For years, I dreamed of the day when I would tell my employer I was tired and done, and leaving for a dream work situation. This was just my dream until I took action to make it reality. It took two-and-a-half years, but I quit and now live a life I mostly love.

Many people risk turning their dream into a nightmare by prematurely quitting a job they hate. Quitting without a plan is not a place of strength. Before you quit your job, make sure you have a foundation of these four things.

1. An emergency fund sufficient for ordinary emergencies.

The stats on Americans and emergency funds are scary. Most emergencies would wipe the average person out. If you are thinking about quitting a job, the emergency fund should be even larger than the standard. Have an emergency fund that withstands the income inconsistency of starting a business -- especially a lifestyle business.

There is no magic number but be prepared. A strong mindset is important, but don’t ignore common sense. Have something to fall back on.

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2. Have a proven and consistent income.

Making a couple of bucks for a few months isn’t a proven lifestyle business. This kind of business is a roller coaster ride until you know what you are doing. You can make a lot of money quickly, then nothing the next month.

Don't quit before your lifestyle business has made money for more than just a few months and you have multiple streams (or at least trickles) of income you can grow. Depending on any one thing for your income leaves you in a bad place when that one thing vanishes. Let your lifestyle business prove itself before you quit your job.

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3. Have a clear plan for growth each year.

In addition to already making money, you need a plan to grow the dream. What works today may not work tomorrow. You need to be diverse and think of your business as a business. Spend some time planning marketing strategies that will bring new business. Spend time planning how you can diversify your income even more.

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4. Don’t get lazy.

You work very hard building your dream on the side while you work a fulltime job. You need that same work ethic when you are living the dream. When you are tired and frustrated by the journey, take a break. Regroup and re-plan, but never get lazy.

Life would be great if everything worked out just like it does in the movies, but that’s not a reality. You have to be smart before you do something that could ruin your life or the life of your family. Put a strong foundation in place before quitting your job to work your dream. It took years, but I did it. You can, too.