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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