It’s so cliché and yet I can’t think of another word to adequately describe what happened to me on Friday. As with any epiphany, it was found in an unexpected place - a tweet from Trevor Young:
And now some quick background.
This time last year I was suffering from what you might politely call A-Grade burnout. The kind you get when you are:
- the VERY hands on owner of a boutique design firm that employs three staff and services over 400 clients;
- trying to be an awesome mum to an 18 month old child;
- and an awesome wife;
- and run a household;
- and be a good friend, sister, daughter etc;
- and still find the time to do all the things you love like running and reading and writing;
- and the rest.
So how did I deal with this burnout? By doing more stuff of course! Over the ensuing six months I launched blogs, created new side projects, listened to every podcast I could get my hands on, signed up for and did every relevant online course I could find and basically said ‘yes’ to every opportunity that presented itself.
Why? Because I had created a life for myself that I didn’t love and figured if I opened myself up to every opportunity out there, I would find something that would be ‘my ticket to freedom’.
Really, all I did was make myself obscenely busy and it came as no surprise when I had a breakdown a few months ago.
In my head things have been pretty good since that point.
I started seeing a psychologist and my husband took over running my business. I started working from home on my million side projects and I felt like I was moving forward. I did a short writing course I have wanted to do for ages. I worked on my blogs. I came up with a thousand ideas for things I could do to generate an income from my blogs. I even went to a blogging conference in Melbourne to find out how to find readers and how to monetize my blogs!
Then on Friday I listened to the podcast Trevor linked to, and it blew my mind.
I have no idea how this guy Steve managed to score an interview with Penelope Trunk who is kind of a big deal in the online world, but somehow he did. And during the interview he asked Penelope what advice she had for people like him who were looking to escape their jobs and make money in the online world and achieve the ‘freedom’ they have been looking for.
Penelope went to town. You really have to listen to the podcast because it is awesome (if peppered with cringe worthy moments).
While listening to her grilling Steve, it hit me.
I am him. I am that person chasing the dream – the ‘freedom’ dream. I am that person working hard on my blog(s), trying to build a readership so that at some vague point in the future, I can start to leverage that readership to make money. I am that person who can’t articulate my life goals and tell you where I am going and how I am going to get there because I don’t know!
Penelope makes some strong statements in the podcast:
- If you’re looking at someone else’s life and wishing you have the stuff they have, ask yourself whether you’re willing to do what they did to get that stuff. More often than not, the people in the world with craploads of money who fly first class also work 18 hour days and spend a heap of time away from their families. Do you want to do that?
- Unless you’re independently wealthy, everyone has to work 8 hours a day. Whether it is being a stay-at-home-parent or a banker or an artist or a tradesman or the greatest online marketer in the world, everyone has to ‘work’. Forget the BS of ‘find something you love doing and you’ll never work another day in your life’. Whether you love what you do or not, it’s still ‘work’!
- Once you’ve got that sorted in your head, then you ask yourself: “What do I want to spend my 8 hours a day doing?”
There is a LOT more to take away from this podcast but the three things above formed the core of my epiphany.
In my head, my goal over the last year has been to lay the foundations for creating some level of passive income where, if I had another baby, I wouldn’t need to work in the first three months of their life. Fact is though; I don’t want to do all the things necessary to create that passive income. And as Sonia Simone reminded me recently (in the comments here) there’s an awful LOT of work involved in creating a ‘passive’ income – work that I wouldn’t enjoy and work that takes a huge amount of time!
The other thing I have been doing is laying the foundations for a career in consulting. I certainly have the skills and knowledge to consult on a range of topics, but the simple fact is, doing one-on-one consults is a negative energy thing for me – I am good at it, but it drains me.
So what do I want to spend my 8 hours a day doing? What energises me and makes me happy? It’s pretty simple really – I want to design and I want to write. That’s it.
I am a creative person. I love nothing better than being in my study, by myself, working away on my computer. I love having peace and quiet to create.
All my best moments (professionally) over the last few years have come from writing something I was particularly satisfied with or designing something I was particularly happy with. Everything else has been a chore.
So no more!! As of now there are no more side projects, no more multiple blogs, no more pressure to feel like I have to take up every opportunity offered to me, no more hard-core networking, no more turning over of a thousand ideas in my head and feeling pressured and stressed because I can’t do everything!
What is my life dream?
It is to get rid of all unnecessary stress in my life and spend my days doing things I enjoy. Things that give me the time I need to enjoy my family and have time for myself. Oh and I want to go and live in a provincial French town with my family for six months before our kids are of school age.
How I am going to achieve this?
I will leave my husband in charge of Swish Design and I will go back to being a graphic designer for Swish. And I will write! I will write here on my blog for pleasure and I will write for magazines and clients for money. I will find out what we need to do financially to make the French dream a reality, and then make it happen.
Every other pie I have my finger in is going in the bin
Update September 2012: How did I go with making my dream a reality?