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When You’re Tired and It’s Time to Work

timeMy first topic now that we are back is going to center around something that is near and dear to me right now: time. Specifically, a lack of time to work on our business. As I mentioned in the previous post, I am back to working the “real” job full time. I had worked part time hours at this job for a few years while I spent the rest of my time working on our business. That was until early last year, when I returned to work full time because we had a baby on the way and the part time hours and spinning our wheels on the home business just wasn’t going to cut it.

The move back to full time was a big adjustment. I have to admit that it hurt a little, especially because it felt a bit like giving up on the dream and returning the corporate world that I was trying to escape. Not only that, but after struggling for a few years to make money online without much success, we finally found something that was working. Finally, we were earning some money and saw great potential to grow that money—and unfortunately, right at that time I had to go back to the full time job.

Finding the Time to Work

Of course, at first you think it won’t be so bad; that you will still have time to work on the business in the evenings or weekends. But the thing is, for most people (myself included) it is not so easy—especially when you throw having small children at home into the mix. I am up at 5am every morning to exercise before work and get ready. Then there is the commute, work, commute home, dinner, getting the baby to bed and before I know it, it is getting late and I am dead tired. Let’s just say at that time I am not exactly super motivated to hop into working on the business.

I can see how the super motivated folks would look at that like it is an excuse, that it just takes pushing through and working even if you are tired– and that is true. However, it is a very real struggle. Especially when the work we are doing now (eBooks) is a creative process, which is hard to do when your brain is fried. I’ve pushed through and have done work in the evenings, but it has been a slow process and takes much longer to get things done.

It has been the same thing for C.C., though she has fared better than I have. She’s been able to take care of the baby during the day, but also fit in time to work on the business when the baby is sleeping or in the evening; to the point that she is actually the main contributor to the business right now. We’re making decent money, enough that it exceeds what she was making at her part time job that she left when she had the baby.

Is Going Part Time Again or Quitting Outright an Option?

I wish that I had more motivation to work more in the evenings, but it just hasn’t been there. It has been hard enough to get all of the chores around the house done, let alone work on the business. I have had some success lately with fitting in the work throughout the day where I can, but I do wonder what I’d be able to do if I could go part time again. I believe we are making enough right now that me going part time would work. However, I don’t think that is an option again. I was pretty fortunate that my company let me come back full time, and I have the impression that going part time again would be a hard sell.

We are at a point now where I actually feel that if I were to take a leap of faith and quit my job to devote my full time effort to the business along with C.C., we could grow it enough to live off of, and do it fairly quickly at that. From what I’ve observed, what we get out of the business seems to be directly related to the amount of time we can put in. More time to devote means more eBooks created, which means more items for sale, more sales, and more earnings.

But, I’d like to save this leap of faith topic for an upcoming post. For now I’m just trying to focus on finding the time throughout a hectic schedule to devote to working on the business. Does anyone have any tips on working through being tired and toughing it out?

Back in Action!

The Ordinary Escape is back!

The Ordinary Escape is back!

We’re back up. A lot has happened over the last two years. Our family has grown, we’ve had some successes and set backs on our business, and life has marched on. Ultimately, however, C.C. and I are still not where we wanted to be when we started this site back in 2009. That’s a lot of the reason why I find myself drawn back to this site once again.

What Has Happened Over the Last Few Years?

Back in 2009, we were bright-eyed and full of motivation. The idea of working for ourselves and making money from the internet was an exciting prospect. We jumped in with a loose plan, but no experience. Well, we had some experience, but not anything yet that was actually making money. I went part-time at my job and we made a go of it.

The thing was, we really didn’t have much figured out yet. We had ideas, lots of ideas, but no real concrete direction. This meant that we bounced around a lot; trying out copy writing, blogs, affiliate marketing, etc. We didn’t have much success, motivation faded, and about two years into the experiment we weren’t really doing much of anything on the business front.

Around that time, we got the wonderful news that C.C. was pregnant with our first child. After the excitement wound down, it became obvious that the part-time job wasn’t going to cut it anymore and I had to return to my day job full-time. While necessary, this move was particularly crushing because it represented a move back to the world I was trying to avoid and was putting my dream of working for myself on life support.

Things started to turn around, however. We got into eBook publishing and started to have some success. Fortunately, that success has continued, even after a little bit of a lull after the baby was born, when it was difficult to get much of anything done. We’re not at a point yet where we could do it full-time, but I hope we are on our way.

What about the Ordinary Escape?

I finally feel like we are on the right track now that we have some actual direction. I’ve found myself drawn to this site again to chronicle our journey and hopefully offer some insight. I’ve always wanted this site to be more about the journey, our successes and failures, and our lessons learned. I never wanted to try to play the role of a guru or to pretend I had all of the answers when I didn’t know anything yet.

Maybe one day if things keep progressing, I can play more of that role of expert and have some detailed guides to try and help others make the same leap, but for now I am going to keep it simple. My plan for this site going forward will be to just try and detail the ride. I hope you will join us.

New Developments on the Work Frontier

Since I last wrote about trying to make money online with writing, there have been a couple of developments. First, I recently applied and was accepted to be a writer for an online content company.  They pay per article, and the pay is not horrible compared to some of the other companies out there.  The next development is that I applied for and was accepted to work at an internet company from home. [Read more...]

An Update on How Things are Going

I figured I would provide a small update on how our escape from the ordinary is going. Things are going pretty well right now, certainly much better then a few months ago. We’ve made a lot of changes to how we are approaching things and have been making steady progress.

So what have we changed?

Weekly Schedule

It may sound simple, but I think one of the best things we ended up doing was creating a weekly schedule.

I won’t get into the details now because I think we’ll make a post about it in the near future. But basically we have a white board hanging between our computer desks that has a day by day breakdown of goals we each want to accomplish each day. C.C. and I have a “meeting” every Monday morning to A) Review last week’s schedule to see how we did, and B) Come up with the current week’s schedule for ourselves.

We find that the schedule is really helping us. It keeps us focused on the goals and more time is spent actually doing because we know exactly what we want to accomplish each day.

Shifting Focus

Another thing we’ve done is shift our focus a bit. Through our weekly reviews of our schedule, we noticed that while we were getting more done, we still had been avoiding one area- alternative ways of making money.

I think we had been avoiding it because it seemed to be the most difficult. We are both currently employed in regular jobs and while we are working towards striking out on our own, right now those jobs are a comfort zone for us. It is a lot more fun to work on things like getting out more, exploring hobbies, writing, and all that. Looking for work just isn’t much fun, especially if you already have a job and the need for a new one is not imminent.

As I said, we came to realize that we were ignoring the whole job thing. In fact, we came to the conclusion that finding alternative ways to make money is actually our top goal right now. Our plan has always been to do the whole digital nomad thing, working for ourselves and travel around. But you can’t really do that without actually making some money at something.

So we’ve shifted our focus to finding different ways to make money for ourselves and we’ve had good results so far. C.C. has even come across some opportunities were she could possibly make more money then she is making at her current job.

Overall, we’ve made some changes that have us moving in the right direction, but there are some things we still need to work on.

What’s Not Going So Well

We felt it was important to shift our focus currently to making money, but that also means less time to focus elsewhere. Some of our goals, like finding something new to do each weekend, have been on the back burner a bit.

I think that we can do a better job of balancing things. I think it is good for us to have a main focus at all times, but we also can’t let the other goals languish in the meantime. We need to also make time to work on the other stuff.

The other thing not going so well right now are our travel plans. We really wanted to start traveling a lot more, even if just at first we had to go cheap and stay close to home. Unfortunately, we haven’t even really been able to do that. Money is really tight right now. We’re getting by, but it gets hard justifying any travel expense when we really don’t have much extra to spend. We’ve cut back on a lot of expenses but it is still hard to get that travel fund together.

I think that at some point in the near future, C.C. and I will sit and have a discussion on this. I’ve done enough reading on other travel blogs to know that travel is possible for almost anyone if you make enough sacrifices in what you chose to spend your money on (i.e. selling your home to get rid of mortgage payments, selling a car cutting out all extra expenses that aren’t absolutely necessary).

I think we need to determine if we are truly willing to do whatever it takes to have the lifestyle we want right now- basically the “jump in with both feet and throw caution to the wind” approach. Or do we want to keep building things slowly until we feel we have enough money or security to take the full leap.

All told, I think we are doing pretty well right now. We’ve made a lot of progress since we decided to get more serious about this. We’ve still got a lot to work through, but that’s half the fun.

Making Money Online: Blogging

After I graduated from college,  Jay and I thought we would try to make a living off of doing something we’d been doing for free all our lives:  writing.  The first site we started was a local restaurant review blog.  The thinking behind this was that we could go and try out new restaurants and different kinds of cuisines, while at the same time writing about it.  [Read more...]

Making Money Online: Playing Poker

This is going to be the first of a series of posts I’m going to be making about various things I’ve tried and am looking to try to make money online.  I feel like this is an important topic because the key to escaping the ordinary and being able to travel is to have a steady stream of income through online ventures.

Even before I knew what I really wanted, I’ve been trying to make some money off the internet.  Over the years I’ve tried many things– some successful, some not so much.  One of the things I’ve tried is online poker.  Now, I’ve been gambling most of my life, mainly just small time with my brothers and sisters, and I’ve also done a bit of poker playing at the casinos.  I can’t say I’m great at it.  In fact I lose more often than I win.  I figured that this is because I’m easy to read at the poker tables, because I get too nervous and feel too much pressure, so I thought playing online would eliminate some of those weaknesses.

The impetus that got me thinking about playing online was watching the Amazing Race.  A season ago or so, they had these two women who were professional poker players, and were very successful at it.  They didn’t seem very remarkable to me, so I wondered how they could be such great poker players. It was then that I thought, if they can do it, so can I.  In fact, I thought most professional poker players don’t seem to be too impressive to me, and it didn’’t seem to take any extraordinary skill to succeed at it.  So I signed up for Poker Stars.com.

Now there are a lot of poker sites out there and some of them offer special deals and incentives for you if you sign up with them.  I just signed up with the one that seemed the most legit.  That part is easy enough, but getting the funds to play is another matter.  When I tried to enter in my credit card number, it was rejected because some credit card companies block online poker transactions.  After trying all my credit cards, and having them all blocked, I looked for another way to get money to my account.  I found out there are some prepaid credit cards you can use to enter and play.  The one I got was a Visa All Access card for $25.  The $5 activation fee for this card was a bit much, but by this point I just wanted to play.

Finally, I got the money into my poker account, and was ready to play.  There are a bunch of different rooms you can play in with every kind of poker you can think of.  I stuck to the 50¢/$1 Texas Hold ‘Em tables.  I ended up winning about $10 early on, but I got greedy and started to that feel this wasn’t enough if I was going to make a living out of this.  So I started playing at the higher limit tables, and by the next two days I was down to $0.

Playing poker online is a lot harder than I thought at first.  I’m naturally a very frugal person, and I guess that translates to my poker playing as well.  I was uncomfortable with betting high unless I absolutely knew I had the best hand. And when I knew I had the best hand, I went overboard with the betting, which just scared everyone off the hand.  Bluffing was out of the question, so I was really quite easy to read.  By the time I was down to my last $5, I was playing so desperately and recklessly, I quickly lost that in one hand at the 2¢/5¢ tables.

Despite this poor showing, I haven’t completely given up hope of making money playing online poker.  I realize I have to take more risks in order to win.  I’ve also gotten some poker books for myself so I can learn some strategies for playing.  I’m not trying to win a gold bracelet in the World Series o f Poker here, but I would like to be able to win money on a consistent basis.  I’m confident that this is not outside of my poker playing ability.

The Challenge to Get Out of this Rut

I recently had a short correspondence with Robyn over on her blog Nomad Needles. On her site, she details her journey to live a more free, unconventional, and creative life. She writes some very motivating entries, especially the ones dealing with her goal to live a cleaner, minimalist lifestyle.

I was seeking some advice and she issued me a challenge- Come up with five ideas stuck in my head and pick two to focus on right now.

Well, I am going to accept the challenge. Especially because it reminded me of some advice I once heard in the past about getting out of a rut- focus on one or two things you can do right now, no matter how small. I think that lately C.C. and I have scared ourselves into non-action by focusing to much on the end result and how much we are going to have to do to get there.

So I created a list and picked two things that I think are the best goals to start with because I think they are natural places to start. These two things are writing and getting back into shape. I know these some generic so let me explain further.

Just Write

I need to start writing everyday, no matter what it is or what quality it is. For someone who has always enjoyed writing, I sure don’t write a whole lot. It is more of a perfectionist thing then a desire thing. I put a lot of pressure on what I write needing to be very good to the point that I end up scaring myself out of even trying. So I need to get back into the swing of just writing no matter what.

I am going to keep up with writing something, anything, every day. It doesn’t have to be great and it doesn’t ever have to ever see the light of day. It is just important to write, write, write. I will be using the site Don’t Break the Chain as a bit of visual positive reinforcement. If you are unfamiliar with it, the basic ideas is that you just check off a calendar each day after you completed your task so that you get a chain of days in a row going and to motivate you to not break that chain by not doing your task.

Get Back Into Shape

Since I have been stuck in a rut here I have fallen off my exercise and healthy eating. I really feel there is a strong mind/body connection and when I am not taking care of my body I can’t expect my mind to be the best that it can be.

I am going to get back into my exercise routine starting here at home, and eventually moving back to running again once the weather gets warmer here. I actually really enjoy the exercising and running and look forward to getting back into it.

Of course, these will just be the first steps in my journey, but I’ve realized that when you are in a rut you have to start somewhere. Yes, considering all the confidence and grand plans that we had to start with, it seems like I am starting way at the beginning. But, I guess I really am. When things aren’t working you really do have to get back to square one– and doing that and admitting it here is a big step for me.

I’m going to issue the same challenge to C.C. because she is stuck in much the same place. I look forward to seeing what her two ideas/goals will be.

Escaping the Ordinary is Actually Pretty Hard

It’s not easy. As some say, nothing that is worth it ever is easy. But I have to admit, this journey so far has been a bit of a struggle. The goal of the Ordinary Escape has been to get out there more and experience life. However, one thing is very clear– old habits die hard.

This is a tough post to write and maybe that is why we haven’t updated the site in a bit. There really hasn’t been much progress to report on. I think that moving to part time at work was a huge step, but unfortunately things seemed to have died there.

There was some effort at first , but slowly things just devolved into doing nothing. Productive time on my days outside of the “real job” quickly turned into “days off”. I saw that would be a possibility and wanted to strive hard to not let it happen, but it has. I realize that I am the type of person right now that this can happen to and even though I saw it coming I still let it happen.

But at the same time that is really the point of all of this. It is all part of trying to change. It takes time and you can’t really break old deep-seeded patterns overnight. If I were a super-motivated person who wasn’t stuck in a rut then I wouldn’t have started this journey and website in the first place. My wife and I noticed that we weren’t doing what we wanted, weren’t challenging ourselves, and weren’t living life as fully as we wanted. We had a lot of initial motivation that quickly wore away again after we sunk back into our comfort zones.

But I think that the important thing here is to recognize that it doesn’t have to be an instant change. I am beating myself up a bit right now that I have let the last few months squander without doing much, but it is still not too late to get started. Losing a few months is not the end of the world, but never getting started would be. We’ve put the wheels in motion, but we still need to steer this thing down the road.

I’m in a bit of a difficult spot right now, because I think still working for my old job but at part time hours has kept me stuck a bit. In theory it is great because I am earning money and still get to keep my benefits (most importantly health insurance). But I am still stuck in the same mindset/pattern, just for only half the time. I still have all of the stress; perhaps even more so now because I am trying to fit in 40 hours of work into 20.

I think there are a lot of contributing factors, and a lot of things that make this all difficult. If it were easy, then everyone would be trying to do something outside of the ordinary. But at the same time, I can’t let that stop me. I can’t keep talking a big game, but when push comes to shove doing nothing. At this step I think that we need to realize that if we are ever going to escape the ordinary it is going to take some real effort. You can have all the desire in the world, but if you don’t ever actually do anything then you are never going to get anywhere.

Early New Year’s Resolution…

I’m currently sitting in my little cubicle at work writing this little post out.  I will type it up later when I get home, bur for now, writing it out gives me something to do in between taking calls.  I’m working as a part-time call center rep for a food company, which I will not name.  Originally, I started last February on what I thought was a 3 week gig, but here I am months later, still working here.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a horrible job.  The hours are very flexible, which is a plus, and the work is easy enough, but it’s not the type of job I can see myself in for much longer.   I still can’t believe I’m here 9 months after I first started!

Time seems to have flown by and I feel more and more like it is slipping away from me.  It was my 28th birthday a week ago, and if you asked me when I was a kid, where I saw myself at 28, it certainly wouldn’t be here in this job situation.

I don’t want to make this post too much of a downer because I have a lot of good things going on for me right now.  I have a great husband, great family, and a lot of potential.  I’ve always had great potential, but never really tapped into it or realized it.  Instead, I’ve always just “gotten by”.  I never had to try for good grades, or push myself to achieve anything, because it all came pretty easily to me without even trying.  That’s why I think it’s so hard for me to get started living the life I want and making an effort at something.  I’ve never had to make an effort at anything.

But no longer.  This year, I promise myself that I will start participating in my life and my future, instead of going with the flow and letting it all pass me by.  Luckily, my husband is of the same mindset, and we will both be working together towards our goals.

It will be interesting to read these past blog posts one year from now and see how far we’ve come.  Hopefully it will be a positive experience and we will be proud of ourselves for our hard work and determination, instead of a depressing look at how another year has gone by with no changes!

But I’m confident we can do anything we set our mind to.  It might sound cheesy, but it’s true.  There are lots of other people out there who are living the lifestyle that we want, and I ask myself: What makes them so special that they can accomplish that?  The answer is Absolutely Nothing!  They are not smarter or braver or cleverer than us.  The only difference is the determination and willpower they had to follow through with their dreams.  And luckily for all of us, willpower and determination are not natural born gifts.  Anyone can get it if they practice it enough.  And if they can do it, then I am certain that we can do it too!

I Quit my Job, the Journey Begins

After years of agonizing I finally did it.  I quit my job without anything else lined up.  Well, kind of.  You see, I did not leave my job to move on to another 9-to-5 career.  Some may think I’m crazy, but I’m trying to create my own path.  There are just too many opportunities out there today for someone with determination and an internet connection.

Upon handing in my resignation, my company offered me the opportunity to move to part-time hours to help keep things running and also transition in a new person when they hire them. As tempting as it was to make a clean break, it does help to have a definite job for bit. I will be working there for 20 hours a week until the transition is completed, but with the speed business moves (especially hiring someone new), I think this will last at least through the end of the year and probably into next.

I won’t be doing this alone.  I will be joined by my wife, C.C., who also finds herself at a crossroads.  We’re both 28, a few years removed from college, and not buying into the conventional life.  We’ve determined that now is the time to take a shot at creating a less ordinary life for ourselves.

What are we doing?

We will be taking on work that will allow us the flexibility get out and experience life more. At first this will entail part time and temp jobs to fill in the gaps. We will continue to also build upon our freelance and marketing work online with the idea of moving over to them full-time eventually. We will also be cutting back on unnecessary expenses and material items. Having less (getting rid of distractions and unnecessary material items) and getting out more is a large part of our goal here.

We want to experience all life has to offer right now and not delay really living until some far off retirement date that may never come.

That’s why we’ve decided to take this drastic step.  However, for us it doesn’t feel that drastic at all.  Many will have trouble understanding it, but there are a growing number of people who do get it.

We will be joining a trend of mostly young, internet savvy folks who are shunning the corporate lifestyle in favor of working for themselves with the help of the internet.  But more than that, they are living a mobile lifestyle that allows them to work from literally anywhere in the world and on their own schedule.

Risky Business?

It is a risk, but one worth taking.  I am giving up a decent paying, secure job with good benefits.  I’ll admit that I am nervous.  However, I am more excited than anything.  I’ve wanted to strike out on my own for years now, and the internet of today is going to allow me to do so.  I’m one that really feels you need to listen to your instincts, and that in your heart you know what you have to do and what is right for you.  This is what I feel like I have to do.

The Ordinary Escape

So in conjunction with the life change we are embarking on, we have also started this website as a way to chronicle our journey and hopefully provide some inspiration to anyone else considering doing something similar.

This is more then a just career change; this is a lifestyle/philosophy change. We’ve lived in our comfort zones for too long and are making a commitment to escaping the ordinary life. Our goal is to get out more, have new experiences, and travel- anything we do will be a means to those ends. That will mean working for ourselves to be fulfilled and to allow us the flexibility to take off when we want. That will mean spending money on travel and experiences rather then just piling up more unneeded material things.

We are prepared to do what it takes to have the life we want.

I don’t know what lies ahead for us as we start down this path.  But, I do know that this is just something we have to try.  We’ve gotten tired of being part of those who always talk about what they want to do but never do it.  We’re going to do it.