On July 5, 2010, I walked into my manager’s office and quit. He never saw it coming.
I’d just come back from a 3 week backpacking trip hiking coast-to-coast across Scotland.
Going for a long walk helped me realize how unhappy I was at work and how good it was to get away from it. Working for other people had lost its allure and I felt the time was right to break out on my own and blaze my own trail.
When I got back to the states, I talked to my wife about quitting my job and we decided I’d drop my bombshell the day after the 4th of July. She was understandably nervous about our future, but has always supported me, and knew how miserable I was at work.
My employers did everything they could to get me to rescind my resignation but I was determined to go.
I still remember one discussion I had with the head of HR, who asked me “What will happen to Philip Werner?,” as if my identity depended on my job at Endeca.
My life had changed course well before that conversation. I was already hiking and writing five days a week for SectionHiker.com and building an online audience. Having spent the previous 20 years in the software and Internet technology space, I knew how to make money online and set about building my own adventure writing and content marketing business to make a living.
The End of Employment (as we knew it)
The nature of work and employment has changed over the past ten years and any kind of loyalty or relationship between companies and their employees seems to have vanished. The only thing that seems to matter anymore is making the quarterly sales quota. Managers don’t take the time to nurture less experienced employees. Companies lay off people for seemingly arbitrary reasons, and the only way to get promoted or get a raise is to jump jobs to another company.
Employment, careers, retirement, pensions – it’s all flown out the window and disappeared. If you want to survive in this world and make a living, you need to take matters into your own hands. If you have a full-time job, you should hedge your bets and develop a little business on the side that you can depend on if your employer decides to let you go. Get out of debt. Eliminate your excess expenses and get frugal. These are the keys to financial independence in today’s world.
Get Happy, Not Rich
The past four years after I quit my job have been the happiest of my life. While I’ve been busy, I love what I do, I get to spend more time with my wife and soulmate, and I’m much less stressed out than I ever was when I was working for an employer.
Life is good. I usually work four days a week. I can go hiking for a few hours every day and on most weekends. I have a great relationship with my clients, who treat me like family, and I feel real good about the value that I provide them. Plus I get to interact daily with the hikers who read SectionHiker.com.
I’m as hard-charging as I ever was in the high-tech world, but I value the quality of my time more than making a lot of money. Unlike many ultralight thru-hikers who want to live on the trail all the time and eschew personal posessions, my wife and I are not minimalists. We have financial needs (and we have health insurance), but we value our self-sufficiency, independence, and happiness more than making a lot of money.
What happened to Philip Werner? He’s a happy hiker.