Why I’m Walking Away From 9-5 And the Lessons It’s Taught Me

Sometime in October, I decided I no longer wanted to work for someone else. At least, not in the traditional sense.

One of my lifelong dreams has always been to become location independent for work, meaning, I want to be able to work from anywhere, anytime.

I thought about continuing to work for jobs that gave me opportunities to move, like my last job which brought me to San Francisco, but that experience only led me to realize I wanted even more mobility.

My goal for 2018 is to become location independent.

Before anyone thinks “That’s so brave of you!” I want to make it clear that this was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life and I did not make it lightly.

In fact, I tried to avoid this option for as long as possible. It wasn’t an option until I had no more options.

The truth was, I applied to several jobs and no one accepted me. But instead of feeling defeated, I felt relieved. This was a huge sign to me that I was heading the wrong way.

One afternoon, after I came back from another interview, I felt an uncontrollable urge to write.

And I couldn’t stop.

It was like a force took over me and I knew then that I couldn’t go back to the 9-5 lifestyle. It wasn’t for me and I had been trying to convince myself for years that it was.

So for the last few months, I stopped looking for jobs completely and dedicated all of my time to learning everything I can about becoming location independent.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far: 

1. There are thousands of ways to work online.

You can sell things, you can become a content creator, you can coach people and so much more. The secret to working online is figuring out what skills, experiences, and interests YOU have and turning it into a profitable digital skill. I enjoy writing and sharing ideas so I am learning to become a freelance writer.

2. You need to have rock-solid confidence.

Not only will other people look at you funny but you’ll look at your friends and wonder what the hell you’re doing, why you’re doing it and whether it’s all worth it. You’ll wonder if you’re crazy. You need to be able to stop these thoughts in their tracks and keep going. 

3. It’s rationally daunting but irrationally exciting.

Something I did not expect from choosing this path is how excited I am to work on my goals every day. You would think without a paycheck or a deadline, I would have trouble getting things done but actually, I have the opposite problem. I never know when to stop. 

4. You’ll feel like a baby who has to learn how to walk again.

The learning curve to working online is STEEP. You will feel like you’re standing at the bottom of the Himalayas with no guide and you’re crawling. There is so much to learn! Just Google “how to work online” and you’ll see. 

5. There is SO MUCH to read.

I would say 80% of my time is dedicated to reading. I feel like I’m back in college. The rest of the 20% is figuring out how to apply what I read and what I did wrong.

6. It’s lonely.

There are millions of people working online but offline? Crickets. People who work online, I’ve discovered, tend to be introverts, stay at home moms or dads, couples, or somewhere else in the world because that’s why they became digital in the first place. It sometimes makes me wonder if these people are real… are they?

7. You experience the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows.

When you doubt yourself, it can feel like the end of the world. But when you finally figure something out, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. It’s a constant emotional rollercoaster and it’s draining.

travel, japan, solo travel, digital nomad
Hallelujah! I got a button to work on my website!

8. You better be ready to hustle.

It takes effort, time, and money to learn to work online. If you’re not willing to invest time nor money to get better, you cannot improve your skills. If you need to stay in your day job, that means sacrificing your evenings or weekends to learn the skills you need. If you can downsize, move back home with parents and work a part-time job (which is what I did) that means sacrificing money but having more time to learn. Either way, there are sacrifices.

In short?

Working online is NOT for you if:
… you hate reading and learning for hours.
… you need to see instantaneous results to trust that something is working.
… your only objective is to make money.
… you are easily bothered by other people’s comments.

Working online IS for you if:
… you are naturally inquisitive and love learning.
… you enjoy being alone.
… you see problems as challenges, not dead-ends.
… you can shake off setbacks and bounce back quickly by yourself.

Finally, ask yourself this: are you willing to choose risk over certainty?

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