sanok who helps therapists build a private practice and gain freedom whether that means having a 3 day weekend every week, traveling the country with your family or being able to do more volunteer work. Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC

Joe Sanok is an expert on achieving ambitious results! He is a private practice business consultant and counselor that helps small businesses and counselors in private practice that are starting a private practice. He helps owners with website design, vision, growth, and using their time to create income through being a private practice consultant. Joe was frustrated with his lack of business and marketing skills when he left graduate school. He loved helping people through counseling, but felt that often people couldn’t find him. Over the past few years he has grown his skills, income, and ability to lead others, while still maintaining an active private practice in Traverse City, MI. Joe believes you can build your business, do good in the world AND balance this with doing the things that mean the most to you, even if that’s working a 4 day work week! To link to Joe’s Google+ . Photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis