You Don’t Have to be Mad to Quit Your Job (But it Helps)

Adam is an Escape member, currently helping start-ups with Product, Data, Growth strategies, planning and execution. More stuff on his Medium blog and also shares things he discovers on Twitter.

It’s counterintuitive and against well entrenched programming to quit a decent job – well paying or otherwise – to go and do something else; maybe something new. Certainly it’s risky in the current economic environment blah, blah, blah…

I’m not suggesting anything as trite as “following your dreams” — dreams are about end results and can be folly — what I mean is following a more satisfying path for you, yes you, the person, the individual, the human being.

We don’t want a country of people who dislike, are disengaged or don’t see purpose or reward from the work they do…do we?

Two of the definitions of “mad” in the dictionary are:

1. Mentally ill; insane: (Of behaviour or an idea) extremely foolish; not sensible.

2. In a frenzied mental or physical state. Informal; very angry.

Now, tell me, what type of mad are you? They’re both as valid when it comes to making decisions about your direction and fulfilment in work.

If you’re reading this article, you most likely desire some kind of change. A form of madness is driving you to search for some answers or, at least, some more questions other than the ones you’ve been asking yourself, over and over again. Yes, you know the questions. Yep, those that keep you awake. That you think about on the tube. That creates a sinking feeling every Sunday night…


The questions I’m talking about are: why am I doing this job? Why am I working for this company? Why am I mortgaging my time and life doing something that falls short?

I asked myself the same questions restlessly, painfully to the point that it was extremely distracting and consuming. Despite doubt and fear, I resigned from my job and went on an adventure, to discover new questions.

What I’ve realised since, is that most of the fear was illegitimate, driven primarily and irrationally by a commonly used excuse not to take the risk: money.

If you’ve got some savings and you’re reading this, and you have an itch that you can’t seem to scratch, or it feels like everything’s fuelled by Guatemalan Insanity Peppers, don’t let the programming hold you back. Break it by writing some new code.

I’ve been round this loop 4 times over 10 years. If you don’t act, do something, small, big, whatever. Otherwise it’s the law of diminishing returns.

Let me tell you about the future — by introducing you to The “Official” Slog-O-Metre:


It’s okay to be a little bit mad as a hatter by one standard, if you have a plan and are creating your own standard. The maddest ideas can be the best, purest, most rewarding ones. Like with all investments, low risk will, 99.998% of the time, equal low reward (by whatever measures are important to you).


So I ask you: who is the truly mad person, the one that relentlessly repeats a process that doesn’t engage them, or the person who lays it on the line to do something that will give them greater satisfaction, well being and sense of achievement?

Hmmm, was that rhetorical enough?

Here’s a few quick tips:

  • Do the math — figure out how much runway you have, and if you can take the action you want in the time you have, before the crunch.
  • Talk to people about your plans — to judge how mad it is. You need a varied mix of people to get a true picture. They won’t necessarily be right, either, but it’s good to talk about it to someone more detached than you.
  • Test your idea — hack a landing page if that’s appropriate. Find people from the space to talk to. Do a bit of promoting to see if you can get early interest or feedback. Get involved!
  • The night before you do the deed – have a word with yourself to calm your nerves and quadruple check that it’s the right thing for you to do and the right time. This said, try not to let fear of the unknown stop you.

After all, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Best of luck,



What is Escape the City all about then?

Frustrated by climbing the corporate ladder, we decided to build a community to help people build meaningful careers doing work that matters – to them and to the world. We help talented people find fulfilling work by making big career changes, building businesses, & going on big adventures. We’d love you to come with us on this journey.

How do you get involved?

1. Job Seeker? Create an Escape Profile to get matched to exciting jobs.

2. Aspiring Career Changer / Entrepreneur? If you’re in London, come and see us at The Escape School.

3. Want to stay in touch? Subscribe to one of our newsletters. Find us on Facebook or @escthecity.

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