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February 9, 2018 was my last day as a carpeted, three walled box dweller. When I left the office that day, I was so excited to live life sans cubicle!
I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect, but I had tons of goals to tackle and adventures planned for the next 12-18 months. I had done my due diligence and I felt more in control of my destiny than ever before.
A lot went right these past 6 months– but not everything went to plan. There were a few surprises– with most of them happening within myself.
My assessment is that my initial stab at abandoning corporate life has been successful– but I’ll let you make your own judgement. What follows is an account of the last 180ish days of my life. You have all been a vital part of this half year and I look forward to what’s to come for all of us!
Major Takeaway #1: I’m not semi-retired
I feel like semi-retired is a misnomer for my life. While I believe my initial intent for this period was to be semi-retired, that’s not really how things have played out. Let me explain.
When I left my full time job, I wasn’t initially planning on providing part time remote support for my boss until my replacement was hired. But when she asked — I agreed. It was a fine arrangement for us both. She would be less stressed and I would have more cash than anticipated.
However, that meant that I would still be working nearly full time, albeit from home, because I had already committed to another part time gig (two, actually). Until the end of March, I was working 25-30 (sometimes more) hours per week.
Then, I caught a break. My replacement was hired and officially on her own. I had one less gig on my plate and went down to working less than 20 hours per week. It was great. I got a little more into blogging and went on more afternoon day trips.
Flash forward two months. I sent my previous boss an email with some information I thought she could use. I said that I hoped she and my replacement were doing well. Turns out, my replacement had already given her notice and would be leaving in a week!
I bet you can see where this is heading…
Since the second week of June, I have been providing part time remote support again. This time, it’s only a few hours a week. I’m grateful for that.
As of this writing, it appears that my replacement’s replacement has been identified and will hopefully be starting by the end of August. I’ll go into the office for a day to show them some things and then I will be able to close that chapter again.
Sidebar: So what are all of these different gigs that I keep mentioning?
- At my last full time employer, I was in Human Resources. Since I resigned, I have been providing mostly recruiting assistance on a part time basis from home until a full time onsite HR Generalist could be hired. The first stint, I was logging about 15 hours per week. Now, I am averaging about 5.
- My main gig right now is as a Recruiter for a local staffing firm. I know the owner personally and I try to help her fill job orders. I’ve had this gig since February, working 10-15 hours per week from home. The arrangement is indefinite, which is nice from an income planning perspective.
- I’m working a contract gig (January to January) as a Social Media Ad Rater. The company prohibits me from discussing details, but I can say it only takes me 20-30 minutes per day and I can complete the work anytime in the 24 hour period. It’s done from my phone and can be completed anywhere with an internet connection. The income isn’t make or break, but it covers gas for my car for the month. Every little bit helps!
As you can see, I have been keeping busy these past several months. I’m grateful for the cashflow. My finances are doing much better than anticipated. Between the extra work and catching some lucky, money saving breaks (thanks Brad, for fixing the soffit/fascia!), I’m in great fiscal shape.
If I didn’t earn another cent, I’d still have enough money in the bank to cover us for another 9-10 months. Since I still have approximately $1,500 per month coming in (to include contributions to household expenses made by other household members), I can maintain this exact lifestyle for well over a year.
Of course, my goal is to increase the money flowing in so that I never have to consider another full time traditional job. Based on what has happened over the last six months, I feel like this is not only possible, but probable.
With the skills that I have and am developing, I know the flexible, work from home opportunities are there. And– I know where to look if I need to find more work.
So if I’m not semi-retired, what am I?
Major Takeaway #2: I’m Transitioning
Looking at the list of gigs above, one word comes to mind: employee. I have been working for someone else.
From a family stability standpoint, that’s fine. I’m grateful for all income opportunities because I never know when I might hit a dry spell.
From a personal goals standpoint, it’s far from ideal. My ideal work is location independent (check!) and with income based on providing value, not trading hours of my life for cash (partial check).
The three roles listed above are definitely trading hours for dollars. But–I have also officially launched Every Day by the Lake as a sole proprietorship accepting freelance work.
I have secured some initial writing assignments and am exploring virtual assistant opportunities in the blogging/freelance world.
I expect to get my first freelance payments at the end of this month! I am SO excited. It will take awhile for these income streams to cover all of my expenses, but I am moving in the right direction.
The Flow From Corporate to Freelance:
Full Time W2 Commuting Employee (1 job, 1 income stream)–>Part Time W2 Work From Home Employee (multiple gigs, multiple income streams, setting up freelance biz)–>Blend of Part Time W2 Work + Freelance Work–> All Freelance Work
I’m somewhere between steps 2 & 3.
I’m generally an impatient person (I’m working on it, I swear!)– but in this instance, I am glad to be making this transition gradually. It gives me the chance to try, inevitably screw up somewhere along the way, and rebound — without jeopardizing the security of my household.
Major Takeaway #3: Blogging is Hard!
I haven’t done a post reflecting on my blogging experience yet—maybe I will at some point. For now, here are some condensed musings on the subject.
Creating, maintaining, growing and tweaking a blog are far more time consuming and complex than I would’ve thought 6 months ago.
Prior to quitting my full time job, I started to lay down the groundwork. I learned about hosting and registering a domain. I took a couple of those 5 day crash email crash courses about blogging so the terminology became familiar.
But until I started to dive deeper and put the information into practice, I grossly underestimated what it would take to be successful in this endeavor. I suppose it’s like anything else—you can’t know until you do.
And, also akin to most other pursuits—you get what you put into it. The more effort I put into writing, networking and learning about this world, the kinder this world is to me.
And– even though I’m still kind of a newbie, I know that I can’t approach this experience tentatively.
Which leads me to…
Major Takeaway #4: Seize Opportunities!
When you’re in a traditional job, the stuff to do comes to you. You slog through it and you wait for the next task-deadline combination.
When you’re trying to make a go of things for yourself, you need to fetch your own work. Sometimes, opportunities will come to you. But for the most part, you have to look for them, be ready for them and grab them without hesitation. If you don’t, someone else will.
Go through doorways—even if you don’t feel ready. You may surprise yourself.
This has happened to me a few times so far. For example:
- I’m going to FinCon18!! When I saw the event was going to be in Orlando– less than 90 minutes from me–I thought—what the heck and applied for a scholarship. Thinking I couldn’t possibly have a chance, I was so elated to hear that my full tuition would be covered! Want to know a secret? I am pretty introverted so going anywhere with a crowd is personally very daunting. But you know what? It’s going to be so worth it! I can’t wait to meet people, to learn, to grow and to hopefully leave with more opportunities and possibilities than when I arrived. I’m going for it!
- I’m writing for Women Who Money!! I have been following them pretty much since I started blogging. When they asked for potential new team members to come forward, I contacted them right away. Since I’m new to the community, when they said they were actually thinking of reaching out to me, I was over the moon. It was so flattering—and so reinforcing to go with my gut and put myself out there.
I’ve been riding some major highs– especially these past couple of months.
But, I’ve also come to realize…
Major Takeaway #5: Emotions Are Sneaky
Change is hard—even if it’s positive. Emotions will come up.
You’ll wonder if you’re doing the right thing. I still do—even though I have received lots of validation from the universe that I’m doing OK. Better than OK, actually.
And as much as doubt will creep in, you will still be kicking yourself for not doing this sooner. “If onlys” are not productive but they become predictably present.
I have to keep reminding myself that I cannot rewrite the earlier volumes of my life. But—I definitely wield a mighty pen with which to create my future.
And, as I orchestrate the life of my dreams, I need to be hyper cognizant of…
Major Takeaway #6: Keep The End Game In Focus
I have loads of long term goals for my budding business:
- I want to build up the content library on my site.
- I want to expand my reach on different social media platforms.
- I want to gain more email subscribers.
- I want to earn more freelance business and build an impressive portfolio.
- I want to make bank. There I said it. I want money.
But why? Is it because I’m stuff motivated? Is it because I want to remodel my house or travel lavishly (OK, I kinda do—but it’s way low on the priority list)?
I need to remember why I changed gears to begin with.
I want to spend time with loved ones. I want to relax. I want life to feel more leisurely (while still maintaining a high level of productivity, of course).
That means, I’ve needed to remind myself to:
- shut off the computer part way through the day and go to the movies with my guy
- switch my racing mind off (or try to) and give my body the rest that it needs—even if it is a Wednesday afternoon
- drive 3.5 hours away on a Friday at midday to go see my cousin graduate from high school
All of that – and so much more—made possible by getting out of the 9-5 cycle that basically eats people’s lives.
I know entrepreneurs don’t really have that elusive work-life-balance. They are generally business obsessed (like me). But—they at least get to call the shots over how they spend their hours. They have choice—and that is key.
So what will the next 6 months look like for me?
Major Takeaway #7: What’s Next Is Wide Open
The answer is– I’m not 100% sure. (I am sure about one thing– NO cubicles!)
I have my goals and my educated guesses.
I’ll write lots of freelance articles. I might sign a virtual assistant client or two.
I’ll continue to work part time W2 gigs for as long as financially necessary.
I’ll finally get around to writing my dang dissertation.*
And I’ll continue to enjoy the flexibility of the life I am crafting with my loved ones.
*You should note, personal finance friends, especially those pursuing FI or FIRE, that my time in the community has inspired me to change my dissertation topic to the study of financial independence. It will be a qualitative research study. I’m still a ways off from collecting data, but I may be reaching out to you in the coming months for interviews!
Even though I have a pretty good idea of what I will be working on going forward, these past 6 months have taught me to be open to anything and everything.
As I grow as a blogger, writer, business owner and person, I will see opportunities that I didn’t even know existed previously. Walls will come down that I didn’t even know were holding me back.
I must be willing to embrace the new pathways that emerge.
What’s available to me is only limited by my ability to see it. I have confidence that my vision will improve if I work hard, help others and be receptive to new ways of thinking.
I’m grateful for the support I have received, the friendships I have made and for all of my experiences and breakthroughs thus far.
I have a mixed bag of emotions about the future– but you can bet the most dominant is excitement!
Here’s to the next 6 months and beyond!
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