Letting go: is scary

by Tim M on June 21, 2009


Hi, and welcome.

I am going to go from cubicle hell to the places in the pictures below.

This is my story and how I am going to do it.

In order to decide what I need to do to get where I want to be, I needed to figure out what I wanted.

That’s simple. Happiness.

And what makes me happy is working (on things I love), travelling, snowboarding, surfing, drinking coffee, taking photos and more travelling and photos.

Additionally, I want to be able to help the environment and other people through volunteer work, running programs to get at-risk/troubled kids to the snow and surf and sharing this journey with you so you can see that it’s totally possible to rid yourself of the corporate yoke and bind yourself to your full potential as you deserve, and indeed, are obligated to (by virtue of the fact you’re walking the Earth).

Lastly, we have my dog, family, coffee at my local coffee place, cycling, and Kate Emily.

You’ll notice immediately the absence of money. A-ha, but money is the critical aspect that enables most of this stuff (in my case: work on Heresy, travels, any gear I need like camera stuff or shiny new laptops [photo]). Anyone that tells you money is not important is not living in the real world. Unless you are sitting on a handy reserve of gold, you are going to need money. Some people, like Chris, are travel ninjas, and help you get my on less, but you inevitably still need cash.

And therein is the problem. All the above things that I want (some of them I need) demand that I not work full time for someone else. I need multiple income streams, passive where possible, and the magic number I have arrived at is AUD$10,000 a month (at USD0.8, this is USD$8k a month).

So Project Heresy is going to chronicle my attempt to get that from:

  • passive income from Amazon affiliate and astore sales
  • active income from services I offer
  • active income photography work (very minor)
  • passive and active income from Heresy
  • passive income from ebooks (I have discounted the active input into creating an ebook)
  • a SUPER exciting project (TOP SECRET)

Along the way I’m going to be upfront about all this; so, right off the bat, any Amazon sales I get from you buying something from my affiliate store, I get a small commission (at the time of writing, 4%). Feel free to check it out, I only have stuff on there that is VERY interesting or SUPER useful. All the business books I have on there are really, really excellent; none are boring, and the other stuff is awesome too (all the Earth docos – if you don’t think these are awesome, you are wrong). So, I solve two problems. You get awesome business recommendations, I might get some income.

The Problem (setting this baby up)

All over the world, every day, people are waking up to new possibilities. They are courageous, but for most of us, at least those who are conscious of the dissonance in their existence, we are locked in a stasis, unsure how to get out. Many of us innately sense we ought to be working for ourselves, truly becoming masters of our own destiny.

However, one of the absolutely terrifying, horrifying things about working for yourself is the lack of reliable income, or, the prospect of it. You’re fully exposed to the vagaries of the business-scape. You don’t have admin, reception, sales people bringing work in, people neatly arranging everything into processes. Chaotic.

Some of us, get started on breaking from this by hustling on the side – good idea, and two of my pillars to financial and cubicle freedom.

The problem with hustling, however, is that you are hedging. To hedge is to fail. I believe that by hustling (remembering I am guilty of it), you are subconsciously still wedded to the teat of corporate support and therefore are less likely to be a small business ninja and really give it your all because you know that you have your wage to fall back on, rather than living by the sword. Some days, it’s easy to just not bother.

For instance, in my current job, where I earn a very decent wage, the thought of letting that crutch go is scary. The “security” that comes from that wage, the dependability, the ability to plan ahead, I believe, stifles your innovation, blunts your edge; i.e. makes things safe. Killer instinct gone.

When we look at why I, and most others, find this scary, it’s usually because of our “responsibilities”. The problem with the word responsibility is that it can imply lack of choice, and infers a sense of “I must” (do this, or do that). Think mortgage, kids, etc. These things however, are always a choice.

For me, I made a conscious decision a few years ago to remove the AUD$35k or so of credit card debt had (I got it to zero in one year) and save my bum off to launch an attack on the passive income side of things, through structured investing. I was debt free, and started saving like a maniac, getting to around 30k just before the global finance crunch of 2007-2009. I was however, financially, responsibility free (in retrospect this seems like it may have been a good time to go surfing and volunteering in Puerto Rico for 6-12 months).

I left setting this kind of stuff way too late (until I was 30), but the second best day to start something like this is today. So now I am in the position where I again have financial responsibilities in the form of tax deductible debt; the only kind I will consider. I do not have a mortgage because I think that for one, Australian housing prices are way over-valued and the interest on a mortgage would be wayyyy better put to use in the stock market, through canny investment, or by investing in my own business.

In any case, bottom line? I have some financial responsibilities that can be liquidated at very short notice, no credit card debt, some very good positions with my own cash in the Australian stock market, and some cash.

So this is a great place from which to launch my assault on the barriers just holding me back from doing what I want to do be doing, all day, every day.

At this point, some may say, “well, if you really wanted to be doing those things, you’d make it happen.” Firstly, I say this ignores the reality of modern society (one needs money to function) and secondly, I don’t think these things always happen overnight.

So next, onto the journey.

The journey

One thing that annoys me, is the number of sites just make it sound easy to be self-employed. It’s not. That’s not dissing Delightful Work by the way. Look at someone like Tim Ferriss over at Four Hour Work Week; Tim has some pretty cool adventures and stuff to say, but we missed the journey. I know there are a lot of people who want to escape cubicle hell – I mean there are ebooks on this subject, and loads and loads of websites. Some people like Clay Collins, Johnny B and Chris G actively try and help you (I am a big fan of these guys).

One cool thing is the barrier to entry for web presence etc is really low so it’s easy to get something going (NOT by blogging or monetising eyeballs) – but something super successful? In what?. Chris Guillebeau says it best in his 279 Days to Overnight Success and A Brief Guide to World Domination – if you can’t offer something, what are you doing?

But still, cutting the cord is part of the battle. Your wage owns you, really – if you let it (at least in my case, I could radically cut my living standard and get by on very little). When in fact, you own your wage or income stream, because you are the information mercenary capable of partnering with people who want to gain access to your skills.

Personally, I have to ask myself, is full time work getting in the way of my photography taking off (no link sorry, I don’t have time to develop a site I’d be happy with for my photos, just check my flickr page)? Is it getting in the way of Heresy going bananas? Am I hedging, and therefore failing, by hustling?

My very good friend Michael says that to hedge is to fail.

To hedge is to fail.

He’s right. But to a point. I think the critical issue is being able to recognise when you have something sustainable that demands to not be hustled anymore, and demands your full time attention. That is a very tricky thing to recognise.

But am *I* hedging? For me, giving up my wage (right now) will seriously constrain my ability to fund my business interests and my travel and stuff I do for fun.

Perhaps there’s a happy medium, until I can be exactly where I want to be. Creating small businesses providing a diverse income stream that build and build is a great way to start (I work with a couple of guys that do this).

That will apply to everyone, surely.

Anyway, that’s why I am doing this. I’m going to catalogue this whole adventure and let you read along.

Along the way, I’ll visit places that are fun (and show you the things to check out in these places), share tools that I find very handy, things (books) I think are useful, share my successes, and my failures, and hopefully people can see what works and what doesn’t.

Because if there’s one thing I am sick of, it’s bloody blogs and sites from very successful people telling you how easy it is just to be your own boss.

It’s not. It’s bloody hard work, a journey with some success (if you’re lucky), much failure, and a lot of learning.

But, that’s part of the fun.

Let’s begin now, shall we?


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