How to Leave Your Job, Free Up Your Time, and Embrace Location Independence

This post has potential to break out into a multi-post plethora of information that will (hopefully) lead you to ACTION. What you and I will need to make this happen is some interaction.

I’m not an expert on this subject matter by any stretch of the imagination! I’m walking in the footsteps of professionals and sitting on the shoulders of giants when it comes to what I’m going to write about today. I’ll be referencing a lot of them today and in the days to come, so be ready to make some new connections. 🙂
That said…it’s time to buckle up, sharpen your pencil, and get ready to make a big time change in your life. If you’ve ever dreamed of doing big things, 2011 is YOUR year to do it!

WHY?

“The man who knows how will always have a job. The man who knows why will always be his boss.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I shared this past weekend, you must have a reason why you’re doing what you’re doing. Many of you reading this post may be looking for a magic method to help you quit your job, become an entrepreneur, and ____________ (jet set, go shark diving, skydiving, cave diving, and any other wild kind of diving you can think of. Insert your favorite “dream” activity here).
I hate to break it to you, but there isn’t any magic method to doing this. There’s no formula or wand that will help you get moving on this. There’s only what’s already been laid on your own mind – your “why”.

Starting the engine with a little “ether”

If anyone has ever had an older lawnmower or snowblower (I live in Western NY, where it snows 10,000 feet every year), sometimes it can be just like an old dog trying to get it moving. You’ve got to give it a little “kick” to get it moving.
Engine starting fluid is made of an essential accelerant, known as “ether”. It’s a highly explosive substance, used to jump start the piston(s) inside an internal combustion engine (it’s also a ton of fun for young boys to toss into a bonfire and run away quickly. This is being said by someone who has experienced it first hand. Ahh the memories!).
After being sprayed in the carburetor, the ether quickly takes spark. The pistons begin moving fast enough for the natural momentum and mechanical cycle of the gas and air mix to take over, and the engine starts running on gasoline. But the engine CANNOT continue to run on ether alone. It needs to have a fuel mixture that helps to sustain it and keep it running.

Negative can get things moving, positive can keep them moving

Much like the above example with the engine, ether, and gasoline, your ideas need to have some fuel and spark to get them off the ground.

The “ether” in this case can be any type of negative influence: I hate my job. I hate my boss. I hate this commute. I hate the “office politics”. I’VE GOTTA GET OUTTA HERE!!!

But just like the above example, the engine of your idea CANNOT run on negative “ether” alone. It requires a positive “gasoline” to keep things moving. In my own personal example, it was the goal of being able to be home with my family to raise my girls and be with my wife. For you, it may be working for charity, getting more involved in the lives of your friends, family, or even those less fortunate than you. Coaching, teaching, helping, whatever. Things you would do in your free time that aren’t just “time killers”.

Speaking from experience, when you first leave your job, the immense wave of relief is incredible. It really is! Being able to wake up when you want, and do what you want is amazing!

However, I can relate to why most retirees end up going nuts after their first few weeks and months into retirement. All of a sudden, the vacation mindset wears off, and they’re left being bored doing the “relaxing” things they dreamt about for so many years. They’ve removed their distress, and now are left with a gaping void. A gaping void that can only be satisfied with eustress.

I should say that if you haven’t picked up a copy of the 4HWW by now, please click here and get it. It’s required reading for the rest of this to make sense.

Starting the fire

Just because negative emotion isn’t enough to sustain your goal (or dream), that doesn’t mean that we still can’t use it to our advantage. Look at this stack of books that I read over a year ago that helped lead me to my decision. At least 3 of them and their accompanying subtitles appeal to someone who hates what they’re currently doing:

Why would the authors choose a title like “Why WORK SUCKS (and how to fix it)”, “ESCAPE from Cubicle Nation“, and the first subtitle of the 4HWW, “Escape 9-5“? Easy – Because it appeals to an audience looking to get out! It’s not a bad thing.

Many people are dissatisfied (yeah right, that’s maybe the most sterile way of putting it) with their current job. The difference between THEM and YOU however, is that you’re prone to actually ACT upon this motivation. Anybody can complain. Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich (shown above) says “people love to debate and talk about minutiae”. It’s easy to complain, and it’s easy to find people that will complain along with you.

However, if you’ve read this far, you’re not the simple complainer. You’re somebody who is actually looking, planning (and soon will be DOING) to make a difference in your life and the lives of those around you.

Keeping the fire going

I’m going to wrap up today’s post with just some simple questions, and based on your feedback, It’ll help to see where we head next.

What is the bigger-than-yourself idea or goal that you have that can sustain this wild idea of you embarking away from your comfort zone and keep the fire burning hot? If you KNEW you could not fail, what would you be doing?

And finally, maybe the one that breaks it down into the most simple and easiest to process: What does your dream day look like? (Josh Buisch asked me this recently, and actually answering this question with someone else listening had quite a profound effect on my motivation and vision. Give it a try!)

You don’t have to answer any of these questions publicly, but if you do, know that you’ll have a big group of people helping to keep you accountable.

Talk to y’all soon!

– JC

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What a difference a year can make…

This past week marks the 1st anniversary of me leaving my full time job!

I’ll share my story today (for those interested), and then offer some tips from my personal experience & the experience of others come Monday. I’m choosing to wait until then to offer this, because by then most of you that have any inkling of wanting to leave your job will have a case of “the Mondays”, and that post will hit you like a bomb to your brain. Boo-yah!

The book that ruined me

Let’s back up to December 2008. I was hustling, working hard at my job. Things were going good, but I felt like I didn’t want to stay there forever, and had this really weird feeling that something wasn’t right.

I get a call a few weeks before Christmas from my home dawg, Bruce (not his real name). He’s ecstatic, telling me, “DUDE! You HAVE GOT to read this book I just picked up!!!”. He goes through a near textbook Billy Mays-esque job of pitching the book to me, and then finally remembers to say, “Oh yeah, it’s called the Four Hour Workweek, by a guy named Timothy Ferriss.” (If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a week and haven’t yet read this book, please punch yourself in the face, and then go buy a copy. Thank you.) I thank him, and then pretty much forget about the book altogether.

After hanging out with our friend Bruce once again about a week later, he’s still on Cloud 9 about the book. I figure if it’s been a week and he’s still going nuts (he’s a fast reader), it might be something I want to check out. I head to Amazon and grab a copy. Somewhere around 7 or 8 days later it arrives

Uncomfortable

It’s now 6 months later, around June of 2009. I’ve read the 1st edition of the 4HWW at least 6 times, and have mauled each page with enough notes to make it look more like my daughter’s Dora coloring book than a NY TImes best seller. The crappy part is that I’ve done very little to act upon it.

The incredible thought of “escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich” keeps toying with my mind. All of a sudden, my job isn’t so shiny and sparkly like it used to be. I start implementing some 80/20 thought processes to my workflow and realize that it takes me roughly 2 hours to do my entire day’s worth of work. Worse yet, I realized that I can do it all remotely.

With the best of intentions, and the company’s best interests in mind, I approach my boss with the work-from-home trial proposal.

The idea fails.

Once.

Twice.

Three times.

No dice.

So I read more, and get more frustrated…

The temptation to take the easy road

Out of the blue, a position within the company arises that catches my eye, and offers up some unique learning opportunities from my present job description. I apply, and oddly enough, I’m scheduled for an interview (even though it’s a position I did not feel “qualified” for at that time – whatever that means). I approach the interview with the mindset that I have nothing to lose, and actually end up having a blast, quoting from the 4HWW left and right. I’m hired with the position and start within two weeks.

Being upset vs. actually having something to look forward to

The new position that I’m in is great! I’m working with great people, learning tons, and having a good time. I come to work not dreading my days (anymore) and enjoy what I’m doing.

There’s just one small problem.

My time still isn’t my own.

I very quickly realize that this job, although very fun and educational, has its time-suck flaws. Much of what is done throughout the day can be done quicker with a few systems put into place. It isn’t long before I realize that this may not totally be for me.

SIDE NOTE – At this point in the year, my wife is pregnant with our second child, and my year old daughter is accomplishing a variety of “firsts” (first steps, words, fun stuff like that) that I’m not able to be home for. Although my job is a good time, being home with my girls would be a better time.

All of a sudden, the complete pissed-off rage that was my old position now turns into a burning desire (in a positive way) to find a way to be home with my family. I’ll cover this more in detail on Monday, but for those of you looking to leave your job, please heed my advice: It is not enough to simply be dissatisfied (even upset) with your job. You have to have something larger than those negative emotions that will last longer.

For me, it was being able to look forward to being home with my girls to help raise my family.

Shoot first, ask questions later

With 3 months until my wife’s due date, I take a step back and try to take an analytical approach to how I can make my way home and be with my family. It just so happens that our hero Tim Ferriss releases the updated and expanded edition of his wonderful book, and I’m first in line (not really, I buy on Amazon at the first chance I get) to pick it up. My resolve is revived! My mission is clear – Get home with the girls by all and any means possible.

I begin approaching the book how every author intends their readers to – APPLYING the knowledge that’s shared. I write up a little Google Doc with all of the hard questions the book asks in the beginning, and actually answer them (If you’d like a copy of this sheet, just email me and I’ll send it your way).

One random morning (it seems), Tim Ferriss hops on Twitter and offers up a little special for his Facebook fans. “Take your picture holding a copy of the 4HWW, and tag 5 friends who need the book, and I’ll send the first 100 people 6 copies of the book.” After jumping out of my skin, I grab a camera real quick, and end up being number 43 (or something close to that).

The books arrive in just about a week, and now I’ve got motivation flowing! Not only am I gonna “do this”, but I’m going to recruit some other peeps along for the ride to keep me accountable!

I send the books to the designated people, and conversations ensue. I’m pumped, they’re pumped, we’re all pumped.

Doing something that scares you

I decide that it’s time, I’m going to make the choice to leave my job, and figure out the rest as I go. This scares me to no end, but I know that because of the “fear”, it’s a step in a good direction. Steve Kamb wrote about this recently (quite a good read. Check it out!).

With just a few weeks until my wife’s due date, I have a potentially scary meeting with my boss to tell her the news. She’s totally cool with it, and actually supportive of the idea. Score!

Our daughter is born in the end of December, and it gives me 2 weeks of “preview” time for what it’s like to be home with the girls. I gobble up every stinking second of it, and can’t wait until it’s time to be home with them full time!

I go back to work for one more month, and then…

Stepping into the unknown

In the last week of January 2010, I leave my full time job.

(Pause for emphasis)

I still remember walking out of the building like it was yesterday. Heading down the stairs, I sent this little tweet. I snapped a quick pic walking out the door to send to my wife and girls and let them know that Daddy is coming home:

I drive home, not really feeling any different than any other day. We all have a great time hanging out, and we go to bed.

Detox

The next morning, I wake up to no alarm clock. If it was springtime, or a more Southern location, I’m sure there would be birds chirping. It’s a Wednesday morning, and I’m not at work any more.

Enough storytelling for now

I’ll share more of my story in future posts. But for now, I want to just paint a picture for you. We can (and will) address the specifics and the “how-tos” of it later, but let’s take a look at the “why” first.

As I said above, negative emotion is NOT enough to carry you through a decision like this.

Many of you work in a place that’s the human sterilized equivalent of a cage at the zoo. Your boss may be a jerk, coworkers are idiots, coffee tastes terrible, whatever. All of these may be motivations enough to move you to action, but they’re not strong enough to actually carry you through in the long run.

Remember, I had these feelings at my first position listed above. My 2nd position (the one I left last year to come home) was great! But even something “great” in that sense as my why for coming home. I wanted to be home to raise my family and have the freedom to manage my own time more than anything. It was something bigger than myself.

I can’t help but think of my good friend David Crandall’s post “How I Show Up When I’d Rather Not” while writing this. Your “why” has to be bigger than just “I hate my job”. Hating your job isn’t totally bad, but it’s not good enough to last. It’s like running your lawnmower on ether. It provides a great spark, but it’ll burn the engine out quickly.

A few closing thoughts

I can’t tell you all how amazing the past year has been. Just to be able to do simple things like take my girls to the park, work out during the daytime, and help out friends and relatives in need has been so incredibly amazing! Many in the lifestyle design arena paint a (rather beautiful) picture of traveling the world and doing insanely epic things (which are in the plans for me and my family as well!). But what if you don’t desire to be a world traveler? What if you don’t want to jump out of airplanes, climb mountains, and do crazy things?

“Location independence” (the ability to earn income and sustain living without needing a set-in-stone location) is not for everyone. But it doesn’t have to be solely compacted into the category of world travelers. Right now, my wife and I could live anywhere we want, but we’ve chosen to live where we do. You may find yourself wanting the same thing.

If you’ve ever wanted to slow down and enjoy where you live, who you live with, and see a new side to the world around you, then  you may want to pay attention come Monday. 🙂

Talk you y’all soon!

– JC

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An Update, and a Plan!

What’s next?

By now, you’ve probably heard about The Four Hour Body. It’s been out into publication long enough to where folks are writing their reviews. Although this won’t be my “official” review (I may not even end up writing one), I do want to share just a few short fun things about this book and my experience thus far.

I was such a happy camper when I picked up this book from the post office (notice the pasty white complexion of my skin in this pic? This was in the heart of sick-season…yuck)!

As Tim Ferriss recommends, I did not read this book from cover to cover. As a naturally skinny boy, I had one singular goal in mind at the onset of cracking the cover – Gain. Muscle. Mass.

Those that follow my Twitter feed know that during the month of November 2010, I followed (almost to the letter) the prescribed workout for Tim’s post “From Geek to Freak: How I gained 34 lbs of Muscle in 4 Weeks“. This original post, written in 2007 (and judging by the photos used from the post which also made it into a chapter in the book of the same title), has since been updated in the book, with just a few minor changes. I believe Tim wrote this post shortly after the research for The Four Hour Body began.

There was just one problem between what I did in November 2010, and what I’m doing now: measurement.

“What gets measured gets managed” – Peter Drucker

Students of the Four Hour Workweek know the above quote like the back of their hand. As I’m a self-proclaimed Tim Ferriss “fanboy”, I realize that he takes a methodical, scientific and analytical approach to almost everything he does. If you’ve read up on how he measured his fat loss in the new book, you’ll see some borderline OCD behavior (it’s a pretty funny portion of the book also). If I was going to glean as much from his new book as I did from his first one, I would need to become a measurement freak.

Thankfully, there are some tools to help with that, which I’ll get to in a minute. First let’s talk why “Geek to Freak” round 1 really didn’t work for me:

  1. Not enough caloric and protein intake (I had not measured any of this, and really only ate past the point of feeling “full” at regularly scheduled meals – FAIL)
  2. Incorrect measurement and execution of the exercises (The proper way to do both the Geek to Freak, and the Occam’s Protocol [the plan I’m on now] workouts is ONE set to failure. My first round of G2F, I had multiple sets, sometimes out of order, and of differing weights and times. If it’s supposed to be an experiment with controlled variables, I failed miserably – FAIL)
  3. No measurement whatsoever of bodyfat % (The scale was my only litmus test as to whether I was “gaining” or “losing”. Gaining or losing what? Fat? Muscle? – FAIL)

Not this time baby!

This time, I’ve got a plan, Stan!

Following the Occam’s Protocol I and II portions of the book (with a little mixture of some other chapters, as that’s what Occam’s calls for), I’ve got a system worked out. I made sure to write it all down before I began so I’d have a pretty good idea of what my plan was. And, like Tim talks about in the book, I have a copy of my workout, rest, and eating plan printed and tucked inside my lifting notebook that I’ve used for the past year. Here’s some suggestions from what I’ve done so far:

  • Set a solid game plan for what exercises I would be doing, and what days I’d be doing them on. Judging by how many reps to failure it would require in each exercise (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about by now, you seriously need to stop and buy the book. Trust me, it’s worth it!) would determine how many rest days would take place between workouts, so I only planned the first 2 weeks worth of training days.
  • In that same “game plan” sheet of paper (the one tucked in my workout notebook), I had a rough plan for eating, and what days I would measure my weight and bodyfat % – I picked up a set of Slimguide Skinfold Calipers to measure this, and will be using this method for the first round of testing (2 months). Because I know not only my weight, but also my bodyfat %, I can determine how much fat I lose, muscle mass I gain, and what the minimum amount of calories and grams of protein I should be eating daily to continue to add mass. Cool! Measurement is fun!
  • I DID take the “before” pics from 4 angles (front, back, left, right) and then a few flexing in my “selfish” (short) shorts. Sorry lads and lasses, I will NOT be posting these on this site. Become one of my motivators on DailyBurn and MAYBE you can get a sneak peek 😉
  • Speaking of DailyBurn, I pre-loaded the most common meals that I would be eating, and also set up all my workouts in there as well. I have an iPod touch with the DailyBurn app, as well as an iGoogle homepage on my browser that has a DB widget on there as well. Tracking what I eat and workouts only takes about 30 seconds per meal, and about 2 minutes per workout day. I STRONGLY suggest this part. It makes all of the difficult math and counting of protein and whatnot so easy.
  • I also joined a VERY helpful Facebook 4HB group. There’s a good amount of interaction, a few “bike shed” discussions (but they’re dying down), and a TON of helpful information. Not to mention the Bonus Chapter info that Tim just put out on his site, and the coming forums which will help as well. The advantage to all of this is seeing that I’m not just doing it alone. Just do a simple Twitter search for the hashtag #4HB and you’re bound to come across a wealth of information and support.

And them’s be my secrets.

Progress thus far

So far, it’s been almost 3 weeks on Occam’s protocol. My personal stats are this:

  • I currently consume on average around 3800 calories, with usually 16-18% of that being made of protein.
  • My bodyfat % has dropped from 14.3% to 13.4%, and total body weight has gone up 5 lbs. Not too shabby if you ask me! 🙂
  • I’m almost to the point where I need to start adding another day in between workouts, as the last rep to failure is decreasing as weight goes up (especially on the leg press, where it’s kind of comical to “finish” the workout with my knees almost in my chest. If you’re self conscious about looking a little goofy at the gym, get a spotter to help you with this exercise).

Next up?

So that’s my 2-week 4HB progress report. I’ll be cranking away on this for a while, with some other fun fitness goals to attain once I reach my mass/bodyweight goal (still have a few more lbs to go!).

With that said, I want to highlight a freakin’ amazing site that I’ve really enjoyed over the past 2 months: Nerd Fitness

Steve Kamb, the creator of Nerd Fitness, is a man on a mission. Created with the idea of helping nerds (like me) “level up” their lives, specifically through fitness, he’s done what looks to be a pretty amazing job! As I type this, I’m awaiting the arrival of my NF t-shirt (a birthday present from my wifey), which you’d better believe will be making some appearances on this site in the very near future.

The NF Forums are a great place to get that supportive community that was discussed earlier talking about the 4HB. Way to go Steve!

And as I get ready to send y’all off, here’s one of my favorite NF posts for you to click on over to. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see this as one of my fitness goals here in the coming months, especially as the snow starts to melt here in NY.

Cheers!

– JC

Odds and ends: Sorry for the radio silence there, friends!

The past 2 months have been wildly insane here at TFS Headquarters. Due to a flu shot gone wild, I was sick for the entire month of December. The past few weeks have been spent at the hospital with my family, hanging out with my dad who took a pretty nice fall and is recovering slowly (but surely!). I appreciate the support and prayers on my family’s behalf that I’ve received from many of you. You guys are amazing, and it just goes to show how great it can be to surround yourself with great people! 🙂

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