Math vs Mental Drama
Ep. 308
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In this episode, I delve into a common issue I see in the Quitter Club: the mental anguish caused by our fears and imaginations. Our brains have a habit of creating worst-case scenarios that often never come to pass. Listen to learn the importance of distinguishing between the “math” (the actual facts) and the “mental drama” (our fears and what-ifs). We’ll talk through how to figure out your financial runway and why knowing your numbers can turn the daunting task of quitting into a manageable, even exciting, plan. Let’s break free from the mental drama and get you moving towards a life you love! 

Show Transcript
Hey, welcome to Lessons from a Quitter, where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you've spent getting to where you are. If ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.
Hello my friends and welcome to another episode. I am so excited to have you here. This is something new for me. If you're listening to the audio, um, of this podcast, I am actually trying to record in a professional studio. I'm at my cousin's studio, he has a podcast studio and I'm recording the video, which is very weird for me to look into a camera. Uh, I'm so used to sitting at my desk and just talking alone in my room to a microphone and only doing the audio.
I've done that for about 300 episodes and I figured it's time to start something new and I'm looking for ways to get the content out in um, different mediums like maybe YouTube and some short clips for social media. And so I'm jumping on this bandwagon of videotaping the podcast. So we're gonna see how it goes. So the next couple episodes I'm gonna record here. I'm super excited about it, but also very nervous because I don't normally record the video. So, you know, trying new things. I hope you guys are all. Well, I wanted to talk about a topic that I coach on in various ways and I see it coming up. I've been seeing it coming up more and more in the Quitter Club, my membership. And it's something that I think can save so much mental anguish, so much suffering that so many people have.
And I'm gonna start it off with this Seneca quote that says, we suffer more in imagination than in reality. And I think that you have all experienced this and you know how true it is, right? We sit and we dwell on these worst case scenarios. We have anxiety about things in the future that don't ever actually pan out. We create these scenarios that cause so much suffering and turmoil and unease and what ifs and all these questions. And we, in reality, whatever ends up happening, we just figure it out, right? We just take care of it. It's really not as bad or it doesn't come to pass or whatnot. And one of the things that I have found, especially with careers, especially when people are making decisions about what they wanna do next, where they wanna go, is this idea about like what is the reality?
What is actually happening? And what is your brain just kind of running away with its fears and trying to freak you out with all the what ifs, right? Whenever I coach people on it, I always ask them like, I wanna know the math versus the mental drama. Okay? So this is how I think about this concept is in most situations there is the math, which I liken to the facts. Like the facts of the situation, what's actually happening, what we're actually actually working with, what the actual situation is, and then the mental drama, which is all the thoughts, all the things that we add to it, all the what ifs. And it's a lot of what your brain does on purpose to kind of keep you spinning and stuck and not taking a step and not trying something new and not going after it. And for most of us, it's the mental drama is where we suffer more and what keeps us stuck, where the math is actually pretty figureoutable.
Okay? And so what do I mean by this? I'll give you a really easy example that I see happening all the time because people come to me because they wanna quit their jobs because they hate their job or they wanna go after some passion project, they wanna start that business, they wanna change their careers and then they'll tell me, I can't quit. Like I can't financially quit. I need this paycheck. Which is understandable and often very true, right? But then I'll ask them like, okay, well like what is the financial situation? What is your financial plan, right? Like let's say your expenses are what, and you're bringing in how much and how much do you have saved? And how much debt do you have? And you know, what is your runway? How much would you have to save for how long before you could quit, right?
Because then we can start making a plan when we know the math of it, when we know like, okay, if I know my expenses and I know how much I bring in every month and I know how much my spouse brings in every month, or I know how much I have saved, or I don't have any debt, or I have this much debt or whatever, I can literally put it into a calculator and figure out like I need to save for the next two years to, you know, fund my runway. And what I mean by runway is the amount of money that I would need if I left in order to cover my expenses, right? So let's say in order to feel safe, I wanna have one year of a runway, okay? Everyone gets to decide their runway differently however they want, whatever their risk tolerance is.
And it's not as though like, I think you can have whatever risk tolerance you want. I'm not here to tell you like, no, you only need a three month savings or you only need six months, you wanna have a year, have a year, great, but at least let's know what you need, right? To feel safe. So then when you tell me it's a year and we figure out like, okay, this is your runway. You're gonna have to save for two years to pay off all your debt to save up for your runway, to have whatever money it is that you wanna have to let's say invest in your business or whatnot. Now we know that's the math, right? That's the facts of a hit where we can then decide like then we can do something about it. Then we can decide like we, we gonna go from here, right?
I know I'm gonna stay at this job for the next two years so I can stop entertaining this idea of quitting every day. Like every week I don't need to go back and forth. I'm like, should I quit? Should I not, right? I don't need to create all of this suffering. I already know I'm gonna be here for two years. That's the goal. That's the game plan. I'm gonna start saving. And it's so funny, when people do actually get into the nitty gritty of the math, it starts becoming kind of a game. You start realizing like, okay, if I need to save a thousand dollars a month for the, the next two years and that's sort of what I have calculated based off my expenses and income, I start thinking like maybe I can save more by cutting back on this. Maybe I can make a little bit extra doing this odd, you know, job on the weekends.
Or maybe I can sell something I have in my house. And you see so many people kind of shorten that timeframe go from two years to kind of funding their runway and paying off all their debts in, you know, a year and a half or something. And so like then it becomes something that we can work with. But what happens so often is I'd ask people this question and they have no idea when they say like, I can't quit. And I'm like, okay, well tell me what that means. Like let's talk about the math of it, right? What are your expenses? How much money do you need every month in order to cover those? How much money do you need in order to feel safe? They have no idea because they've never actually sat down to calculate any of this. They just have this feeling of feeling unsafe.
They have this feeling of like, uh oh, if I don't have a regular paycheck every other week because I've been conditioned to believe that I need to have a paycheck all the time, then I can't do anything, then I'm just gonna stay stuck. And this is what I see happen year after year after year with people where they stay stuck in a career for five, 10 years because they're still stuck in this idea of like, well what if, what if I run outta money but I don't even know how much money I need? I don't even know how much I would need to replace it with. Like I recently was coaching someone who um, was laid off and she has a side gig. So she had a job right now obviously there's tons of layoffs happening in tons of jobs. And she was lucky enough that she has some freelance clients on the side.
And so she was going back and forth about whether she should go full-time in her business and try to grow her business, this freelance business that she had or whether she should try to get another job. And when you're in this place of like, you don't know where you're making that decision from, which it's just based on like, well I don't know. Hopefully I'll have enough money to cover my expenses. There is a lot of programming, there is a lot of thoughts that come in that will stop you because you'll start thinking of like, yeah, well what if I don't make enough money and what if I don't get enough clients and what if it doesn't work? And what I was coaching her on immediately was, well how many clients do you need? How much money more do you need to replace your income? It's a very basic question, right?
Before we can even know. Because you might look at that and say like, oh, there's no way I'm gonna get 10 clients. Like I'm not gonna have the bandwidth to be able to cover what I would need for my expenses. Okay? Then it becomes clear that I need to get a job right now until I figure out how to grow my business, right? But for her, what was interesting is when she finally sat down and did it, she realized she's actually pretty close to covering all of her expenses. So she doesn't really need that much more, maybe one or two clients in order to not even have needed her full-time job, right? But it was something that because she was in this space of like fear and scarcity and like, oh, I have to hold onto this job and I have to hold onto these clients and I have to constantly work myself.
Especially 'cause like we are in this kind of culture of constantly needing more and more. She was panicked when she lost her job as a lot of us are. 'cause it's like, well now this source of income's not here. And as soon as we figured out the math, it was amazing to watch how much of that fear dissipated and actually how much like pride came into it, right? She started realizing like, wow, I really am kind of taking care of myself and I have actually started building this business and I do have another source of income. And how wonderful that I had that when you know, everybody thinks the safety of corporate America is actually safe. Like when they decide to just pull the rug out from under me, it's amazing that I now have something else to lean back on. And that isn't actually this pipe dream.
'cause I think sometimes in our brain we love to believe like, oh, I can't really have a full-time business or I don't know what I'm doing. Or whatever other imposter syndrome we have. And then you look at the facts and you're like, oh, I fully could. I fully could because I'm already doing it. I'm just not giving myself that credit, right? And so I want you to think about where you're doing this in your own life, right? I think this is one of the first things I talk to people about when they come and they talk about quitting. I have a a runway calculator in the Quitter club that helps you kind of figure out what your runway is. But I always want people to get an understanding of like what are we talking about realistically here? Because yes, a lot of us are burned out and a lot of us wanna quit and we all have different privileges.
Some of us know that we can quit. Like maybe we already have a ton saved up. Maybe we have a spouse that we can rely on. Maybe we have money from other sources, whatever that we kind of know like the math of it is already there, then we know that all we really need to work on is that mental drama, right? I need to work on my mindset. I need to work on why am I so afraid to not have a job? What do I make it mean about me to leave this right? Then it's more fears. But there's a lot of us who don't have that privilege and that's okay too, right? My runway might just be longer, someone else might be able to quit right now and I might have to wait 2, 3, 5 years. Okay, well let's get started on that. Let's figure out if my runway is five years from now because I have school loans and I have some debt and I have all of my expenses and I have to be able to cover it, what do I need to like cover right now?
Right? What is the bare minimum of my expenses? How much would I need to put away each month to be able to build that runway? What could I bring my expenses down to to maybe not need to have a job that pays as much? Like I see that too a lot where somebody might have a high paying job and they ha this belief like, well I can't leave unless I'm making this much. And I'm like, is that true though? Like have you done the math of it? I know you want to make that much and you should, and we'll work on ways to be able to get you to make that much or even more. But let's look at all of our options. Like if my expenses are $5,000 a month and right now I'm making $10,000 a month, can I get a job that maybe makes me a little bit more happy where I'm, I'm making $6,000 a month and it still covers my expenses?
Like is that what I wanna do in a transition kind of role until I find the thing I wanna do or until I build my business or you know, that might gimme more flexibility. I have more options when I know my math, right? Like I have more ability to figure out what works for me right now, what will work for me in the future, how I plan for it. Unfortunately, I think for most of us we just sit in this like, well I could never do that. I can never have a business. I can never make enough money to, you know, pay myself what I need. I can never make enough money to cover my expenses. And I'm always like, is that true? Do we know that? Show me the math. If you show me the math and you say like, no. Like there's legitimately no way for me to ever cover my expenses without having this income.
Fine, I am all on board. And I talk a lot about this with the people that I coach. Like I'm never one to try to push you to quit too early. I don't think that the stress of that is conducive to helping you build whatever you need to build. I'm all for slowing it down and figuring out like, hey, I need to be here for the next two years and I can learn how to love it here and I can learn how to like change my relationship with where I'm at. That's fine and dandy, but at least I know then I'm working towards something. I think the most suffering that I see with so many people in this feeling of stuckness or lostness is this kind of spinning, this circling with no direction of where we're going. 'cause we don't know because we haven't planned anything out.
And so it's kind of just like this groundhogs day of like every day, every Monday I get up, I go to work, I do the same thing and there's no end in sight and I just know I need this paycheck. And I know that I am just constantly like, you know, it's funding my life and I have some maybe left over, but I don't really know where this is going and I wanna change desperately, but I don't know how to get there. And then I just, I'm gonna keep feeling more hopeless and getting more upset and getting more angry and directing all of my hate towards corporate America, which I'm not saying is unfounded, but it's not gonna help me. It's not gonna get me out of this. And I promise you when you start figuring out like what is the math here and what is the mental drama, right?
Where is all of the other fears coming from? It becomes easier to make really actionable plans and it becomes so simple. Like every time I break it down for people, it becomes like the answer is very clear. It's like, oh okay, I need to make an extra thousand dollars in order to leave this job and do my freelance stuff, right? Or I need to build this side business while I'm doing this. You know, I need to keep my job or I wanna get a part-time job. My expenses would be covered by a part-time job. And then that would allow me to build this side business, right? I can make more decisions. But I think that for so many of us, we are so afraid of dealing with the mental drama. Like we're so afraid of dealing with what would I do if I regret it?
What would I do if people judge me? What if the business doesn't work? What if I don't have enough money? What if you know all the what ifs that we never answer that we just let our brain kind of take us on this ride that we're constantly spinning about. We never actually get to the math. And so that's what I wanna encourage you to do is figure out the math, figure out like what your runway plan looks like. Figure out what your expenses are, get really intimate with your money and understand like what you have, what you need, how you can make that, what are some ways that you can maybe supplement that income that you could find other ways to bring in that income? Because then it becomes easier to start figuring out what your options are. And it becomes easier to look at your short term versus your long-term goals, right?
Maybe your long-term goal is to leave this industry or this career or to start a business, but maybe your short term goal is to pay off debt. Maybe it's like, hey, this student loan is what's gonna like kind of hold me back so maybe I can spend the next two years figuring out how to aggressively pay it off. I don't know, maybe that's the issue that you have to deal with. Maybe it's something else, but we can never know until we sit down and do the math. I've had, um, a number of clients who are terrified that they're going to run outta money, right? They're terrified to not have a job. They're terrified that like if they don't have a salary, their whole life is gonna fall apart. And then we do the math and they have five times the runway that they would need saved up already.
They've already worked for so long, they already have this very large nest egg. Now I'm not saying this is everybody, but there are people that have this situation and it's fascinating to see that like then it's not really the money. Like we think a lack of money or the, you know, the possibility of a lack of money is what makes me feel insecure or makes me feel unsafe. But a lot of people have the money and they still feel insecure and unsafe because it's their thoughts about the money. It's their thoughts about, uh oh, what if all of a sudden everything goes to hell and I lose all of this even though that's not likely because you will course correct and go get a job, right? Worst case scenario is if you start realizing you're losing some money and you're not, I don't know, your business isn't taking off or whatnot, the worst case scenario is then you go back and you get another job.
But so many people are just sitting in this mind drama, in this suffering, in this kind of imagination of everything's gonna go to hell, I'm gonna lose it all. I'm gonna end up homeless and so I can't leave this job. And so then they stay somewhere where they're deeply unhappy, where they know it's not a right fit, where they might have depression or anxiety or deal with toxic bosses or deal with like harassment issues or all these things they don't have to do because they've convinced themselves that it's unsafe. And I promise you a quick look at the math often tells you whether it's unsafe or not, whether you really have to kind of suck it up or whether you have more options. And so I want you to look at this. And I know I say this, obviously the examples that I've given are based on actual math, right?
They're based on actual numbers, which I do think a lot of times is where we wanna start. But I think of this concept even bigger than that. 'cause I think of it as like, where is it the actual facts right now? Where is the problem here? And where is my mind kind of running off on a million different tangents and like scaring me and telling me that it's uncertain and that I'm crazy and that everyone's gonna judge me, right? Where is the actual math of this? And I think when you pare it down and you think like, Hey gay, this is the facts of this situation. I've been in this career for X number of years, I have experience in this. I have worked, you know, in these companies I have these references. Like these are my facts and I wanna try something new. Like I get another example is like a lot of people will tell me I can't take a year off.
I can't take a sabbatical 'cause I'll never get a job again. And I'm like, where's the math in that? Tell me the facts of that. Where did you see that? Like why don't you look for the other facts? Look at people that have done that. How many people are doing that in corporate America, right? When you look at the facts of like, is it true that people who take a year off can never get another job, right? No, of course it's not true. 'cause it's happening more and more and there's tons of evidence if you look for it and tons of facts that show you that people can do it. But I think a lot of us like to like kind of run off with these ideas of like the what ifs. But what if I don't get hired? What if that kills my resume?
What if people judge me? What if on and on and on. And the thing about these, what if questions is when there's no answer to it, like your brain asks you that question, what if I never get hired? How can you answer that? 'cause you can't know what happens in the future, right? So then you start believing yourself. You're like, yeah, that's a real possibility that I never get hired. And so then you spin on this what if question, but when you bring it back to like, let's look at the reality, let's look at the truth. What's the reality? Are people taking time off and coming back to work? Yeah. If I look into that, how long do people typically take breaks? How long are sabbaticals? What is becoming the norm? Maybe I can talk to some people that have taken it. Maybe I can talk to people in recruiting.
Maybe I can see sort of what's happening in the workplace. I can get a better understanding if I don't just sit in like kind of what if land in the mental drama without actually looking at a plan. If I look at like, no, it's very common for people to take six months or a year. Is that enough time for me? Is that what I'm willing to do? Right? What are the percentages? What are the statistics? Because when you look at the facts, when you look at the math, when you look at what is actually happening, it tends to be much more basic than our imagination likes to run off with. It tends to be much more fixable, much more doable. There tends to be tons of evidence that show that whatever it is, the thing that you want is plausible. If someone else is doing it, that means you can do it too.
And you just have to show your brain that. So even in your day to day life, I want you to just ask yourself the question right now. Like if you're suffering through something, like I want you to ask yourself like what's the math here versus the mental drama, right? Where is the facts of what's going on right now? And can I deal with those facts versus what's going on with all of the insanity in my head? All right? I promise you that it'll start helping you like narrow the crazy of our brains and get you to actually create a plan, get you to look at the math and then decide, can I actually do something from here or not? Do I wanna take this risk or not? I can make a much more level-headed like decision and create a short-term goal and work towards the thing that I want than I will ever be able to do when I'm sitting and spinning in this mental drama of what if forever and ever and ever.
All right, my friends. So figure out your math, do your numbers. If you want help with that, you can join me in the Quitter Club. I help you through creating your runway, your financial runway, looking at your financial numbers. We can talk about all that stuff. You can go to to learn more about the membership. But even if you don't join, I want you to just think about it for yourself is like, what are my numbers? What is the math here? I promise you it's the best way to get you into action. All right, my friends, I hope you found this helpful, and I'll be back next week with another episode.
Hey, if you are looking for more in-depth help with your career, whether that's dealing with all of the stress, worry, and anxiety that's leading to burnout in your current career or figuring out what your dream career is and actually going after it, I want you to join me in the Quitter Club. It is where we quit what is no longer working like perfectionism, people pleasing imposter syndrome, and we start working on what does, and we start taking action towards the career and the life that you actually want. We will take the concepts that we talk about on the podcast and apply them to your life, and you will get the coaching tools and support that you need to actually make some real change. So go to and get on the waitlist. Doors are closed right now, but they will be open soon.