By Valerie Young
The thing that keeps me up at night is not the economy. Don’t get me wrong. My retirement savings have taken the same hit as everyone else’s has. But in worrisome times I look to successful people to guide me and, financially anyway, who is more successful than billionaire Warren Buffet? Buffet’s rule is, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” In other words, when the time is ripe to increase the odds of success, successful people are ready for it.
I am of the firm belief that the down economy actually makes this the ideal time to put a small side business into motion. It’s a simple matter of not putting all of your eggs in one basket. When you have another profit center plate spinning, you are one step closer to taking control of your life instead of leaving it to the whims of the employment picture.
The thing that keeps me awake at night is wondering how can I help overworked under-fulfilled people, stressed out people (like you?) to change course as fast as possible. In other words, what exactly will it take to really accelerate your dream of being able to quit your job and get a life?
It’s hard for me to believe sometimes that it has been 13 years since I successfully traded in my 90-mile-a-day commute to my job in corporate America for my sunny home office with a view. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes being able to get up when you want to, to take vacations when you need to, and to have total control over your life and your time. Take my word for it – once you’ve reached “the other side” as Barbara Winter likes to put it, you never go back.
Changing course always comes down finding 6 key things: Money, time, courage, information, ideas, and support. The good news is that they are all manageable, if you know where to look. I know because I’ve been studying the process of changing course for over a decade now.
I understand your worries because I lived them. In fact, I spent seven years as an employee fretting about where I would find the money, time, and confidence to be my own boss. What finally moved me to action was a painful wake up call. My mother spent the last nine years and seven months of her life toiling at her job as a second shift custodian – a job she took solely to get vested for the retirement benefits. When she died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 61, just five months before she was to retire, it totally changed how I viewed time (we can choose how we use it), money (things work out), and life (it’s all too short).
What Will Be the Driving Force That Gets You To Change Course?
Only you can answer that question. I know what the propelling force was for me. Losing my mother at such a young age made me realize that I had spent far too much time agonizing endlessly about what might happen if I changed course and not nearly enough time worrying about what would happen if I DIDN’T.
In other words, instead of being afraid of the “unknown risks” that adventure can bring, I should have been equally worried about the “known risks.” The known risk of staying stuck was spending another 25 years dealing with alarm clocks, commuter traffic, office politics, and spending five days a week living the spirit numbing reality that, as it’s been said, “the truth is rarely told between the hours of 9-to-5.”
“The big break for me,” quipped Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, “was deciding that this is my life.” I know what he means. For me, the propelling force was finally getting – and I mean really “getting” – that I only had one life to live. And that by not at least trying to create the life I really wanted, in all likelihood I would die with my music still in me. Now THAT was scary!
The American editor and author Christopher Morley got it right when he said, “There is only one success… to be able to spend your life in your own way, and not to give others absurd maddening claims upon it.” There are a lot of things to worry about these days. I only wish that more people would worry about what it might look like to actually spend your life “in your own way.” And then do start doing something about it.
What can you do this week to be guided less by your fears and more by your dreams? How can you begin to focus less on “what is” and more on “what could be”? The New Year is almost upon us. You may already be thinking about how you want 2009 to be different… how you can make 2009 YOUR YEAR. So, what promise can you make yourself to make that happen?