It’s been a few weeks now since we let the cat out of the bag and announced our move to location independence. Understandably, Pete wanted the first “official” notification of our plans to go to his employer, where he worked for fifteen years as Director of Marketing. Once he had given notice there, we started letting folks know what we were up to. Most were delighted and supportive.
Some, however, not so much. This is just what you should expect when you announce any major life decision. Reactions, after all, have as much to do with the self as they do with a catalyst. And you changing something means they have to change, too, in the way that they think of you, and how they see themselves in relation to you.
Interestingly, we found that many of those with whom we shared were not familiar with the concept of location independence at all. Others expressed confusion. How were we ever to make things work? What are our intentions about continuing to work altogether?
The most common reaction we got was, “Wow! Wish I/we could do something like that!” To which the only relevant response is, “Well, you can, of course.” Even so, we were still quite surprised at the amount of dubiousness in the mix. So, in this post we’re going to address some of the skepticism, put the basic misconceptions to rest, and foreshadow what’s going to be happening next.
Nice, but I/we would never be able to afford it. Once we developed a goal, the elements of a plan to achieve its objectives fell into place rather easily. This was somewhat surprising, to be honest. We thought things would be more complicated. Our main goal started out as wanting to travel more. In order to do that, we each needed to be as flexible as Pete’s generous vacation plan.
We first tested things several years ago, when I sold my business. We were planning an extended vacation, and decided that I wouldn’t “unplug” as I normally might. Instead, I would continue to work at my newly-defined freelance gig while we were away. Other than taking advantage of the opportunity to visit with franchise locations in the vicinity, there really was no measurable difference in working from Minneapolis or somewhere else.
The experiment worked: at the very least, we could maintain the same lifestyle we currently had with Pete working and me freelancing. But we were still subject to his vacation time, which although generous was subject to certain restrictions. And we were dependent upon the health insurance and other benefits from his job as well. Next we had to devise a way to supplement our income to the extent that we could continue to transition out of his employment status without drastic effect.
So envious that you can retire early. Okay, but we’re not really retired if we’re still working, are we? The plan has always been about continuing to work. In our series we co-wrote with Dot of Deeper Issues, Through a Glass Grimly (which begins here), we go into more details about the necessity of working we faced and embraced. Nothing has changed. We’ll be working long past the traditional age of retirement for most folks. We are most certainly not suddenly independently wealthy in the financial sense, anyway.
a knee-jerk an extreme reaction to emotional loss, isn’t it? It’s true, we’ve had great emotional loss within the past year, as both Pete’s parents have passed. Last summer, right after his mom died, we flirted with the idea of going totally nomad, in an RV. Ultimately, I was the one who called a halt to that. I just wasn’t ready to give up our home base, and Pete reluctantly agreed to compromise. As it turned out, this was a good thing, as his dad suffered a fall just before Christmas and didn’t recover.
Both of Pete’s parents wanted to do many more things, and their advice to the family was along the lines of “live your life” and “don’t put things off,” similar to what my father had advised me just prior to his death. We took this messaging to heart when his mom passed and accelerated the plans we already had in place, setting a new timeline. Pete decided he didn’t want to be employed as of August 1, 2011. We beat that date by six weeks.
This is a too-big risk during this economy. Risk is associated with any decision. We happen to think it’s more risky to be dependent upon one source of revenue – like a job – for your income. All your eggs are in one basket, which makes you vulnerable. Some, if not most, employers take advantage of that. This tendency is amplified in a down economy, where workers who feel “lucky to have a job” will accept additional responsibilities in a downsized environment, or other compromises in pay or benefits in exchange for what they consider to be security.
It’s always amazed us that many people view self-employment as riskier than working for someone else. We know ourselves and our capabilities. We know we’re resilient, resourceful, and willing to work hard. Most importantly, we can take advantage of the many opportunities that come our way to fuller extent. “The harder we work, the luckier we get.”
Your lifestyle will take a huge hit. For years, our lifestyle, individually and together as a couple, in great part was comprised of accumulating, paying off, maintaining, and storing stuff. This can be a form of tyranny, as those smarter than we have already pointed out. Upon downsizing into one shared home when we married, I was concerned by the intensity of my attachments to stuff. I revisited these feelings when we prepared to move to our townhome. Our personal effects should be viewed as affects, too.
The interests we pursued over the years – gardening and landscaping, woodworking, crafting and needlework, home decorating – were all stuff-dependent. You can’t redecorate without getting rid of stuff and then getting more. With knitting there are patterns, yarn stash, needles and notions: stuff. If you’re going to work with wood you need power and hand tools, storage area for piles of lumber – new and salvaged, and a place that you can get sawdust all over and leave it that way. The entire thing was so reminiscent of my father, who famously announced one day that all he could grow in his garden was “tired.”
And honestly, we were quite alarmed by attachments to stuff we were seeing in others. These tendencies affect us directly to varying degree, but the main takeaway is they create boundaries that inhibit possibility and spontaneity. Life is no less vivid when you have fewer things. In fact, one might argue, it is lived in a less-distracted present, with different priorities to appreciate more fully.
I don’t really like to travel, so it wouldn’t be for me. When you’re location independent, you choose your location. For many people, this means they travel more, which is one of our goals. For others, they’re free to stay where they are or put down roots closer (or farther away, if need be) to family or friends. The point is, you’re not constrained whatever you may choose.
Our family/school/church and other obligations are here. See above. These priorities don’t have to change. Everything we do in life is really a choice that we make. Your family is still your family. If school and church have important relationships, keep them. A cost analysis – one where costs additional to the financial play a part – will reveal what can work for you. Every place is waiting to be illuminated.
I am so not a computer genius, so there’s no way I could do what you’re doing. Well, you don’t have to. Nora Dunn, writing about Location Independent Career Basics, outlines several non-computer-related location independent careers she encountered in just one week: jewelry designer, lawyer, coach, board game designer, financial planner, sales, voice-over artist, and more.
Nobody really makes money on the Internet, do they? We’re not here to dispute the claims of others. There are plenty of people out there who do make money on the Internet, whether it’s a few supplemental dollars to five or even six figures every month. Consider all the ancillary ways in which folks can parlay their talents into paying work using the Internet, too: consulting, freelance services, passive revenue, online stores, and more. We’re doing a variety of things to bring in diverse revenue, and we’re constantly evaluating what’s working and what’s possible.
Summary Just as there’s no one better at beating yourself up than you, there’s no one better at talking you out of something than yourself. Like Yoda says, you either do or you don’t. While it’s true lots of us can spend an inordinate amount of time in the indecisive span between doing and not doing, ultimately all that happens is you take a step down a new path or continue with the one you’re on. It’s just that simple.
We’ve taken that step down a new path. As always, thanks for your company.
- Time To Hang A Shingle? The Era Of Independent Consulting (blogs.forbes.com)
- Everywhere is Illuminated (thepanamericans.net)
- Interview with Digital Nomad Cody McKibben (freelanceswitch.com)
- Location Independent Myths Busted (seanogle.com)