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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.

Update on Our Media Diet

brokentvOverall this media consumption diet has been great. I am amazed at the benefits so far.

I think the most noticeable thing is that time has become fairly unimportant to me. I hardly ever look at the clock now. I just don’t feel a need to. The first night we did this C.C. and I went to a bookstore to look at journals, and we were both amazed at how we felt like we had all the time in the world. There wasn’t that slight pulling feeling that you normally have to get back home (the odd thing is that you feel that feeling even when there isn’t anything you need to do when you get back!). We took it our time and it all felt much more relaxing then it usually feels when you are out and about.

I really do feel like I have all the time in the world. I don’t feel (the self-imposed) feeling of being rushed or that time is running out. The only time I do feel the pull a little is if there really is something I have to do- like go to work. Though, even this isn’t as bad as before.

I also feel it a little in watching the clock at work (the real job) and waiting for it to be lunch time or time to go home. But I feel that is understandable considering I am at, you know, work. But I feel like if I were working for myself full-time I could really get into a groove of working when inspired and for how long I feel inspired to, and not feel so bound by time.

I imagine that we will ending up continuing our reduction in media consumption even after our trial here. Obviously will we let stuff back in, but not to the same degree as before. We’re already giving serious thought to ditching our cable TV subscription entirely because we really haven’t missed it all that much. I definitely think we are going to keep this up. We’ll keep filling you in on how things are going as the trial goes on.

img by: Lil’ El

Break Your Energy-Sucking Everyday Routines

I am the type of person that can easily get stuck in routines.

I don’t know why and it is not something that I try to do. Every now and then it dawns on me that I do a lot of things at the same time or in the same way every day. Drive the same way to work, eat lunch at the same time (usually eating mostly the same things), eat dinner at the same time, go to bed at the same time, etc.

Are you like me? Do you tend to get stuck in routines? It actually happens very easily when you are caught up in the work/life cycle. You know how it is- wake up, go to work, work all day, come home, eat dinner, relax, go to sleep… then repeat the whole thing the next day. Even your weekends can turn routine as you have to get all the things done then that you weren’t able to do during the week. It all doesn’t leave much room for spontaneity.

With escaping the ordinary, we tend to think of big events like quitting our jobs, traveling the world, hiking Mount Everest, skydiving, or whatever you can dream of. Those are all part of what we preach, but escaping the ordinary is also about the very ordinary things.

This means breaking your small routines. Drive a different route to work. Eat at a restaurant you’ve never been to before. Try going to bed earlier (more sleep can’t hurt) or try going to bed later (remember when you used to be able to stay up nearly all night?). Try having an actual conversation with those people that you normally only say hi to in passing. Do your grocery shopping or laundry on a different day then you normally do.

Really, the point is just to mix things up. When you get into routines and do the same things all the time, you are going to get the same results. Try changing some of the small things in your life and see what happens. Escaping the ordinary isn’t always about the big dramatic stuff. It is also about changing those small everyday things in your life that keep you caught in the ordinary.

Photo by Colinthedog

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.

Saving Money as a way to Escape the Ordinary

Part of our plan for escaping our ordinary lives has been to reprioritize the way we spend money (spending less on unnecessary expenses and more on travel/new experiences). This has been especially important right now because of our new job situations. This has meant cutting expenses because we’re not bringing in as much in as we once did.

Cutting expenses can actually be very rewarding and I’d like to write future posts about just that, but I’m going to discuss something that has been an unintended consequence; namely that it ties in perfectly with getting out more and experiencing new things.

Because we are looking to spend less, we really have to dig around to find free or cheap new things to do. We can’t just fall back on going out for drinks, seeing latest movie, or a pricey vacation. This has really led us to finding some cool things to do in our area that we wouldn’t have normally discovered.

Community theater, nature preserves, local museums, hiking trails, festivals, and local landmarks are all around and can be experienced for free or fairly cheap. For example, this weekend we are going to a free show offered at the planetarium located in a local college. We’re finding that an area we spent most of our lives thinking had very little interesting things to do actually has some stuff to offer.

Sure, the usual activities that cost some money are still fun to do and can be done once in a while even if you are trying to save cash. But a limited budget can really give you a new perspective on what’s out there to do. You can find some hidden gems that you otherwise would have overlooked, especially things that may be brand new to you and offer up new experiences.

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.

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.