Have you ever fantasized about quitting your day job? Have you ever woken up on a Monday morning and dragged yourself into work, wishing you could do something else for a living? Do you hold your tongue throughpointless meetings? Would you go into a different career - or self-employment - given the chance?

Perhaps you'd echo the words of Bubbly Krish, who told me I would appreciate if you could write something on leaving the rat race to be your own boss.

My first thought was where to begin? And then I thought about how I left the rat race myself and became my own boss. The crucial step, I think, was to set a date for quitting.

Does that sound a bit simplistic? Here's why and how it could work for you:

Pick Your Date...
I can't tell you quit in three months or quit in six months. How long you need depends on your situation. But I can tell you that if you set a firm, realistic but slightly challenging, date to hand in your notice, you'll find that everything else starts falling into place.

Decide on the date that'll be your very last day ever in your current job. Circle it on the calendar. Now work back two weeks (or four, depending on your notice period). Write hand in resignation. Draft that resignation letter today, with your resignation-date at the top.

Your dreams of quitting will suddenly start to seem more real.

Work Becomes More Bearable
Surprisingly, the mere act of setting a date to quit can make your current life seem that bit better. When you're having the week from hell at work, you can tell yourself it's just for three more months ... two more months ... one more month.

When you know you won't be staying much longer, you stop worrying about your promotion opportunities (or lack of them). And you don't need to think about the horror of the annual Christmas party if you're leaving by the end of November...

Your Plans Gain Focus
When you know you've only got, say, three months, your plans will start coming into focus. Perhaps you'll spend a weekend doing some serious research about the area you want to go into. If you're planning to freelance, you'll find the motivation to use your evenings to begin building up a client base. If you're starting a business, you'll start looking into what steps you need to take. Maybe you'll dust off that novel and start sending it out to publishers. Perhaps you'll find the energy to play at local gigs again. If you're thinking about going back into education, you'll get down to writing those grant applications or going for those scholarships.

It's all too easy for our dreams to be just that - dreams. Fantasies which, deep down, we know aren't ever going to come to anything real. But putting your I quit date on the calendar takes those dreams out of your head and into the world.

You'll Get Your Finances On Track
Lack of money traps many people in jobs they hate. If you're deep in debt, or if your monthly expenses are huge, you might feel that you have no choice but to stay in the rat race. A firm date gives you something to work towards - and it helps you deal with having to budget and control your spending in the short-term.

Topics like debt, frugality and cutting monthly expenses are far too huge for me to go into here. Some great blogs on these subjects include Get Rich Slowly and The Simple Dollar. Both have huge archives of useful material, but you might particularly want to check out:

Having a firm quit date means that you'll be much more motivated to take small actions that add up: brown-bagging lunch, curbing your impulse spending, eating breakfast at home instead of stopping for a latte and muffin on the way to work, carpooling, having nights in instead of nights out... You could end up saving a huge amount on everyday expenses.

Finally ... Keep Yourself Psyched Up
Once you've set that date, you don't want to lose the motivational rush you felt when picking it. I love reading books, ebooks and articles that are both motivational and practical, and which inspire me towards my goals. A couple of recent ones aimed at helping you leave the rat-race are:

Do you dream of leaving the rat race? What would you rather be doing? When are you going to quit? Set a date today, and let us know in the comments...