I quit my job end of February this year. After 8.7 years working at a communications consultancy (which, more or less, equals to 26 corporate years), I decided to retire.

May last year, I turned thirty. Some said it was actually the appropriate age to start settling down, have a good career, and secure more money for the future. Sometimes, I think so, too. But most of the time, I don’t think I should.

Leaving the Comfort Zone

I have spent my 20s working–climbing the ladder from a junior PR associate to senior communications consultant, from Digital Division Head to Creative Director. And I loved those days I spent with bosses I respect, colleagues I admire, and clients I like; learning everything I had always wanted to know about and working on projects and campaigns I was proud of. But after 8.7 years (which, again, equals to 26 corporate years), it started to feel like a comfort zone.

Which was nice–actually, and I had nothing to complain about. But there was something about being inside my comfort zone that made me feel restless.

I knew that I just needed to step out to the uncharted territory and challenge myself once again: so that I could gain new perspectives, reap new experiences, and learn new sets of lessons. I know I have always wanted to create beautiful things and make meanings in the world–either in the form of prose, an article, a photograph, a movie, a speech, a workshop, or even simple 12-line poetry. By dedicating my thirties to do this instead, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. To live a life I have always dreamed of since I was a little girl.

Choose the Life You Want

But I can’t quit my job, a friend told me when she heard about my ‘retirement’.

Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t ask people to leave their jobs. And you don’t need to feel like you should leave your job. Do what’s best for you at a certain time in your life. We all have our own journeys; our own ways to live our lives, and it’s more than okay to live the life you want. Different things fulfill us in a different way, so feel free to choose the most fulfilling life for you.

However, if you find yourself in an intersection at the moment, thinking about whether you should quit your job and start over (or not), I have a little something to share with you: something that helped me to make up my mind and show me a clearer path in making my decision to live the life I want. Oh, well, 6 things, to be exact. I think it’s good to experience these things first, before even deciding (or without having) to quit one’s job.

  1. Surround yourself with people you respect and admire. Either you respect and admire them for their wit, wisdom, fun and uplifting personalities, loving relationships, or sharp business sense, connect with these people. Talk to them–even if it’s only for 20 minutes, over coffee. Ask them questions. Listen to what they have to say, examine how they live their lives. Read their books or watch their talks on YouTube. Just try spending more time with these people, and you’ll start to see how fast you ‘grow’.
  2. Work for yourself, always. Yes, even when you’re working 9 to 5 in someone else’s company, you don’t work for your boss. You’re working for yourself. Learn as much as you can. Use your company’s learning facilities or training opportunities. Seek advice from your boss, your seniors, or your peers. Give the best that you can to the work that you do. Always remember that when you’re submitting something, you’re saying: “This is my best!”–so, make sure that it is. Know your current drive and why it becomes your drive. For me, it’s the 3Cs. Is it Cash, Career, or Cause? I have to admit that there are times when people really need Cash among others, for example when you have to care for sick family members. Sometimes, your drive is Career. You want to climb up the corporate ladder or move to London branch or head a division because you have dreamed that kind of achievement in life. Other times, your drive is Cause. You have a great motivation to do something for a greater good, for instance saving dolphins or teaching students in remote areas. Examine your current drive to work and ask yourself, why am I chasing this? Knowing why you’re chasing the things you’re chasing or why you’re driven by certain things will give you more clarity in making professional (or even personal) decisions. In the end, make sure that wherever you are and whatever you do, always try to improve and develop yourself. These are the things that people can’t take away from you.
  3. Involve in things/projects you love and be a part of something you’d be proud of. I always find it mentally-healthy and refreshing to work on something I love that has nothing to do with my professional work. Nowadays, it’s getting easier to get involved in such projects, because you can just go on Google and search for established groups or communities in your areas you can spend your time with. If you don’t like something communal and are into something solitary like writing poems, work on your personal poem project–and publish it via self-publishing site like NulisBuku or in a Tumblr blog. Personally, I believe that doing these things keep yourself sane in the midst of a fast-paced corporate world and a ton of work pressures. It keeps you balance; and give you a sense of personal achievement: an achievement that is fully yours. Spare at least 2-3 hours of your time in a week to do this. You’ll never know where it may lead you.
  4. Reconnect with your own bliss and define your own success. What are the things you enjoy the most, no matter how silly or useless it may seem? Other people may look down on you because you don’t travel much, but what if you just love staying at home, baking cookies, making jams, and cross-stitching? Find your own bliss, and be confident with it. Then ask yourself, how much of these things have you injected into your daily life lately? Next, how do you define your own success? I mean, something that will make you feel light, happy, and fulfilled–like you have achieved your own greatness. We tend to measure our success based on society’s standard: a house, a car, a savings account, a spouse, children, and so on, and so forth. Other times, we compare our success with our siblings, our colleagues, or high school friends. However, if you can define your own success, what would it be? What is success to you if your loved ones won’t judge you? What is success to you if you are not afraid?
  5. Step a little bit further out of your comfort zone and do one or two thing(s) you have always wanted to do–no matter how small. They said magic begins at the end of your comfort zone. Are there things you’ve always wanted to do but you haven’t done it because it feels scary, risky, humiliating, or uncomfortable? A friend of mine said that she has always wanted to dine out alone, in a restaurant. But she hasn’t done it, because it feels terrifying. What would people think? Won’t it be awkward to sit in a nice restaurant, reading the menu, alone? Won’t people pity her; thinking that she has no friends to share the meal with? “What do you think will change inside of you if you actually do this?” I asked her. She smiled, “Maybe I’ll be more comfortable with myself, more confident being in my own skin, and not having to care that much about what other people might think of me; or about other people’s judgment. I guess I’ll feel… lighter.”
  6. Plan the life you want, and live at least a little bit of it every single day. Take some time to think about the life you want. What’s your ideal life would be like? (in different aspects, like health, career, financial, personal, relationship, spiritual, etc.) List down all the things you would like to experience in your version of an ideal life. Then list down all the things you need to learn/acquire to be able to experience your ideal life. Then list down what are things you can give back to your loved ones, communities, and societies when you’ve lived your ideal life. Now look at your list and see how you can inject a little bit of your ideal life into your life today and start living it. Have you always wanted to travel around the world? What about traveling around your hometown on weekends and experience the joy of it? Thinking about connecting with people from different countries while you’re traveling abroad? Start now by becoming a host at CouchSurfing and meet people from all around the globe who are visiting your town. When you’re clear about the kind of life you want, you can start living it every single day, one step at a time.

And to sum it all up: LIVE–as much as you can, with the best of your ability.



67 Responses

  1. Very well said, Hanny! You’re amazing and always inspire me 🙂
    Thank you for this beautiful reminders… I hope you’ll enjoy life wherever you are!

  2. Congrats & good luck on your new endeavour, Hanny! This post is unlike I’ve ever read. Great stuff 🙂

  3. Mba, banyak banget pemikiran yang keren di sini, aku baca satu persatu dan mengangguk setuju. Apalagi point #6. I couldn’t agree more. 😀
    *langsung buat list 😀

  4. So inspiring, Mba! baru subscribe, postingannya langsung dapet yang ini. ini tuh kayak baru mau buka mata, tau tau ada petasan yang jadi makin bikin lebar ngebuka mata.

    1. It used to be mine, too, in my twenties! And I am grateful because I have the chance to experience it. I take a lot of great stuff with me from my previous job–and that experience contribute so much to both my professional and personal growth. Well, then I guess my dreams grow and evolve together with me 🙂 I wish you the best to live your dream life, too 🙂

  5. Love this piece so much.

    Maybe something that would sum up is adding a concluding line: “No matter what you decide, in the end it’s gonna be awesome.”

    So don’t worry too much about it now 🙂

  6. I’ve been reading your blog since 2003 and from your posts, not even once i have ever sensed that you’re a working gal 😀 well done! This post surprised me so much due to its perfect momentum … I wonder ‘wow! did she really write this today?’ What a coincidence because i’ve just made that “decision” today … And, still a lot of other things needs decision. #toughlifehaaa 😛 Thanks for writing, Hanny.

    1. Wow! 2003! Thanks so much! :O And congrats with your decision! (I always think that even the decision-making itself is worth congratulating–because it’s not easy, making decisions…). Good luck in making the other decisions, too. I know you’ll make the best decision with what you know today, and so, more power to you, girl! We should meet up for coffee or something! ^^

      1. *speechless* whoa …! This is beyond my wildest dream! would next Saturday be convenient for you? Please set time and date, I’ll be there. Looking forward to have a conversation with you :)) Dear universe please let this happen. Let me faint now.

    1. Aaaw, glad to know that someone is in the same boat! I hope the wind is nice and the sea is clear, and we can sail off to a wonderful island on the other side, where more and more beauty awaits us! 😀 Good luck to you, yoo, Sarah! Hope to stay in touch! xx

  7. I left my job too only it was after 8years and 10months and like you I felt restless for something different even though I loved my job and the company I worked for – this was nearly two years ago now…. the best thing I have ever done.

    1. Wow! How similar! And I am so happy to hear from you! :’D *hugs from the equator* Wishing for more exciting stuff to happen in our lives in the near future! ^^ I guess it’s always best to make a decision–whatever it is, rather than being continuously restless and in doubt! 🙂

  8. Nicely written. All the best in your next journey. It’s always good to step out of your comfort zone and do new things (that you really, really want to do). I’ll share this with my colleagues ya Hanny.


  9. Incredible post and I could relate to it perfectly, as I also quit my job in the Information Technology industry after working for 8.5 years in last December 🙂

    But, I haven’t done the 6 points you mentioned here, I took this call on instinct and only time will tell whether I am right or wrong on this call.

    But one thing, I am enjoying this break…

    Thank you so much for sharing this post 🙂 Have a great time.

  10. Ah, what a beautiful farewell to the 26 corporate years.

    Welcome to the “other” side, my Dear. I believe you will break some stronger legs near the future, as always 🙂

    1. Hey, thanks heaps, Alex! ^^ And wishing you the best with OLM, too! I enjoy reading it a lot 😀 Most probably, there will be some awesome things we can co-create in the near future! 🙂 Keep living the life you love! 😀

  11. Another blessed day by reading your blog Kak! I love this topic so much, since I’ve an urge to resign my current job and while reading this, it really enlightens me. Thank you for your wise and amazing thoughts. Keep writing & inspiring others. God blesses you Kak 🙂

  12. I left a very stable job of 14 years (well, still contracting but transitioning out) after a reality check last year and one 5 years before that. I’ve been floundering since stepping outside that comfort zone last October, but I know I’m doing the right thing for me. My friends and family think I’m crazy and keep asking how the job search is going, to which I sheepishly and somewhat ashamedly reply, “It isn’t. I’m starting my own thing.” I’m still in the ‘but I need to have a REAL job’ mentality to a certain extent. But again, it just doens’t feel right. Suffice it to say, I love this post! Thank you so much. If you’re so inclined, you can check out my new and slowly developing blog: christinmcleod.wordpress.com

  13. Reblogged this on {This Is Life} and commented:
    I stumbled across this post just now and it so accurately sums up where I am in my own life that I’m doing my very first reblog. If you are at a crossroads in your own life, maybe this will give you that little push to step outside the comfort zone. Pure inspiration right here!

If you made it this, far, please say 'hi'. It really means a lot to me! :)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



We tend to shape our memories of them based on the limited time we spend with them—and our memories of them, over time, will be replaced with one single word, one single interaction, or one single feeling.
Beradadisini Love Letter to Self
I took up a personal journaling project this week: writing a love letter to myself before bed. I work on a thin A6-size handmade paper journal I got from a paper artist, Els. The journal is thin and small enough, so it doesn't overwhelm me. It feels like I am only going to work on a small project.
Standing up for yourself does not have to look aggressive. It does not have to feel like a fight. It's not always about convincing others or explaining yourself and your decisions with the hope that everyone else understands or accepts your choice.
Hanny illustrator
I am an Indonesian writer/artist/illustrator and stationery web shop owner (Cafe Analog) based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I love facilitating writing/creative workshops and retreats, especially when they are tied to self-exploration and self-expression. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting life—one word at a time.