1 year quit-iversary: An ode to support from a spouse

I quitRather quietly last week I celebrated the 1 year anniversary of quitting my day job. My last day in a cubicle was Friday, June 21, 2013.

There are a lot of things I could say in this post, like how to quit your day job yourself, or 3 things I wish someone had told me, or plans for my future non-cubicleness. …

But really, I just want to tell you how grateful I am to my husband because I 100% could not have done this without his support.

I suppose as a proper blogger, I should be focusing on a good takeaway for you the reader. I should be able to distill this into a couple good lessons or tips for you do use in your own journey. I shouldn’t make this all about me.

But I can’t do that. Because I could not have quit my day job at this point in my life without Andrew’s whole-hearted commitment to make me happy.

You see….  When I quit last year, I was *barely* making enough money through L&R, #30Lists and working for Maggie to cover what Andrew’s salary did not.

Since then, a year later, I have not really increased my income at all. We still have very little money. And what is Andrew’s response to that? “Read in the hammock. Watch a movie. Do whatever makes you happy.”

Yes, I have read a lot in the last year. 50+ books since the beginning of 2014. But I have done more than read in a hammock too. I’ve painted the garage and done more yardwork than I ever wanted to. I launched a minisite and a book club just for fun. I’ve written 2 novel rough drafts, and edited 2 more. I’ve completed my big ecourse and grown that community. I’ve shot a few weddings and shuttered that business. I spent a whole week taking care of my grandmother in Phoenix. I’ve dropped everything to drive to Andrew’s work for an impromptu date. I’ve thought and dreamed and planned and worked (and planned some more).

I may not be making any more money than I was a year ago, but I am approximately 17,000x happier than I was in the cubicle.

All because my husband supports me, supports my goals, and (most of all) believes that me being happy with zero expendable income is a much better way to spend life than me being miserable and having a bit more money to spend.

I’m super excited for my next year of cubicle-less-ness.

Feel free to go tell Andrew how awesome he is on his Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. It will embarrass the heck out of him.

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6 months on my own: Work schedule

For the last 6 months since I quit my day job I have been trying to find THE BEST schedule for me. It’s not easy. Working for yourself is not all Pinterest and cupcakes. I mean, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. But still.

And because I’m still trying to figure out the best schedule, I haven’t yet set any real boundaries for myself (or others). Which means that my schedule gets even more way out of whack some times.

I’ve been using Google Calendar for almost a year now – by far the LONGEST I have ever used a method/planner/scheduling medium. I love that I can set recurring tasks (vacuum, send monthly newsletter, write) and that I can easily drag-and-drop a task to another day if I need to.

Here’s what I want my week to look like:

Everything in its proper place. Some gaps, even, throughout the week to read for fun or work on a last-minute deadline. And weekends totally empty except for writing.

ideal week

Here’s what it actually looks like:

Weekends full of the the things I haven’t gotten to over the week. Not actually taking a holiday off work. Immeasurable overlapping tasks that keep getting pushed back and pushed back because newer, more urgent things come up or because I am terrible at estimating the time it will take, or because I get distracted by something that wasn’t on the schedule.

actual week

Truthfully – the best part of my schedule is I can tweak it so I don’t have to leave the house more than once or twice a week. I try to do all my errands the same day, but other than that I often only actually leave the house to get the mail from the sidewalk mailbox.

The worst part of my schedule is that I am NEVER done.

Here’s a glimpse at what it is like at my house on any given weekday…. All times are approximate.

6:45 AM – I’ve been letting myself wake up naturally without an alarm. Of course, I wake up with a cat in my face. Khaleesi’s new thing is to scratch up the corner of the mattress right by my face. And then when she notices I’m awake she walks back and forth over my pillow or my body to make me get up. She’s the worst.

7:00 AM – feed the cats, start the coffee, sit down in the living room with my laptop and “check” all the social medias to see how popular and needed I have miraculously become overnight.

7 – 9:00 AM – This tends to be my ‘catch-up’ time. Responding to emails that came in overnight, scheduling the tweet for my post that went up that morning, blogging the afternoon post I wanted to get up today, checking the various FB groups I’m part of (30Lists, BUILD, etc), getting distracted by a link someone posted, finishing the library book that needs to go back and get blogged, making sure Andrew gets up in time for work.

9 – 10:00AM – shower, get dressed and ready for the day, eat breakfast, usually feed the cats right about now so I don’t have to think about it later.

10:00 – 3:00PM – work. Or try to work. Or try not to get distracted by something else. This can be anything from blogging for the week ahead to having a coaching call to finally answering a bunch of comments (I am bad at that) to working on my Project Life book so I have something to blog next week to writing new emails to my list and a long long continuing list of things I want to do to NURTURE my little business.

3p – my brain has stopped working very well. And I need to stand up. And eat something. So I give myself a little break from work that usually ends up lasting the rest of the day.

Yes, I will handle emails or calls for Maggie if I need to. I will do the dishes or make dinner or vacuum if I need to. I will edit photos while I watch a movie or TV show with Andrew when he gets home. But for the most part, I am drained of the creative work by 4 or 5p on any given day. It might be partly due to the winter hours (I am constantly looking at the clock after dark thinking ‘How is it ONLY 6?’), but I think I am also a tried-and-true morning person.

I can’t tell if that means I need to wake up earlier so I can work more, or if I need to accept the fact that I’m not a proper entrepreneur since I don’t work 14-hour days.

Changes I want to make:

  • Wake up earlier. I love the mornings. I love waking up before sunrise, even.
  • Do NOT check email until 9:00 AM. Hard one when it’s on my phone. I try not to open it on my computer til mid-day.
  • Write every day. No, EVERY day. I want to finish a draft of one of my novels that is ready for readers.
  • ONLY do housework and other mindless activities after 4p when my brain turns off. Would be helpful if I could only run errands after that time too, but we’ll see.

Like most everything, my working-on-my-own schedule is a constant work in progress.

If you work from home, what have you found works for you?

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At the bottom of another ladder

… OK, I’m not at the *bottom* of this ladder, since L&R has been around for 3 years. But still.

Near the bottom.

And as I look back at the last 15 years of my life or so I realize that I tried climbing partway up multiple ladders only to give up and start over. Acting/singing/performing, photography, academia, corporate business america…. and now this. L&R and my other sites. My internet empire. Online media + coaching

I “gave up” all for good, well-thought out reasons – pursuing Broadway is a hell-of-a-lot of work, especially if you’re not totally confident in your ability OR your desire to get there. Academia is a rough gig – you have to go where that 1 university has an open 20th century American Lit spot and then hope you can get tenure. Even if it is in _______ (Des Moines or Fresno or Quebec or whereever), and then *hope* that your husband can find a job there too. I’m not making excuses; just trying to give examples of what I mean.

And now I’m starting over again. When I quit my job in June, I told myself “now that I have all this extra time, I’m going to sky rocket!” … but, honestly? It’s taken me til about …. now to really wrap my head around scheduling my days and prioritizing my projects and adding in all the extra little things that are now my job since I’m home more than my husband.

It is impossible for me not to compare myself to other bloggers and online media experts that are much farther up this ladder than I am. Especially since I feel like I’ve been working hard my whole life. I mean, I HAVE been working hard … just at different things. Unfortunately, my Master’s degree in Literature doesn’t do a whole lot here. Neither does my 5 years of voice lessons or my wedding album samples.

So, now I just have to content myself with being at the bottom of another ladder … and focus on what I need to do to work up that ladder.

I feel like Onward and Upward comes at the perfect time every year. For whatever reason, the previous 3 Octobers have all involved SOME incident at my day job that reinforced that I wanted to quit eventually. And this October? Self-employed, at the bottom of another ladder and running the 3rd annual Onward and Upward workshop.

It’s my favorite. The participants have consistently been amazing, intelligent and helpful to one another, and I always learn more to add to the workshop the following year.

Weeks 2 and 3 of the Onward and Upward workshop is all about getting yourself in the mindset that you CAN change your life. That you CAN live something other than 40 years in a cubicle. To get you mentally prepared for starting over at the bottom of another ladder. Sign up for the email list here and get in with all the pre-registration extras and discount (through Sunday)!

live your great work online workshop

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Telling my story: #cubiclelife minibook

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A chapter of my life closed in June.

Even if I someday go back to a full-time office job, it won’t be at the same place, so I decided to make a minibook of a few of the day-job-stories before they’re all gone from my memory.

For the book structure and binding, I used rukristin papercrafts’ minibook workshop Fold It In. I had never seen this style of minibook binding before and I love how easy it is.

I put the base of the book together one night, using just paper from my existing stash, while Andrew and I were marathoning Parks and Rec.

The content of the minibook is primarily photos taken during various Day in the Life challenges in the first few months of the year, and journaling from some of my One Year of Everyday journaling series.

I can’t tell you how easy it was to put this all together with so much of the work already done. I didn’t have to go shopping, or take specific pictures, or even come up with most of the journaling.

Easy.

I’m not much one for embellishments – so this is basically just words and photos.. .. but it still tells my story. In fact, some might even say it’s too text heavy for a minibook. But who cares?

I’ve blurred out the name of the company I worked for, but otherwise you can see all the pages here….

Augminibook  001 Augminibook  002 Augminibook  003 Augminibook  004 Augminibook  005 Augminibook  006 Augminibook  007 Augminibook  008 Augminibook  009 Augminibook  010 Augminibook  011 Augminibook  012 Augminibook  013

Supplies:

Have you ever documented a job?

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First week of the rest of my life

As of today, I have been self-employed for 2 weeks. Admittedly, the 2 weeks were not “typical” for a few reasons …. and I don’t think I’ll have a “typical” week until … August or so. 12-hour working days + Andrew randomly off work on a Monday + going out of town + 4th of July? Totally a-typical. So, really, I’ve kind of just felt like I was on vacation for a couple weeks. I mean, vacation in which I had an insane to-do list. But, my (previous) day job never required me to care/pay attention when I wasn’t in the office so any day I was off work was truly off (from that job).

The last 2 weeks I’ve been able to combine hanging out with Andrew when he was home with intense periods of working on BUILD. It’s been kind of awesome. Since I’ve had so much to do between BUILD and 30Lists, the last couple weeks I’ve just been working CONSTANTLY. I have not done any of the housework I told Andrew I would do once I quit. I have not started the video game that I bought myself in November and have been saving ever since.

I *imagine* a typical week would be Andrew working Monday – Friday, and I work on making progress on a number of projects/blogging throughout the week. In fewer than 12 hour days. I *imagine* a typical week would involve regular eating schedules, knowing WHERE I work best and how to physically stay comfortable and healthy. I’ve got a few work spaces around the house I’ve been trying – I’m trying to balance the hot weather upstairs with an ergonomic computer set up. I even tried propping my laptop on the back of the couch and standing behind it. I *imagine* a typical week would not involve absurdly time-sensitive to do lists. You’d think I could plan better. Hopefully a *typical* week will include more reasonable online platform building and maintenance and not intense sprints with no breaks.

But either way, the freedom of making my own schedule, combined with the HUGE time savings not having to pack my lunches-drive for an hour-sit in a cubicle-drive home another hour has been overwhelmingly awesome. Even Andrew is giddily happy (even though he has to leave me home with the girls while he goes to work).

Here’s just a little glimpse of what I’ve been able to do those first few days of freedom…. And I’ll have to give you another #cubiclelifenomore update in a few months.

I made a big pot of homemade chicken stock on MONDAY – since it needs to simmer on the stove for 8 hours, I otherwise would only been able to do this on a weekend. I actually started it at 6a, finishing it at 2p, we went out in the afternoon and I came home and used the stock to make soup for dinner.

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I get to hang out with the babies all day every day. Sometimes they’re crazy obnoxious, but most of the time they just sleep all day …. cuties.

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That first Monday I was off, Andrew *happened* to have off as well. LUCKY! So we got to go out together in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday!!

Previously – up until the end of 2012 – we literally only had Sundays off together. And even then it was only 3 out of every 4. The last few months, we’ve had Saturdays and Sundays together which has been magical. But now …. NOW WE HAVE ALL THE TIME! Andrew gets paid time off whenever his boss goes out of town, so now that I make my own schedule that means I can (theoretically) take that time off as well!!

So that first Monday, we visited the new library in our town! I love the library. I love that we live in an affluent suburb that can afford to build a new library (seems crazy, right?). And I kind of want to live in this library. I’ll do a full post at Those Crazy Schuberts if you want to follow me there.

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The girls seem to like having me home all the time. They follow me around the house and just sleep in the room where I’m working.

freedom  004

I’ve been working in my office more and more – you’d think that that is what it was for, right? I am loving getting up early (5 or 6am range), grabbing my coffee and sitting at my office window. LOVE it. I love that I have this space. I just wish it wasn’t so hot in the afternoons.

Eventually I’ll get around to cleaning/straightening up this room. I still have probably a dozen unpacked boxes from when we moved in 15 months ago. Yup. I’m NOT a lifestyle blogger :)

I am so excited to make this space awesome and work out of it more often.

Also this first week (and referenced in the picture below)? I was able to conduct an exclusive interview for BUILD in the middle of the afternoon. SO awesome to be able to tell Sarah “whenever you want, I’m home all the time.”

freedom  005

My to do list has been under such a time crunch (definite BUILD launch date + going out of town) that I haven’t done hardly any housework. I intend to, of course. I don’t want Andrew to regret carrying so much of our financial load. But in reality, that first week of freedom I left dishes undone, closed my eyes to dirty floors and left piles of mail on our dining room table (among other things).

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But the girls following me around the house is probably going to be a regular thing now. Bless their hearts.

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And in spite of all the work work work…. sometimes you just need to step away. I have been LOVING having a hammock in our backyard for my downtime. I set the timer on my phone for 20 or 40 minutes or so, head out there with a book and either read or nap or daydream. It’s LOVELY.

The one problem is that when I get out there I’m reminded just how much work needs to be done on our house and backyard especially … so I start to get a little antsy and feel like I shouldn’t be lazy (even if it’s just for 20 minutes). I might be a little crazy.

It’s getting a *little* warm to be outside (even in the shade) in the afternoons, so I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to enjoy this … but I am SO looking forward to the fall when I hopefully have a schedule down better and it will be cool enough to spend more time out there.

(in fact, I have an idea for another income stream that will require me to read all the time. How awesome if I could make that work!)

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This week:

Andrew is going to be off work starting Wednesday for a whole month (!!), I’ve got long to do lists for the upcoming 30 Days of Lists + this fall’s Onward and Upward AND we’re making plans to go out of town. And we have a ton of projects for around the house.

Again, an atypical week.

If you’re interested in quitting your day job too, take a look at my BUILD ecourse! It launches tomorrow, but if you sign up for the email list today you can pre-register for 50% off and/or get 9 months of weekly blogging tips delivered to your email for free. Click below for more …

750x100_amyquit_color

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How you can pick my brain

So, now that I’m going to be around a lot more I thought I’d point out how we can work together

for FREE

Sign up for BUILD email series – 9 months of free, weekly emails

Grab my free SHIFT ebook – 7 ways to jumpstart your creativity by shifting your perspective and changing the way you see the world

I blog here at L&R 5-6 days a week … Be sure you subscribe to the blog or Twitter or my Instagram for the latest

for $9+

Connect: A simple template to make guest posting work for you

Finishing Manifesto: My challenge and my encouragement to you to FINISH your creative projects that you’ve been dreaming and planni

Tell Its Story: Journal the memories of your stuff

One Year email series: Sign up for One Year email series and every week, once a week, for a year receive a journaling prompt in your inbox. Each email includes a journaling prompt, some ideas of how to interpret it for your own story, and an example of journaling from one of the contributors.

$150+

Editing: If you’re going to be releasing a digital product (ebook, ecourse or manuscript), don’t make the mistake of putting it out there with typos, punctuation and blatant organization errors.

Copywriting: When you release your new product, be sure to focus on your sales page and other copywriting pieces.

BUILD ecourse: Self-paced blogging ecourse launching July 9; build a community, build a business, build a blog

$500+

reBUILD sessions: Working on building your blog but not sure on the next step? Grab a full-day 1-on-1 workshop – just me and you.

Consulting on month-long retainer: Weekly phone calls for a month to discuss your blog and business strategy

 SHIFT_free creativity guide

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Found: I quit edition

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Working from home resources

I quitEver since I decided I was going to quit my day job (like, 3 years ago), I’ve been obsessively reading stories and tips and ideas for working from home. I know I’m going to have to completely overhaul my schedule. I’m naturally a morning person, but my ‘day job’ kept me out until midnight every night.

I’m excited to figure out what works best for me. I’m so excited to be able to get up early again. I’m super super excited to be able to optimize my most productive time and delve even farther into my GREAT WORK.

Here are some favorites

What are your best tips for balancing work and life – ESPECIALLY if you’re working from home?

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Weekend project: Escape plan

weekend project

(first, a disclaimer: I’m not one of those people who think everyone should quit their day job. BUT, if you WANT to, this post is for you)

I started planning my escape 2.5 years ago. Unless you happen to marry rich, your cubicle escape will probably take awhile too. Which is all the more reason for you to start planning this weekend. Write out your to do list and start crossing things out.

This weekend plan out your cubicle escape.

Know how much money you NEED to make:

Not want. What is your absolute minimum? What expenses can you cut out (cable, dining out, etc)? What expenses will you not need to worry about (gas money, work clothes)? Know what sacrifices you are willing to make to get free of your cubicle.

Know how you will make that money:

Will you work part-time? Will you raise your photography prices? Will you save 12 months’ of expenses to tide you over while you figure out what you want to do next? My income now comes from a variety of sources – a little here, a little there.

Get all your paperwork/grown-up stuff taken care of:

Do you need to change your health care? Do you want to take advantage of a work benefit before you leave there? Do you know all your retirement account log-in info?

 Know your worst-case-scenario plan B:

If everything goes terribly terribly wrong, do you know what you’re going to do? I don’t mean having ‘I’ll get my job back’ in the back of your head. I feel like that will just hold you back. But if you NEED money to keep your house, what options do you have? For example, if we have to, we can rent out one of the rooms in our house or sell our 2nd car and save $$ on insurance and upkeep.

There is A LOT to think about …. and you want to make sure you think about it WHILE you still have an income, not when you’re panicking about being able to buy food.

Read about how I made the escape and how Sarah made the escape to give you ideas

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Top 10 list: Working for myself is awesome

I quitHonestly …. I could just let this article stand on its own: Why working from home wins

ALL OF THESE THINGS.

But, just for fun, here are my TOP 10 list of what I’m looking forward to working for myself….

10. Being home

I love my house. I love being home with my cats (I know. I’m that person). I love being home when Andrew gets home from work. I love having the time to finally finish unpacking boxes. I love being able to enjoy the little nest we’re building together.

9. PJs every day

Actually, probably not…. Maybe leggings or dresses without having to worry about being ladylike. But I can wear t-shirts if I want to. I don’t have to feel bad about not wearing makeup. I’m ultimately just going to be so much more physically comfortable.

8. “free” time again

Between the day job and the building L&R I haven’t really had “free time”. I’m going to get to have a social life again. I’m going to have a chance to play video games and watch movies again. I might even make time to work out.

7. much much less junk food

There was always SO MUCH sweets and junk at work. Like every other day someone brought it sweets. Since I don’t buy anything like that to keep in the house, I am anticipating being able to eat a lot better. No more sugar-temptation every single time I get up from my cubicle seat.

6. FAR less wasted time

The kind of work I did involved just sitting around and waiting for work to come in. Sometimes it was crazy busy, and sometimes I did almost nothing for a whole day. As someone who is super motivated, all that wasted time sitting around drove me CRAZY. I would much rather be home cleaning than just sitting at my cubicle for 6 hours with nothing to do. True story.
ALSO far less wasted time in the car. I was spending 52.5 hours/week outside the house between commute, work, lunch, work, commute. NOW I can still work 40 hours/week, get more done AND have more free time.

5. save $$ on gas

Speaking of … Andrew and I both have had to drive so much we were spending about $500/month on gas. For real. Now, though, I won’t be driving nearly as much and Andrew will be driving the better-mileage car so I anticipate cutting that in half at least! Excited :)

4. new sleeping schedule

As I know I’ve mentioned, the last 5 years I’ve worked until 11p every night which is completely against my natural schedule. I am not a fan of staying up late or sleeping in. I’ve only been self-employed for a few days and I’m already back to falling asleep early and getting up around 6a. AND I LOVE IT.
I think I’ll eventually fall into a schedule where I get up at 6a or so …. work work work til mid-afternoon and then relax/sleep/read in the early evening until Andrew gets home. CANNOT WAIT.

3. no salary cap

My day job corporation had a salary cap for my position – and little (really not any) opportunity for advancement. Which means no matter how hard I worked I could never make any more money. Working for myself, though, is the complete opposite. If I sit around reading a book (like I did at the day job), I won’t make any money …. But if I need a little “bonus” or raise I just gotta hustle.
I’m SUPER excited to have more control over how much money I can make because I know I’m smart and I know I’m a hard worker.

2. rewarded for hard work and intelligence

Related …. Everything at the day job was based on seniority. Privileges and perks given to those who have stuck around …. The shaft is given to people who have been there “only” 5 years. So there was no real reason to work hard. There’s no real reason for me to know all the social media, SEO, online marketing stuff that I know. There’s no reward for being smart or working hard at that place.
But working for myself means that I personally get to reap the benefits of my own hard work. Excited!

1. choosing my own tasks

My day job duties were boring. There’s really no other way to put it. It takes 6 months or so to ‘get it’ and really be able to do the job on your own … but after that it’s just variations on a theme. I need to be challenged. I need to have problems to solve. Having to just do the same task over and over again makes me a little crazy.
I’m SO excited to be able to choose my own tasks and make my own work day. I’m super excited to be able to go on little kicks and dive deep into learning a certain topic that I can immediately work into my online platform and work.
Example: My U.S. History class. Looking into building that site out to attract traffic to monetize that fun little obsession I have.
SERIOUSLY so excited to be able to do work that I am interested in!

That gives you some idea of what I’m leaving and what I’m looking forward to….

What would you be most excited about if you worked for yourself?

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