I've been meaning to write about why I quit a perfectly good job I had at Azeus, but it's been hard to articulate the reasons, in the same way I found it hard to explain to people why I didn't feel a corporate "9 to 5" was entirely necessary at this point. Then I read a blog post today "Why I Quit A Six Figure Job" which I found to express/coincide with my thoughts pretty well on the upsides and downsides of having a job.
When I started working in 2003 I was young and inexperienced and had no idea what sort of things should be planned out in life. For the first four years of my stay there I worked hard, the job was awesome, I was working with terrific people, I was learning a lot and the paycheck was great. Somewhere around late 2006 I completed my first largish project as technical lead and I felt we had pulled it off quite well.
Fast forward to three years later (2009). For some reason, it felt like time went by really quickly and the period of rapid growth that I experienced during the first half of my stay had slowed down into a more gradual pace. Though I was still improving and learning new things, it was nowhere near the level as when I first started. I felt like I was pretty much in the same place I was in 2006, in terms of technical skill, responsibilities, etc. (Well, of course my paycheck got better... ).
This is the hardest part to explain, at that time I didn't understand it very well myself, but basically there is a trap that anyone working a "9 to 5" job easily falls into. That trap is complacency. It's a trap fueled by the easy money of the regular paycheck. By then I would often find myself just phoning it in. Successive days would pass by where I'm just going through the motions of waking up, slogging through the commute, doing whatever needs to be done, sleeping through the bus ride home and hoping the weekend comes sooner. And whenever I tried to look down the line, imagining what the job would be like three or four years later, I couldn't see it being any different than what it was right now.
I'm sure a lot of people (probably 95% of people or more) would have been perfectly happy where I was with a good job and a steady paycheck. But I'm a greedy bastard, I want more in life than other people are willing to settle for. I felt like if I stayed where I was, somehow the story of my life would be over, as I already knew how the future would go if I stayed.
So I forced the change. I resigned from my job and took the leap into an uncertain future. I still don't know where I'm going, and I'm still currently unemployed, but I know I have a lot of options. I don't have any big commitments (not gonna be married anytime soon) and I have enough of a safety net to last me a few years, so I'm in no hurry.
This post already went on for longer than I intended, so I'll leave other questions such as "What are you doing now that you're a bum?" (I get asked this a lot) or "Isn't it stupid to quit your job without a plan?" for future discussions. If you found my reasons interesting though, you may want to read the discussion thread on Hacker News about Xavier Shay's post, it's quite interesting.