5 Things I learned as I Quit Corporate Life

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After more than 10 years of being a corporate worker, I finally decided to quit corporate life for good (hopefully). And I resigned from my job as a Manager in HSBC.

HSBC is not my first job. It is my 5th job.

And it wouldn’t have been my last if I had continued as a White Collar employee.

I started my career as a Software Engineer in Accenture. Then I became an IT Business Analyst, before changing industries and moving to Private Equity as an Analytics consultant and then to Banking as a Financial Analyst.

And I have had a pretty good career by conventional terms – regular increments, promotions, foreign trips and a comfortable life. All this despite working in 3 different industries, and all big organizations in their niche. Not bad, even if I say so myself.

Yet I was thoroughly dissatisfied.

In almost each and every organization.

And so I kept on changing jobs. But to no avail.

Corporate peace was a myth.

To quit corporate life was the most obvious answer. But do what instead? I couldn’t go on changing jobs indefinitely.

To quit corporate life for good is an easy decision on the surface. Entrepreneurship, crowd-sourcing and freelancing – they all sound sexy. But it is hard to implement in reality.

In this post, I’ll be sharing some of the lessons I have learned during this journey.

1. The Biggest Bottleneck is You.

All these years I had been blaming everything else. The job sucks, my manager sucks, IT sucks, Banking sucks etc.

But all along it was I who sucked. Because it was me who did not realize that I was not cut out for corporate world and its inherent bureaucracy. Some people thrive on bureaucracy, some people shrivel up and wither.

If you want to quit corporate life, you must realize that the biggest bottleneck is staring right at you in the mirror.

2. Your job does not suck. You do.

Hundreds of people are doing the same job without complaining. Some may be dissatisfied, but most people are quite content.

You need to understand who you are. What do you want in life? And then you need to answer the crucial question, Will a job help you achieve your goals?

As a typical Bengali middle-class Engineer/ MBA, I never thought beyond jobs. Career meant a nice cushy corporate job. Whether your job was boring or mundane or mechanical was foolishness and besides the point.

Anything else apart from job was unthinkable, especially ridiculous notions like how to quit corporate life.

3. Step out of your comfort zone.

A 9 to 5 job, regular paychecks, yearly increments, and promotions every 4-5 years. Plus your chair also swivels.

Quit Corporate Life - Chair Swivels

Source: Teengazette

What more could somebody ask for?

Yet that was exactly what I dreaded.

Comfort Zone deadens the brain cells and numbs the intellect.

Stepping out of the Comfort Zone is the only option. And that is a very difficult thing to do, as long as you are not sure as to what you want. The thought of leaving this comfort zone fills one with dread.

It is similar to the snake example of Sri Shankara when explaining Advaita Vedanta. A coil of rope looks like a snake and fills one with terror.

But when knowledge dawns, immediately all delusion (maya) is gone. In the same way, when we know who we are and what we want, the notion of Comfort Zone drops away.

4. Family support is very important if you want to quit corporate life.

Unless you come from a business family or community, do not expect any family support. Your friends, family and relatives, will have no idea why you are doing what you are doing and will try to convince you of your folly.

Elders will ask you to think about your wife, husband, kids etc. People will assume the worst situation and paint a grim depressing future where you are penniless and going door to door begging for money.

Especially if like me you belong to a (joint-ish) family where almost everyone is a government employee. Changing jobs is something unimaginable for them. Leaving a job, a sacrilege. To quit corporate life, unthinkable.

You need the support of at least one family member or relative if you decide to quit corporate life.

Remember: A majority of entrepreneurship ventures started by non-business first timers fail even before they start because of lack of family support.

Read this great article from Tinybuddha on things to remember when people don’t support you.

5. Have a support group of like-minded people.

A close group of like minded friends or colleagues is essential if you decide to start your own venture. You don’t have to partner with them, but just knowing that you have close friends or colleagues who are thinking along the same lines as you is comforting.

In my case, I am lucky to have a close circle of similar minded people at work, and we appreciate what each other is doing. While what we may end up doing could be completely different, and while our working styles may be varied, our core philosophy is the same.

Final Thoughts

That is it then. I have no idea what the future holds as I quit corporate life and move on to other pursuits. I have some vague idea on what I want to do. Have to see how things work out.

Ultimately, man proposes and God disposes.

Do share your comments and let me know your thoughts. Thanks in advance for your comments and likes.

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14 Comments

  • Tharun

    Hi man.. I completely echo with you.. and most of the talent is wasted because of family commitments and lack of courage. Mostly, in today’s corporate world, good for nothing idiots are so called leaders and SMEs.. and the tradition will continue because we have more ass and boot lickers than genuine knowledgeable people.. its all show off in corporates.. if you know some one.. you will climb up the ladder.. else no where.. I have an aggressive thoughts of handling this.. just fire the assholes and recruit worthy people.. care a shit about tenure and experience in the same role.. nobody stays back unless they are worthy enough for good opportunity else where.. To brief and conclude.. the most bizarre.. zero knowledge.. good for nothing.. boot licking.. attitude.. show off.. opportunist… selfish.. xxxxxxxxxxxxx and ill mannered people I have ever encountered belong to – are those in my corporate job experience.. I am unable to quit, even though I want yo because of money that my family needs and lack of opportunity with in my constraints..
    Good luck maiete….

    • Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay

      Agree with you buddy completely!

      I am sure your aggressive action will one day seem normal. Today many Indian outsourcing companies are still managing to hide behind the benefits of cost arbitrage of USD-INR and doing mediocre work, knowing that there is no one to challenge them.

      But the time will soon come (as it has for Software Outsourcing), where USD-INR cost arbitrage will no longer be enough, and clients and shareholders will demand “value” and that’s when worthless folks will get eliminated automatically. Mostly merit will survive.

      Till then “good for nothing” employees will continue to be a pain. And that’s a hard reality.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and for sharing your thoughts. Do keep coming back. 🙂

      • Itinder Singh

        This is really good stuff. So happy for you to have taken a stand and maintaining it. I am mostly confident that there are a lot of people out there who desperately want to quit corporate life, but cannot do so because of their limitations.
        You inspire confidence to a lot of people out there who want to make it on their own, but cannot.
        Good luck buddy.

  • Suman Hazra

    Man ki batteee… All Positive… For me the fear factor which is stopping me to take any dare decision is communication and surrounding of our shop ; as I had discussed with you. My only support is my father but as I cannot speak like him. As I am myself.. not good at communication… How will I manage our business as you know good and smart communication are pillar of business. End of the day wanna see my self as a Self Employed. Got inspired from your decision. Hope to get moral support from you… Wishes for the best! C u in Kolkata Subhodeep Da.

  • Hi Subhodeep, I went through all this & much more when I quit my job as a programmer in corporation and joined as a sub-editor in a daily. Thanks to my mother and sisters I excelled in journalism. I am sure your blog-post will inspire a lot of readers

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