Life After Salary: Structure and Motivation, Five Months Later
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.