I’ve always been what you might call “free-spirited.” The common track was not for me. I never knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to do everything, just to know what it was like.
I never had an after school job in high-school. I painted ceramic figurines and sold them for 200% mark-up at fall craft fairs. In the summer, I tended gardens and picked produce to sell. I didn’t even know the word for entrepreneur–I just knew that what all the other kids were doing wouldn’t work for me.
Nowadays, the buzzword is “income streams.” Oh, is that what we’re supposed to be doing now? In the words of Tammy Wynette, “I was country when country wasn’t cool.”
I have more income streams on the go than I can even count, most days. Mostly, they’re seasonal, and I forget all about them when they’re not on my to-do list. Doing a preliminary income tax total this week, I discovered that our household gross income is about 20% or better higher than I thought it was. Even better, a great deal of this goes directly into business expenses/growth, and isn’t taxable. Our taxable income for the year runs about xK, combined, which puts us into the lowest tax bracket, I believe.
This doesn’t transfer into higher quality of life, perhaps, the way that two 65k/year jobs would. However, in the last year’s recession, a slow down in one stream only meant we had more time to commit to the ones that were making money, not a pervasive fear that we would lose it all.
There were times, I will admit, particularly at the beginning of the year, where a job with sick leave and benefits would have been highly desirable. But since I was then working a full time job at a company which offered neither, not even job security (!), finally making the decision to leave made so much sense it was amazing that I hadn’t considered it.
But I’ll tell you why I didn’t. I didn’t believe that I was special enough to do things differently than everyone else. I don’t mean special like “of course you’re special, honey,” I mean special like I never considered that I was uniquely separate from the rest of the rat race to consider that the proper thing for me, would be to do something no one else was doing. Who was I? Well, I was no Steve Jobs. Not an Oprah. Certainly not a Mother Teresa. Without a certain vision and drive, who was I to decide to give up college, a steady job, and live deep in the countryside with my sick husband where there were no opportunities to get ahead?
The conclusion I came to, (only recently, I’m not omniscient) was that the only thing that a job working for someone else was giving me was the sense that I was doing something right. Do you know what I’m talking about? When someone says what you need to do to succeed in life, doesn’t it read something like “Show up. Apply yourself. Do everything to the best of your ability.” I felt like, if I had a job, did it well, asked for more responsibility and earnestly applied myself, I would achieve success.
What kind of horseshit is that?
Does my idea of success include managing a trucking company in the most misogynistic industry in the world? Does it involve 16 hour work-days dealing with irate customers and cranky drivers, the same old problems, year after year? Not on your life. Sure, I was good. Of course I was–I’m good at enough things that I don’t waste my time doing anything I’m not good at.
I recently set aside a broken plate for my husband to fix. A friend snarkily asked, “What, you can’t glue?” Not well. Not happily. He’s better at it, and if he doesn’t want to, he might as well throw the plate out as me waste three times the amount of time and be unhappy with the result.
I just. Won’t. Do it.
How many people do that? Feel free to raise your hand in the comments.
Look at it this way. You’re trying to get fit. Jogging is like, the apex of exercise for that purpose. But if you hate running, you won’t do it. And if you try to persuade yourself that you HAVE to do it, you not only won’t do it, but you won’t do anything else, either.
But as for my main point–take a long, hard look at your life. What are you doing in it that is the same as everyone else? And where could you make changes so that it’s exactly right for you?