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Life After Salary: Structure and Motivation, Five Months Later

This article was written by in Career and Work. 19 comments.


This is part of an on-going series about my life after salary — my thoughts and concerns pertaining to my resignation from my day job to focus full-time (and more) mainly to the website I created in 2003 and has grown into a business with a life of its own. I’ve previously looked at structure and motivation, to which this article can be seen as a sequel, as well as financial considerations like health insurance, retirement savings, and my expenses. Here’s an overview of the entire “Life After Salary” series.

It struck me the other day that I have been gone from my former day job for slightly over five months now. Six months ago I was trying to negotiate a leave of absence, and as it wasn’t working out, I was getting ready to give my boss my two weeks’ notice. That time frame hardly seems correct, but it’s true according to the calendar. I was asked recently if I’ve regretted leaving the job yet. I haven’t regretted it, even for a moment. The only regret I have is not doing it sooner.

There were circumstances that made the jump risky — and it still was risky when I did tender my resignation — and I don’t fault myself for waiting. The longer I were to wait, the less perfect the timing would continue to be; as it was in December 2010, I was still young, not married, and the only mouth I had to feed other than my own was my cat’s. That’s the perfect time to take a risk and say goodbye to the guaranteed paycheck.

Don’t get me wrong — I really liked my co-workers, and the company was a good company to work for. Although my bosses throughout my nearly nine years there seemed to like me, I wasn’t heading anywhere with it. It’s a huge corporation, and the corporate world was never for me. I don’t work well with conformity. In addition, my time was better spent working on my own projects than climbing a corporate ladder that didn’t really lead anywhere.

I can’t believe it’s been five months because I’ve perceived the passage of time at a rate that seems too fast. When I embarked on this journey, I assumed my days would feel longer because I’d be working almost completely alone, spending my days and nights in the same location without much variation in scenery. I thought I’d have free time to spend on other projects in addition to increased focus on Consumerism Commentary. I figured I may travel more and work from remote locations when the lack of variation bugged me.

None of this has been true. I’ve found that I’ve spent about the same amount of time writing for Consumerism Commentary as I did while I was still working at my “primary” job, but more of my time has been devoted to behind-the-scenes aspects of running the website, including dealing with technical issues (the growth of the site has forced me to move to a new web hosting solution that should be flexible as the site grows further), answering more emails, communicating more with media and press, faking my way through marketing and public relations, and brainstorming ways to build the community. I’m relieved that while I’ve been doing all of this, I’ve had invaluable help dealing with advertisers. It’s time to bring some more help in; I’m looking for a community manager to assist with many of the tasks I work on now when my time could be better spent writing.

From a business perspective, I haven’t had a chance to diversify sources of income as much as I’d like, mostly because of the way my time has been spent over the past few months. While I expected to have more “free” time to fulfill other creative outlets, I’ve fallen far short of participating in two photography shoots each month as I hoped for in my goals for 2011. My exercise routine, also a goal for the year, broke down after one month when the weather was bad, and I’ve yet to return to the habit.

I had hoped by now I would have fallen into more of a routine that involves everything I need to do each day, but it hasn’t worked out as perfectly as I would like. There are some constants. I wake up and I check my email. I see if there are any issues I have to deal with from the overnight hours. I write an article or two. I research the news for more topics to cover. I might have some breakfast in there in the form of a cereal or granola bar, or I might not. I respond to emails to line up podcast guests, answer inquiries from the media, collaborate with other bloggers, answer readers’ questions. I ensure the Consumerism Commentary Facebook and Twitter accounts are up-to-date. Somewhere in there, I make myself lunch. I write more, usually something for the future, and do more research and administrative tasks. Somewhere in there, there’s dinner.

At night, usually stretching into the later hours, I catch up on things that I’ve missed and often write an article for the following day, like this one. This is my routine, but it isn’t as organized as it sounds. Emails go unanswered because I can’t keep up with the volume. Posts don’t get completed because halfway through I decide I don’t like the idea. Something occurs that requires immediate attention, pulling me away from whatever I’m working on. While the plan sounds good, it doesn’t usually work out smoothly in real life.

I’m not an organized person, which makes the idea of running my own business that much more difficult. I used to try to improve my organizational skills, but at some point, after not making much headway, I decided I should focus on my strengths and accept certain weaknesses that were not going to be fixed anytime soon. While some people thrive in a self-motivated environment, it is something I struggle with, though I prefer it immensely to working for someone else.

Updated September 23, 2011 and originally published May 27, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Financial Samurai

Howdy Flexo,

Congrats on the 5+ months so far! It’s amazing how quickly time flies huh? Before we know it, it’ll be 1 year, and we’ll be writing recaps of lessons learned.

I like how you say that your only regret was not quitting sooner. The unknown is scary, but perhaps not as scary as people make it out to be.

Best of luck for the rest of the year!

Sam

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,550 (Platinum)

Thanks, Sam!

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avatar Liz

I think your concerns about your “weakness” of organization are a strong reason why some people should *not* consider being self-employed, unless they can find a business/working partner who can keep them on track. And that is totally okay. For some people, an external motivator is needed to provide the impetus for momentum. If you’re really set on being self-employed, perhaps you could consider hiring an assistant or “task-master” a few hours a week to help organize your schedule, creating a sort of external motivator for yourself without giving up your ownership of your work. (This is similar to how some people have a personal trainer and go to the gym, or have a running buddy, rather than work out at home on their own.)

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,550 (Platinum)

You’ve described the approach I plan to take.I am quite motivated to do what I need to do, but as far as organization, adding to the team will certainly help. After finding a community manager, I might consider a virtual assistant to handle some of the administrative stuff, like my email, calendar, and travel arrangements.

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avatar Josh

Subbed! Need Amazon money!

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avatar Quisicosa

I subscribe to both via RSS. Thanks for the giveaways. They’ve exposed me to information I would not have seen otherwise.

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avatar Debbie Chioffe ♦260 (Nickel)

I enjoyed reading this article very much. I love your style of writing and your personable attitude. Your frankness is also refreshing. It is interesting to get an insight on your views and experiences while I live vicariously thru you. I have thought about making a jump myself and in a way I have already or at least started the process.
Good-Luck on your venture and please keep us posted on this saga when you have a chance. I will be curious to see how your year mark finds you.

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avatar Humble Laura

Hey there Flexo!

You’re a great example for me and my husband, who both run websites and want to eventually work for ourselves. I’m fortunate enough to be able to be a stay-at-home wife, so I started my website so I could make the most out of my days. We still have a long way to go before my husband can work for himself, but at least we know that with a lot of hard work and determination, it’s definitely obtainable.

Congrats of your website’s success and having the guts to say “Enough with climbing the corporate ladder!” All the best to you and Consumerism Commentary!

Humbly Yours,
The Mayor

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avatar Naomi Tapia

This is a neat article – I like getting background on authors of websites that I visit. Congratulations on making the complete transition into self-employment-dom – I made a similar change several months ago, and I don’t regret it for one moment. I’ll look forward to hearing more about your journey.

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avatar Krantcents

All of us deal differently with change. What may be right for one is not for everybody. You need to find what will work for you in the long run. For me, I would want more physical activity to balance the rest. I also would want more outside activities. Congratulations, you made the first step.

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avatar Jen @ SheBloggs

Congratulations on 5 months!! Sounds like you made the right decision and I can see why you don’t regret quitting your job.

I also decided to quit my job after years of feeling like I was going nowhere. My only regret is also that I hesitated for a few years. Honestly, there’s really no such thing as a steady pay check as people get laid off all the time. Working for someone else is a false sense of stability.

Congrats again it’s a great accomplishment!!

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avatar Wealth Artisan

Greetings Flexo,
This was a really encouraging read. I have this overwhelming drive to work for myself, whether it’s opening up a barbecue restaurant, starting up a franchise, or just managing Wealth Artisan full time.
I really respect you for making the decision to work for yourself and wish you the best of luck with it!
Thanks,
Timothy

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avatar Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

Congratulations. This was really encouraging for me too. You had the courage to make a big change like that and you more than succeeded. You really are an inspiration.

I do agree with Krant though. Everyone deals with change differently and it can take a while to find the right groove for you. My current goal is to find more balance between work and play. I feel like there are never ending to do lists and not enough time for R and R.

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avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

I envy those who can step off the corporate ladder and survive and thrive while doing exactly what they want to do. Congratulations on 5 months. May there be many months and years ahead of you to do enjoy doing your own thing. I appreciate the timeliness of your posts and the candor in your writing. Keep up the good work!

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦95 (Newbie)

I work at home as a writer and have for years — and I’m not particularly organized, either. I *can* be — in fact, I *have* to be — but it’s a bit of a struggle sometimes. There are so many other things I want to do, or I get sidetracked on something that isn’t as important as the deadline I’m currently facing (except that I don’t see it that way).
Various things help: setting a kitchen timer, e-mailing reminders to myself, etc. It helps to be aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses and work within/in spite of them. I’m still looking for balance and perhaps one day I’ll find it. Not today, though, and tomorrow’s not looking good, either.
Thanks for inspiring us to keep at it.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

Congragulations Flexo, I wish I had the courage to do what you have done. The only thing is that I do not have a particular passion that I can change into a revenue stream. I am incredibly organized and have the ability to multitask so maybe I need to look into the idea of being an assistant on a freelance basis.

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avatar Oops

It sounds like you’re single, too. With no woman and no office social interaction, the loneliness must be crushing. Believe me when I say that it’s coming through in your writing.

You would be better off going back to your job and keeping this website on the side.

Of course, you “don’t work well with conformity”, so you won’t take that advice, and will probably actually delete this comment. Just please continue to write about your feelings as you begin your mental and emotional spiral into the abyss. I’ll check in here every couple of weeks, because rather than screw up my own life by acting on individualist urges brought on by inflated self-worth, I get by on the thrill of watching other, less disciplined, people suffer.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,550 (Platinum)

Mental and emotional spiral into the abyss? That’s pretty funny. But thanks for your concern; I’m glad to see you’ll be checking in.

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

great post flexo and congratulations! i have loved the blog ever since i found it and it is great that you made the move to focus on the site. you have done something that i wish i had the opportunity to do…you are doing what you love AND have had great success doing it!

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