How To Actually Bail On The 9-5 Grind For A More Chilled / Fulfilled Life

The daily grind can be total balls – we don’t have to tell you that twice – but it comes hand in hand with security and routine, and this is something people aren’t always too eager to deviate from. That’s why we spoke to three people to see how and why they fucked off the Monday to Friday, 9-to-5 lifestyle – to see if it really is as damn good as everyone makes it out to be.

Short answer? It is. But it comes with its risks. The only question is, are you willing to take some?

Acknowledge how happy, or unhappy, you really are

Jack Shepherd, 26, bailed on his full-time video gig after realising that routine days and hours, all while essentially making someone else the big bucks, wasn’t making him happy. That was the first step in him getting TFO.

I can completely understand people who chose to live in the 9-5 grind – routine can really help some people as it has for me in the past. It’s more about the people who are in the 9-5 grind who don’t really want to be,” he explained.

Jack on a freelance shoot

Harry Bryant, a 21-year-old Rusty surfer who literally living his best life (which you can witness here), echoes the sentiment.

My old man works really hard and he always sits me down and tells me how good I’ve got it, and to not take it for granted. At the end of the day, I feel like there are enough jobs out there so that everyone can enjoy the job they work in – if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing from 9-5, five days a week, then you’re gunna be a pretty unhappy bastard.

Find out what you’d prefer to be doing

Now that you’ve admitted to yourself that you’re not living your best life, you’ve gotta try and figure out the next step. Never easy.

Jack recommends travelling or trying something new. He encouraged:

Think about what you love doing, if you don’t know exactly what that is – go travelling! If you don’t like travelling, try things you’ve never done before. Small changes can be enough to spark creativity and allow you to look at life in different ways.

Harry concurs:

Whenever I feel stressed or need a break, I just drop everything and go roll out my swag in the bush, have a fire and just enjoy the peace and serenity. I feel like it’s a very therapeutic thing, going camping. Try and ditch your phone for a few days and just let your brain think for itself.

Harry going’ off the grid / Photo: @harrybryant

Do the research

So you’ve figured out what you want, but now you need a plan.

“I understand everyone has to make an honest living, but I encourage you to look outside the standard employment structure and learn about modern small businesses especially with technology advancing,” Jack explained.

He makes a point. There’s huge opportunity to connect with your employers online and work that way. It all depends on what opportunities your speciality has. Connect with others in your industry and find out how and if they’ve been able to operate outside the typical 9 to 5.

Elise Cameron-Smith, a 27-year-old woodworker who splits her week 50/50 between a Cronulla share house and a van in the South Coast‘s Gerringong to follow her creative passion (it’s kinda awesome, see it here) said:

Educate yourself in things you are passionate about without worrying about career outcomes and surround yourself with positive people.

Elise in her studio / Photo: @elisecameronsmith

Create a safety net

If regular income is no longer going to be on your side, then please, for the love of your financial stability, be smart about it.

Do you have to make changes in your spending habits? Jack has, drastically so, because there’s no guaranteed, routine pay checks. It’s the price you pay, literally. It can’t all be sunshine and corgis.

I am a lot more conscious of my spending now, I try to keep as much in savings as possible because I guess sometimes the industry can have quiet periods,” Jack said.

Another option is to have concrete hours, but part-time, so at least you know you’re able to stay afloat, like Elise who has stability with her balloon delivery gig in Cronulla.

She explained: “It been a nice balance to have some regular work and also have time to practise creatively. It’s taken a huge amount of financial stress out of life.

You need to really trust your own discipline

If working for yourself is what you’re chasing, do you trust yourself? To continuously hunt for work? To actually set aside time to work everyday? To market your product? To stay on top of your finances? There’s no big guy doing all’a that for you now.

Jack, for example, has to stay on top of invoicing + bookkeeping (you know, all that stuff your accounts person does and you take for granted). He’ll have several different payments coming from several different people / companies, for example, and I don’t know about you, but I find it hard enough to keep on top of all my refunds from The Iconic.

Elise has perfected the art of sacrifice in being able to do what she does, saying at times she’ll have to get another part-time job for a bit to make ends meet, save money, or fix her van.

Be down to take the risk

Is ditching a full-time job a massive stab in the dark for anyone who gives it a crack? Absolutely. But you gotta risk it for the fulfilled-life biscuit. That’s where things get interesting.

“I was both excited and frightened that I was suddenly out in the big world as a small fish, trying to survive. However I finally felt free, I didn’t want to know exactly what I’d be doing or where in the world I would be 6 months into the future. I still feel this way,” Jack said.

Photo: Supplied

Elise’s biggest risk was jumping headfirst into a creative area without any solid experience.

I took a big risk in deciding to go and study woodwork with out any experience on a bit of a whim. It was very expensive and I had to work really, really, really hard to pay for it. At that stage I wasn’t really thinking about my future earning capacity as a woodworker, I just really wanted to learn. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

 Make sure there’s something else that gets you goin’

For many people, work is their life (hi, hello). For everyone involved in this article, that’s absolutely not the case – they’ve found balance between work, passion and adventure. In fact, for a lot, that’s why essentially why they jump the full-time ship in the first place.

For Jack? He packs a bunch of things into the back of his van last minute and leaves his Newtown base. Because he can. He’s on his own clock, able to turn down and accept jobs when he wants.

Photo: Supplied

“In the summer my girlfriend and I throw some things in the back and head out of the city up or down the coast for a night or two. Sometimes we meet up with some friends, sometimes we meet new friends, and sometimes we like to spend time by ourselves on an empty beach,” Jack said.

For Elise? Well, the beach is essentially on her back doorstep, no matter which one of her bases she’s at: “After I decided that’s enough for one day, I’ll find a good spot to park the my van, and go for a swim or surf if there is still enough daylight left.

Photo: Hamish Laing

And for Harry? Well, that guy’s literally living the damn dream – basically combining work and travel into a package with a neat little bow.

Photo: @harrybryant

I tend to not worry about those risky situations and try to live life to the complete fullest, milk life’s tits.

I feel like that sums up this piece. Time to go milk life’s tits.