20 Rules to Follow After You Quit Your Job

by Shawanda Greene

"20 Rules to Follow After You Quit Your Job" on ChalkboardRecently, I announced I quit my job and my reasons for doing so.

When you tell people you’re quitting your job, they picture you lounging around the house all day with a head full of rollers, a cigarette dangling from the side of your mouth, wearing a dingy pair of smelly, pink pajamas.

That’s not how it works.

Those who’ve made the leap into entrepreneurship develop a new appreciation for the saying, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”

Now, more than ever, it’s absolutely critical I stay productive.

One of the first things I learned during my freshman year at the University of Central Florida was this:

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

While listening to The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale, I learned that Dorothea Brande once said,

Act as if it were impossible to fail.

From those two insightful quotes, I concluded that failure can be avoided if you act and if you plan. You need an action plan.

What I have here is an action plan for my action plan. A list of rules I’ve committed to following. 

Rule #1 - Somehow, some way, each day, interact with a fellow human being. I know you don’t like people, but locking yourself up in your apartment all day will lead to both insanity as well as Rickets. Who’s gonna respect the advice of a bowlegged, crazy person?

Rule #2 – When you notice doubt and fear creeping into your thoughts, remember this:

Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt. ~ William Shakespeare

If you have trouble internally motivating yourself, there’s no shame in turning to the experts for inspiration. Listen to a motivational speech by Tony Robbins or Zig Ziglar. Study Dan Miller’s No More Mondays.

Rule #3 – Recognize failure for what it is. Sure, you’re pretty awesome. Maybe you’re the most awesomest person on the planet, but you will fail at some things. Sleep easy knowing that failure is only feedback.

Identify what you did wrong, what you should’ve done differently, and what you’ll do next time to accomplish your objective. And then…keep it moving.

Rule #4 – Realize that perfectionism cripples success.

Endlessly tweaking blog posts, videos and other content doesn’t benefit anyone.

Quit perfect. It’s an unnecessary obstacle. 90 percent perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100 percent perfect and stuck in your head. ~ Jon Acuff

Rule #5 – If you feel overwhelmed by all the work you have to do, stop!

Write down ONE thing you want to get done, create a list of action items for it, and work your plan step by step. Remain singularly focused on that one thing, and clear your mind of everything else. Who says it’s got to be all or nothing?

Rule #6 – Stay sexy. A healthy Shawanda is a happy Shawanda. Why? Because even when things aren’t totally going your way, you can look in the mirror and honestly say, “At least I still look good.”

Rule #7 - Focus on the positive.

You can think good thoughts. You can think bad thoughts.

It’s easier for a human being to think negatively than positively. That’s why only five percent are successful. ~ Earl Nightingale

Regardless, it’s important to remember you have a choice.

Rule #8 – When you shut down your computer for the night, you have four options:

1) Write. Doesn’t matter what you write. Just put some words on a piece of paper.

2) Read a book. Not a magazine, not a blog post, not Facebook status updates, an actual book whether it’s electronic, paper, or inscribed on stone tablets.

3) Listen to a podcast. Feel free to document what you learn as well as any content ideas you have while listening.

4) Sleep. If necessary, use an ASMR video to help you relax.

Rule #9 – Spend at least 15 minutes or so every day tidying up. Your apartment is your home/office/sanctuary.

Pursuing your dreams required you to make serious financial sacrifices. As such, you’ll have to give up little luxuries you were accustomed to. That can take its toll. You don’t want to feel like a filthy, poor person, do you?

Rule #10 - Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people.

People are like elevators, they can take you up or they can take you down. ~ Zachery Tims

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Rule #11 – When you’re suffering from writer’s block, stand up. Literally, stand up. Our human brain evolved to function while physically in motion.

The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning, and does not stop until you get into the office. ~ Robert Frost

Rule #12 – Whether online or offline, be unapologetically self promotional without being spammy.

Rule #13 –  Track your progress.

What gets measured gets managed. ~ Peter Drucker

Rule # 14 – Don’t let business cards go unanswered. Nowadays, there’s simply no excuse. Either connect with the person on LinkedIn, send them a Facebook friend request, or follow them Twitter. And stop beating yourself up for not sending an it-was-a-pleasure-meeting-you email to everyone you meet.

Rule #15 – No multitasking allowed UNLESS you’re combining two mindless tasks. Such as washing dishes and listening to a podcast. Keep a notebook handy so that you can capture ideas and interesting facts learned.

Rule #16 – Make your activities time based. For instance, instead of creating tasks like “write one blog post” say “write for 2 hours”. Instead of saying “read 50 pages” say “read for 1 hour.” Certain activities have a funny way of stealing time from other things you need to do.

Rule #17 – Don’t feel inadequate or envious because of what others in your field have accomplished.

Look at competition as a great source of inspiration. ~ David Novak, CEO of Yum Brands

Rule #18 – Assess the effectiveness of your social media interactions. There’s a fine line between online branding and wasting time.

Rule #19 – Accept defeat. Give it the old college try and then quit. And then come back to it. And then quit again. And then come back to it. And then give up and hire someone else to do it! You’re not to become frustrated, forsake every other task on your to do list, sacrifice your relationships, or get fat trying to figure out how to do something that should be outsourced.

Do what you do best, and let others do what they do best. ~ Unknown

Rule #20 – Make time for education. You must strike a balance between learning and doing. Don’t learn so much you never do. Don’t do so much you never learn. Set aside time to learn every day. During this time, think about ways you can effectively use what you’ve learned.

Learn a little.

Do a little.

What rules would you create for yourself to effectively accomplish your goals as an entrepreneur?

This blog post was featured in the Yakezie Carnival, Zombie Apocalypse Edition at 101 Centavos.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

SJM January 31, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Great mix of quotes and action items – I'll bookmark this for those weekends when I pretend I quit my day job and am running my own business, haha.


Shawanda January 31, 2012 at 5:39 PM

Thanks for reading! I told myself I'd print this out and hang it on my wall to keep me focused on the promises I made to myself. I think I have them all memorized, but just in case.


Ways to Invest Money January 31, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Great tips I really found rule number 6 helpful. (lol) but really those are great tips I would really have to follow the one about seeing at least one person per day. Dont think my wife counts because just being in the house isnt good. #10 is my fav!


Shawanda January 31, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Yeah. Rule 6 will also cause you to have a lot more energy. Getting out of the house is particularly challenging when you're really focused on completing a particular project. I was thinking I could stay sexy and interact with other people by attending group exercise classes. Kill two birds with one stone.


femmefrugality January 31, 2012 at 10:03 PM

I like that idea! Rule 6 cracked me up, too. But it's so true. I also love the one about perfectionism. Nothing in this universe is perfect, and that's what allows it to work. Work hard, do your best, but don't obsess.


Shawanda January 31, 2012 at 11:21 PM

"Work hard, do your best, but don't obsess."

Now you've done it. A quote whore like myself can't resist a good saying. Be warned: I'm gonna use it on Facebook (with proper attribution of course). :)


Agatha January 31, 2012 at 6:32 PM

So true! I've been an entrepreneur for 10 years and I've always been able to make money at it because I just don;t see any other option. Getting a job is not an option in my eyes, so I have to make my business work. And so I do!


Shawanda January 31, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Hi Agatha. I checked out your website. And from the looks of things, you're pretty awesome. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. It's good to hear from someone with a similar background as myself. :)


Hunter February 1, 2012 at 9:40 PM

GREAT list Shawanda. I can relate to everything you have included here. Human contact is critical for me too, and can always use a dose of TR or the Zig. I've made working out daily part of my routine this year. So far this warm winter is making it easier to achieve this.


Shawanda February 2, 2012 at 3:40 AM

I'm not working out daily (and I probably won't), but 4 days a week should keep me healthy, sexy and full of the energy I need to be at my most productive. I'm working on getting back up to 4 days a week.


Andrew February 2, 2012 at 6:41 AM

Little bites, little bites. I sometimes list "do X for 15 minutes" in my daily to-do list. X is usually part of a long-term project that just needs to be done. The last couple of months it's been the overhaul of a global strategy for our team. It's a big subject, but not so big if broken down in a series of post-it notes.


Shawanda February 2, 2012 at 6:56 PM

Right. You don't need an entire uninterrupted weekend, week, or month to get stuff done. I think knowing it's okay to break a big project down into small action items keeps me from pulling my hair out.


Guest February 2, 2012 at 10:46 AM

"Don’t feel inadequate or envious because of what others in your field have accomplished."

Ha! Every time I've accomplished something big, it's because someone else did a lousy job attempting it first and then I think, "I could do that a LOT better." So I have!


Shawanda February 2, 2012 at 7:00 PM

That's another way to look at it. :) There are a lot of mediocre people in this country. I'm actually inspired by them. It's amazing how many can make a descent living. I remember when I was studying for the CPA exam and doubted whether I'd ever obtain my license, I'd think of all the people I knew who were CPAs and say to myself, "If those idiots could do it…"


Squirrelers February 2, 2012 at 5:22 PM

"When you tell people you’re quitting your job, they picture you lounging around the house all day with a head full of rollers, a cigarette dangling from the side of your mouth, wearing a dingy pair of smelly, pink pajamas."

Funny stuff :)

Actually, you're on to something there in an indirect way. Sometimes, people might just assume that people quitting are doing something that's lazy. I bring that up because it's important to make sure that any naysayers or skeptics don't get to you. Sure, all viewpoints do have value, but surrounding yourself with smart, positive people might really help out.

Nice list, by the way.


Shawanda February 2, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Thanks! The people you surround yourself with can make all the difference in the world. It's not just what they say either. Sometimes I really believe I can feel a person's positive energy. And then, there are those whose presence destroys any feeling of optimism or hope. You have to keep your distance from the latter.


JonRhodes February 14, 2012 at 8:58 AM

Thanks for this – I love rule 20 – strike a balance between learning and doing. I notice that many people seem to focus more on the learning than the doing, and usually poor quality learning. Spending ages on forums and reading blog posts with all the same info that they have already read, instead of getting some work done. I should know – been there too!


Shawanda February 23, 2012 at 6:04 PM

I've been there too. That's why I had to put rule 20 in there. I read this book by an internet marketer who said he'd spent thousands of dollars on study courses, books, etc. and 5 years learning the ins and out of internet marketing. He couldn't understand why he wasn't making any money until it occurred to him that he didn't act on any of the information he learned. There are sooo many people caught in a spiral of learning.


Invest It Wisely March 29, 2012 at 11:19 PM

Awesome awesome post, Shawana. I get caught up on not following Rule 16, so that is something I gotta start doing more of. It's all spot on.


Financial Samurai March 29, 2012 at 11:20 PM

Hi Shawanda,

What's the latest with your entrepreneurial activities? Love to check it out and support!



Hope to Prosper April 7, 2012 at 9:20 PM

I loved this post Shawanda.

When I was just starting out with my family in the early 90s, someone gave me The Secret by Earl Nightengale. I listened to this cassette tape every day in my car as I commuted to and from work until I wore it out. It's a great story and it's unfortunate that more people don't realize The Secret.



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