The freedom to quit

I've been mulling over what being indie means these days, especially as I didn't go full time indie hacking. I've been pondering what it really means to be indie. Where are the lines drawn, or if there needs to be any lines at all.

One mindset that I keep coming back to is the idea concept of having the 'freedom to quit'.

Of course, in theory most of us can quit our jobs, however in reality the consequences of that are often way to risky. Society traps us. And often, quite frankly, we need the money a day job provides. The more family obligations you have, the more apparent this is.

To me, having the 'freedom to quit' is about getting to a financial situation where you will be ok for 1, 2, 3 years if you were to leave your job. It doesn't mean you will leave, that it would be ideal to leave, or want to leave, but the power of knowing that you can is an indie mindset.

There is something truly empowering about being able to choose opportunities based on whether you feel you would enjoy them, rather than them being about the money. For me, at least, it has meant I pursued the things that really interested in. And by pursuing things that are important to me, I feel it has only helped me excel at a whole new rosie level.

I spent time working at Indie Hackers because I loved the idea of serving indie hackers, and I was also genuinely curious on how the community was ran. Strictly speaking I did not need the money, I could have survived just fine without it. But the money has been super helpful. We didn't increase our living costs, but we did make a few investments and to be honest, most of it went into savings. This has put us in a much stronger financial freedom position.

The other aspect is that when I felt it was time for me to leave, I left for my own personal reasons. I didn't hang on to the job for the need of the money. I felt free to leave.

The freedom is what makes us indiependent.

I can apply the same philosophy to my new day job. There are many reasons I joined Orbit, money was not specifically one of them. I most definitely have no current plans to leave (!), but knowing that I can and that our family will be ok financially gives me a huge sense of calm.

Knowing that I have the personal resources to back me up gives me big feeling of being indiependent whilst having the life I choose to live. That feeling of indiependence really comes down to me knowing that I pull the strings in my life. Not other people. Not other companies.

Being indiependent to me is no longer about running your own business, it's about having the freedom of choice on how to live.

And damn, I feel pretty privileged to be where I am right now.

  1. 12

    I love this and I understand the concept completely.

    I'm often criticised because when you get these "what does success mean?" threads and discussions my answer is always "money; a lot if it".

    However my defence to that standpoint is that no matter what way you chop it up and no matter how much you dress it in different words and phrases and ideas "freedom", "happiness" etc - In my opinion that always, and I mean ALWAYS boils back to down to how much money you have in the bank.

    That number will differ for everyone of course, but ultimately whatever definition of "freedom" you choose, be it living as a recluse in the woods, or travelling the world as a digital nomad, or setting up your own company; it always boils down to a cash number.

    Right now I most certainly don't have the freedom to quit my day job and what you've written has really put a nail on the head of what it is I'm striving for with Songbox.

    1. 2

      i appreciate that you have a strong, personal definition. +1

      1. 2

        Wow - i thought that if anything, this would get the heavy downvote treatment.

        Thanks everyone.

        1. 2

          i'm glad you show up and just share what you think. like me!

          ... and many of us here. ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ

  2. 3

    Love this Rosie! 100% agree.

  3. 2

    ‘Being independent to me is no longer about running your own business’ — true that.

    I would say that the true independence is about finding your unique perfect balance between: indie, job, investment, family, health, and hobbies.

    Subjectively, the vital point here is that you can’t do it alone. Since humans are deeply social beings, finding the balance becomes similar to role-playing game.

    Our powers have limits, and we start off with a limited number of ‘points’ to distribute between those ‘skills.’ Say, you begin with 120 ability points. You put 70 of them in the ‘job’ bucket, so that every other skill is at 10. The people you enjoy partnering with will then be the ones who put 70 somewhere else. Because the scenario where everything is evenly distributed kills innovation, makes leaps of faith ‘impractical’ and ‘too risky.’

    From this perspective, the word ‘team’ has even more value and extrapolates itself off the boundaries of your co-workers to finding those perfect matches in your network that were looking for your specific skillset in their lives.

    To me, it also changes the concept of ‘indie.’ See, at your first glance this totally sounds extremely ‘individual.’ Most of us don’t like to be alone, and going ‘indie’ (or going ‘individual’) thus sounds scary. It’s also scary because you don’t know if you’ll meet the right people, if they understand what your culture is and what you want to build. Thinking like this is normal, yet it’s also a bit like living in a cage. It’s a good one: it keeps us away from the uncertainty and helps organize things and structure our time. Because such things are easily managed within a limited space.

    It’s a kind of cage that we choose to stay in, yet it’s of a kind that always comes with an open door. Imagine the cage and look at that door if you’re ready. There’s no lock, come closer, take your final look at it, feel the strength to find your own freedom, your path. Push, get out, that’s your new chapter. Time to find heroes to join your party.

  4. 2

    I love this, Rosie, thanks for sharing!

    This is extremely on point for me - I ultimately chose to leave a very secure job at the beginning of this year and give being a founder a go, but the decision was driven by the desire to have a different lifestyle than the one that my job afforded.

    Grinding myself into dust to get a little further ahead financially wasn't making a whole lot of sense, and I realized my personal goals of providing a happy, stable, fulfilling life for my family didn't match up with the life I was building inside of a job that demanded so much from me.

    I don't know that I'll always be on my own as a founder, and some day I might go back to working for someone else (or I might be forced to, since we've got to eat!), but I'm keeping that framing you shared in mind. I need to be pulling the strings on my life, not anyone else. There are lots of paths to that freedom, and being a full-time founder (whatever label folks choose to use here) isn't the end goal, the freedom is.

    1. 1

      I've certainly moved between different situations. I was a founder for many years, then contracted for IH, now a full time permanent position with side gigs.

      I previously had the mindset of indie or nothing, now I feel that the world has moved on enough for people to accept people like me in permanent jobs. 😅

  5. 2

    That's amazing! Thanks for sharing.

    For me, being an indie hacker means to be able to choose your future without having to rely on other people and companies. The fact that you have been able to achieve this is amazing.

    Good luck!

  6. 1

    Loved your words! Thank you :)

  7. 1

    So right! Congrats.

    One thing I've found is there seems to be two types of people in this regard. Those who crave connection/belonging and those who crave independence/freedom.

    For sure the 16 personalities (ala Myers Briggs) are there with degrees of this/that, but when it really counts, I feel there are only two.

  8. 1

    "indie" is definitely a broad term and i'm one to believe it should stay broad.

  9. 1

    To me, the freedom to quit is not being able to survive for a year or two.

    If I'm going to quit, then I'm quitting for good.

    $5,000,000 in the bank, that's the ticket price.

  10. 1

    Thank you for writing this. I too quit my job to pursue my dream. It was an easy decision for me bc my back was against the wall, but I also have a “eff it” mentality, knowing I will figure it out. It was the best decision I made. Made me who I am today. Confident. Indiependant and super focused on one goal.

  11. 1

    Hi Rosie,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reflection.

    I think many people overlook how much impact their expenses and lifestyle have on their freedom to quit.

    Living in Thailand on $1000 per month gives you much more runway to invest in your future than if you are living in a major city. Most people could get a year or two of runaway saved up if they considered moving to low-cost countries and kept their costs low.

    My family has been living a very lean lifestyle in countries around the world for many years now. It is very liberating to have the flexibility and freedom to work on the projects I want.

    1. 1

      Oh, cool to see you world schooling. We've been do the unschooling thing, not much travelling though, it gets difficult with 5 kids 😬

      1. 1

        Yes, 5 kids would definitely be difficult to manage. Wow! Kudos to you.

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