Last year, I joined the “rat race”. I got myself a full-time job after years of trying to make it as a freelancer. I was beyond excited to start my new job. It offered me nearly double what I was making as a freelancer – plus the usual benefits – and it was an exciting new career challenge.

So you might be surprised to find out that the very first day I started, I began creating an exit strategy.

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You've probably heard stories of people plotting their exit strategies from their full-time jobs. Generally, it seems that someone is motivated to create one because they hate their job, boss, commute, pay, hours they work, or even (sadly) all of the above. But in my case, it's about none of these things. Let me rewind.

Before I was a freelancer, I was a mildly contented full-time employee.

Although I didn't love what I did at my job, there were too many other perks that made it worth my while. I believe the term is, “the golden handcuffs.”

I saved a little money, but I had no budget, and didn't keep track of my finances at all. There was absolutely no “plan B” if something were to happen to my job. Instead, I focused on maximizing fun during my non-work hours, and that meant a lot of mindless spending.

But then I was laid off. I was immediately thrown into the world of freelancing with zero preparation or skills on how to manage my business or myself.

I blew through savings quickly. Soon, I was left living pretty much paycheck to paycheck the entire time I was a freelancer. You can imagine the stress. But I also learned a few things during those tough times, including how to live more frugally. I also tracked my money closely and followed a very strict budget.

As I began my new chapter as a full-time employee, I vowed to do things very differently. This time, I'm preparing myself not only for that pink slip if it should come, but building up my tools and savings in case one day, out of the blue, I decide for myself that it's time to move on.

What are my tools?

Build an Emergency Fund.

My first priority is building up a huge financial cushion. This is not only for life's unexpected expenses, but in case something happens to my job. There is nothing worth buying that is better than financial peace of mind.

Don't Inflate Your Lifestyle.

It's tempting to finally cut loose and spend more money since I'm making so much more, but hey, I'm already used to living frugally, so why change that?

I'm using that “extra” money I'm making to sock away for my retirement. I'm also putting some of it into my emergency fund.

Build Your Skills and Beef Up Your Resume.

Just because I got this job based on my current skills, that does not mean that I can or should rest on my laurels. I plan on learning as much as I can (the company offers tons of free training). Also, I will take notes on when and how much I’ve saved or earned money for the company, or did anything else noteworthy that I can use to my advantage in my next venture.

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Keep Other Irons in the Fire.

I dropped many of my side hustles due to lack of time. But there are still a few that I keep on the back burner. It's nice to know that if something happens to my job, I still have some ways to earn extra money while I'm searching for something else.

Continue Building Relationships.

Being an introvert means that I generally loathe networking. However, I know it's important for me to continue building relationships with people. They could potentially be future clients, employers, business partners, etc. If I visit a new city, I like to find someone in my field, or in another field that I'm interested in, and take him or her out for coffee or a drink. Hey, you never know!

I don't know what the future holds. But the exciting thing is that, no matter what, I know that I'll be in a much better position – both mentally and financially – for whatever that next chapter may be.

* Name has been changed