A year ago I quit my job. Soon after, I committed myself to making two fruit and vegetable sculptures everyday on Instagram (I had the account Mundane Matters but never took it seriously), which have been featured in more than 30 publications and TV channels around the world since then. In the past year I have travelled, worked occasionally, hosted talks, exhibitions and workshops. Most importantly, I am still keeping my daily habit of making fruit and vegetable sculptures and telling stories. It has become my emotional outlet and an inspiration for many people.
The past year without a full-time job has been the most awakening year of my life. When good things happen to you, you’d wish everyone else could experience the same, or even better, which is why I want to share some tips with you to make your journey happen. Hope you will be inspired to do the same and benefit from your own experience.
I did not quit my day job to live my passion
First of all, you have to understand that I did not have any plan to establish any personal brand or open any business. The only reason why I quit my job was because I was overworked. I was working as a senior graphic designer and was in training to become a digital strategist, copywriter and studio manager. Not only was I constantly nervous, the stress from work also affected me physically. I started to have paranoia that I might have some incurable diseases. I had to stop working. My only wishes were to spend time playing with my cat, reading a book, catching up with friends. To live a life, was all I wanted to do when I quit my job. What was my passion? I had no time to think about it.
Life first, passion next
I used to believe confidently that design was my passion. However what I have discovered in my one-year journey is that perhaps we don’t know what our passions truly are, until we fully live a life. Passion is too much distorted and disguised in this noisy world. Passion changes all the time, but what doesn’t change is our deeper, authentic self, which will always guide us to do the best things for ourselves and others.
If you wish to do the same, here is a step-by-step guide:
1. PREPARATION FOR QUITTING YOUR JOB
• While you have your full-time job, learn. Keep learning.
Your skill set will allow you to find freelance or part-time work if you really need money, either to live or start your new venture.
• Save up to support your (unemployed) living without any financial stress
Be frugal. Reduce your consumption habits. Live sustainably. It’s good for yourself and environment. It is also important to develop this habit as you move into your new (unemployed) lifestyle.
• Affordable living
Live with your parents. Live with your partner. Live in a share house. Does your government have an affordable living program?
2. THE TRIGGER TO QUIT YOUR JOB
It could be challenging to decide when to quit your job without any other job coming up. But I do believe when it is meant to happen, a trigger will come naturally. Be aware of your inner feelings. Don’t deny your self doubt. In my case I was feeling frustrated and depressed, which was a sign for me to make a change.
I find an objective assessment helps. Ask you friend or partner to audit your life. Their supports can also be a great affirmation. If the time comes, don’t be afraid. Quit. There is nothing to lose. If you do not enjoy the lifestyle, you can always find another full-time job.
3. WHEN YOU LET GO EVERYTHING, A NEW DOOR WILL OPEN FOR YOU. BUT:
• It takes a long time to open
It takes a long time even when you think you have already let go of everything you held dear. I learned that work is not the only thing you have to let go of. You have your childhood, your past, people you loved, things you regretted etc. Your past is what makes you who you are now, especially when it comes to how you deal with challenges (you will face a lot of mental challenges in your unemployed journey). They will surface when your mind is no longer in occupied with the daily grind.
Take the time off as the opportunity to understand and make peace with your ghosts. Meditate, communicate with yourself and your past. You may find that it is the unacknowledged ghosts in your past that are robbing you of a more fulfilling life.
• You must overcome the fear and sorrow of detachment
You will be challenged at every turn with fear and a sense of loss. What have I done?! I miss my work friends! I miss my security! What if I am left alone in the gutter to die starving and cold! You must learn to stare these emotions down.
• You need to get moving
As you cast off into your new life you must become adept and comfortable travelling into new physical and psychological spaces. You are no longer tied to an immovable rock in your life. You may find you are able to remember more vividly your dreams in this period, as you are phasing into learning more about yourself psychologically. Investigate your feelings and subconsciousness from your dreams.
• All those thorny things that surface – take them as an inspiration
What can you do with all those thorny things other than being emotional, resentful or regretful? This was when I started to understand the purpose of Mundane Matters, and how I can explore more in the way I create my images, as well as its story-telling aspect to make it inspiring for myself and other people. Some might focus on creating, or helping our community, or starting a new business, anything. But like a judo master, use the energy of your difficult thoughts and emotions to your advantage.
• Just do it
When you immerse yourself in doing something, you let go of your ego too. And that’s when the door is opened for you. This is also what Liane Rossler and myself are trying to teach at our workshops too.
4. LET IT EVOLVE
• Don’t stop learning
This is how we grow.
• Self motivation
You have to understand that it is a solitary practice. It is also challenging – on one hand you have to let go your ego, on the other hand, you have to believe in yourself. Understanding your past and your pattern of thinking helps to tackle going down the negative thought loops. Never stop reminding yourself how far you have travelled and how much more you are enjoying life now!
• Collaborations to explore potential
When I first started the daily habit of making fruit and vegetable sculptures, I thought, ‘OK, this is fun. I don’t mind doing this for my whole life.’ To my surprise it has been evolving over time. Without the talk with Cam Mackellar (who also co-wrote this article!) at Apple Sydney Store, I wouldn’t know my personal journey could inspire other people. Without the workshop with Liane Rossler, I wouldn’t be aware that what I am doing can also help make our community a little greener and happier.
• Take a break and fine-tune what you do
As it evolves, you will find what you do at present has become different to what you first started. That’s the beauty of entering the unknown! Take a break to listen to your heart. As long as it is still coming from your authentic self, any changes are good changes – even if you end up in a full-time job again.
Email me info[at]mundanematters.co if you would like personal advice. Happy to help. Or please join me at my workshops in June if you are in Sydney: mundanematters.co/workshop
Note: co-written with Cam Mackellar. Sign up at the next section on this page to receive my monthly discovery in your inbox.