What Happens to Your Career When You’re the Only One Alive?

I asked this question to 10,000 people on my “Summer of Quitting” email list.

Everyone on earth disappears, except you. You are all alone. It’s like the movie “I Am Legend,” but no zombies. Everything else is still in place. Cars still on the roads and buildings still in tact and everything is peaceful. What’s the first thing that you do? How does your life and career change? What are your goals for the first 30 days and the first year?

All I have to say is WOW. The responses were amazing.

The responses ranged from, “Break into a sperm clinic and figure out a way to impregnate myself to repopulate the world,” to “Take a shit in the women’s bathroom since I was never able to do that before.”

This was my email back to them.

What I learned

You all love your family – I wasn’t expecting any of you to say “good riddance,” but it was clear many of you would collapse without your family. Go hug them.

Some of you are WAY more prepared for this situation than others. I swear to you I think some of you copied and pasted from a notebook with your preparation for this day. I’ve said this many times before to my friends that if we were lost in the woods, I’m the first one dead. I can write stories, but I can’t survive for the life of me.

The meaning of life changes – I was going to write “disappears,” but that’s not a fair assessment. When you read the specific quotes, you will see how you all changed your perception of life.


Summary of Your Responses


REFUSAL TO BELIEVE YOU ARE ALONE – Even though I said everyone disappeared, many of you wrote back and said that you would immediately go home and look for your family and others. Many of you would look to establish radio connection, etc. Many of you made this your entire life mission.

PANIC – A LOT of people’s first reaction is to go into complete panic mode and start crying. Everyone who went into panic mode, immediately followed it with finding food and shelter and pack it all into an RV.

SLEEP / RELAX – 60% of the responses went in to panic mode, and the other 40% just wanted to get some well deserved sleep and enjoy the peace and quiet. The relaxers just needed a good book and a glass of wine.

GROW A GARDEN – I’m completely content living off of canned foods. Apparently, I’m the only one. There are some SERIOUS garden lovers on this email list. Some even said they would go back to their farm.

START AN ANIMAL KINGDOM – I’m convinced if Discovery Channel started a reality series where someone becomes “one with the animals,” everyone on my mailing list would be hooked. It wasn’t like “oh, I just need a few dogs to keep me company.” There were multiple responses that said if humans were out of the picture completely, you would live with the animals as nature intended it to be.

FREE ANIMALS FROM THE ZOO – This was a big recurring theme in many of the emails. One person said they needed to figure out how to free the lions without killing himself. Fair enough.

SUICIDE – A small percentage of you mentioned you would probably kill yourself if no one else was alive.

GET A NEW CAR – I’m actually surprised a majority of you didn’t say this, but there were a few of who just wanted to go on a quick cruise in a nice car.

TRAVEL – This ranged from driving a car around the country, to learning how to fly a jumbo jet so he can travel around the world. According to his response, it only takes a week with the right manuals…

MOVE SOMEWHERE ELSE – I thought for sure everyone would head south to Florida or a nicer climate. Instead, it was somewhere with a nice pond, or for the survivors it was to find a “secure location.”


alive 2


My TEN Favorite Responses (Seriously, these are so good)

Here is a slideshare of the rest of the quotes



10) There is a nice mattress store next to the Jewel. I would probably camp there for a while.

9) I no longer have to face the daily barrage of corruption and all the frustrations that go with it, at work. I no longer have my dear family to talk to. Money means nothing, only what I know and can do. Any stupid move or risk could mean the end of me.

8) It changes dramatically. From wanting to be a successful designer/ business woman to survivor and teacher. Teacher because I need ‘someone’ else to sustain my animal kingdom when I die, so I’ll teach the monkeys/ chimpanzees and other teachable animals how to care for each other.

7) More likely to die from something like an infection due to an ingrown toenail from the coconut falling on my foot while sleeping in the hammock, than to run out of food. Or maybe getting kicked by the cow I was milking for cream for my coffee. Yeah something simply stupid.

6) I finally get to pursue my “real” career/dream…to be a full-time photographer

5) The first thing I would do is empty my work email inbox. I would delete every single email until it reads zero. Then I would go to my favourite beach to ponder my life.

4) If there were no animals I would go after a robot of some kind from somewhere. I’m sure it would be a great mission to take up my time to scout every corner of the world to find a working Robot of some kind. Japan seems like a great place to start. The Honda Company has some great robots today! Might be fun! Companionship would be a priority.

3) I would feel the full responsibility of making my own happiness – blaming no one or making excuses because of someone else… At the end of the day – it’s just me. All of the choices would be mine. No guilt, no compromise, no indecisiveness… I wonder if it would really feel as fantastic as I think?

2) I would take my heals off, get back on my sweat pants with my hair down. I would then grab a cup of coffee and read a good book with no worries about tomorrow or the day after or the day after….

1) If everyone has disappeared, but not died of anything nasty then I would do everything fabulous; take a boat and motor up river into Central London, go up the Shard for free (its £28!). Run around Buckingham Palace just because I could. Go to galleries and not get crushed. Spend some more time marveling at the silence.


0) I feel like my best career years are behind me. I am very proud of what I have accomplished. I would be satisfied if it all ended today.

So, I have to ask you the same question. What would you do?

PS: Read the only resignation letter template you’ll ever need.