What I Learned In The 29 Years Leading Up To Quitting My Day Job

melissa gorzelanczyk 29It’s official: I’m quitting my day job. My last day is June 18, 2010.

For those that don’t know, I was an editor and columnist at the Green Bay Press-Gazette. I headed up a women’s magazine (which I’m happy to say I will continue on a freelance basis), family magazine and weekly home section.

It was, some might say, my dream job.

I wrote columns, worked with super talented freelancers and enjoyed being somewhat of a local celebrity.

When strangers stopped me on the street to Β say, “I really love your columns,” or “Your column is the first thing I read every Sunday,” well, you can’t beat that feeling as a writer.

So why am I quitting?

The logic follows a lot of what I write about, both in my Press-Gazette columns and on this blog: I want a simpler life. I want to be home for the summer with my kids. I want to work on my amazing work – the unwritten novels, the blog posts, and hopefully down the road, even more writing and editing on a freelance basis.

My life became too busy to do all of these things with a full-time job. Something had to give. Mr. Right and I decided we could enjoy a slower pace and need less money if I took an exit from the rat race. We slowly gathered momentum to make this decision possible

I’m excited.

And feeling the fear of the unknown.

And then excited again.

Maybe you’d like to quit your day job, too, but think: “Well Melissa, that’s great for you but simply not possible for me.” I’ve been there. Β This post on Zen Habits changed my mind.

At the time, I was living the new normal in America – two kids, two working parents, house in suburbia, two cars, a dog, LOTS of stress and debt.

At the same time, I kept having rogue thoughts like:

“There has to be a better way to live and make money than this.”

Officially now, I’m about to find out.

The past 29 years have taught me:

Be thankful. Life comes with a multitude of struggles and joy. No matter what, find and feel your gratitude. Will I ever return to the 9 to 5? I don’t know. But I do know I’m thankful for everything I learned along the way.

Need less money. It’s the most liberating thing you’ll ever do.

Do what’s right. Deep inside, you know what it is and you know what needs to be done.

Love with passion.

Work with passion.

Change with passion.

Be nice. Mean people suck.

Slip into moments of peacefulness without a care.

Be Tracy. Be Lynn. Be Amy.

Do something amazing.

If you’re waiting for the perfect time to do it, be sure: You don’t have time for that.

Fill your life with things you really want to do. How will I spend my summer with all this “free time?” Here are a few options:

  • Nap (but not too long)
  • Learn to cook
  • Start a novel
  • Blog
  • Spend lazy mornings with the kids
  • Make pickles
  • Work in the garden
  • Music in the Park
  • Farmer’s markets
  • Solitude
  • Bike rides
  • Write YOU magazine columns under the sun instead of flourescent lights
  • Vacations
  • Unlearning how to be busy
  • Volunteer
  • Make strawberry jam
  • Yoga



Quit your day job with this series …

The Minimalist Guide To Leaving Your Soul Crushing Day Job

The Simple Guide To Making Money Online

The Surprising Truth About Using Minimalism To Leave Your Day Job

Read Zen Habits … always good.

While you’re at it, I can’t get enough from:

Jeffrey/The Art of Great Things

Matt/Life Without Pants

Tammy/Rowdy Kittens

Katie/Momentum Gathering

Mary/Goodlife Zen

Corey/Simple Marriage

Cheers to life. To living it!

Photo by Mike Peters

If my writing helps or inspires you, please share it with other people. This is the number one way you can support my writing.

xoxo Melissa

Check out Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk, coming January 2016 from Delacorte Press/Random House. Visit her author site here.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Tiny House Talk » Blog Archive » Tiny House Talk – June 15 2010
June 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm
Easy Ways to Make the Rat Race a Much Better Ride
July 8, 2010 at 1:07 am


1 Rachel June 7, 2010 at 4:43 am

Good luck with your new chapter! I’m excited to read about how it goes πŸ™‚ xx

2 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 11:55 am

Thanks Rachel – read all about it here. πŸ˜‰

3 Matt Cheuvront June 7, 2010 at 7:36 am


We chatted about this quite a bit a couple months ago and I couldn’t be happier for you. You will without a doubt rock at whatever you pursue moving forward – and if there is ANYTHING I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to ask.

(PS we should catch up soon…would love to hear about everything).

4 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hi Matt – YES, the dream finally came to fruition. Let’s catch up soon, maybe after the craziness passes with figuring out how to hand off my day-job work … Cheers!

5 Kim June 7, 2010 at 7:41 am

You forgot to add to your list: Spend more time w/ Kim!!! LOL! Want to go strawberry picking w/ us in a few weeks out by the zoo?? I have a strawberry freezer jam recipe. We could make fresh strawberry jam together!

6 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 11:54 am

Kim, how could I leave you off the list?? Haha, YES, lets make jam together. Do you want to pick by my house and make a jam day at the Gorzelanczyks?

7 Kim June 7, 2010 at 5:42 pm

That sounds like fun! Send me an email closer to when the picking times are near you and we can have a fun day picking berries and making some jam w/ the kids πŸ™‚ Start saving your smaller glass jars for jam!

8 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 10:22 pm

I have jars already … can’t wait!

9 Lance June 7, 2010 at 7:42 am

Very awesome…you, listening to your heart!!! May these days ahead be filled with moments of joy and love!!

10 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 11:53 am

Thanks Lance! I know they will be.

11 Heather June 7, 2010 at 8:44 am

I am so happy for you and proud of you Melissa!!! You are an inspiration! MISS YOU!!!! πŸ™

12 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 11:53 am

Hi Heather, good to “see” you here. Keep in touch and thanks for your kindness.

13 Katie June 7, 2010 at 8:46 am

This post gave me shivers Melissa. I’m so happy for you and I think you will inspire so many with your story, your simple, peaceful approach to life and with the resources you’ve provided to help them get there too. It’s straight from the heart writing. I love it and I love you!

14 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 11:52 am

Thanks for the encouragement, as always. And thanks for being a part of this journey.

15 Katie June 7, 2010 at 11:31 am

Melissa! I am so happy for you! Good luck with your endeavors! I’ll be thinking about you and moving towards your path..slowly but hopefully someday!

16 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 11:51 am

Thanks, Katie! Much love and I’m sure I’ll see you around. Good luck to YOU.

17 Angela Artemis June 7, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Good for you! I’ll be following your progress with great interest as I hope to be right behind you in quitting my day job this year.

Keep us posted.

18 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Awesome to hear! Isn’t it exciting? Like a secret you’re bursting to tell?

19 Hulbert Lee June 7, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Hi Melissa, congratulations for making this choice in your life. It’s cool to hear that you worked full time as a editor and columnist, but it’s also good to hear that you’ve made a decision that you think is best for you. Sometimes living more simple and doing the thing we love is the route to go, and it looks like you’re doing a good job with writing here on your blog!

20 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Thanks, Hulbert. I am really happy with my choice. Will keep you posted.

21 finallygettingtoeven.com June 7, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Good for you ! You will be fine as it appears that you have a good strong head on your shoulders. Being there for the kids should be your #1 priority now, they are only kids once and if you miss it you can’t hit rewind.

I finally got hubby to quit the corporate rat race a few months ago. At first he floundered like a fish out of water but he has settled nicely into a new routine. (we have quite a few rental properties and he took over the management and i officially ‘fired’ myself) now i have more time to look at other opportunities, win-win for both of us.

Congrats on your new lifestyle! Enjoy!

22 Melissa June 7, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Great to hear you are flourishing with your decision. I’m excited for what the future holds.

23 Jody June 8, 2010 at 9:25 am

Congratulations and good luck and you know who to contact to fulfill the volunteer bullet point on your list. πŸ™‚

24 Melissa June 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Haha, right on, I definitely do. See you soon!

25 Lynn June 8, 2010 at 10:33 am

good luck Melissa! you are an inspiration to all of us!

(someone beat me to the punch…i was going to ask if you wanted to go strawberry picking soon! oh well…we can make pickles together this fall….i am going to get the canning supplies soon!)

26 Melissa June 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Thanks Lynn. You can come over for our jam session too!

27 Lynn June 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm

that sounds good!

28 Lucas June 8, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Melissa G.,

I’m so happy to see you living your life to the fullest, even if “full” is defined as taking on a “simpler life.” I look forward to reading your novels in the future. God bless.

29 Melissa June 9, 2010 at 11:40 am

Luke! It’s been forever. I just had a vision of you running across the lawn with my mattress … remember that weekend you helped me move? Wow, a lot has happened since then.

Your support means a lot. What’s new?

xoxo Melissa

30 Jean Sarauer June 8, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Melissa! I don’t know you, but who cares? We both have the good sense to know day jobs aren’t for us, we both make strawberry jam, and we both know a thing or two about cheese. I’m so glad I got diverted by a bunch of links and found my way to your blog πŸ™‚ Best of luck to you!

31 Melissa June 9, 2010 at 11:39 am

Hi Jean – Hey, looks like we should be best friends! I will check out your blog – please stay in touch.

xoxo Melissa

32 sandy June 9, 2010 at 8:39 am

Melissa – you are one amazing lass — a common link with darling and talented Heather introduced us in person at the ARTgarage — and yes, i have been a fan of your writings since moving to De Pere 5 yrs ago ! without wanting to sound trite, you are wise beyond your years and making some incredible decsions for your life. LOVE being a Mommy — LOVE downsizing your life for more peace – and LOVE continuing on with your writing to inspire others. Your writings remind me of Sara Ban Breathnach – her book , Simple Abundance, is one I have bought and given to no less than 30 special women in my life. I look forward to yours!!!!

33 Melissa June 9, 2010 at 11:38 am

Hi Sandy – I’m so glad to see you here. Thank you for your amazingly inspiring comment. I do plan to love all of those things and can’t wait to work on all the exciting projects in the future. We will definitely have to hook up with a creativity night with Heather and Tracy. Can’t wait! Much love, see you soon. Melissa

34 Sara Z June 10, 2010 at 8:42 am

WOW Melissa….I just read this one now. SO happy for you! That is amazing work.

Can’t wait to read more about your life w/o the stress of a full time job. Enjoy….you deserve it!

35 Melissa June 11, 2010 at 7:36 am

Thank you Sara! We have to get together soon!

36 Sara Z June 11, 2010 at 9:04 am

YES we do! Perhaps we could get together for coffee one of these days, when your final days of work are done winding down. La Java? Kavarna? Luna Cafe? Let me know…I would LOVE to see you and catch up. XO

37 Alison Norris June 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm

That is so great to hear! Wish we still lived across the street. We could’ve done some trips to the pool together or something with the kids. I bet the kids are going to love that!
Take care, and enjoy your time.

38 Melissa June 15, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Thank you, Alison! I definitely miss you guys as neighbors – and I know the kids do, too. If there is a mom I’d love to model, it’s you – you were always welcoming, kind and fun to be around. I hope we cross paths again in the future. Take care.

39 Miranda Paul June 18, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Melissa– I can say that I’m going to miss having you as my editor, but glad to know that you’re continuing on with You Magazine. I appreciate all of the confidence you put in me as a writer with the frequent assignments.

You’re such an amazing writer and overall a great human being, and with the “new chapters” beginning in my own life I feel even more connected to your experience right now! Here’s to a great summer!

Now, when can I get some of that jam? πŸ™‚

40 Melissa June 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Hi Miranda – You are a very talented writer – I’m so glad I was able to play a small part in getting your writing career off the ground. Good writing speaks for itself, so keep up the awesome work.

I still have to make the jam … maybe this week!

41 Angel C. June 22, 2010 at 8:41 am

Good luck Melissa! I love reading your columns and I’m glad you will still be writing for You magazine. I am a stay-at-home mom and have been for 11 years. I have never regretted leaving my full-time job to raise my kids–it’s the best decision I ever made. Enjoy your new-found freedom with your family πŸ™‚

Best Wishes!
Angel C.

42 Melissa June 22, 2010 at 10:03 am

Thanks, Angel. I am enjoying the freedom so far. Please stay in touch.

43 Satya June 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm

wow-wow — i missed this — congrats to you!!

44 Stephen July 23, 2010 at 9:57 am

Great list, the 29 years obviously were not wasted. Would love to read a post in six months time about where you’ll be at then. I suppose that’s all part of the master plan:-).
wishing you every success

45 Michael Mindes July 30, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Truly inspiring… I am working my way there, but I need to replace at least a portion of my existing income, since my wife already stays at home with our kids.

Thank you for further inspiration!

46 Jacob Sokol December 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Epic Mel! Me loves it. Looking fwd to continuing to learn more about you as you continue to learn more about yourself. Keep rockin!!

47 Melissa December 7, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Thanks Jacob!

48 Emily on the Southern Prairie December 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

From a fellow daily newspaper reporter who quit in 2009 for a simpler life and has never regretted it for a second:
CONGRATS and best wishes to you!

49 Melissa December 15, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Nice to meet you! Now let me go subscribe to your blog …

50 Living the Balanced Life December 15, 2010 at 4:23 pm

I came over from Momentum gathering. Your story is similar to mine, although yours seems so more organized, lol! I have a feeling is wasn’t so “easy”. I am so glad you have been able to make this change. I myself suffered a mental meltdown which led to being put on medical leave. I have chosen not to return to that company or any job or resembling it. No more 80 hour work weeks!

51 JW @ Wine Will Fix It February 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm

What an inspiring and amazing tale. Just found your blog through Zen Habits and I’m excited to read more!

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