3 Things to Own Your Own Reality.

Self-talk are those silent conversations we have with ourselves. Most of the time it’s subconscious and we really don’t realize we’re talking to ourselves. I do it all the time…consciously! For the last years I’ve been having this re-occurring conversation that went something like this, “Self, I love my work I just hate my job.”

The first three months of this year have been a whirlwind! The rest of the year may be a continuation of that whirlwind, but the big difference is I’m in control. I quit my day job after 15 years with the same employer. Part of the reason why I haven’t posted anything since January is due to that whirlwind. I hope to elaborate in the coming months by telling that story. For now, let’s talk about reality.

Dreaming of a different reality

Three years ago my reality was a cubicle farm by day and dabbling in freelancing as an illustrator at night. My days consisted of managing a dysfunctional LMS, answering Help Desk related inquiries, walk-up impromptu requests, and helping others on my work team with their project odds and ends. By night I’d get an occasional request to design a monogram for a wedding invitation or draw a caricature as a gift for someone retiring. Not really freelancing, rather more of a hobby.

I dreamed of a reality where I could go barefoot to work. A reality where I chose the projects I wanted to work on. One where I chose the path of my career, owned the security of its direction, and the creative freedom to be…creative. Here are the three things I did to go from a cubicle farm to my studio where I now go barefoot every day.

1. Self-Talk your future reality every morning

Every morning I chose an attitude where I looked forward to the work I was going to do that day. I dreaded where I had to go to do that work, but nonetheless I had to go. Keep in mind the operative word here is ‘chose.’ You have the will, the strength, and the ability to choose your attitude. Granted, there are days that are the total suck, and sometimes those days can seem like weeks. Keep your mind’s eye on your future reality. What does it look like? Where will you be? What will you be doing? How long will it take you to get there? By asking yourself these questions every day you’ll be too busy answering them to worry about the trivial nonsense that consumed your thoughts before.

2. Be productive, stay focused, and hone your craft

Being productive after a long mentally-draining day at the day job is not easy. No lie. My ex-day job life consisted of roughly 12 hours including preparation and travel time. 12 hours. That’s half a day! Add 6-8 hours’ sleep and there’s not much time left for productivity.

I made a deal with myself. I pretended I was going to a second job and committed 20 hours a week to freelancing. 4 hours a night, 5 days a week from 8:00 PM to Midnight. 6 hours sleep and start all over again. Domestic challenges often interrupted that plan which meant working on the weekend though, to hit 20 hours. In the beginning I only had one client so I used the remaining time to hone my craft – practice my skills, read more books, and participate in more communities.  The deal was for one year.

3. Sacrifice current reality for a future reality

After one year I had increased my client base, had return clients, and had really set in motion a good rhythm. I was tired. No, I was exhausted! Many of those nights I was supposed to end at midnight led to 2:00 AM and in some cases an all-nighter. And yes, I got up and went to the day job the next day. I knew my stamina was fueled by the passion of the work, but knew I could not keep that physical pace nor did I have a plan after that first year. I had one of three choices to make: 1) Scale back to a hobby level pace, 2) Give it up and refocus to a career in Corporate America, or 3) Kick it up a notch! Option 3 was the only choice. I didn’t want to look back and say, “What if..?”

To kick it up a notch I had to sacrifice more than I had. I’m not talking about sleep…sleep is overrated! First, I needed support. I’m married to the most wonderful supporting wife a man could wish for. She believed in me more than I believed in myself even though she wouldn’t say it out loud. Where I am today would not have happened if not for her patience and understanding. Thank you @SassyCents!

Instead of starting at 8:00 PM, I’d start as soon as supper was over. Instead of making lazy Saturday plans, I worked every Saturday for 10-12 hours. Sundays were reading, writing, and planning days. No TV, no movies, no anything other than work the new plan. My 20 hour weeks turned into 40+ hours and adding the day job’s 40 I lived and breathed all things elearning for roughly 80 hours a week. Yes, this time there was a plan – a six month plan to leave Corporate America. To my surprise it happened in three months! Amazing what happens when you kick it up a notch.

The future reality

This post marks the end of the first week at home. I’m ready for this next phase of my career – my life. One thing I’ve learned during week one is I am not so good at organization. My studio looks like a bomb hit it!

One thing is for certain. I’ll have more time to write. In the coming months I’ll share more of my story in hopes to inspire others to join me. Along the way I’ll write opinions about our industry, reviews about books and software, doodles and sketches, and some tutorials on my creative madness. I hope my lack of writing in the past hasn’t lost you and looking forward to your visit again, soon.

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  1. says

    Thanks for writing this and letting us know that we are not all nuts trying to live a dream.  I’m glad you were able to shorten your exit plan by half, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.  I’m looking forward to the next story

  2. says

    Outstanding and inspiring post Kevin. I’ve printed it and will be posting it in an area that reminds me daily of it’s message. I too look forward to the next steps in your journey.

    • says

      Thanks David! You’re right behind me. If those in your path are not part of your future, entertain their inquiries or tolerate their nonsense. Otherwise they drain your energy. Stay focused. It WILL happen!

  3. Eric Nalian says

    Thanks for writing this.  I know a lot of people that can benefit from this, and I will be passing it in their direction

  4. says

    Congratulations, Kevin! August 2008, I began my new work life (independent consultant who telecommutes from a home office), and DH and I took the next step and in 2011, moved away from a large metropolitan area to a rural county. We moved to help him facilitate his dream, which he’s working on now. For your readers who long to follow their dreams, they can! It takes planning, a supportive community of cheer leaders (stay away from the naysayers!!), and the ability to march to that internal drummer. DH and I feel more alive than ever! Here’s our story: http://ridgeviewmedia.com/blog/2011/05/live-your-dream/

    Looking forward to your blog posts, and I’m going to reactivate mine. I think there are a lot of readers in cyberspace who long to live their dreams.

  5. Kay Wood says

    You and yours are what are important. Good luck and know that you have fans and friends who are fans in your corner!

  6. Aglamontagnef says

    Thanks for the inspiration. I’m really looking forward to hearing about your journey. I’m in the same position, although I’m giving myself a little more time to make it happen. Unlike you, sleep is a real priority :-) Thanks and all the best!

    • says

      You’re very welcome! It is indeed a journey. Closing in on two months at home end of this week. Only advice is don’t push it. Think “dollar before date” (future post), meaning I targeted an amount I needed in savings in order to leave the day job that would allow my family to maintain the same lifestyle for a minimum of three months. When that dollar amount hits your bank, submit your letter of resignation the next day!

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