That first two months after (finally) quitting my job definitely flew by! I’ve had a successful move from New Haven, CT to Portland, OR! Life has been memorable in a gazillion ways, and the fun is just getting started.
Today I bring to you lessons I’ve already learned and that you’ll need to watch out for or can look forward to for yourself.
Self-Employed = Awesome!
So far, 99% of the time has been freakin’ fantastic. You’re probably thinking I’m exaggerating, but I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier with life right now, and I’m committed to doing every possible to keeping it that way.
I’ve gotten to meet a ton of new people out here in Portland, and not having a job to hold me back has definitely helped that. Friday afternoon Dark Knight Returns showing? Sure! Sunday bar crawl? Why not?
It’s possible that I’m still in the post-job haze, but I’m just eating it all up for now until my feelings tell me otherwise.
Having Some Income is Better Than None
Initially, I was going to make the jump from my steady income from job to zero income at all. I planned to save all along, and I ended up with about $7,000, strictly for making the transition to self-employment. But, a few weeks before getting my job, I came across a position that fit in nicely, allowing me to write freelance part-time and still be able to work on projects that I wanted and do other things that I just love to do.
While it would be nice to be 100% free to do whatever I please, having a small income that still covers most of my living expenses has been a huge relief. It’s expanded my time horizon for when I’ll run out of money if my other endeavors don’t bring in cash as soon as I hope. Right now I’m looking at least 6 months of expenses in the bank, so I’m not concerned for that any time soon.
So, I’d recommend: Unless you have solid financial backup, consider being a part-time quitter. This can even work if you don’t have much savings at all but desperately want to leave your job. Freelancing is always an option, but there are some decent part-time options, even some that offer health insurance.
Don’t Forget New Expenses
Speaking of health insurance, you’re going to need to pick up coverage for yourself and potentially your family. I went with eHealthInsurance, and I found a decent plan for about $100 a month. Yes, it’s pretty bare bones with a $5k deductible, but it’s not much worse than what my previous employer offered. Plus, I’m young and happily healthy
Also, once you have self-employed income, you have to remember to set aside money for taxes. For now, I save 30% which is hopefully a conservative amount ( and I’m overdue to meet with an accountant!)
Advice to ya: Don’t forget to factor these things into your budget before you leave your job, like health insurance and additional taxes, to get a more realistic picture for what your monthly expenses will be like.
You’re Probably Going to Freak Out At Times
I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t doubted myself already. I know it’s early, and I have momentum going for me, but the long-term path still isn’t clear and likely won’t be for some time. I’ve had a few moments of agony, for sure, although none of them had me regretting that I quit my job.
For me, the biggest tool for taking on this one has been positive thinking. It may sound silly, but I’ve gotten amazing relief telling myself “I am awesome, I can do this, and I refuse to fail.”
According to a recent talk I attended at WDS by Brené Brown, it’s our psychological inclination to believe that when things feel good, they can’t last and we wonder “Okay, I feel great, but what’s going to go wrong here? Something has to.” Thinking like that is total bullsh*t, and I’ve been doing all I can to fight any of those feelings and keep being happy.
Do this: Do your best to stay level-headed. It’s okay to use some discomfort to push you forward, but freaking out isn’t going to help you be productive.
Find a Routine as Quickly As You Can
I remember always sitting at my desk job and thinking something like “If I can just get out of here, I can easily add 40 productive hours a week to my freelance work, blogging, and other projects! I’m gonna be banging out blog posts like a boss!”
Fast forward two months: It hasn’t quite been the productive paradise that I imagined.
Month One (June), I was pretty committed to doing the bare minimum and chilling out (had to catch up on How I Met Your Mother somehow, right?).
July, which was almost entirely in Portland, has gotten better work-wise. It hasn’t been perfect by any means, but I’m slowly discovering how and where I can be most productive.
I’ve finally put the tools from Zen to Done (a simpler version of Getting Things Done) to work to organize my weekly and daily tasks to be more productive. Creating systems has definitely been a key for me, and I think it will set you up for success much better than just randomly trying to conquer your work.
For you: Whatever you need to do to get in the working groove, find it as soon as you can.
Diversify Your Income, and Don’t Work for Peanuts
I already had one slight scare that I’d lost all my freelancing income. It was a terrifying moment (and luckily it was just a quick one), but I’m determined not to wait around for it to happen for real.
You, too, should be thinking about how you can earn your income from more than one source. To say the very least, it’s reassuring to know that your entire well-being doesn’t rely on a single job.
While you’re at it, don’t get desperate and devalue your time and your work. Sure, I’m looking for more freelance work, but I’m not going to jump at just anything, especially if it pays less than my time is worth. I’ve turned down a few opportunities already because of this. I’m not greedy by any means, but I’m not going to work for minimum wage, either.
Have questions about being self-employed? Or is something standing in your way? Let me hear it in the comments!
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