I’ve been reminded over the last couple weeks that I’m glad to see America, and the rest of the world too probably, heading towards a more mobile workplace. But it goes beyond just more flexibility in where you work.
The economy is moving back towards a more independent contractor society. This was commonplace throughout history until the industrial revolution brought the masses to the cities to work in factories and then later mega-corporations.
I’m not an economist and I’m not a historian. But this is how I interpret what is going on around me. We, as a people, are wanting to get back to a more relational transaction style. We want to buy stuff from people we feel like we know. We want to know where the components came from. And we want to know that our dollars aren’t only getting us the thing we want but are being used for those less fortunate (think Toms shoes).
There are also financial factors involved. It has become increasingly expensive to employee people. You can blame it on regulations, Obamacare, unions, etc. etc. etc. In turn, many businesses, both big and small, are turning to the Freelance community of workers to get the job done. They can still get the job done without all the overhead.
A simple definition of freelance is “working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company”.
The freelance economy allows you more freedom to set your own schedule, set your own prices, and even determine where you work (for some jobs). Most self-employed people are independent contractors and would fall under the freelancer category.
My wife is a portrait photographer. She does her shoots on location but then is able to do the rest of her work at home. I do some work as a real estate agent and most of that work can be done from my home. I own rental properties and most of the management can be done from home. I do some online writing (including this blog) and that can be done from home as well.
If we chose to, we could also move everything to the cloud and do some of our work from anywhere in the world there is an internet connection. That is one of my goals for this website. I hope to be able to earn some income off of it through consulting, referrals, and product sales so that for a month or so every winter my family can go someplace sunny and warm and yet still be able to earn an income.
Since our daughter, Kyah, was born last summer, I have felt more passionate about this issue than ever. I want to be available to my family, both physically and emotionally. It’s very hard to do that when I work all day away from home.
Over the last few weeks, I have done some construction work for an old boss/friend of mine. It has been a good opportunity to bring in some extra money and do it while Keely is able to focus all her attention on Kyah during the days.
I’ve only been working on the job 2-3 days a week but it has reminded me how much I enjoy the lifestyle that we get to live. It’s tough when I leave before Kyah wakes up, get home at 5:30 tired and worn out, try to be engaged and active with the family for a couple hours, and then Kyah goes to bed around 8:00.
The mornings are usually the best time to be home. Kyah is in her best moods. My mind is more rested so I can work on my writing (I’m writing this at 8:14 am). When I work from home I get to experience life as Kyah experiences it and not have to hear about it from Keely after the fact. But when I go to work first thing, I don’t get these morning times.
Sorry, I feel like I am kinda rambling, where I am going with this? I am wanting to encourage you, especially if you have kids at home, to look for ways you can create more flexibility in your work schedule so that you can BE with your family more. Part of that may be looking at ways to decrease your monthly expenses so that you can either work less or save more to invest (so that you can work less).
It also may be to look for other opportunities you may have to bring in some extra income in some not so conventional ways. Think about opportunities like AirBnB or Uber. Those are both ways you could monetize something you already have.
One thing I’ve noticed when I am gone for 9+ hours a day is that it is hard for me to think creatively. All I want to do when I get home after a hard days work is just relax on the couch. It reminds me how tough YOU have it working a 9-5 job. And why it’s hard to be disciplined with your hard earned money and invest for the future. It reminds me how easy it is to get stuck in the rut/routine of get up, go to work, come home, go to sleep…repeat.
I would encourage you today, right now, take 5-10 minutes. Turn off the computer screen and put the phone on silent. Close your eyes and just think for a few minutes. Look at your life from an outside perspective. Are you heading in the direction that you want to go? Do you even have a direction you are going or are you just living, trying to get through the day? Where would you like to be in three to five years? Is your current life leading you towards that goal?
Try to think of one or two little things that you could do today that would increase your quality of life. Maybe that means actually leaving work at 5:00 and not 5:30. Maybe that means leaving for work an hour earlier so that you can miss some of the traffic and get home an hour earlier. Maybe you can switch your hours to four ten hour days so you can have a three day weekend. Maybe it means taking a walk during your lunch break to get out and enjoy the spring sun. Whatever it is, do it intentionally.
I’ve learned that Kyah will only be 8 months old once. She will only take her first step once. She will only say her first word once. I want to be there for as many of those firsts as possible. And that means I need to be physically present as much as I can. It also means I need to be emotionally/mentally present as well.