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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 3 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY Show, NPR, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Being Laid Off from My 6-Figure Job Is One of the Best Things That Ever Happened to Me

Ryan Nicodemus Laughing at being laid off

A Day to Remember

I sat down in the harshly lit conference room and slid his birthday present across the table. It was September 29th—my boss’s birthday. And it was less than a month before my 30th birthday. It was also the day I lost my job.

My boss, my boss’s boss, and a lady from human resources were sitting on the other side of the large, meticulously-polished conference table. My boss shook his head and a frown materialized on his face. I knew it wasn’t good news—sitting in a room with your boss, his boss, and HR typically isn’t a recipe for good news—but my first thought was, “It really sucks for him that he has to let me go on his birthday.”

“We’ve eliminated your position with the latest round of cuts. This change is effective immediately,” one of them said. And that’s when everything changed.

Seven months after Joshua left his job, I was laid off with no notice, with no friendly warning, with no heads-up—just blind-sided after working incredibly hard for a corporation. Seven years, eight job titles, living the corporate dream—over in an instant.

“Do you have any additional questions before HR goes over the details with you?”

Nudged Into a More Meaningful Life

No, I didn’t have any additional questions. I just sat there and thought, “This is the best thing that could have happened to me.”

It was as if a gigantic weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I’ve never been the kind of person who mopes around and feels sorry for himself. I knew it was time for me to move on, and this was the nudge I needed to jump off Corporate America’s cliff…ahem, I mean ladder.

It was the nudge I needed to focus full-time on my passions, the nudge I needed to focus my time on the important things in life—my health, my relationships, my growth as an individual, and contributing to other people in meaningful ways. This is the drastic change I needed.

Thankfully, my gradual transition into minimalism in 2010 and 2011 has allowed me to buy less stuff, spend less money, cut most of my bills, payoff most of my debt, save a little money, and live a more meaningful life with less stuff. I’ll still need to make other cutbacks as needed: I contacted a new realtor to sell my condo, I’m attempting to sell my car, etc. But none of that matters—I’m free!

Pursuing My Passions and Contributing More

Adding value to other people’s lives has been my passion for as long as I can remember. Adding value was the thing I enjoyed most about my corporate career—I led and managed a large team of people, and I enjoyed coaching and mentoring those people more than anything else at that job. Unfortunately, a lot of things occurred in the corporate world that prevented me from allocating all my time to adding value to those people.

Thanks to the success of this site, I’ll be able to do what I love—I’ll be able to contribute to people in meaningful ways—and not worry about finding another corporate job.

Moreover, I haven’t had as much time as I’ve wanted to respond to comments, return emails, or have conversations with readers. Now I’ll get to spend more time with all of you. I’ll have more time to spend on editing our second book, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, which I’m incredibly excited to share with you in December. I’ll get to put more time into providing quality content and authentic advice based on my experiences.

I’m thankful for this site and its readers. It has helped free us to pursue our passions. I can’t wait to see where things take Joshua and myself, and I can’t wait to see where life takes you, too. Let’s enjoy this journey together.

My Relationships: My Friends and Family

This has been a huge struggle for me ever since I started my corporate climb. As I advanced my career and climbed the corporate ladder, I often worked 50-70 hours per week, and I lost track of family and close friends. I started to feel like my job was more important than my relationships. I believed they would understand why I wasn’t around as much. Some of them understood, but it didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel right. We can’t just brush off our friends and family. I’m not going to anymore.

My Health: Diet and Exercise

Living the corporate life was often a great excuse to let my diet go (I’ll just grab a quick snack before the meeting!). It was also a great excuse to skip daily exercising (I’m just too busy to exercise today!) Those excuses (albeit bullshit excuses) are gone now, and I’m committed to living a healthier life, one in which I’m accountable for and focused on my own diet and exercise.

Now What?

I’m not going to lie, I still have that joyfear feeling. Leo talks about this in an essay he posted shortly after we met him in Portland. Of course there are a few things that I am fearful about—What if I fail? What if people don’t respect me as much? What if , what if, what if?—but I mostly feel joy.

I plan to live a more meaningful life focused on health, relationships, pursuing my passions, growth, and contribution. No, I don’t think you need to leave your job to live a meaningful life; but, for me, it was the nudge I needed to get the balance back in my life (70 hours per week and being perpetually on call prevented me finding balance).

We’ll likely do a multi-city meetup tour this winter, and I hope to see you there. Or, if you’re ever in Dayton, Ohio, and want to get a cup of coffee with me, just send me a message on Twitter, I’d love to meet you.

For those of you who may be facing a similar situation (e.g., you’re uncertain about your job, you’re unsure if you should go pursue your passions, etc.), you might be looking for advice. Well, I don’t have all the answers. But what I do have is my commitment to add value whenever I can. So feel free to leave your comments, questions, or cynical remarks in the comments. I’ll answer your questions to the best of my ability.