Personally, I didn’t just “decide” to quit corporate life. Corporate decided for me, not an unusual situation. Acquisitions, mergers, downsizing, restructuring. All familiar words to many of us.
2020 brought my layoff due to COVID “budget constraints” – and I quote. The timing was set by corporate but if I’m honest, I already knew in my gut and in my heart, I didn’t want to continue on with corporate politics and mostly, of others owning my time.
Last year also brought my 50th birthday. With the impact of the pandemic (positive impact in my opinion) demonstrating the value of time spent with family, reading a book, cooking from scratch, whatever the value means to you, it was a no-brainer for me to decide to pursue a different lifestyle. One that, for me, changes the stress dynamic.
The Professional Freedom Mindset
My journey to professional freedom began long before 2021. I realized awhile ago that I didn’t have the desire to be a corporate climber. There, I said it!
Mostly, I loved the work I did and the people I worked to serve, educate, empower, and support. But titles never mattered to me (unfortunately they matter to a lot of people). And a couple years ago GenX and those a little bit older started dying. Literally. From Prince to Kate Spade and even some that were closer to my personal circle; it was devastating to watch the depression, addiction, and overall gloom.
Most recently, and not by his own hand, someone from my past left this world with no signs of his impending heart attack, and that was a reality check. A gut-punch, because he was 50, like me. An affirmation of my decision to enjoy every moment and spend more hours doing what I love and with who I choose. And not having that decision made for me.
A few weeks after my layoff, I talked to my friend and former colleague Diana. She told me about the 4 Hour Workweek book by Tim Ferriss and her husband’s recent transition to owning his own business. I read it. More like devoured it. #MindBlown.
There it was on my Kindle (and then on paper because I had to have the hardcopy!): the #NoGuiltZone approach to life.
So I started organizing how I was going to get there.
The 4 Actions to Quit Corporate Life and Get to Professional Freedom:
- Figure out your worst-case scenario: for me that was going back to working for others. I knew with the skills I developed and my drive, I wouldn’t likely get to my worst-case scenario, but it is OK if that’s what it is.
- Determine how much money you actually need: this is easier now that we have been doing the COVID thing right? Do I need almost weekly mani-pedis? Nope. Can I buy food and cook for less than I had been spending at restaurants now that I have the time and don’t travel every week? Yes. I outlined my expenses to precisely know the amount I need monthly. (I excluded food and other variable expenses). Then I was able to see how many months I could go with what kind of allowance for flexible expenses, before touching my savings. This also allowed me to apply the “worst case scenario” concept from the 4 Hour Workweek: what expenses could be cut and/or using my savings. In 2019, I simplified my life by selling my house. My rent is a flexible expense. Car payments are also flexible- something that can be down-sized or decreased. See where I’m headed?
- Side note: the value of being this far along in life and career? Having a savings account. And some 401K funds. So why wait?
- Write it out: make lists, use sticky-notes, draw on your whiteboard. Do whatever works for you but the point is write down your skills and then circle the ones you love to use. Next write down your passions. Now look at everything and start visualizing how you can use your skills to focus on your passions. The goal here is to identify income streams. For me writing was in both columns and thus began www.freeat50.blog. Like me, you may spend some time narrowing down your options for income generation but, ultimately, choose 2-3 to highlight.
- Just start: imperfect action is better than avoidance and fear. If you wait for “perfection” you may never get rolling. Once I had a few posts written, I launched my “test” blog. I (sadly) decided to use the wordpress .com option instead of a self-hosted platform and now that the blog is no longer what I consider to be a test, but something I want to prioritize and monetize, I will need to rebuild on a platform I chose called Groove, but it is OK. I started. I learned a lot along the way and now I have a plan to move forward successfully, including working one-on-one with a coach who is living the 4 Hour Workweek lifestyle.
- Side note: I started (imperfectly of course!) down the road of a few different income streams before I finalized the decision to put the blog first. I even have a landing page for consulting projects supporting small businesses by maximizing use of their teams. I am keeping that page because once the blog is successful (I know it will be and if not, I will pivot!), I may focus on that page, possibly even creating an online course. Or I may pivot sooner. The point is I set up some options for multiple income streams.
Clearly, there are things to consider before making a life-changing decision. I get that. But the no-brainer part is preparing for the lifestyle you want. Accept that you are the one living your life and I implore you, do whatever you can to create your happy and own your time. If I can inspire or support that, I am happy to. Connect with me!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daphne Reznik runs the Free at 50 blog, which focuses on life after corporate, how to transition into professional freedom and resources to create income streams. She has a diverse background having worked in state government, small business, and most recently, a large corporate entity. Her experience supporting businesses and leading a national staff training program, provided her with a skill set she is using to design a lifestyle as a blogger and to inspire others.