This is a journal of my attempt to go from stuck in a 9-5 job to complete career freedom in 18 months. I will be using 3 books as my main inspiration.
25 Principles of Success – Jack Canfield
Refuse to Choose – Barbara Sher
Be a Free Range Human – Marianne Cantwell
These 3 authors have each inspired me to reach for something that right now feels completely out of the realm of possibility but which I desperately want. This blog will be sharing how I put into practice the techniques and tools these authors explain to create the life I’ve always wanted.
I want to be able to have an idea and start work on it without the restraints of a 9-5 job. I want to have the financial freedom to give some kid from the Make a Wish foundation the time of their life. I want to be able to stop sitting on my sofa in the evenings scratching out various sums on the back of an envelope, working out how long it will take to save to buy a house or pay for a holiday. I want to be excited on a Sunday night at the prospect of what may be in store on Monday.
The journey starts now. 22nd May 2017. No matter what my circumstances are I will be posting on 22nd November 2018 to let you know how far I’ve got.
For about 7 years I’ve had this urge to write a motivational book. One thing I love to do is encourage people to make the most of their time, talents, skills and life in general. When I was 19, it hit me how short and precious life is and since then I’ve wanted to help other people realise this too and get the most out of their time.
The only problem is, I’m not some legendary motivational speaker with a ton of stories to back up my points. Nor am I particularly successful (yet). I thought to myself, who on earth will listen to somebody like me? Then I realised two things. One, this book idea isn’t going anywhere. It’s like indigestion. I’ll be going about my normal day life and then it rears its head and stops me in my tracks and I have to take note. Two, the author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’, Napoleon Hill, was not a rich or conventionally successful man himself. He simply investigated what successful people did and wrote it down into a book.
Therefore, strand two of my journey to freedom will be this book. My desire for it will be to encourage people, to inspire people and get them excited about their lives. I want to throw in some motivational science and theories I’ve learnt about that will help people propel themselves forward.
So, if you have any stories of what you’ve done to achieve any amount of success or fulfilment in your life, do let me know and I’ll add it to the book. Also, I’ll be using you guys for accountability purposes. I will struggle to finish this book on my own (somewhere I have 8000 words of a book I started about five years ago that I didn’t finish).
New York Best Sellers List, here I come!
So you know the expression ‘taking baby steps’ when you’re just learning how to do something? You don’t expect to take giant leaps, just tiny movements in the right direction. Well now imagine baby steps and throw in a room full of treacle. That’s how slow things are moving at the moment.
Part of me is frustrated as I check the sales reports every day to see nothing sold. Again. Part of me is actually really happy with it. I’m learning lots of new things. Fiverr is coming in really handy. I’ve used it to create all my t-shirt designs and am building up good working relationships, I’ve just had someone send me a market research report telling me more about what kinds of t-shirts people like (maybe I should have done that first!) so I can alter future designs a bit. One of the most exciting things I’ve done this week is spend some money advertising on Facebook. With a very small budget I can’t afford to reach many people but so far 2143 people have seen my Not Just Any Job clothing page. I get really excited when total strangers like it! At 100 likes I’m going to do a giveaway. So if you know anyone at university, please share this link with them! https://www.facebook.com/notjustanyjob/
Next up is is making some changes to the designs I have to match the market research information I’ve got. I’m then going to focus on writing a book. I’ve had an idea for a non-fiction book for a while and will give it a go. Apparently it’s one of the best ways to get passive income (after you’ve slogged your guts out) every month, which will be another step towards freedom.
These are exciting times!
I’ve noticed a change this week. Not a dramatic one but enough to make a difference. One of the sayings I love is ‘If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.’
I have a habit of starting something and then giving up when I get bored or it gets difficult. I lack patience and the ability to persevere. However, despite not feeling well at all the last couple of weeks, it’s finally been driven home that if I quit this time, in a year or ten years or thirty years I will still be bored out of my brain, stuck in a 9-5, desperately unhappy and nothing will ever change.
Quitting is no longer an option.
At the risk of sounding like my life is now a cheesy 80’s motivational montage from a Rocky film, I want to assure you it’s not. For example, if it was I’d be cheerfully selling loads of t-shirts, working hard but doing well etc. However, apart from 2 t-shirts I bought myself, my Teemill site remains deserted. So, when I can bear it, I’m tediously uploading my designs to another site, Redbubble. This site appears to be better known and I’m hoping I will actually sell something now.
I have the above picture on my wardrobe. Around my flat I have several quotes I find motivating. One of the pieces of advice I see in all the books I read is to keep going, keep persevering. In Jack Canfield’s ’25 Principles of Success’ he lists several examples of this at work. Colonel Sanders got rejected 300 times before someone accepted his KFC receipe. A quick google search shows me that JK Rowling got rejected 12 times before publishing her first Harry Potter book.
What strikes me is these people didn’t have a special spotlight on them that announced that one day they were going to be successful. They had to believe in themselves, despite their friends and family, however well intentioned telling them they were crazy and should be ‘realistic.’
In her book ‘Be a Free Range Human’, Marianne Cantwell asks 2 really good questions.
1) Who has told you to be realistic, stay in your 9-5 and accept life the way it is?
2) Do they have a life you want?
It was an ‘oh yeah!’ moment. Without exception, every single person who has told me to be realistic has lived the 9-5 lifestyle. Without exception, every single book I’ve read or advice I’ve seen from someone saying ‘there is more to life than this and you can have it too’, has been from someone who has already made it. Would I not be foolish to listen to the unhappy people rather than the successful people?
In his biography, Lee Mack talks about having a delusional quality with regards to his ability to succeed. I’ve noticed this in many, many successful people. They have, against the odds, believed they can achieve their goal and have gone out and done just that. I remember seeing Pink in an interview say that when she was 18, she ran up to one of her idols and said ‘You don’t know me yet, but I’m totally going to be famous’. That self-belief was clearly there again.
So, I will be patient, I will persevere and I will believe. Like Will Smith once said, you just have to decide and believe that it’s done and then wait for everyone else to see it.
So you guys, you don’t know it yet, but I’m totally going to be successful.
I announced on my Facebook page today that my t-shirt store is open for business. I got a lot of support which felt great. One of my friends asked me if this was going to be what I lived off now and I tried to explain the dream but was too excited at the time to give a long answer. So, here it is.
The answer is no.
So, I hope that cleared things up. Feel free to ask any more questions.
Just kidding. The short answer is no. The long answer is, maybe, eventually. Or, more likely, it will be ONE of the things I make my living from. In many books I’ve read about ‘Multiple Streams of Income.’ It makes sense, especially if you’re a Scanner, to make money doing a lot of different things as it stops you getting bored. Plus that way, if one source of income stops, you do get bored or it goes through a rough patch, it won’t be as bad as if you’ve just lost your job or your one source of income. I can just get creative by starting another.
I’ve never done plate spinning (professionally) but I imagine it’s a bit like that; you get one thing going then you can leave it to do its thing for a bit and start a new plate off. Or, if you were ever forced as a kid to sing in ’rounds’ one group of kids starts singing ‘Row, row, row your boat’ then another group starts. Basically, you start something off, get it going and then move to the next thing.
My t-shirts are my first plate and it’s not even spinning yet. I’ve just put it in position to start spinning. First I need to get a constant stream of buyers before I can start on my next project.
It helps to look at your reasons as to why you’re doing it. For me, freedom is not worrying about being at a certain place by a certain time with a boss breathing down my neck. It’s not having to say no to fun social events because I have work the next day or I because I can’t afford it. It’s having as much variety as my little Scanner heart desires. It’s about wearing what I want and not having to be formal or be expected to tug my forelock at managers (which I don’t do anyway – I once told a ‘high up’ to ‘be my guest’ when he threatened to go to the papers about me because I wasn’t giving him special treatment).
Just as a reminder to myself, it’s still not even been 2 weeks since I set my 18 month goal and I’m already taking steps! I’m so excited!
If you know any university students – please share my link with them!
One of the things I love about the steps to becoming a Free Range Human is the lack of commitment and preparation needed to start a project. The whole point is that it doesn’t tie you down. So very quietly this week I’ve been working when I can (and have the inclination to) on starting a line of t-shirts. 10 minutes ago I quietly pressed the ‘launch store’ button and am waiting for it to start. The whole preparation for it cost me less than £15 and I have about 8-10 products in store. My work for that is done, I can play around with advertising it if and when I want to for little to no money. I’ve lost very little money if it doesn’t work and have already learned a bit about liaising with designers and what’s possible to do.
Excuse me while I do a proud parent moment, this is the logo for my new brand!
If you’re anything like me, patience is not one of your strong points. If I decide to do something I want it done in the next 30 minutes or I get frustrated. However, a good tip I got from Jack Canfield’s book ’25 Principles of Success’ is to do 5 things a day towards your goal. If you keep chipping away doing 5 things a day, eventually you will get to your goal. So for example, once my store has finished launching I could send the link to a bunch of Universities (so far the products are aimed at university students), I could buy one or more of my own t-shirts and be my own advertising, I could send some t-shirts for free to influential people to wear. If I kept plugging away, it could be that my line of t-shirts becomes really popular. I like it because it takes the pressure off me having to do everything RIGHT NOW.
I’m also reminded of a saying about fitness. It goes something like ‘No matter how slow you’re going, you’re still running circles around the person sat on the sofa.’ Linking it to my t-shirts, no matter how slowly they take off, I’m still running circles around the me of 2 weeks ago who was just sitting and wishing for money to fall into my lap. Watch this space for the link to my store!
It’s been 8 days since I started an 18 month project, by the end of which I wanted to be completely free. In the first few days I was really excited because possibilities and options make me happy. Then I experienced ‘analysis paralysis’. I had so many ideas I wasn’t sure which one to for go for or how to get started or who to target things towards. I’d start one idea, get frustrated because things became tricky or difficult and then move onto something else. I spent hours trying to figure out how to get one of my ideas going.
Then with a surge of excitement I remembered I didn’t have to do everything by myself. I contacted a graphic designer on Fiverr (a site where you can contract someone to do any number of things for you, from around a fiver) and asked him if he could help me with one of my ideas, which he completed in less than 24 hours. He’s now working on a second piece of work for me as I write.
I’m also happy and excited because I had my first taste of freedom this weekend. I was able to visit family the other side of the country, do some sight-seeing and do what I wanted, when I wanted. I also happened to write and publish my last blog post on the two hour train journey, using my laptop and the train’s wifi. In the evenings I used the hotel’s wifi to research my idea and contact the graphic designer on Fiverr.
If you take advantage of this kind of stuff all the time it won’t be all that exciting. I try to spend as much time in the moment with the people who are around me rather than staring constantly at something on the internet, so it’s a novelty to me. Not once did any of it have to wait till I got back home, nor did it interfere with my schedule over the weekend, I just fitted it in around seeing my family and relaxing with my wife.
Marianne Cantwell (author of ‘Be a Free Range Human’) suggests you try and put in as many little bits of your dream life as possible whilst you’re on your way. So for example, if you desire variety, even something small as taking a different route to work can be a start. Being able to ‘work’ around what I wanted to do this weekend felt amazing. Not being tied to a location or a time of day was fantastic and I can’t wait for my next taste of freedom.
After my last blog post, two of my friends commented straight away that they thought they were Scanners too. I decided to go searching for other Scanners and Free Range Fledglings in the blogosphere.
I found a few without even trying very hard and made contact. All the successful people I’ve listened to have said to surround yourself with people who share your goals and visions with. I’ve got to the point after 31 years of listening to people who do not have the life they truly desire that I’m going to listen to the people who do have that kind of life. No offence guys, but I’d rather you think I’m unrealistic and naive and end up living the life of my dreams than be miserable for the next 40 years having listened to your advice. Feel free to keep telling me that stuff. I have a response for you:
I’ve mentioned in other posts the sort of thing I’d like to have in terms of career freedom. Just to give you an idea of the kinds of interests I have see below:
Book writing (I have 4 book ideas rolling around my brain)
Card writing (There aren’t enough sarcastic cards out there)
Sketch Comedy (Kristen Wiig is my hero)
Stand Up Comedy (it seems like fun)
Selling T-Shirts (researching copyright law is giving me a headache so if you already sell t-shirts, or know someone who loves researching that stuff, hit me up!)
Motivational Speaking (I’m already doing it, might as well get paid for it)
Song Writer (Lyrics not music…..so if you write music, let me know!)
Career Coach (Highly qualified and I have a sign in my bedroom that I made myself that I’m the world’s greatest careers advisor)
Photographer (Maybe Pink is looking for one!?)
Video Editer (Maybe Pink is looking for one!? Or Kate McKinnon. Or Kristen Wiig. Or Melissa McCarthy)
And that’s just off the top of my head. That’s not even what I have in my book of ideas (there are some pretty good ones in there).
So Scanners and Free Rangers unite! Let’s go together confidently in the direction of our dreams!
In her book ‘Refuse to Choose’, Barbara Sher identifies a group of people she calls ‘Scanners’. Scanners are Renaissance Souls; people with a wide variety of interests that find it hard (and soul destroying) to stick with just one thing. Whether you constantly move from one interest to another or circle around the same 2, 5, 10, or 20 interests over your lifetime, you’re a Scanner.
I’m so grateful for this book. Not only does it give a name to something that most people see as a flaw in my character, but it gives practical advice on how to manage your interests and make a career out of them.
You might think it’s a cop out, that I’m using one woman’s opinion or theory to explain my chopping and changing. One week I want to be a comedian, the next a motivational speaker, all as long as it doesn’t interfere with my budding video editing interests or latest half baked book idea I’ve been working on. But it’s not just one woman anymore, more and more people are figuring out that actually, we’re way more complex than just finding one thing to make us happy and doing that for the rest of our lives. Just because you like a certain jacket, doesn’t mean you have to wear it until the day you die.
Laugh if you must, tell me that I should just grow up and get a job, be happy and accept life the way it is.
My entire adult life I have tried.
Now I’m choosing to just go with it and see what happens. I’m willing to bet Leonardo Da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin didn’t get crap from well meaning friends and family about having too many interests or settling down and getting a real job.
Judy Garland once urged us to ‘always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of someone else.’ For a long time I thought ‘Easy for her to say.’ For people who are talented and successful of course they are happy to be themselves.
Then one day recently I was reading ‘Be a Free Range Human’ by Marianne Cantwell and for some reason, the message just clicked.
Marianne talked about how as a coach she felt restricted when she wasn’t being herself. Once she relaxed and coached using her personality instead of hiding it, not only did she enjoy herself more, but her clients appreciated it too.
I realised that I haven’t done a lot of things because I couldn’t be like the people I admire. If I couldn’t deliver a deliver a comedic line like Ellen Degeneres or write like Pat Conroy what was the point of even trying? A huge weight lifted off me when I realised the whole point wasn’t to try and be like Ellen Degeneres or Pat Conroy but to be me! All this time I’ve been trying to repress my personality but I should be using it as a strength.
Now I feel a lot more excited to create stuff. I can do what I like without trying to be like someone else. It feels great!