5 Ways to Leave Your Job

If you're ready for a change from the day-to-day life of the cubicle, maybe it's time to consider breaking out on your own.

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If you're thinking about a job change--or if you have been forced into one--sometimes it's nice to remember that you have options. And those options don't have to be limited to unemployment or retirement.

If you're ready for a change from the day-to-day life of the cubicle, maybe it's time to consider some alternative job routes. Here are five different ways to leave your job. Not all of these choices are typical, or even suggested. You'll have to make the call based on your own circumstances. What works for a young professional might not work for a family of four.

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1. Switch sides. Many jobs require you to interact with employees at other companies. Whether it's a project you're working on for a client, a distributor that you commonly interact with, or a strategic partnership with an outside firm, these relationships can offer a great opportunity to make a transition.

Do you have a great working relationship with these businesses? Do they love your work in particular? Odds are, you know the types of things they need and you can bring specialized experience from the other side of the table.

It's not a common occurrence, but there have been plenty of people who switch sides and start working with companies that were previously clients or business partners.

2. Take your clients with you. Many corporate employees dream of working for themselves someday. For most, someday never comes around because of the uncertainty and fear that accompany entrepreneurship. People don't leave their corporate jobs because they fear losing a steady paycheck.

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That's a reasonable fear, but what if you could take paying clients with you? If you have a strong book of business in your current job, then that's exactly what you could do. Anyone who works in a service business--and the majority of people do--has built up relationships with previous customers. If you're ready to leave your job and start your own business then these people are the perfect place to start.

Even if your business is in an unrelated field, the people who already know and trust you will be more willing to buy than a total stranger. Furthermore, your current clients could be the source of your new business idea. You already know their wants, needs, and fears. Solve one of those problem areas and many of them will be willing to pay you for it.

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Not all of your clients will make the transition with you, of course, but some will. And as many entrepreneurs will tell you, having paying clients from the start is a very good way to start a business.

3. Take your co-workers with you. Do you have a business that you would like to start, but also know that you can't do it alone? If so, the brilliant people around you might be the perfect people to help you make the leap.

First, your co-workers will often have complementary skills that can be a valuable asset to any new business. Second, if you're thinking about leaving your job, then it's possible that your peers feel the same way. Similar incentives and motivation can make for a great business match. There are many stories about small groups of employees spinning out new businesses that started when they were working together at large companies. You could be next.

4. Let your company be your first client. Cary Jenkins noticed that many large businesses had a terrible time trying to track, analyze, and manage the pensions for their employees. In some cases, it could take weeks to process a simple request. So he built a pension management software system to solve the issue. He called the business Bluefin and a few years later, it was bought by financial services giant,The Hartford.

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But do you know who Cary's first client was long before The Hartford came into the picture? It was the company he was working for at the time. In other words, he started a business by solving a problem that his current company had and then selling them the solution. When you think about it, the process makes a lot of sense.

You already have a firm grasp on the issues that your company faces. It is also likely that many other companies face similar issues. If you can solve one of these problems, then not only do you know that you have a good business idea, you also know the perfect place to start selling it.

5. Quit with no plan. Some might call it gutsy. Others might call it stupid. Either way, sometimes it's just best to move on.

There is a growing body of psychological research that has proven that our work performance, our creativity, and even our physical health are substantially improved when we feel happy.

[See 16 Signs It's Time to Quit Your Job.]

 Why would you sacrifice your physical and mental livelihood by staying in a job you dislike? There is also a remarkable amount of evidence suggesting that we make irrational decisions (like staying in a job or a relationship that is terrible for us) because we want to feel like we are being committed. Sometimes it's best to ask yourself, "Why am I committed to this?" We often find ways to convince ourselves that the thing we have always done is still the thing we should be doing, even if that's not true.

Just because a job made sense for you when you started it doesn't mean it makes sense for you now. Life changes and your situation evolves. You have to do what's right for you right now, and that doesn't always mean staying the course.

Am I saying you should quit right this moment? No, I'm not. But there are a lot of people who spend the best part of their lives working in jobs they dislike so they can spend the end of their lives chasing the stuff they wish they had done before. And I'm not saying you should do that either.

Whether you stay in your job or make a move, it's important to realize that you have options. I won't pretend that it will be easy, but it might be right.

 James Clear is the founder of PassivePanda.com, a website about earning more money, time, and freedom. Join Passive Panda's free newsletter for fresh ideas on earning more money, and while you're at it check out this list of articles on self employment ideas.