Personal development: Quit the day job


Trust in intuition has played a big role in Peter’s decision-making. As soon as he visited the rue de la Tulipe premises, it was, to him, love at first sight. “The quiet and charming street,” he excitedly explained to me, his eyes brightening. “This building with enormous windows, high ceilings and character, plus a jazz café opposite. It was ideal!” Indeed, it is a light and spacious book shop, with a warm glow emanating from the standing lamps, and of course, his reading lamp. The shop is designed to give the impression that one is really at home, and is encouraged to linger and wonder.

Steve Jobs called it connecting the dots: following your curiosity and intuition and trusting that what you did in your past will somehow connect to your future. Peter’s idea to start his bookshop was an idea that had been simmering in his subconscious for decades. “There will be a moment when the time is ripe,” he advised. “It took me 25 years before I was actually aware of what I really wanted to do. But none of that time in between was wasted. Everyone instinctively knows when the moment is right to jump in. And when you do, seize the moment, grab it.”

Peter has doubts about whether his shop will survive, particularly when it’s been a slow day. However, his doubts shift when he sees customers entering and showing their interest. “Those people coming in remind me why I’m doing this. They give me hope,” he said. He may have doubts, but he has no regrets.

Looking at Peter makes me wonder what the secret is to successfully quitting the day job. A safety net, such as being able to return to your old job, helps. So does knowing others who are self-employed. Peter’s parents were, so the risk of financial insecurity and instability may be less discomforting for him. Not rushing to quit is important and instead focusing on sensing when the time is ripe to take the leap.

Peter recognises the inherent risks involved. Nonetheless, to coin his phrase, his “bubble of freedom” confirms that he is doing the right thing. “In life, you are never totally free,” he remarked. “But you can create a bubble in which you are. This shop is my bubble of freedom. I love what I do.”