If you’ve been thinking about escaping your cubicle, the thought has excited you, but it has also brought you fear.  

It excites you because deep down you’ve seen the clues and have felt the feeling that you life isn’t meant to be structured inside the confines of a 9-5 existence.

And your fear comes from being afraid of the unknown world that is outside of a traditional job, and you think you may not have what it takes to be your own boss and earn a living without a salaried job.

When I quit my high paying corporate job in Canada to pursue my first venture in entrepreneurship, I have to admit that I was shaking in my boots.  

If you’re like me, you’re probably someone that doesn’t want to throw everything that you’ve ever worked for down the drain before having a plan that can ensure you can take care of yourself.

What I’ve learned after 4 years of leaving my own cubicle and starting two businesses is that there are many different routes of escape that won’t leave you broke and in a state of anxiety.  

You can start exploring side hustles and ways of making money before you quit your job, and look at the opportunity of creating something while still being secured with your current salary (think about it as your job is now funding your new ventures).

In my unconventional journey of leaving the city of Vancouver to now live and work abroad from Bali, I have met some amazing people along the way that have carved out their own route of escape.  

I want to share five different escape routes they have taken to leave the Monday morning dread in hot pursuit of a life that gives them more flexibility and choice in the way they live their lives.

Freelance your skills

If you’ve ever been paid to do a particular job before, you have skills.  These may not be the skills that you die with, and you may want to pursue other aspects of who you are, but the skills you’ve been paid to do in the past can be your weapon of choice as you transition.

One of the simplest ways to start pivoting to being your own boss is by freelancing or offering your services as a consultant.

Clare Harrison, a former business journalist and writer for big publications and PR agencies from London decided to test out a freelancing career as a means to escape corporate prison by offering her talents as a freelancer while working from the jungles of Bali to the beaches of Thailand.

After 6 months of contract work, Clare launched her remote PR agency, The Story Scientist, which then allowed her to expand her offerings by teaching courses remotely while continuing to work with startups and businesses globally.

Oliver Lucas, who was let go from a position in an industry he’s been hustling in for 10 years took circumstance into his own hands by taking a sabbatical, turning to previous work contacts and letting them know his services as a research and insights analyst consultant were available for hire.

Using this bridge work opportunity to fund his experiments for a startup idea, Oliver launched Speechmate, an app that will produce personalized best men speeches in 60 minutes.  This has been a cost efficient way for him to invest money in his startup without getting a loan.

Teach people your expertise

Are you a natural teacher and someone who loves helping people gain knowledge from your expertise?

Your expertise can come from professional experience, but it can also come from personal experience as well.

What can you do that others will pay to learn how to do?  

My business, Screw The Cubicle, was born from exactly that.  Started as a blog to document my own personal journey of transition from employee to entrepreneur, it has since turned into a community and resource center for professionals that want to learn how to quit their jobs and start a life and career that feels more meaningful than a conventional one.

Since I personally know the pain, frustration, and confusion people go through when they exchange their identity of what has been on their resume to a new way of working, I have chosen to lead people by teaching workshops, online courses, and group programs, all from an active wifi connection, microphone, camera, and online classroom tools like Teachable.

You can teach almost anything online these days.  Take Mariah Coz from Femtrepreneur for example.  She started from selling a course about living in a vintage camper (if that’s not a niche subject, I don’t know what is!) to teaching online courses for people with weird passions and unique skills into leveraged digital products.

Diane Hopkins, a former academic that used to teach in universities, saw an opportunity in online teaching, and have now built a business teaching experts how to teach at Word and Wing.  She was able to capitalize on the missing gap of knowledge for a lot of people who want to speak publicly in their career, and teach what they know in workshops or group programs.

People love learning from other humans in the comfort of their own homes.  And this gives ordinary people that have a knack for teaching what they know, to hungry learners that want to learn how to do it themselves.

Coach mentor people to do big things

Have you ever been told you’re a great listener and a great problem solver?  You may be a natural born coach.

Instead of giving your life advice for free, why not charge for it?

Many people are seeking mentors and coaches to help them to the impossible.  Find their passion.  Get the career they’ve always wanted.  Launch a business of their dreams.

Perhaps it’s something you’ve learned to solve for yourself in your personal life that you can teach others who are where you used to be.

Adrienne Dorison, a corporate escapee who launched AdrienneDorison.com, repurposed her old background as a LEAN Six Sigma consultant and project manager to now coach hundreds of high achieving entrepreneurs (and wantrepreneurs) by showing them the habits, mindset and strategies, systems and techniques to create their own version of success.

French couple Marine and Jay Rot, who started as graphic artists and digital strategists, created a life coaching business for singles and couples to mentor them by aligning their business with their soul’s purpose at Be More Academy.

If your life has called for you to help others where you’ve been, being a coach or mentor can be a very fulfilling and personally gratifying way for you to make money while using your natural way of helping to help others achieve big dreams by helping them navigate personal challenges to get to their goals.

Set up an e-commerce side hustle

Do you like creating things that you have seen missing from the market?  Perhaps you’ve bought something where you’ve said, “I wish it had X, it would’ve been better”, or maybe when you travelled in certain parts of the world, you have seen crafts or products that aren’t available where you are from?

Mona Motwani, former human rights lawyer, landed in Bali after seeking a place for healing from a life changing illness.  During her time in tropical paradise, she took an e-commerce course to learn a new skill at Hubud, which resulted in her launching Nidra Goods, an online e-commerce company that sold lightweight and comfortable sleep masks.

She chose a product she would’ve loved to buy herself (and needed as a traveller), so the process of sourcing and marketing the product would feel more personal.

Ben Katzaman, a spunky twenty-something digital nomad, travelled to Bali to learn from startups and meet entrepreneurs to inspire him, stumbled upon a bone carving village and saw an opportunity to revive its artistic tradition.  

Collaborating with a young bone carver named Made and his village, Ben partnered with artisans to protect their culture by starting Wanderer Bracelets and sharing its profits to produce one of a kind bracelets that will tell stories for travellers who want to cherish their memories with a symbolic piece.

Create memorable retreat experiences

Are you a great event planner and someone who is a maestro at creating experiences that people will remember?

Use your travel experiences and event planning skills to create a career that allows you to feature beautiful places around the world, by organizing retreats or events for global customers.

Former Silicone Valley employee Mackenzie Hall, a millennial who worked for Google and tech startups, experienced a burnout which resulted in her needed sabbatical to travel to India to reconnect with herself and find a different career.

Her journey inspired her to solve a problem that she’s experienced by creating Realign Retreats, a program that addresses the challenge of living in an increasingly distracted, hyperconnected, competitive world.  Targeted to burnout tech entrepreneurs and workers, this retreat helps reboot their mind and body and return to their field by creating better daily habits, mindfulness practices, and creative exploration.

This career path isn’t only for millennials or young people that love to travel.  60-something year old couple Janet and Ralph Hogan ((he wrote the famous “Aussie Kids are Weet-Bix Kids” campaign way back in 1985), from Botanica Weddings created a business they run from Australia and Bali after leaving the stressful advertising industry.

Creating beautiful environments that brought people back in touch with nature, this couple combined their passion for love, relationships, and travel to create breathtaking and affordable destination weddings, while sharing their 30 year marriage love story to new couples embarking on their own.

What escape route can you create that plays up your skills, passions, and can give you a lifestyle you desire?

Choosing your own unique path of escape requires you to become more aware of how you want to deliver skills you already have to create value in the world.

Your escape route can combine the practicality of your experience, what you already know how to do, which can be blended into an idea that encompasses a way of service and work that feels meaningful.

Want to hear and learn more about how ordinary people like you who have found unconventional ways to escape the 9-5 and create their path to freedom?  Support the crowdfunding book campaign for ‘Screw The Cubicle’ to hear 25 stories from people who left the Monday morning dread behind and found freedom and fulfilment elsewhere.

From investment bankers and marketing specialists, to academics and lawyers, their stories will inspire you to create your own route to freedom and live a life that’s truly your own creation.

Screw The Cubicle book