I Quit The American Dream

Michael Leonard


At 29 years old, I had it all.

A cushy 6-figure job, owned a home, a BMW, a great girlfriend, a Corgi puppy, no debt, and quite frankly, an easy life.

There was only one problem. I was miserable.

I just kept thinking, is this it?

For a while, I numbed the pain with excess partying and wasteful spending as I climbed the corporate ladder. But eventually, I knew I couldn’t live like this for the rest of my life.

Instead of sitting around for the next 40+ years waiting to retire and then enjoy my life, I took action. I saved money, started writing online, and quit my job in May 2017 (after having made $200 from my blog — ever).

I was determined to figure out how to build an online business that inspires the world and pursue professional golf.

Since I made it out, I’ve had a lot of successes (and a lot of failures) but am proud to say I’ve never had to go back to a 9–5 career. Looking back, betting on myself was the proudest moment of my life.

Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned since quitting the American dream to pursue my passions.

We’ve Been Programmed Since Birth

“You must unlearn what you have been programmed to believe since birth. That software no longer serves you if you want to live in a world where all things are possible.” — Jacqueline E. Purcell

Most people thought I was absolutely nuts when I quit my job and turned my life upside down. At first, it was extremely disheartening as I was going after my dreams and thought everyone would cheer me on.

Quite the opposite happened — instead, I got a lot of hate. People said I never should’ve left such a “good” job, that I wasn’t grateful enough, and that I would never make it on my own.

Hearing that really hurt and deflated my ego at times. Making any money online isn’t easy, let alone when pretty much everyone in the world doubts you. Don’t get me wrong, I had support but as always, the critics were louder.

After a while, I started to tune out the noise and focus on what I wanted to achieve. Looking back now, I can see why I received so much criticism.


We’re all programmed and indoctrinated a certain way growing up. From zero to eight years old, we’re basically a walking sponge — taking in information that we see and hear around us. This is how we learn to survive and exist with others in society.

Since our subconscious is highly active during this time, we pretty much become our environment and take those childhood beliefs into the world. If left unchecked, these beliefs could rule the rest of our life!

The American Dream (arguably one of the greatest marketing slogans of all time), ran deep for me, like it did for so many others growing up. By quitting the American dream, my actions basically questioned most people’s core belief system.

Most people have been told their whole life go to school, get good grades, go to college, buy a house, climb the corporate ladder, retire, and die. Then, I do all that and end up miserable and decide to flip the script. No wonder the world wasn’t cheering me on.

After reading books like Psycho-Cybernetics and Think and Grow Rich, the hate made sense. My actions questioned their fundamental belief system which is scary for a lot of people.

All I can is just remember, the beliefs that you learned as a kid don’t need to stay with you forever — especially if they’re holding you back from living the life you want.

It’s never too late to upgrade your belief system so you can get what you want (and deserve).

The Weekend Is Just Another Day

“Life is too short to do shit you hate.” — Gary Vee

For most people, the weekends are a release. A time to finally get away from the monotony of the day to day every week.

In my past life, the weekend meant binge-drinking, over eating, and doing anything I could to forget about how much I hated my week. But by the end of the weekend, I got the Sunday scaries and had a looming anxiety to do it all over again.

Now, the weekend is just another day. Sometimes I work, sometimes I don’t.

When you start to create your life by design, all days become another day to do what you want. No more having to drink myself into a fog to avoid my unhappiness. Instead, I try to get a little bit better every single day to make my long-term vision a reality.

Imagine what it would be like knowing that every day could feel like a weekend?

That’s what happens when you chase your dreams and not go through your life like a zombie.

You Don’t Need So Much Stuff

“Stop buying things you don’t need to impress people you don’t even like.” — Suze Orman

I’ll be the first to say, I love Amazon and buying stuff online. But when I quit my job and was living off savings (with almost no regular income), I drastically cut down my spending to keep the entrepreneur dream alive. Amazon probably thought something was wrong as my year over year spending dropped around 70%.

It was that time I realized, I was just buying stuff to numb the pain of my day to day boredom. So let me ask, do you overspend on stuff you don’t need to justify the decisions you’re making in life? Or to impress people?

I know I did. When I worked in the corporate world it seemed like everyone was trying to one up everyone else. A bigger house, a better car, a more expensive vacation.

When I quit my job and started working in pure isolation at home, I realized that most of that stuff didn’t matter. I started to see how much energy I had wasted trying to impress others when in reality, only a few people close to me is all that matters.

Debt Isn’t the End of the World

“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” — Robert Kiyosaki

The first years of my journey were incredibly difficult financially. I barely made any money the first year and resorted to credit card debt instead of going back to the corporate world.

The next year I made money but spent more than I made in self-education. Two years after quitting my job, I had $60,000 of credit card debt. I was playing the balance transfer game with each card, barely making the minimum payments to keep the dream alive.

To make matters worse, I didn’t tell anyone about my debt as I had so much shame and guilt about it. I just kept thinking, two years prior, I had no debt and was making consistent income. But now, I had more than I could imagine paying off and lived in a constant state of fear.

While I was making money, it just wasn’t enough.

I was over investing in coaching programs and online courses as I was determined to become successful overnight and kept looking for a miracle. I was trying to hit a home run instead of playing the long game.

But with enough grit and tenacity, I cut down some spending and started making more than ever. Now, it’s almost all paid off and I look at the debt differently.

When you’re in debt, it’s hard to imagine a way out, it’s as if you’re drowning 24/7. For a while, all I did was worry about money and think about the amount I owed Visa and Mastercard a majority of my day.

Now, I’m grateful for the debt as it taught me valuable lessons.

Not only do I have that memory of paying off an insane amount of debt but I know that I can create money on demand. I also know that while it wasn’t ideal carrying that much debt, it’s not like my world crumbled.

People that loved me still loved me. Strangers I met at business events didn’t judge me or think I was a lunatic.

Remember, debt doesn’t define you!

I also realized that most people are terrified of credit card debt to start a business, yet are 100% fine with student loan debt. Probably because we’re indoctrinated with these beliefs growing up, when in reality, one isn’t better than the other.

Let’s get real, going to college doesn’t guarantee a high-paying job anymore. If you have to go into a little bit of debt to pursue your dreams and not end up with regrets, do it!

Freedom Wins

“Success is doing what you want, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want.” — Tony Robbins

While making money from my laptop is amazing, even when I wasn’t in the beginning, the freedom made it worth it. To me, having to go a day job, sit there for eight mind-numbing hours, and go to pointless meetings was a living nightmare.

I still remember pulling into the parking garage each morning and having to give myself a pep talk to go in. Sometimes I would even take a pre-workout supplement just to go into work! Then I would count down until lunch, then 4 pm to drive as fast as possible to the golf course to work on my real passion.

Now, I get to do what I want, when I want. To me, this is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

Of course, money is important and want you to make as much as possible but imagine a life of freedom. How much happier would you be if you had more time than ever to yourself.

What could you create? Who could you become in that time?

Life is too short to work at a job you hate when there are endless ways to make money online.

Entrepreneurship Is Personal Development

“Entrepreneurship is the greatest form of personal development ever.” — Ed Mylett

I loved college. But even with a 3.7 GPA or above every semester, I was not prepared for the real world.

The point?

College doesn’t prepare you for the real world but entrepreneurship does.

In fact, entrepreneurship will not only help you in the real world but also help you get to know yourself. When you’re working for someone else, it’s really easy to skip any personal development and focus on your day-to-day routine.

But when you’re your own boss, every habit, trait, and decision you make somehow impacts your business.

If you feel lazy and don’t want to work, you can fake it in the corporate world. But if you don’t show up in your business, money won’t either.

All of your fears and insecurities about yourself will come to the surface as you venture into running your own business. When that happens, you have a choice — you can either evolve or quit. There’s no third option.

For me, I went through massive amounts of personal development to figure out who I was at a core level and rid myself of old limiting beliefs. From walking on fire with Tony Robbins to working with a Shaman’s apprentice, I’m always game to keep evolving.

As one of my mentors, James Wedmore said, “Your business is a reflection of you.” If you want to grow your business, master your mind and evolve your consciousness.

Get Quiet and Question Everything

“The quieter you become the more you are able to hear.” — Rumi

When I quit the 9–5 world and started working at home, I realized how much more time I had to think about life. In the past it was work Monday to Friday, party during the weekend, and do it all over again the next week.

Looking back, I realized that I was just avoiding my feelings more than anything. When I quit, my girlfriend would go to work and I was there with my dog all day — it was more quiet time than I’ve ever had in my life.

In those moments of silence, I started to question so much.

Things like why:

  • Didn’t I do this sooner?
  • Are people okay with hating 80% of their days every week?
  • Have I tried to live to other people's standards (and not time)?
  • Aren’t we taught real-world skills in school instead of pointless topics?

Even if you don’t quit your job, I’m guessing you have more alone time thanks to the pandemic. Instead of binge-watching another show on Netflix, sit alone with a journal for one hour. Turn off your phone, and just monitor your thoughts. See what happens — I bet you will be amazed at what you’ll come with up over time.

In the moments of silence, you’ll find your true self and discover what you want from your life. But you have to get quiet so that you can finally hear the answers. Your intuition is wildly powerful if you have the patience to ask and receive.

Final Thoughts

While by no means have I figured it all out but things are trending upward in my entrepreneurial endeavors. Despite a global pandemic, I had my best year ever in 2020; financially, physically, mentally and emotionally.

The only reason I was able to deal with all the adversity last year was because of entrepreneurship. Without it, I would’ve crumbled.

Ironically, the company I quit in 2017 ended up laying off 1,000 people when COVID-19 hit. While I obviously felt terrible for all of them since I still have friends there, I was also proud of myself.

My mom called that day when she saw the news and said, “Wow, so glad you quit and run your own business now.” Hearing those words felt like I won.

Even if you don’t quit your job or do something drastic like I did, I encourage you to think differently this year. If you aren’t living your dream life (or actively working toward it), start today.

Do one thing that will help your future self. Get clear about what you want and begin to make it happen.

Remember, you can’t lose betting on yourself.

I promise it’ll be worth it.Photo by Panin on Deposit Photos

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My name is Michael Leonard and I am the creator of Inspire Your Success. I'm on a mission to help readers build online writing businesses and quit their jobs to live a life of freedom!

Scottsdale, AZ

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