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To Find Your Dream Job, Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Looking to seize your dream and make a radical employment change? Before you pull the plug on your current 9-5, here’s what you need to know
by Tom Anderson | Jan 11 2015

How close to your dream job is your current one? If it seems like a million miles, you’re not alone. In fact, one 2011 survey showed that 84 percent of Americans planned to look for a new, better job within the year.

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But changing your current occupation for one closer to your dream isn’t as easy as it looks. Surely the best thing you could do is start with a clean break: quit your dead-end employment and devote all your time to searching for a better one. Right? Not so fast.

According to author Jon Acuff in his book Quitter, this is actually the worst action plan. As he himself struggled to find his dream job, Acuff realized that quitting your “day job,” no matter how dispiriting it may be, can in fact take you further away from finding your ideal role. Here’s why:

You become ruled by financial obligations. First off, even though you may rid yourself of one horrible superior, quitting your job puts you in the crossfire of another army of equally demanding bosses. These bosses will take the form of your electricity bill, your health insurance, your water bill, and your rent. Without the regular income of your day job, these considerations constantly demand your attention: in short, they can begin to rule your existence in a way your former, human boss only could at the office.
Your personal relationships take a hit. Living your life in the shadow of such demanding bosses leads to the second problem: your personal relationships become strained. Constantly worrying about money leads to a neurotic mindset, explains Acuff, and you’re likely to find yourself arguing with loved ones about their spending. Something as trivial as your partner spending a couple extra minutes in the shower could develop into a full-blown argument over the water bill.

To save yourself the stress of money worries, it makes sense to keep your current job – at least initially. And what’s more, when you have the added security of a regular wage, you have the luxury of saying “no thanks” to job opportunities that just aren’t right.

For example, Acuff’s first offer for a book contract (his dream job) was terrible. A publisher offered to buy the book for nothing, keep 100 percent of the profits and then sell copies back to him to sell via his blog. Luckily for Acuff, he had work at the time, so he was able to reject the derisory offer.

So, what does this mean for you? Know that you’ll stand the best chance of finding your dream job if you hang on to the one you’ve got.

Weekends and evenings, you can start gussying up your resume, looking for new opportunities, and interviewing slowly and with care. Sticking with your current job will keep the lights on at home and keep your personal life calm enough for you to be your best in interviews. Plus, you’ll be able to take the time to find the right opportunity rather than jumping at any opportunity at all.

Read more about the boons of quitting in Jon Acuff’s book Quitter.

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