The struggle between choosing to chase your dreams or achieve a sense of stability in your daily life is often an internal battle that most people face. From constantly being told to “be realistic,” we are a society that tends to fear feeling “uncomfortable.” Although it is at those very moments that we grow the most. The following AskReddit thread asked users who have moved away from a traditional 9-5 job how that experience went for them, and if they found success doing what they really loved.
Source list available at the end.
I wasn’t working a traditional 9-5, but it was a dead end job in security. My grandfather ended up passing away and left my grandmother with a lot of money. She asked me if I wanted to go back to school or do something with my life. It made me realize that I needed a career.
I knew I wanted to be creative. I always enjoyed radio hosts like Howard Stern and Andy Savage in Seattle. I figured I could do it and ended up going to a local tech college that had a radio station.
I finished the course and interned at the biggest Seattle rock station (KISW). It’s been almost 12 years since I was hired on. Everything seems to be working out fine.
I graduated college and accepted an entry level position in my industry. I had great benefits, great salary, upward mobility, nice environment, and good office culture. However, after 3 years, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a cage. It was like I was living a scripted life that someone else had written.
Anyway, I drove across the country to L.A. and started working freelance in film and television production. It was one of the biggest risks I ever took. It’s still scary, but I’m actually making a living out here.
I love what I’m doing, and I know in my gut, I made the right call.
My best friend graduated with a degree in petroleum engineering. He worked for a little over a year before packing up and heading to Colorado to became a ski lift operator. He loves it.
I have the best job ever now.
I left my IT job because I wanted to work at a board game store. We are now the top tier in MTG and FFG/Asmodee stuff.
I’m someone who did try to make it but didn’t. For me, working freelance jobs just wasn’t cutting it. Not KNOWING if you have a job is one of the worst feelings. The industry can be pretty rough unless you are willing to move to N.Y. or L.A., and even then, it can still be pretty tough. I heard stories from colleagues about how they had to live paycheck-to-paycheck just to live in a crappy studio apartment. On top of that, if they did get any work, it was long hours and often last minute.
I didn’t want that life for myself, so I just got a 9-5 job (it’s actually 7:30-4:00) that has decent pay, paid time off, health benefits, and a Monday to Friday schedule with holidays off. I’d never get to go on vacations, or buy anything nice, or go out to eat if I’d kept on doing freelance work, especially since, as I said, there is no guarantee of your earnings each year.
If a freelance job comes up that I can do, I will. At times, I do wish I had “made it” in the industry. But realistically, it wasn’t happening, or at least, it wasn’t happening fast enough for me to not be living paycheck-to-paycheck. Now, most of my video/film stuff is more of my hobby. If I can find my way back into it some day and the opportunity works out, I would love to. But right now, I got to make that cheddar and have a predictable income.
I’m a film school graduate. I did some odd jobs in the industry followed by some odd jobs doing more “regular” professions just for cash, but I could never imagine being at peace with that on a permanent basis.
I wanted to be a tattoo artist ever since I got my first tattoo done at 18, and I’m 24 now. I built up a portfolio of artwork over the years and kept going to my local tattoo artist asking for a gig, but the timing was never right. I continued working in a factory during this time, always drawing and painting. After 5 years, I quit my job, went to Europe with my S/O, and told myself that when I got back, I would be working in a tattoo shop within 3 months of returning. I got back, went to the shop, asked for a job again, and got it! For the last year, I have been an apprentice tattooist making next to no money, but I love waking up every morning knowing I get to spend the day doing what I love. As of September 15, it marks my one year anniversary. It’s also the day that my twin brother will be starting his tattoo apprenticeship at the same shop. We are both set for a happy life.
My wife quit her 9-5 with a passion to write. She started her own business as a ghost writer, copywriter, etc. and is an author. She’s had two books self- published, finished a manuscript (which she is looking for a publisher for), and another manuscript that is being outlined. I’m so proud of her.
I quit my job as an advertising creative to become a photographer. I took the pay cut and started at the bottom as an assistant. I did that for 2 years, before I really started working as a fashion photographer myself. Now, I’m working all over the world doing what I love. I’m also making more money than I ever did in advertising.
My husband and I were young and working exceedingly dull customer service jobs. It was the sort of work you would do when all you have is a high school diploma and a semi-functional brain.We were so depressed, making poverty wages, and going nowhere. So, we quit. We moved our kids across the state and started attending a research university. Now, we’re both engineers, making good money, and doing what we love. We’re happy with our choice, but I do see us quitting again in the nearish future to start an independent company. You got to have dreams!
I quit my 9-5 that paid pretty well and set myself on a career path that had more room for promotion. I am now a dancer, and I love it more than anything! I get paid more money, work less hours, and have more freedom. I recently got invited to Las Vegas last minute with friends, and I was able to buy a plane ticket and leave on the same day. It felt amazing to have that kind of freedom.
This past January, I quit my full-time job to pursue photography and film instead. I was at the point where I knew there was no more growth for me at that job, so it was easier to leave.
What was hard though was giving up a stable paycheck for freelance work, which obviously varies a lot more. You next job isn’t always guaranteed, but I’m 8 months in and have already travelled more in this time than I have in the past 10 years. So, I’m loving it!
I worked retail, was in lower level management, and worked my butt off keeping the store afloat with a skeleton crew and only one other full-time employee, who was also lower level management. A new boss and other amazing employees were hired, but things got worse and not better because the boss was awful. I lost it, gave up, and stopped trying. The boss then purposefully began writing me up for things that everyone did and other minor stuff. He then gave me an ultimatum, give my two-weeks notice or deal with HR.
I gave my two-weeks, screw working 40 hours a week, and used my paid vacation to support myself through working part-time while I trained to become a dog groomer. I now work full-time and make at least 25% more, and I will make twice that when I finish training in a year.
I haven’t quit yet, but I started a brewery with a partner who did quit. Originally, we we were able to split the time pretty evenly. He was there during the day then either my wife or I would go in to work during the evenings after working 8 hours at another office job. We brewed on the weekends, or when I was able to take a vacation day.
The reason I haven’t quit is because getting the business off the ground took so much longer than we had anticipated. We got the wheels in motion back in 2012, and we just opened this past June. Yeah, it took 5 years. Back in 2012, my wife and I had a lot of free time and were pretty comfortable financially. I was planning on quitting my 9-5 right when the brewery opened up, but then we had two kids (who are still very young). As a result, free time has been much more limited. Also child care is so expensive that I can’t afford to quit. I’ve crunched the numbers and even if I was a stay-at-home dad, it wouldn’t make financial sense for me to quit. I still wouldn’t be able to dedicate more time to the brewery because I’d have to be with my kids all day.
My only hope right now is to wait until the kids are out of child care and hope that by then the business is making enough money to pay us owners a decent salary. My wife has been a saint through all of this. She’s so supportive and really pulls her weight as a part owner.
As of right now, the stress is… well, stressful. I’m constantly worried about the finances of the business and keeping the other owners and my employees in line. It’s frustrating because my 9-5 job is kind of a joke (very office spacey). I can come in as late as I want and leave as early as I want while really only doing maybe an hour or two of actual work a day. I literally fall asleep at my desk every single day due to boredom and/or working late at the brewery the night before. I used to be able to work remotely. I asked my boss if I could make it a permanent thing to just come in a day or two a week, but the idea got shot down and now they’re cracking way down on the privileges of working remote for the whole team. Oops, that might have been my bad.
Overall, I love running the brewery though and doing the operations: brewing, cellar work, beer-tending, festivals, talking to customers, and creating loyal regulars. It’s awesome, and I cannot wait until I’m able to do it full-time. It’s going to be awhile though.
Not me, but my husband. He quit a normal job in his field to do something similar in a humanitarian organization. He is now away for multiple weeks at a time, traveling worldwide, and is too busy helping others to even think about his family on a daily basis. I think it’s great that he is significantly impacting the lives of the poorest of the poor, but we need his “care” too. I guess what I’m trying to say is, before you do anything like this, make sure it’s not just the best thing for you, but also for everyone else who is going to be affected by your choice(s).
I was working in Silicon Valley as senior management on a cutting-edge technology, making 2.5 bills a year with stocks, and that whole game. It was a very romanticized lifestyle that I absolutely hated.
I cashed out, moved to Montana, and bought an RV Park. I couldn’t be happier.
My first year after completing my bachelor’s degree in a subject that I hated. I worked a 9-5 for a corporate firm and felt my soul being sucked out a little more every day for a year. At my one year mark, I walked in one morning, cleared my desk, and never returned. By then, I had bought myself a one way flight to Asia. I filled a backpack, ended an already dying relationship, and left. My savings lasted me 8 months of solo backpacking around Asia. When I ran out of money, I bought a visa to Australia where I spent another year living, working, traveling, experiencing, and loving life.
Since I quit that job, I’ve lived a rather low income life and have had to take a number of odd, low-paying jobs- all of which I’ve enjoyed and have allowed me to learn skills I never otherwise would have acquired. I’ve also met a wild array of people that I would never have come across. I’ve gone flat broke a couple of times, but I’ve always managed to pick myself back up.
Since that job, my entire way of living has shifted down to my very core. Every single day, I fill my time doing things that benefit me in some way whether through giving me joy, allowing personal growth, putting a bit of cash in my pocket, or simply providing me a new experience that makes me relish in the vibrancy of being alive. This has allowed me to slowly uncover skills and passions I would have never before given myself the time and space to discover. I have also been instilled with the strongest belief that I can truly lead any life that I choose.
Recently in this journey, I met the love of my life, and we both stand by the same ideals of chasing experiences and passion over all else, and together we plan on travelling as indefinitely as we please.
Above all, I feel like I’ve left a world where everyone around me was treated as a dispensable cog meant to be creative and take initiative only within incredibly predetermined and limited parameters. In doing so, I’ve developed a fierce sense of independence and confidence and truly feel like I’ve gone from being a passenger in my own life’s journey to steering the goddamn ship. I’m really happy now.
I quit my 9-5 job after 5 years to work in video games. I spent 3 months unemployed and finally landed a job as a QA tester. It was an awesome job, but it did pay as poorly as you would expect. It was only a temporary job, and I was laid-off last July. It was still an awesome experience though and motivated me to explore video game design and development in greater detail. I have another 9-5 job now, but at least my dreams no longer felt like they had completely died.
There’s no trick to it. At some point, you just realize you don’t want (and maybe never wanted) the life that you’re leading.
Some people get that far and think, “Well, I also don’t want to start over. I guess I better suck it up.” You know what, that’s not a bad decision. A lot times, those people will go on to find fulfillment elsewhere. Maybe by raising a family, or pursuing a hobby.
But if your brain doesn’t work like that, and you’re the type of person who’s incapable of separating who you are, from what you do, then you’ll inevitably have to derail from whatever easy track it is that you’re on. That means accepting the consequences that you’ll probably be poor and unappreciated, and what you’re doing is going to be labelled as unhealthy and irresponsible. You have to do it anyway because waking up at 7 AM only to realize that you have to get ready to go sit in a carpeted box all day will make you physically ill.
As for how it’s going, it’s fine. Not great, not terrible. I get by, but I could always use more money. I’m more hand-to-mouth than I’d like to be, but so is everyone else.
I actually follow my dream right after my 9-5.
Which feels existentially-fulfilling enough to delay the panic of being 29 years old and single, and physically-exhausting enough to keep me from worrying about how I’m going to scrounge up what kind of food before passing out after 30 minutes of free time.
Which is about all I can ask for.
Amazing so far! I was working a steady track getting into retail management in a shopping mall and hated everything about it. I learned about luxury yachting, so decided to sell off my possessions and move to Florida, attend basic safety courses and start working on ships.
I ended up finding my passion as a deckhand and am now on track to starting my licensing, with the goal of being a captain in the next five years. Sure during a busy season I work 16-19 hours a day, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I quit a promising 9-to-5 in nonprofit development to change careers and follow my dream to be a software engineer. I taught myself for a year, did a bootcamp-like experience for 3 months, and then started job hunting. I’m in the middle of a soul-crushing job hunt, and questioning all my choices (and my intelligence, and my worth, and my existence).
I went from commercial property management to building rocket engines. It was the best decision I ever made. It took me four years of schooling, an expensive tuition, and living expenses, but I am extremely fulfilled at my job and am directly contributing to NASA’s efforts to put humans on Mars. It’s hard to deny just how cool it is to be working on this program. I get to work on rocket designs and hardware on a daily basis.
I also acknowledge that I’m extremely fortunate to be in a position where I could afford to give up a seemingly good career (It did make me miserable). I know not everyone is able to walk away from a decent living, and I count myself lucky to have had the means to do so.
I worked for a GIS (mapping) software company for a few years after college. My job was simple and low stress. However, I was SO BORED- ALL OF THE TIME. I decided to look into teaching because I liked the idea of doing something different everyday and being challenged. The regular vacation time didn’t hurt either. I had a lot of respect for my boss, so I let her know my plans. I was going to go to night school to get my MA and credentials. She was sad to hear about it, but she was also very supportive (She even tried to see if the company would help pay for some of my education).
Now, I’m lighting things on fire in front of middle schoolers and calling it science. It worked out better than I could have ever dreamed.
I left my job as a geological draftsperson 35 years ago to pursue stand-up comedy. I did that for a few years, then I decided to move to Hollywood to become a sitcom star. It was the 80’s. I failed at that, but a friend of mine encouraged me to write a spec script and become a T.V. writer so I did.
35 years later, I have won an Emmy and been nominated for four. Last year, I was nominated for a Humanitas Prize. I am no big deal. I mean no one would know my name, but I’ve done well enough. I bought my mom a nice house close by, took her all over the world, and spoiled her rotten (as she deserves). She died in December, and nothing I’ve ever accomplished will ever matter as much as having the love of my mom in my life every day.
Well when I just turned 26 I decided I wanted to travel to 27 countries in a year before I turned 27. So I quit my job and did just that for about 10 months. It was great but I much prefer shorter trips and less locations. I went right back to the 9 to 5 grind afterwards but I take month long trips aboard every year and with my new job I can work remotely so I guess I can be stationed somewhere I like for the summer or so. Best of both worlds.
Post are edited for clarity.