I’ve been reading a few books and blogs recently about self-development. I’ve never really been into the whole self-help genre and I suppose self-development isn’t really all that different, yet I’ve found them useful and I’ve been inspired to do lots of self-evaluation otherwise known as ‘where do I want to go with my life’.
I’ve realised that the two things most important to me are time and independence.
When I think more deeply about this I realise it’s because I want to do so many things – I’m curious, want to explore, travel, read, cook, have varied interests, go places, learn, experience.
To do these things it’s obvious I need to have lots of time. However, doing lots of things costs money (even for a cheapskate like me), and acquiring money usually means giving up time. It can be a vicious circle. When I have time, I haven’t got the money; when I’m earning well, I haven’t got the time. Swings and roundabouts. Or should that be a see-saw, with one side constantly outweighing the other?
Independence is important too, because if I have commitments and other people or things relying on me, then I can’t just take off when I like and do whatever I like. Likewise, if I’m relying on other people then I can only do things when they want to and if they have the time and money to do them to.
I’m fortunate to not have anyone who really depends on me (some people might consider that to be a misfortune, but then I’d say we have different priorities regarding what’s important in life). And after spending years travelling solo and starting a new life in a new country on more than one occasion I’m not lacking in confidence when it comes to doing things on my own and so never feel like I’m dependent on someone else.
The more I think about all of this, the more I realise I don’t like being an employee. Having a regular salary is liberating in some ways – I always know the bills will be paid and when I travel I don’t have to pinch pennies because I know I’m still getting paid – but in other ways it’s the complete opposite. It’s so easy to become reliant on that regular income that the ‘what ifs’ of giving it up become so daunting it actually becomes restricting.
I switched from a regular full-time job with a monthly salary to agency work two years ago.
I haven’t regretted it.
I get as much work as I need and although it’s much lower paid than when I worked in a permanent job I can still pay my bills. This is partly because, knowing I want to be in a position to prioritise time over money, I’ve made sure the overheads for my day-to-day life are as low as possible. I’m working towards making things as maintenance free as possible too, so that I save even more time and money.
I still have that feeling though, that I can’t turn agency work down because what if there isn’t any next week? What about the school holidays when I don’t get paid at all? What if I have a unexpected big expense?
So now as well as ensuring my outgoings are low, I need to look at the other side of the equation and work out ways of ensuring my income is maximised without me having to barter large amounts of my time and independence in exchange for it.
Making my website successful could be one way of doing this. As could publishing the book that’s been sitting on my laptop for the past year. There are also other things I could do like workshops, leading walks, expanding my property empire (does two count as an empire?), freelance writing, tour leading, speaking engagements, buying and selling …
I have so many ideas, but have been really slow about putting any of them into action. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I’ve let myself get so bogged down with teaching assignments.
So from September, I’m going back to day-to-day jobs where I can be finished for 3.30pm and don’t have to do any work at the weekends. If I don’t earn so much, it won’t be a problem, because I’ll have other income streams.
At least that’s the plan. And now I’ve said it out loud maybe I’ll actually try to follow it.