6 Reasons Why I Quit My 9-5 Job & Never Looked Back

6 reasons why I quit my 9-5 job and never looked back

That 9-5 job I’m talking about? I had it for a single week. Not even a full seven days—I started on Monday and quit on Friday. You might say I never even got the full 9–5 experience, and you’d probably be right. But I knew immediately that this job (and the whole 9–5 lifestyle) was not for me. Here are 6 reasons why:

1. There was no passion

My position was a web developer (coder). And as someone who loves to code, it was crazy how unexcited I was about the work. It was just a list of soulless tasks:

  • Code this
  • Do that
  • Swap out that link

I didn’t even have time to get excited about the clients I was working for, because to me they had no faces. I never knew the clients. I never spoke to them. I never even got a chance to get excited about the work. I was just told what to do and when to do it.

When working for myself, I have a chance to choose my own clients and get excited about THEIR businesses.

I can work with clients because I love what they do. I get a chance to understand them and their businesses, and that makes me passionate about the project. I can clearly see how coding their website will impact and change their whole business in a positive way.

2. I couldn’t move forward at my own speed

My job title was “junior web developer”. It was my job to take a PSD and turn it into a website. At least, that’s what I thought I signed up for.

Before accepting this job, I had already done a lot of freelance coding work for clients and created entire websites for them. That’s probably one of the reasons I got hired in the first place. But when I showed up and started my training, it became clear that they intended to put me on “maintenance work” for “at least six months”. That meant I would NOT be building websites. My tasks would include:

  • Swapping out text
  • Updating links
  • Changing images

In other words: boring tasks that were waaaay below my skill level.

As a freelancer, I get the WHOLE project and can decline small work if it’s not something I want to do.

Yes if I’m building an entire website, there might come a time when a client asks me to swap out one image for another. But that’s not the whole job. If I’m coding an entire site, that’s only one tiny part of what I might do. Every single working hour isn’t spent doing small tasks.

Furthermore, I can pick and choose my own projects. That means, if I’m not in the mood to do small, one-hour projects, I can turn them down. If I’m only interested in building entire websites, then I can reject all other requests.

3. I didn’t have room to grow or experiment

When I started this job, responsive design was already an industry standard. Every single website I’d coded that year (on my own time as a freelancer) was responsive.

But when I started my 9–5 job, they weren’t coding responsive yet. There were a few old topics on their internal forum where they’d discussed maybe starting responsive designs soon.

The point is, they were lagging behind in the industry. Everything about their workflow and methods felt dated, which is nuts in any kind of tech industry. I didn’t have the freedom to start coding responsive on my own. I had to wait to be told that I was allowed to do that (if I ever got around to being allowed to code a whole website at all *cough cough*).

As my own boss, I can always experiment with new types of code and websites.

I have the freedom to keep up with the industry. I’m not held back by a slow moving, bureaucratic company. On my own, I can:

6 reasons why I quit my 9-5 job: 1)  no passion; 2) no moving forward; 3) no room to grow; 4) I had to use someone else's workflow; 5) I had to work from 9-5; 6) I couldn't see the benefits of my hard work

4. I had to use someone else’s chosen style and workflow

  • I had to use Dreamweaver to code.
  • I had to follow their coding guidelines (ordering CSS rules in a specific way, outlining my document in a specific way, etc.).
  • I had to use their chosen file structure.
  • I had to use their weird in-house CMS.

And it makes sense that they want everything consistent, so I don’t blame them for that. But I have problems with being told what to do or how to do things. I have certain coding styles that work well for me, and it’s actually quite annoying to suddenly change those up to follow someone else’s pattern.

I value having the freedom to code in my own style and in what I consider to be the best way.

I love keeping my code neat and organized, but I like doing it in a way that makes most sense to me. I love that when I’m my own boss I can do things the way I want, and change/adapt them as I learn new methods and styles.

5. I had to work from 9–5 (duh)

This one is pretty obvious, but I had to work from 9–5. Actually I think it was more like 8:30–5:00.

I’m not a morning person. I never have been. I’m lazy and tired and unproductive in the mornings, because all I can do is think about how tired and groggy I am. It doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep I get. Even if I get 9 solid hours (my usual), I’m still tired and groggy if I have to wake up early. It’s weird.

It’s also tough for me to just sit down and work whenever someone tells me I have to work.

I love being able to keep a flexible, dynamic schedule.

Freelancing has allowed me to have the lifestyle that works best for me.

  • I can wake up around 10 or 10:30.
  • I can spend 30 minutes at Starbucks with a latte and a book.
  • I can come home and work.
  • I can have lunch at home or out.
  • I can come back home and work some more.
  • I can hit the gym at around 3:30 or 4pm.
  • I can come back home and work some more.
  • I can cook dinner when my hubby gets home.
  • I can work more after dinner or spend the evening binging on Netflix.

I have an awesome schedule and what I love most about it is that not every day has to be the same.

  • I can work a solid 8 hours if that’s what I feel like.
  • Or I can work in 2-3 hour chunks, with breaks in between (Starbucks, gym, walk, reading, etc.).
  • I can take an entire day off without notice if I just desperately need a personal day.
  • I can jet off to Scotland, Portugal, New York, Hawaii (August!), or Paris (September!) any day of the week.
  • I can work from home, from Starbucks, or from an entirely different country. It doesn’t matter.

6. I couldn’t see the benefits of my hard work

In a 9–5 job, it didn’t feel like it mattered if I worked really hard or slacked off a bit (as long as I got the job done eventually). Sure, maybe there would be bonus benefits (though I don’t think there were in my particular position), but it just didn’t feel like my efforts meant anything. At least not that I could see.

Maybe I’d get a pat on the back or a “well done”, but that’s about it.

When you’re the boss, your success depends solely on your effort.

It’s very much a case of “you get what you put in”. If you slack off for a bit, that’s okay, but sales/income will drop. If you put in 80 hours a week, you’ll see the benefit from that in an increased pay cheque.

I work much better in a system where my income is directly tied to my efforts. I like being able to put in a ton of work and actually see a real, substantial difference. It’s a much bigger motivator than just a pat on the back!

Do you (or have you ever) work in a 9–5 job?

If so, what are some of the downsides that you’ve experienced?

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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. Dreamweaver?? Who still uses that?

    It sounds like the agency you were working for (I assume it’s an agency?) wasn’t a very good one. Not coding responsively and letting junior developers do the grunt work without any room to grow are pretty big red flags for a creative agency.

    I think your experience is interesting and definitely valid! Though personally, I like the agency I’m working for. But my boss is awesome and he’s let me thrive as a developer, and I’ve learned a lot under his wing. Some projects do suck, but I save my passion for side projects in my spare time (can’t get enough of coding!). I do sometimes wish I can get away with hour-long breaks. πŸ˜‰

    Raisa recently posted: What I Wore: Green
    1. Right! Dreamweaver is soooo over!

      And yes it was an agency. I’m sure there are some great ones out there, but ultimately I know that freelancing is for me. πŸ™‚ If I ever did decide to work for a company, I’d probably look towards Automattic or something that’s super close to home (not literally).

      It’s great that you have such an awesome and flexible boss!

  2. I had a brief stint (and by brief, I mean 4 hours) as a kindergarten teacher. I didn’t know what I was doing back then. I stared at the kids and wondered to myself, “What are the heck are you doing here, Priscilla?” It’s nothing against these cuties, it’s just not for me. Now I’m working as a freelance writer. I don’t know if I’m going to do this 10 years down the road. All I know is, I’m learning a lot. And that’s good enough for me! Happy for you, Ashley! πŸ™‚

    Priscilla and her Books recently posted: Micah and Grandma at the Singapore Botanic Gardens: Review
    1. It sounds like you’re doing well for yourself now Priscilla. πŸ™‚

      I think your doubt (“will I be doing this 10 years from now?”) is part of the freelancing life. It’s constantly changing and we have to constantly adapt.

      Maybe WordPress won’t exist 10 years from now. Or maybe I’ll find a new passion.

      The most important thing is to stay on top of changes and listen to yourself. πŸ™‚

  3. I work in Corporate America, in a company of 50,000+ employees around the world. I am 9-5. And one day I would like that to change. But, paycheck. :/ Good for you for having your own business and following your passion. I do have my own clients and I do enjoy *most* of my work, but one day I will blow this popsicle stand. πŸ˜›

    Anne @ Lovely Literature recently posted: Can you balance your nerd addictions?
  4. I’ve been a freelance editor for about a year now and I just love freelance work for basically all the reasons you do. I definitely think it’s better than following someone else’s rules and schedule. I have dreams of maybe finding work at a publishing house several years from now but if that doesn’t pan out, I’m happy staying freelance. (:

    Alicia recently posted: The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen
    1. Tutorial Services—what is that exactly? Is that kind of like tutoring/mentoring?

        1. Sounds cool! I’m really enjoying teaching these days.

          Good luck getting a full time spot. πŸ™‚

  5. I work for an awesome WordPress dev company. We’re 100% distributed and we enjoy many of the same benefits that freelancers do (flex schedule, freedom to work from anywhere, challenging work and lots and lots of input on policy, direction, and projects) BUT I still have a regular paycheck. Those jobs do exist!

    I was a freelancer for a long time before that and I really enjoyed that kind of work also, just saying it doesn’t always have to be an either/or. πŸ™‚

    1. That’s great Melissa. πŸ™‚ I always thought that if I didn’t want to freelance any more for some reason, I’d look into a company like Automattic.

      At this point in my freelancing career, I don’t really feel like my pay cheque is super up in the air. It’s very stable. So right now I don’t really feel like I’m drawn to the idea of a “regular pay cheque” from a 9-5 job, you know?

  6. I’ve worked so many jobs like 9-5 (usually 7-3), and a lot of shift-work with random days and weekends as well. Problem is the thing I went to college for, I can’t seem to find a job that will take me so I’m not really good at anything else and I can’t afford to go back to school. And there’s not a ton of jobs out there right now.
    I started a small business as a consultant selling tea on the side, and I’m hoping it takes off since I can make my own hours and I love the product, but it’s going to be hard at first.
    Anyway, I can totally understand wanting to do the work you do, and not the one you had in the office. There’s so much more freedom!

    1. Does your degree really matter a whole lot? I mean, I don’t know a ton about the hiring process since I’ve been freelancing practically my whole career, but everyone always says that what they majored in doesn’t matter at all and their job has nothing to do with it whatsoever. It’s just interesting that you seem to have found the opposite to be true?

      I hope your business takes off! That would be so wonderful!

      1. I don’t know if the degree matters, I have one in the printing industry, but it’s hard to find anything. Not many job postings go up, but they always choose someone else even though I have the experience. I’ve been applying to tons of other stuff but nothing yet. It really sucks.

        Thanks! I’m really hoping it goes well and that I can continue it for a long time.

        Kelsey recently posted: The Sunday Post #12
  7. Love these types of posts because they are perfect for someone like me who is contemplating going back to the daily grind or holding out for something better. I was a teacher for about 5 years. I loved working with the kids, but hated everything else. The politics, having to be undermined by a power hungry boss, shoving food in my mouth because I had like 20 minutes to pee, getting bladder infections because I couldn’t pee when I needed to. I could go on and on. I would LOVE to find something that will allow me to work from home…so I can pee when I want.

    1. Wow that sounds horrible! You can’t pee when you need to, seriously? You can’t excuse yourself from class for a minute to do that? That’s nuts. O_O

  8. I do have a full time job. It’s more 7.30 – 5 though. Can’t say I love it, I guess after working for more than 10 years you will face burnout sooner or later. I work for the government, my work is monotonous but heck, it pays really good so I need to suck it up.

    I have an Etsy shop I started for hobby, it gives me the satisfaction of working with my own pace. But I have two kids and can’t depend on it entirely.

    From what I see, you are doing very well on your own, why did you decide to try 9-5 job? πŸ™‚

    Wish you success!

  9. I’ve worked 9-5 for the past 3 years, and while some days I wish I were elsewhere, by and large, it works for me. I like the steady paycheck, and I know I work best on deadlines and require some amount of structure. At the same time, the work I do doesn’t have much of a creative element, and in some ways I miss my old college summer job editing pageant videos into final DVD’s–completely flexible schedule, but still deadlines, visual, and had some creative elements. Of course, now I’m going to law school, which doesn’t make a ton of sense in light of that, but we’ll see how it goes. Higher paycheck hopefully. πŸ˜‰

    Kel @ Booked til Tuesday recently posted: Top 10 Hyped Books I've Never Read
  10. “I had to use Dreamweaver to code.”

    Nightmares. That single reason should be enough for any sane person to quit. Fortunately enough, not *all* companies are like that obnoxious one. Startups or tech companies seem better and more up to date from what I’ve heard.

    By the way, I have one question for you : do you think there is any market for freelance IT consultants ? I have a love-hate relationship with IT, I love learning more about it every day but at the same time I hate getting my hands dirty and coding something (I enjoyed it at the beginning, but now it makes me sick), so do you think there is any chance for me to give (paid) advice about security, system administration or networking and live off that ? I’ve been thinking about just taking a course for something unrelated and get a conventional day job (shitty pay as even with a course you can’t get anything good without great formal education in my country), but I’d like to give one last shot to IT and hopefully use my existing skills.

    Thanks for your advice.

  11. First of all I love your Blog- lock, stock, and barrel! This post especially appealed to me because I haven’t had a 9-5 job since my summer jobs in college, somewhere in the 1972-1976 time frame. I was a graduate student from 1976 to 1982, a post doc from 1982 to 1986, and a scientist or professor from 1986 on. I never gave the pros and cons of working like I do a minute of thought. But of course, I usually work much longer days than 9-5 and sometimes I work 7 days a week for months on end. But then some days I only only work a couple of hours. But calling it work is also a problem because when you are a scientist and work on projects that are your own, they don’t seem like work. Luckily I have a wonderful family and I was always able to go to school plays and special days at school etc. I also was able to take them to scientific meetings when they were in interesting places like Montreal or the Rocky Mtns. I would have to say that a majority of the weeks I have worked are very long- so working in this way is not easier as far as total time is concerned. In my experience, anyone who is successful has had to work extremely hard.

    What I loved about this particular blog is that you wrote about all the reasons one should strive to have their own business or project or endeavor. I have felt these, but I never wrote them down or seen them crystallized like this.

    I feel for people who work 9-5 jobs (Every day I realize how lucky I am). I try to be extremely kind to people in retail or to staff. It really makes a difference during their days. You can see it in their faces.

    And what I really wanted to let you know is that I have two very creative children (out of three) and I wanted them to read your blog and I sent them this one. As you know not everyone can be successful working on their own. But the rewards are immense and it is great to see them described.

  12. I seem to be searching for these kinds of posts more and more these days. I am currently working 8 – 5 and I know that I don’t want to do this kind of work for ever. I hate the hours. I can’t wait until 5 o’clock comes around so that I can go home. I wish I had the freedom to enjoy my time and do what I want to do – something that matters to me. The problem is that I have absolutely no clue how to change this…

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Nihaad!

      I’m in a pretty unique situation because I started freelancing during university, so I already had clients lined up as soon as I left.

      But from what I gather, most people who are in your situation start their freelancing career as a side gig while they work the 9-5 (or 8-5, in your case) job. That way they can start building up clients and a portfolio before they quit their day job completely.

      For a while I imagine it will be hard and stressful because you’ll be managing two jobs and you’ll have very little free time. But it will help you eventually quit your day job and start freelancing full time!

      The first step is going to be finding out what kind of freelancing you actually want to do. This means experimenting and playing in your free time. Start designing/writing/coding for fun (whatever you think you might want to do for freelancing). Then leverage your blog to start finding your first clients.

      I hope everything works out for you. πŸ™‚

      1. Thank you for replying Ashley!! I have been doing tons of research on freelancing because it looks like something I want to branch out into. I am trying to find what it is I enjoy and what my strengths are that could help me in this regard. It is so daunting though because the internet is FILLED with freelancers all trying to make their way…

        Thank you for responding with helpful advice. And thank you for being an inspiration to those of us sitting at our desks, wishing to dip our toes into the pool of possibilities.

        πŸ™‚ Xo

  13. i love this.
    I’m 24, nearly 25. Since leaving university it was put on to Me I must get a full time job.. So 9-5 40 hours a week.. I landed a job with a design agency as a graphic designer 8.30 – 6.00 and it made me beyond misrable.. Deadlines, stress and the phone ringing constantly. I lasted 4 weeks, I quit.. I then landed an office job 9.30-4.30 but still the every day office routine, I left that job after a month as well. I’ve realised as a young creative person full time is not for me at all, I felt unhappy and trapped. I hate the fact society expects everyone to do a 9-5 but it’s not for everyone. I’ve currently found a new office role, part time working 30 hours a week so 4 days a week with Wednesday’s off and working 9-4.30 on those working days.. Just to have another day off in the week makes me feel more human and I have time to do other things such as my freelance work, which hopefully eventually will be my only job and income. Great thing about my new job is it isn’t customer facing, no phones ringing and no emails which I think for me eliminates a lot of the stress factor.
    I think what I’ve learnt is you do what’s best for you and not everyone else. I’ve had comments from friends and family about how oh you only work 30 hours and how I get a day off in the week – possibly jealously more than anything haha.. But so? If it makes me happier and my mental health better then it’s worth it.. Plus I’m actually paid more money than when I was working 8.30-6,00 everyday for the agency.

    1. It’s so fantastic that you’ve realized this and taken action, Kate. Awesome job!

      But you’re right—it’s horrible that society expects 9-5. My husband and I are starting to think about buying a house but it looks SO HOPELESS. Almost all banks and mortgage providers won’t accept self employed income. They see it as unstable and unreliable. So let’s say my husband and I approach them with a yearly annual income of Β£100k that’s 50% from his 9-5 and 50% from my self-employed. They will only consider HIS HALF. They’ll ignore me completely since I’m self-employed.

      This is going to make it so hard for us to get a decent mortgage and it’s really discouraging. It’s stupid too. Just because you have a 9-5 job doesn’t mean you have job security. Anyone could get laid off or lose their job.

      1. I love talking about this subject as some people get offensive when you suggest you don’t want to work full time or how you must be lazy not to.
        Most of my friends work 40 -50 hours a week and spent their time complaining how tired they are and how they hate the job.. I think if you hate something you should make effort to change it or you have no right to complain. Working 40/50 hours at a desk or in retail can’t be healthy for anyone. I know we all have to work in some form, we need money to pay bills and buy nice things however my mind set is ok that’s fine but do I have to work 40 hours a week.. No. Do I have to work 5 days in a row.. No. There’s no rules and its your life and you have to be happy doing what you want to do.

        Yeah, I think I’ve done the right thing.. I mean in future I will be only applying for jobs that are 25-30 hours. This job I’m in at the moment is temporary but again I’m fine with that as I don’t want the whole “I’m stuck in this forever” mind frame at such a young age.

        To know on a Tuesday I can say “day off tomorrow” makes me feel so happy. The 5 days in a row I don’t think is healthy either.. By Tuesday I hoped the next 3 days would fly by and now I won’t have that feeling anymore as I’ll be working 2 days maximum untill a day off which is bloody great!
        I think that work – life balance is so important and if that’s just an afternoon or a day or a couple of days more to do what you want it makes a huge difference to your mood. That’s the beauty with freelance work too its when you want to work and you have controll.
        I’m still in a office but it’s less time in that office and I won’t be dealing with any public which I’ve found in retail and office work the majority of the stress is down to customers. I’ll be getting on with work at my own pace with no angry people calling.. Which is the same kind of set up as freelance really.. Working at your own level and your own speed which surely means less stress.

        Oh man that sucks, I guess that’s a downside of freelancing of working for yourself.. But then it also has it many plus points like your mental health and physical health I imagine is so much better since leaving that horrible 9-5 5 days a week on repeat? You are so right.. Any one lose their job at any point!

  14. Totally been there! When I first graduated from college and had trouble finding a steady 9-5, I got by on part time nannying and tutoring jobs. When I finally found a “real job,” it was AWFUL. Example: The owner wanted his mail on his desk by a certain time but would yell at you if you came in while he was there. So we had a secret system set up where the person with the desk nearest his door would buzz me if he took a bathroom break, and I’d run to the office with his mail. The days were filled with other equally realistic and not-at-all-time-wasting demands. After I crashed and burned at that job, I looked into full time nannying and LOVED IT. Nothing beats the freedom to choose your clients and working conditions. I’m pretty sure it’s addicting, because even though I know most 9-5s aren’t as bad as the one I had, I don’t think I could ever give up the freedom I have now. Self-employed for life! πŸ™‚

  15. Spot on article!

    I set up my business 2.5 years ago stepping out from 9-5 jive. One of the amazing thing is that you learn a lot! And what you learn you can apply immediately. Oftentimes seeing benefits from that and happy clients.

  16. Hi!
    I can totally relate to this! I’m getting to the point where I just don’t think 9-5s are for me…I just don’t work well in demanding and pressured environments where things need to get done there and then. On that front, I crashed and burned too. I also worked at a digital agency which at points was understaffed and I found myself not being able to keep up with tasks. It didn’t end well. I know I am great at doing lots of things and am a quite creative person, but I feel like a lot of the time, work places can suck it all out of you and make you feel like you’re not adding value to them which is sad.
    I would love to be a freelance writer, I’m not really sure how to go about it though. Thanks for this article.

  17. Hi Ashley,
    I am completely vibing with your post. I am so grossed out by my 9-6 job, I have anxiety all day every day. I have anxiety attacks before I go to sleep because I was extremely sad all day. I have anxiety attack after I wake up because I am going to be sad all day. I have resigned from my position of 2.7 years now. I am 25 and utterly depressed. I dont know how to start my own thing. I dont know what I am going to do. I just know I dont want be anxious and extremely depressed. Any suggestions???

  18. Great article! I’d sooner shoot myself than work a 9-5. I truly mean that. Death sounds MUCH better. I have a small business I’m trying to make work and if this doesn’t work I’m going to be a surf/yoga instructor.

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