Omie Lauren Imparato is founder of I.AM.YOU., a lifestyle brand, digital magazine, and yoga studio in Manhattan based on yoga, nourishment, mindset and music, and author of RETOX. Her intention is Vitality, the energy that springs from living in balance. Here she shares her best advice on how to quit a full-time job to pursue your passion.
Six years ago, I woke up fairly blurry-eyed and slightly tired, probably just like you did now, showered, dressed, and hopped into a cab to work reading on my BlackBerry. But I wasn’t reading the daily news or my emails, but rather notes I had written for myself on what I was going to say when I quit.
Six years ago today I quit my job as VP on the Fixed Income trading floor of Morgan Stanley. It was the scariest day of my life I felt like vomiting throughout the entire morning meeting. My voice was shaking as I asked my bosses for time to speak, and my hands were sweaty waterworks under the table as I explained that after seven years, I was parting ways to start my own wellness lifestyle business—I.AM.YOU..
It took a few hours, as they did not seem to believe that I was actually leaving the firm and kept enticing me to stay, but ultimately I left my badge on my desk with the six computer screens and walked out of the building, a half a dozen high heels and workout outfits from under my desk in tote, and a massive smile smothering my face.
In honor of my six-year quitting anniversary, I am sharing the six most important lessons I have learned from quitting and venturing on this new path...a path that has been more rewarding, and challenging, than I ever could have imagined. Hopefully it inspired you to do chase your dreams too!
1. It is not meant to be easy
Hollywood and famed bloggers paint quitting as this unbelievably easy, joyous experience. But that is not always the case. I had a seven-year career, a recent promotion, a solid salary, benefits, and years of prior intense education and future career growth on the line. Leaving that behind for the vast unknown was gut-wrenching. And it had all the right to be. Do not feel weak or guilty if quitting is daunting—it means you are believing in yourself, everything you have created in the past, and everything you hope to engender in the future.
2. You need to have a plan
That said, you need to have a plan. Nine times out of 10, people come to me for business coaching, inspired by my story and wanting to quit their jobs, which is great—but when I ask what there plan is, they do not necessarily have one, which is dangerous.
If you quit without a plan, life is going to be very, very challenging. I knew exactly what I wanted to create—a 360-degree lifestyle brand and new lens for wellness based on yoga, nourishment, mindset, and music. Before I quit I mapped out my business plan, designed my brand, had a logo, flushed out the target market, made a prelim web design, and modeled potential revenues and profits.
Things have of course changed along the way, but having a plan has allowed me to achieve my goals much faster, and ensured that I stay the course, which as much fun and integrity as profits.
3. Every industry has its own quirks, and you need to learn them
Wall Street is its own world, a world in which if you say a trade is "done," it is done, and there is absolutely no going back on it. Suddenly I entered the wellness world, where everything was and is much more grey and much more wishy-washy, which initially drove me bonkers. Until I realized that each industry has its own way of doing business. You need to observe, learn, and adapt to their ways, or else you will go crazy, and, quite frankly, not succeed. For me that has meant learning about the yoga world in a whole new way, nutrition, events, digital media, and publishing, to name a few. Figure out the playing field, get your team together, and go play ball.
4. Do not feel guilty about downtime
This one has, and still is, so hard for me. When I quit, I started to fill my days the same way I filled my Wall Street days: 12-18 hours of work, be they teaching, writing, general business, instant email responses, or other projects. Yet, until recently, I always felt guilty when I had down time, even if it was just an hour. Now I embrace these moments as time to foster my creativity and engender new thoughts and developments for I.AM.YOU., which has helped my career and business grow to whole new levels. Downtime is OK!
5. The highs are HIGH and the lows are Garth Brooks low
No matter what you do when you decide to quit, there will be good days and bad days. But the chances are, because you will be outside the structure of where you were before, they will feel extreme.
I have cried more in my six years of entrepreneurship than my I did my entire seven years on Wall Street trading floor, where I was almost always the only female. Life outside the box is no joke! Just remember that whatever it is, good or bad, it will pass. Then put it in the context of the big picture, take a deep breath, and focus on the next thing. That way the lows will not seem as dooming and the highs will not steer you off course, and you may even be smiling all (or at least most) of the time.
6. You control your destiny
You are the only person who will determine your success or failure. You are the only person who can shape your future. It is up to you, and you alone. Which is awesome—and daunting. I take a moment every day to say thank you to life for everything it has given me, and then hit the pavement running. You can, and will, create your ideal self and career in your ideal world. Just remember to be patient, think about the big picture, and never stop hustling.