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Quitting Work, Lifestyle Design & Freedom Myths. What Do People Really Crave?

Freedom There is a lot of discussion online about quitting work, lifestyle design and similar topics and the “freedom” such initiatives bring to a person’s life.

This discussion is highly prevalent in the internet marketing space where it almost seems that every writer is out there to convince you that your job is the worst thing that can happen to you.

But is this message delusional? Are we fooling ourselves? Or are we simply justifying or rationalizing our feelings and decisions?

In other words, are we sick and tired of our jobs for other reasons and tend to gravitate to any message that helps support what we already feel or have decided? Why do we need false outside validation if that’s the case?

Are there more myths than truths around this topic? Or is the truth simply not fully disclosed? What is it that people truly crave for?

There is a very specific personality type that the message of “quitting your job” and “lifestyle design” really resonate with, and from what I have experienced this group generally wants the same things.

The Myths Around Lifestyle Design

This personality type wants more freedom to design their own day to day schedule. However, don’t fool yourself into thinking that this means you can work for 4 hours a day and 2 days a week all the time.

Maybe eventually, but if that’s the plan, make sure you understand what it takes to get to that point, as well as the risks involved which may mean you never get there. This personality type values time spent with family and friends more.

That sounds great, but don’t forget that time must still be spent working on whatever it is that you are working on, no matter where you do that from. Perhaps this should be rephrased as freedom of location or mobility, in which case while you have the choice to work from wherever, you still have to work.

This personality craves freedom from “the man”, or working in a corporate setting. But why? If it’s the bosses, clients and customers, these types of constituents will also be there no matter what you decide to do for a living. There will always be someone you will have to answer to, the only difference is that you get to choose who.

No matter what the argument is, there is always a flip side to the coin. One must evaluate the pros and cons in depth and in totality, certainly not by letting emotions take over and making rash decisions in the process.

Either option can be the right option for you depending on what it is that YOU truly want. If you don’t fit this personality type, then you are likely happy with what you are doing as it is, which is fabulous. And if you fit this personality type, that is also fantastic. Just understand that not everyone out there hates their job and wants to do something else.

You don’t necessarily have to love your job or career to do well in it and stay the full course. As I have often said, there are a lot of good things to be said for a successful career working for someone. (Working for someone, in the context of this post, refers to working for a paycheck) In fact, most top earners in the United States work for wages.

Get Clarity and Focus Around What’s Important to YOU

No matter what personality type you are, the most important thing is to get clarity on what you want out of life and what you truly enjoy doing. Clarity helps us focus on the correct path. Without clarity, we will find our hearts and minds wandering aimlessly, swaying in either direction based on the next internet marketing message we hear or read.

If you simply want out of your job because you hate it so much, don’t just get out and take drastic and uncalculated actions without really understanding what is it that you truly want. For example, many people quit their careers and get a franchise, which many times turns out to be just like “buying yourself a job” that pays a lot less and comes with a lot more stress.

And if you don’t necessarily want out of your job, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Let the decision come from within. Let it be as unbiased as it can be. Don’t let anyone misguide you.

Take your time to assess the pros and cons involved on both sides of the fence. Unfortunately, human instinct is such that many times the grass may always seem greener on the other side even if its brown in reality. Be wary of this.

Sure, leaving your office job may mean that you are free from your boss’ commands, but no matter what business you get into, you will have a set of constituencies to please. If you own a franchise, you must cater to your employees, your customers and your franchisor. If you are a blogger, you have to cater to your readers or you don’t do well.

Sure, leaving a rigid lifestyle behind where finding an ideal work life balance can be challenging is understandable, but also understand that anything else you do will require you to put in the adequate time. Yes, you still have to put in the hard work. You will have to establish systems from scratch.

In fact, going on your own is a lot more work in many ways. For example, in an organization, systems are already set for you. You simply plug and play into the system. When you are on your own, you design everything on your own. Now that is truly some lifestyle design.

What are You Truly Getting by Quitting Work and Designing Your Lifestyle?

What you are really doing by quitting work and designing your own lifestyle is gaining the freedom and flexibility of choice. You are giving  yourself the option(s) to decide between several alternatives.

You are NOT eliminating or evading the work and sometimes stress required to do well. You are not completely getting rid of the inconveniences. If anything, you may be adding more, at least initially.

Obviously the true outcome of how life would really be like after leaving your employer will heavily depend on what you decide to get involved in, but the general premise of my argument remains. Quitting your job and proactively designing your lifestyle is more about options and choice, which is what those who fit the profile really want. This is truly what they crave for.

Here are some more of my thoughts on why you shouldn’t necessarily quit your job. But if you fit the personality type and know exactly what your next move is, don’t quit without negotiating a profitable separation package for yourself.

Read this to find out how you can profit significantly by separating from your employer.

What personality type are you? What do you think people who quit work really crave for? What percentage do you think are delusional about reality and find ways to rationalize or justify their decisions? Why do they do that?

Don’t Quit Your Job. “Get Laid” Instead. It’s More Fun and Profitable

There are two schools of thought for many aspiring online entrepreneurs. One is to quit your job and focus on your business full time and the other one is to start a side business and quit once the business shows signs of viability.

Don't Quit, Get Laid Instead

I am a proponent of the later and will never tell you to quit your job to start a business. That is not always the right approach however.

There are solid arguments to be made for both approaches. The right approach for each individual is going to be different based on the individual’s personal circumstances.

If your circumstances happen to indicate that you should quit your job to work on your business, don’t quit without benefiting or profiting from your separation from your employer. Yes, it is possible to do that and I have done it before in one of my previous lives.

I am not talking about simply cashing in your unused vacation and getting the standard severance either. Sure, those are there, but what I am talking about is a much more lucrative exit strategy from your current employer, such as a full year’s living expenses for example.

I can summarize the highlights of how you can do this, but it wouldn’t be fair to my friend Sam Dogen who shared with me his new book in which he discusses several other methods to separate from your organization and profit from it that I wasn’t already aware of.

Sam is a personal finance blogger and recently wrote a book on how to engineer your layoff so that you can profit from it while maintaining a good relationship with your employer.

A Bit About the Author and Why He Wrote This Book

Sam had worked in the financial services industry since graduating college until recently when he retired at 35 to focus on his book and other initiatives. When he separated from his company, he managed to negotiate and secure a separation package to cover 6 years of living expenses. That is not a typo. I too was stunned.

I had to ask Sam about this arrangement and in our discussion he mentioned “I was happy to sign the papers if I could get 36 months worth of living expenses.  Instead, I managed to negotiate about 72-84 months worth.  That is the biggest no brainer in my mind to quit, ever.  It gives me huge breathing room, EXCLUDING all that I saved over the past 13 years to do whatever.”

Sam’s main concerns were “what if I quit and my bank account goes dry in six months?” “What if I can’t find a new job in a new industry that I really love?” “What if my entrepreneurial endeavors fail miserably and some exogenous variable knocks me out for the count?” “What if I turn into a deadbeat with no more motivation to do anything again?”

These are all valid concerns which makes it more important to secure a good separation package when leaving your employer. Sam didn’t hate his job, he just didn’t love it anymore like he once did. Many are in this situation. Many will fall into this situation down the road. And while quitting your job is not always the right decision, if you choose to do so, you want to do it while protecting your best interest.

So when Sam was ready to pull the trigger, he searched everywhere and while he found many books that talk about securing a lucrative job and making lots of money, he couldn’t find a book that talked about how to quit your job and profit from it.

My General Thoughts on Sam’s Book

I’ve read his book entirely in which he talks about several other individuals he helped, from bar tenders to folks working in Corporate America negotiate and secure several months of expenses from their employers on their way out. The book gets into the fine details explaining how exactly to do this in a step by step manner.

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time you probably have noticed that while I recommend a lot of the books I’ve read and benefited from here and there in my posts, I normally don’t write about books in this detail. In this case however, I feel that this book not only hits it out of the park, but it is also very much relevant to some of the audience of this blog.

Whether you plan to quit your job now or in the future to start a business, don’t quit like most people do and simply walk away with nothing. This book is a must read to learn how you can profit when you separate from your company while maintaining a good relation at the same time in the event you want to return back to your job or work with them in some capacity down the road. It’s never smart to burn bridges that you don’t have to.

It’s eye opening how much money companies are saving by “screwing” people off while making it seem that they are doing you a favor when they decide to end their relationship with you.

Read this article to understand exactly how, as well as why you may think you are getting a good deal when you are given a severance when in reality you are really not. A severance is chump change. The law gives you rights to much more that companies are not telling you.

What I Did Not Like About the Book

The book is lengthier than it can be due to lots of self promotion and tangent material – I felt the book could’ve been more concise, but that’s just Sam. He is very passionate about this topic and it is clearly apparent when you read the book. There is some material that is somewhat related but not critical to the book. It can be done without to make it a quicker read.

There is some philosophical talk as well that although good, could be done without. Again, that is Sam. He loves to pontificate and that also shows in the book. Not necessarily a bad thing – a reader may simply skip these parts to get to the main points.

The book includes several links that require internet connection. Though internet is mostly prevalent, there are still some circumstances where readers may read this book and feel teased because they cannot access the links immediately. Thankfully, none of the links are critical to the main message of the book which is delivered within the book’s content itself.

I felt some of the points required re reading and yet they seemed a bit difficult to understand for me. But then again, that is just my opinion. Everyone interprets material differently. The good news is that when I followed up with some questions, Sam was very responsive and provided elaborate responses that clarified my understanding.

What I Liked About the Book

I like the fact that all the research is done for you and tested as well on several professionals. As a reader, you just have to take the information and act on it. Having been through the process of separation in the past, I learned a lot of new things I didnt know already that could have made my previous separations more profitable for me.

The book is very easy to read and although longer than I think it can be, you can easily get through it. The book is very comprehensive, with lots of tangent material that you can further explore through additional links. The book is very detailed, especially the real world examples and anecdotes provided by Sam.

To summarize, the book covers four main points in great depth:

  • Know your rights and the laws in your State
  • Understand the position companies are in when they make employment decisions and how it impacts their bottom line
  • How to start the process and plant the seeds
  • How to negotiate and seal the deal

I love the one page questionnaire toward the end. This is a framework, or a matrix that has a few questions that you can answer to determine whether you are ready to quit your job. The questions provide a scoring system that will answer this difficult question for you.

This is a wonderful idea. I can’t tell you the number of aspiring entrepreneurs that have consulted with me who ask me whether they should quit their jobs or whether I feel they are ready to. While many often contemplate quitting their jobs, a lot of them do not know simply when the time is right, or whether they are ready to do so to begin with.

Just ask yourself. Do you know for sure whether you can quit your job and still be alright? You may have an inclination about it, but it is very rare that you know 101%. If you did you’d do it. This framework makes it a lot easier for you to determine the answer to that question.

Concluding Thoughts on Quitting Your Job

Knowledge is power. Don’t forget that if you quit or get fired, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Whatever you do, do it the smart way. Take time to invest in your education and awareness, which will help you make the most of your strategic decisions in life.

If you are going to quit, do so in a way where you receive several months of living expenses as well as healthcare coverage for you and your family. By doing so, you are eliminating a lot of the concerns people have when they want to quit their jobs and try something new like an online business.

This book really introduces a new perspective on quitting your job the right way. It is very well done and I wouldn’t be surprised if this book received significant attention and led to several other opportunities for Sam.

This is the only book out there that talks about this subject that I know of, and the message needs to be spread, especially to the community of aspiring online entrepreneurs who may have the itch to quit their jobs either now or some day down the road.

You can check out Sam’s book here.

I contacted Sam to become an affiliate of his book after having read it and loved it. I really believe this information can significantly impact anyone who puts it into practice. I’d love to answer any of your questions if you are contemplating getting this resource. Let’s continue this discussion in the comments section below.

Knowledge is Power – Equip Yourself With Power

You may be perfectly happy and successful in your career today, and that’s fantastic. I congratulate you and am happy for you. Not many can say that for their careers.

But the truth is, you don’t have full control over your current situation. Anything can happen at any time because there are just too many external variables involved beyond your control.

You can definitely wait to consume and understand the wisdom in this book until you feel like you have reached a point of pulling the trigger on your job. However, I strongly believe this is information you want to consume when you are in a stable situation, financially and mentally, so that when the right time comes you know exactly what to do and how.

When faced with challenging situations, it is not uncommon to forget things, or not fully understand the material we consume because there is already so much going in our heads. For example, I certainly didn’t need the information in this book right at this moment, but I still took the time to consume it.

I know that when faced with a situation where this information would come handy, I’d be prepared to apply it effectively. You may not need the information in this book today, but when the time comes, you want to be equipped with the right information to make the best decision for yourself and your family.

I am Giving Away ONE FREE COPY of the Book

I was able to secure ONE FREE COPY of the book to giveaway to one lucky reader ($48 value).

I’d be happy to give you a copy if you help me spread the word. Here is how:

1) Please “Like” this post on Facebook

2) Tell me in the comments section if this sounds like a helpful resource, as well as why, and how would you use it? In other words, what is it that you will work on after using this book to quit your job profitably if you ever decide to go that route?

You must do both 1 & 2. I will pick one winner randomly in a couple weeks and tell you how I did it.

One other note. The technical details in this book are specific to those in the United States. That said, the fundamental principles are universal and likely apply no matter where you live and work. In addition, many jurisdictions outside the USA have similar employment rights / programs in place that are equivalent of or similar to the ones mentioned in this book.

Happy Thanksgiving to you if you celebrate. We have some relaxation time coming up with family and friends. Not a bad time to invest in some personal and professional development. All the best to you and I’ll see you after the feast . . .

Outsourcing Life for a Working Professional – How to Achieve More Balance in Life

I have written in the past about how entrepreneurs can boost their productivity and overall business by hiring virtual assistants (VA). In this post I want to discuss how successful working professionals can boost their careers while achieving more work-life balance by doing the same.

Let me emphasize that outsourcing is not only for big companies who send their call centers and accounting work overseas. Outsourcing for working professionals works equally as well, and in this post I will discuss just some of the tasks you can outsource to your VA to create more balance in your life.

The single biggest aspect of life that busy successful professionals lack is time. We all have 24 hours in a day and we all crave for more. We can always earn more money, but none of that will buy us just an additional second of time if we wanted.

There always appears to be more work than there is time, and outsourcing part of your life in a controlled manner is one solution to creating more free time that you can enjoy with your friends and family doing the things you love doing.

Outsourcing is not only for business owners and internet marketers.  Career professionals are leveraging outsourcing today to enable living unprecedented lifestyles while achieving maximum success in their careers while enjoying life at its fullest. How do I know this?

I know this because one of my niche sites is a site that discusses a lucrative career field or profession.  Outsourcing part of one’s personal life is one of the topics I discuss on that site. To give you an idea, the average reader of the site is someone who works in a large corporate setting making anywhere between $120,000 to $220,000 or even more per year.

I can’t tell you the number of personal thank yous I have received from the site’s newsletter readers who have leveraged methods of outsourcing for working professionals that have not only boosted their careers, but at the same time enabled them to spend more time with family and friends or on hobbies and interests. I can personally vouch for the results because I not only outsource business related work, but also part of MY personal life.

I have friends who I have conveyed this option to who have experimented with it with tremendous results as well. Many have outsourced part of their lives so they can take up more special projects at work and get on the fast track to promotion. Others use it to free up time to acquire more business, and some to perhaps start that long pending internet business that they hadn’t had time to start up before. Outsourcing for working professionals clearly works.

For someone working an hourly job, one can easily benefit from arbitrage resulting from wage difference. For example, if you make $12 an hour and you can outsource an hour of your life at $3, you can work more hours and make an extra $9 ($12 – $3) for each hour worked.

While some C Suites have personal assistants that not only help in the office, but also in their personal lives, the rest of us average folk will just have to do with virtual assistants. The good news is that we can affordably and effectively do so. This is definitely the way to go.

So now that we have discussed why one should consider outsourcing part of their life, here are just a handful of tasks you can send away.

Tasks You Can Outsource

  • Dinner reservations (Almost seamless, provide them with your zip code and cuisine preference. Some can even call and make the reservation if needed)
  • Trips and outings with friends (golf outings)
  • Travel (My VA maintains a spreadsheet of my loyalty program information and travel preferences – over time they become more efficient as they get to know you and your preferences)
  • Send flowers to your spouse and write them emails (I have mine draft an email which I will then modify and send)
  • Billing matters, working with freelancers, managing small business tasks especially if you use shared service software where you can set up your VA as a user
  • Word processing, word smithing, beautifying something
  • Data entry tasks – bookkeeping and spreadsheet maintenance
  • Online bill pay – email with the bill, they schedule payments (set up wire authority with your bank and block international wires unless provided with your security parameters)
  • Manufacturing products – you would definitely need to consider having your products be manufactured offshore especially if you’re a startup business. Forewarning though, you should make sure you do due diligence and do a background check about the manufacturing company you will be working with. Only trust companies that have a solid background and experience in manufacturing.

This is not by any means a comprehensive list of tasks you can outsource to your VA, but just a handful of tasks that I and a few friends of mine outsource.

As a rule of thumb, if it takes a longer time explaining a task as it would take to do it yourself, you might as well do it yourself, unless it is something that once trained can be executed repeatedly over time. That is a time investment worth making.

On a day to day basis, I normally outsource those tasks that are easy to communicate in a single email. As long as the email is elaborate enough and provides for various if / then options, I have found that competent VAs can fly with it to your satisfaction most of the time.

What I am experimenting with right now is instead of relying on email, is to use Google Docs with a running TO DO list arranged in terms of priority. I have my VA going into it once a week, with all “urgent” tasks sent via email.

This way, I can update the list at my convenience, and my VA can view it at hers. She simply checks off tasks that have been completed, and since Google Docs allows you to share a working version of a document, all changes are real time and tracked.

Overwhelmed yet?

All this is just the surface of this topic. There is no end to the list of what you can outsource. What you cannot outsource however is doing dishes, or mowing your lawn. For those you can hire local maid and lawn care services. But for everything else, outsourcing works, and it doesn’t have to be all business related either.

For example, we just back from a 2 week trip to Europe. While there we took 500+ pictures. One of my VAs is cropping them for me right now, fixing the rotation, lighting and I expect to see all the images done and uploaded to our shared drive within the next 24 hours.

In the past I even had one VA research the entire procedure to get dual citizenship in a country I was interested in and obtain all the forms for me to fill out.  It took about a week to do but the process saved me countless mind numbing hours. She put together a summary of benefits and important tips/things to keep in mind, most of which I already knew from my research but it was good to get validation.

Where Can You Find a Virtual Assistant?

There are several places where you can find virtual assistants to work with, and these resources are only increasing as people are starting to become more comfortable and understand what outsourcing part of our lives to VAs can do for them.

The two resources I recommend and personally use are the following:

Odesk – Odesk is a business through which you can find pretty much any kind of a VA that can do pretty much anything. I have used Odesk to hire part time and full time VAs. The advantage of using Odesk is that there is no upfront fee to you, and you can hire VAs on a part time or task by task basis depending on what you want to get done.

On Odesk, you do all the screening and interviews yourself to select the right candidate for your job. You can always rehire the same VA for other tasks in the future if you had a good experience with them.

Virtual Staff Finder – This is a more customized service that is particularly beneficial if you are interested in hiring a full time VA. My friend Chris Ducker owns this Philippines based company. Chris has been in the outsourcing business for as long as I can remember and I can’t think of anyone better to go to for VA related matters other than Chris.

Virtual Staff Finder is like a VA headhunting company. You provide them with your customized requirements and what you want yourVA to be capable of doing and they go find the best candidates for you.

They will set you up with the top three candidates who you can interview before deciding on who to work with.  They charge a small fee for this service, a fee well worth what you get in return (a match made in heaven) particularly if you are making a full time commitment. You specify and they deliver.

There is a third resource I want to mention, which is a comprehensive program that teaches you how to select the right person to work with and how to train them. This training program is really meant for you so that you get the most out of outsourcing as possible, and emphasizes the biggest mistakes people make when they outsource and why outsourcing doesn’t work for many. It also provides you with all the tools and resources you need to train your VA in pretty much any task you can think about.

The program is called Replace Yourself (you can literally) and it’s developed by my friend John Jonas, who has been in the outsourcing business for well over a decade, specifically in the Philippines (where I was born). If you are contemplating hiring a full time VA either for personal or business help and don’t have prior experience, I highly recommend you check out John’s program before getting involved with outsourcing.

How Much Will Outsourcing Life Cost You?

Hiring a full time VA can cost you anywhere between $350 to $850 per month. Understandably, you will end up paying more per hour if you periodically hire VAs on a part time basis for tasks here and there.

On the lower end of the price spectrum, you will find VAs well versed in communication, word processing, basic data entry and clerical tasks. On the higher end of the price spectrum, you will find VAs who are fluent in programming, graphic design and other more advanced technical skills. Imagine a US based programmer who earns a $150,000 salary outsourcing a lot of his or her work to a VA for just $850 a month? Think about how much time that would free up in the programmer’s life?

VAs are flexible and they understand our working hours, therefore they are willing to work during our normal working hours if you so specify. You can also have them mimic the work week in your country. A typical VA working full time for an American would work a 40 hour week between Monday and Friday and take the weekends off.

Although many don’t expect paid holidays and vacation, I personally give them the same benefits a local employee would receive, aside from insurance and 401k type benefits of course. I do however periodically send surprise spot bonuses, especially when business is going very well.

Concluding Thoughts

I don’t want to conclude this post by making it seem all is as smooth as butter in the personal outsourcing world. Like any other worthwhile initiative, outsourcing “life” comes with its unique challenges as well, but nothing that cannot be overcome easily.  By understanding the main challenges, you can better prepare for outsourcing your life and avoid the same mistakes many (including myself) initially make.

Make sure that your VA has a strong command of English. As long as you can clearly communicate with them, all else can be taught. And in order to truly assess their communication skills in English, you want to request a face to face interview with them over a program like Skype (free).

Many savvy job seekers often have prepared answers and sample documents that may seem a lot more polished than their true communication skills really are. Live interviews are great for separating the serious contenders from the pretenders.

The only other challenge worth mentioning is whether or not your VA is actually working a full 40 hour work load. It won’t take longer than a week for you to know based on the deliverables you get back and the quality of what’s being provided to you. There are also tools you can use to monitor their work hours.

Personally, I am able to assess the work ethic of a VA on a week to week basis. Whenever in doubt, confront them nicely and immediately. Many times they are just stuck spinning their wheels and won’t ask for help as a matter of pride. Make it clear that the communication doors are open when they need help.

I am at a point where I have even provided one of my VAs with a credit card. I have discussed spend limits both with her and my bank, as well as daily transaction limits. A bank can also block charges from predetermined vendors (i.e. vendors based in my VA’s country). You can set these controls up with your bank upfront for added security measures.

None of these challenges should preclude you from hiring a VA if this is something you are interested in. Look at it this way – what do you have to lose aside from some time and maybe half a month’s salary ($175)? That won’t happen, but I wanted to show you the worst case scenario.

Totally worthwhile in my opinion considering what you get back in return. And yes, I’d do it again and again if I were to repeat all over. In fact I’d do it much sooner. I am a user and an affiliate of all three VA service companies mentioned in this article. I’d be happy to answer any of your questions if you are contemplating using any of them.

How do yo feel about outsourcing part of your life to create more balance in life? Is $350 a month worth more free time with friends, family and activities that bring you pleasure? What reservations do you have?

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