Recipe for Change


Johnny and I have discussed working for the weekends and choosing passion vs. pay. We discuss these things A LOT. We’ve discussed it here and at home pretty much anytime Johnny has to work a weekend or one of us feels stretched too thin at work. And then recently we read an article about a guy who did more than just discuss the notion: he actually did something about it and resigned from his job to pursue his passion. But he resigned in freaking delicious fashion:

MrCakeimage via Twitter

This cake letter hit close to home, and not just because my stomach registers a 3.0 on the grumble scale every time I see cake. It’s that it says, “having recently become a father I now realise how precious life is and how important it is to spend my time doing something that makes me, and other people, happy.” It’s like this guy has been a fly on the wall in our house. And while I’m more of a mother than a father, I think this applies to Johnny almost perfectly.

Having a baby was Johnny’s “Ah-ha” moment in life, too. While we both have good jobs that we’re currently happy with, we can’t help but think of the potential for lives less dictated by our jobs. We won’t be turning in edible resignation letters anytime in the next few months — or years, honestly. But the desire for change is there. Give us another five years, and we’ll have found a way to spend more of our “precious life” doing what makes us happy. For Johnny this means being able to leave work at work and have time to be a little-league coach. For me it means having weekday evenings free of deadlines.

What do you think Mr. Cake’s thought process was to get to the point of resigning from his job? No one really knows, but here’s my version of his story, with a dash of creative license thrown in: Mr. Cake had always dreamed of owning his own bakery. But that nasty little booger called “finances” got in the way. So he started working a job that paid well, while he scrimped and saved and worked at his cake business on the side. Mr. Cake baked late into the night most nights, working well past the point of exhaustion. He turned to energy drinks and was on a first-name basis with the cashier at the corner gas station. Though sleep deprived, Mr. Cake was happy doing what he loved. But he knew there’d come a point when he’d have to choose: his cakes or his day job. Doing both just wasn’t sustainable. And then he became a dad, and the answer was clear. So he wrote a letter to his boss, but not jut any letter — an edible letter.

Okay, you know the rest.

So first, he had to have the desire to change things up. Then he had to start down the path of changing. On his website, it says he started his cake business almost three years ago. I’m probably not too far off in saying he developed an energy drink addiction during that time. And last, he had to make the scare-your-pants-off decision and actually change.

So let’s recap: 1) Have the desire for change. 2) Lay the groundwork for change. 3) Make the change.

And that doesn’t just have to apply to our careers, either. For some, it’s pursuing a specific passion. For others it’s quitting something (or someone) who’s bringing you down. And for all of us, it’s quitting bad spending habits and being on a budget that will ultimately make us more free… They can take our cake, but they can’t take OUR FREEDOMMM!!! (Johnny will be really proud of this Braveheart reference.)

We all have one life, folks. If we want to have our life and eat it too (last cake pun, I swear), we shouldn’t let anything stop us. Is there anything you desire to change? Have you already started to lay the groundwork for that change? Or are there any totally awesome people out there who have already made that change?

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  • Reply Pauline May 6, 2013 at 7:05 am

    I quit my job over 3 years ago and couldn’t be happier with the decision. It takes a bit of planning (took me 18 months or so), maybe more if you want to be more comfortable with your decision. You have to provoke change and once you do it all falls into place and may happen even faster than you thought.

    • Reply Johnny May 6, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      Whenever I read about “I quit my job!!!” stories, it seems like they always leave out the part about planning for it, so I’m glad you mentioned that. And I love “provoke change.” It’s not just going to happen or fall in your lap. And if it does, you’re one lucky son of a gun.

      Thanks for chiming in, Pauline.

  • Reply Elvin @ Journey To Millions May 6, 2013 at 9:05 am

    While reading your post, I remembered the parable of the fisherman and the bank investor from Todd Tresidder’s blog. I don’t have an idea why. It kept me thinking the purpose of life. Should we chase success, just like the bank investor, to live the life we’re dreaming of? Or are we living in a life we dreamed of, just like the fisherman?

    Anyway, I believe you’re still young and can still recover from mistakes. So, just try it out but create a back up plan in case it didn’t work.

    • Reply Johnny May 6, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      I just found the parable on your blog and LOVED it. Man, that is awesome. I might shoot you an email in a few weeks and ask to share it — whenever our “pursue your passion” bug strikes again. 🙂

  • Reply K.Nicole May 6, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I’m in the doing my passion while keeping my day job phase right now. I hope that within the next year my passion pays off and I will be able to resign from my job and pursue my passion full time. One of my impetuses for quitting is that I dread the mornings, not because I hate my job, but getting three little boys ready with a set time limit is like me running a marathon every morning! On the days when for some reason I don’t have to go to work and I get them ready I can do it at a more leisurely pace with MUCH less stress for all of us.

    • Reply Johnny May 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      That last bit explained this past weekend perfectly. Granted, we only have one baby girl, but still. It was so pleasant to be able to take our time loading her into the car instead of freaking out that I wasn’t going to get to work on time.

      Congrats on juggling both right now. And hopefully we’ll hear from you in the next year or so about making the leap!

  • Reply Michelle May 6, 2013 at 9:29 am

    I definitely have the desire for change. I’m a huge worrier however, and this has stopped me from continuing on. UGh I just need to make the change!

    • Reply Johnny May 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      I’d put Joanna and me in the worrier camp, too. I’m knocking on wood and don’t think this is desired, BUT sometimes I kinda wish we were pushed off the ledge (like losing our jobs). I think with the right plan and a little taste of success, that’s a better bet, but it’s going to take some guts to make it happen.

  • Reply May 6, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Well, we’re just starting out in our careers, so we made the choice to live frugally and retire early to do what we love right up front. However, I think this concept of change applies to most anything about your life. Big or small. Changing requires learning, discipline, and initiation.

    • Reply Johnny May 6, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      I like that outlook. And I think you’re right about its application across anything you want in life. I think where we get caught up is in overplanning without the doing, or initiating without the planning. And then we get frustrated and give up. So it’s time to marry those ingredients together and bake a cake. 🙂

  • Reply Mrs PoP @Planting Our Pennies May 6, 2013 at 10:26 am

    We’re laying some serious groundwork for a major change in about 5 or 6 years. We don’t have our own version of Mr Cake yet, but that’ll come before too long.

    • Reply Johnny May 6, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      That timeframe isn’t too far off from what Joanna and I are hoping for. And it seems a heckuva lot more obtainable than waiting to cash out our 401k plans and retirement money. Waiting a few more weeks for the revival of Arrested Development seems like FOR-EV-ER. So waiting for retirement doesn’t even register.

      Start planning what that cake will taste like.

  • Reply Budget and the Beach May 6, 2013 at 10:30 am

    That cake idea is genius! And I could see how if it went viral (which it sort of did) that that is a great marketing tool for other people who want to do something similar. I’m sort of laying my groundwork by saying no to freelance jobs that would make me miserable…even though it would be extra money.

    • Reply Johnny May 6, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      That’s an awesome point! Money is just one piece of the puzzle. And the whole point of change (or at least this change) is to live a fuller, happier life. Money certainly isn’t the only answer to making that happen. In fact, so long you have enough for your needs, that might not even need to be in the equation.

  • Reply My Financial Independence Journey May 6, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I don’t have a passion per-se (certainly no passion that would ever make money), but I’m working hard to hit financial independence so that my next career and location change will be to a place of my choosing rather than just where the job happens to be.

    Also, now I want cake.

    • Reply Johnny May 6, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      I like the way that sounds. Joanna and I have had fun daydreaming with the 50 States Project, but we’re serious about making our next move on our terms, like you. Now go eat your cake. 🙂

  • Reply Cait May 6, 2013 at 11:31 am

    What I love most about this post is that it proves that you can’t just quit your job overnight. Mr. Cake had his cake business for a few years, before he could finally make it his full-time gig. Anyway, I have no idea what I want my career to look like in the next 5-10 years, but I do know that earlier this year I realized how important my spare time was. I stopped freelancing, because the extra time and deadlines were stressing me out too much. Do I miss the extra income? A little bit. But having a life is more important.

    • Reply Johnny May 6, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      That was definitely my favorite take away. The dude had a plan, beta tested it for a few years, realized he could probably scale it, waited for the right moment and BAM. Cake is BAKED!

      The thought I keep coming back to over and over is that I’d hate to look back in 20 years and realize I spent way too long chasing something while I could have enjoyed the here and now with my family all that time. And to avoid that, I think it takes making choices like the one you did to realize money is a small piece to the puzzle.

  • Reply Meghan May 6, 2013 at 11:32 am

    My plan is to become as financially independent as I can so that when I figure out which passion I want to pursue, I’ll have the freedom to do it. I’m not sure I’ll have the guts to leave my job until I am 55 unless I start a side venture that really takes off.

    • Reply Johnny May 6, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      This sounds like a really smart plan. But don’t cut yourself short at waiting until you’re 55. If it’s something you want BEFORE you’re 55, go for it! Make some plans to make it happen. Unless of course you really like your job, which some people really do. In which case just keep on chugging.

      • Reply Meghan May 6, 2013 at 10:49 pm

        I’m one of the minority of Americans who will still receive a pension. This did make me go look at OPM’s site, which said I had to be 62, not 55 (which I knew and forgot about and frankly it will likely be 70 by the time this 30 year old gets ready to retire). But my problem remains that I would have to either be miserable or earn the same salary + to make up for the pension. I don’t see it happening at this juncture, but I would love to do something on the side. On a very positive note, if I do stay until 62 years and 2 months, I’ll earn an extra .1% (so 1.1% per year of service) and would have 36 years. That’s 39.6% of my highest (however many it is by then) salary. If I decide to go earlier, it’s 1% per year with 20 as a minimum. That puts my minimum at 46. I’m pretty fortunate and am happy I got in to government work at a young age (I also transferred 4 years of a state pension to TSP. Granted, my options for side ventures are severely limited because of the numerous ethics statutes but there are possibilities.

        I’ve really appreciated your posts regarding whether to be paid well in a job that’s not very inspiring versus doing what you love for less. For now, I have to stay, but with the way things are going for the average worker, I could always end up in the entrepreneurial private sector. My undergrad is in business with a certificate in entrepreneurship and I’n working for the Feds. Go figure.

        • Reply Johnny May 8, 2013 at 2:08 am

          “My undergrad is in business with a certificate in entrepreneurship and I’n working for the Feds. Go figure.” Hah! Crazy how things work out like that, huh?

          That’s fantastic that you’ve got a pension. Most kids in our generation don’t even know what that word means. That certainly makes leaving a whole lot harder. The .1% sounds nice, but man, that 1% at 46 sounds even nicer. I’d be really tempted to cut loose then and pursue some other passions that pay at that point.

          But either way, congrats on finding a job that will help set you up so well later in life.

        • Reply Meghan May 8, 2013 at 2:12 am

          Oops, I’m, not I’n. Thanks, today the 20 year plan seems good enough!

  • Reply Jake Erickson May 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    This is a great post. I think so many people are afraid to change just because change brings unknowns and instability, but change can be great if done correctly. That cake is awesome, I only hope that I think of something equally as awesome when I decide to make a change.

    • Reply Joanna May 8, 2013 at 1:38 am

      I always think of an awesome idea/comeback AFTER the fact. So I love hearing about people who have the forethought to do awesome stuff! 🙂

  • Reply Laurie @thefrugalfarmer May 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    I love this story and every time I see it, it reminds me why we are working so hard to pay off debt. It also reminds me of a man I once knew who up and quit his job on a whim to pursue his passion and put his family into a financial disaster that they are still working to recover from some 5+ years later. Like Cait said, it has to start with a plan.

    • Reply Joanna May 8, 2013 at 1:37 am

      Interesting to hear the flip side. I think more often than not people’s own ventures don’t work out, so planning is key! Good reminder!

  • Reply taylor May 6, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    when we first got married, i was working retail in a store 45 minutes from home. my schedule was always different from day to day, and often i got home really late at night (my husband gets up super early for work), so we didn’t spend much time together. my job had the potential to be lucrative; however, my personal life was not. our friend’s parents own a vineyard about 10 minutes from my home, and they were needing some part-time help. we talked about it, prayed about it, and i quit my full-time job to work part-time closer to home. we have no children yet so many people asked me what i did with all my time. well, i volunteered. i joined a book club. i helped out with hubby’s little cousins while their caretakers (his and their grandparents) were having health issues. i was able to really focus on keeping my home — which, to us, was important. and we spend so much time together, we can now actually truly say we’re bff 🙂

    • Reply Joanna May 8, 2013 at 1:29 am

      Taylor, that’s awesome! You sound so happy with your decision. No job is worth it when it has the potential of jeopardizing your relationship with your spouse (in your case, not getting to see each other). And now you have more time for the important things! Way to go on making a hard decision that has made you happier!

  • Reply Rob May 6, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    “Or are there any totally awesome people out there who have already made that change?”

    Yes – me, me, me !!! 🙂

    Many years ago, while still “gainfully employed” (prior to retiring), I hit my “Peter Principle” (Google it if you don’t know what I’m referring to). Back then I was a manager, working for a large company, with a staff of 25 high tech peeps reporting to me. While in that job for 3 years, working on average 12-14 hours a day, I was gradually facing job burnout. Our 2 kids were both young toddlers at the time and life was getting harder and harder for my wife as well. In brief, there was no longer balance in our work / home life. Something had to give and so I decided that a management career was not for me. So, as others have commented above, I first made myself a plan. I started to look at other IT employment opportunities where I could revert back to using my technical strengths and skills while not “pushing paper” solely in a manager role. It took awhile but after I had lined up the right job at another company I then handed in my resignation to my old employer. They weren’t happy (since I was doing a good job for them) but my immediate boss did understand my reasons for leaving and so wished me luck. Yes, I took a salary cut and, yes, it was a bit of a risk changing jobs like that but I never regretted my decision. I regained my work / life balance and was able to once again see more of my young family so everything worked out well. I can’t quite recall but I think at the time my wife even baked me a cake to celebrate !!! 🙂

    • Reply Joanna May 8, 2013 at 1:35 am

      I loved reading about your experience, Rob! It’s good to hear that choosing a good work/life balance was the right decision for you, despite a pay cut. It’s like I’ve heard people say time and again: “You’ll never look back and wish you’d spent more time in the office.” You definitely made the best decision. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Semone Gee May 6, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I’m now starting out in the “real” world and so for right now I’m building up a foundation. This story is inspiring. What I like most about it is that he didn’t just quit on a whim, he ensured he had something to fall back on. Change is scary, especially when you’re leaving the sure for unsure, but he did it.

    • Reply Joanna May 8, 2013 at 1:40 am

      Agreed. Having a plan is so important!

  • Reply Moonwaves May 20, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    December 2014 is my deadline for having put things in place to be able to move jobs. Still like the work but am over working in the corporate world and want to try and get into a university instead. But have to make sure so part of my plan is to use part of my holidays this and next year to spend a few days getting “work experience” in an university, kind of like a mini-internship. Not really the done thing but I have enough contacts that I’m hoping to be able to swing it. And since moving to a university would mean earning substantially less than I do now I’ll need to have a back-up plan for some side-income (including making sure my contract doesn’t have a stupid 100% of your work has to be for us clause like my current one does). To that end I’ve found out what courses I need to do to sit the exams to become a state recognised translator and will be signing up for those when registration opens in a couple of weeks. It’s the first time I’ve really put proper thought and planning into a big change but I’ve realised I can’t just sit around waiting for that mysterious something to happen which will push me in one direction or the other because I might still be sitting here waiting in 20 years.

    • Reply Johnny May 20, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      I love the idea of your “mini-internship.” That’s a great idea. And congrats on setting a deadline and plan in place. I think we often get complacent, and unless we’re forced to make a change, nothing happens. So that’s great to hear that you’re going to make change happen on your terms.

  • Reply Moonwaves May 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Oooh, like the new edit comment feature (or was it always there and I just haven’t noticed it before?)!

    • Reply Johnny May 20, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      New as of a few weeks ago. I was tired of seeing all my typos all over the site and wanted an easier way to fix them. 🙂

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