Want Freedom? How to Transition Out of the 9 to 5

“The past is not your potential. In any hour you can choose to liberate the future.” ~Marilyn Ferguson

Hands down, the best career decision I ever made was starting a blog. It has opened my eyes to non-traditional career and income models, providing  a thrilling way to make money and enjoy freedom.

Granted, when I made it, I didn't know it was a career decision. I thought it was a marketing decision. But it has turned into a magical door that has led me to other doors, that have led me to opportunities that are allowing me to create an amazing lifestyle.

I use the word “magical” loosely here, because the only magical thing about it is my wild enthusiasm and joy for what I'm doing. That certainly feels magical. However, I have put in a boat load of real, tangible work in the last year. Strangely, it doesn't feel like work. If feels like fun, and that's what I've always wanted in a job. But I never thought it was possible.

As I mentioned earlier and in previous posts, I didn't plan on blogging as a career. I transitioned out of a very long career in public relations and went back to school to become a personal and career coach. I started blogging to market my coaching business.

I discovered that blogging allowed me to do many more things that I love doing:

writing

discussing personal development topics

sharing information

helping people

creative design (creating the blog design, laying out articles, selecting photos)

interacting with people

learning new skills

research

collaborating

meeting people in different countries

creating courses

Now my blog has allowed me to expand my streams of income beyond coaching alone. And some of the income streams are passive, meaning I created them and they continue to make money. I am starting to make a real livable income, and I have the freedom to travel, take time off if I want, and pursue other interesting income opportunities.

There were many things blogging forced me to do that I never previously enjoyed, like learning computer technology. But my enthusiasm for all the other elements was so great that I overcame my fear of technology. And I found people to help me. Now I'm so proud of my technical skills, puny as they may be. Overcoming this fear has enabled me to do so much more.

The other eye-opening thing I learned as a blogger is that there are a kazillion people on the internet who are looking for information, products, and services from someone knowledgeable, reputable, trustworthy, and not too salesy.

If you show people that you are sincere and authentic, and that you legitimately have something good to offer them, they will want to buy from you. You do have to attract those people to you and present good stuff, but the opportunity is there if you're willing to put in the work.

Being a blogger isn't the only way to achieve freedom from a traditional 9-5 job. (But it could certainly be one of many streams of income.) You can even enjoy more freedom by staying employed in a “traditional” job if you learn how to make yourself indispensable.

The first thing you have to do to attain freedom and create your own opportunities is to harness some time.

That's hard to do when you have to be at the office at 9:00 and leave your house at 8:00 to enter the commuter nightmare. Then you are stuck in the office regardless of how productive you may or may not be. It doesn't matter to your boss that you finished your project early and are now shuffling papers. You have to keep that seat warm and show your face, at least looking busy and productive.

If you've ever worked from home, you know how much more productive you are there than at the office. You have far fewer of the interruptions, distractions, and time wasters that are inherent in officeland.

But just telling your boss that you'd like to stop coming into the office and work from home generally doesn't go over well. You have to plan and prepare to create more freedom for yourself, whether remaining employed in your current job or transitioning to self-employment entirely.

Either way, you are going to have to transition to less time at the office so that you can enjoy more freedom either to enhance your lifestyle or to build your own small business (unless you can afford to just quit your current job).

One of the best books available on doing this is The 4-Hour Workweek,
by Tim Ferriss. Here's a summary of the ideas he suggests for kickstarting that transition:

Become An Indispensable Investment

As part of your transition plan, find ways to make yourself more useful and valuable to your boss and your company. Focus on problems and brainstorm solutions for them. Handle situations or tasks to help out your boss or co-workers. Find ways to save the company money or be more efficient. Crank it up enough that you are noticed, but not seen as strange.

Also, make yourself more valuable to your company by asking the company to pay for additional training or classes. Be sure to explain the benefits of this training to the company. The more the company invests in you and sees you as productive, the harder it will be to lose you if you quit.

Practice Increased Productivity At Home

Once you have proven your value as an investment for your company, have a trial run of working at home to showcase your increased productivity. Ask for a couple of personal days to handle family business (or whatever you must do to get a couple of days off), and promise to get work done from home.  (Do this mid-week so it doesn't appear you are arranging a long weekend getaway.)

Then, during these two days, increase your work output much more than you do at the office, leaving yourself a few free hours during the normal work day. This will give you a good idea of what you can accomplish on your own and still allow yourself freedom to pursue other things.

Be sure to copy your boss on emails and keep good records of all you accomplish to use for negotiating when the time is right.

Reveal the Business Benefits to Your Boss

Create a document that shows the quantifiable results of working from home. Present the idea of occasionally working remotely as a real business benefit to your boss and the company — not just something convenient for you. If you have a long commute to work, include the additional work time added to your day.

Propose a Test Run

Once you show your boss the real results of your increased productivity working from home, propose a short trial run — maybe two days a week for a few weeks. (Ask for more time than you want so you have negotiating room.)

If you propose it as a trail, then you are offering an escape clause, making it easier for your boss to handle. Think through all of the potential objections your boss may have, and be prepared to acknowledge them and have viable solutions or alternatives.

Use the Time Wisely and Then Expand

During this test period, be sure you are super-productive, and again, keep quantifiable records of your output.  Continue to allow yourself several hours during the day to pursue other things — work or lifestyle related.

At the end of the test period, meet again with your boss to review the results, and ask for a small increase in the time at home. If your boss objects, then ask to extend the current trial period. Don't accept “no” right off the bat — ask what you could do to make this more acceptable to your boss.

If you are continuing to produce and show real results, you shouldn't underestimate your value to your company. It is far easier to negotiate with a valuable employee than to find a good replacement. Keep re-negotiating your schedule, using the solid quantifiable records of your results as leverage.

With more time, you have the freedom to build your own business, spend time with your family, pursue your hobbies, and create a more balanced life. With some creative thinking and careful planning, you have the ability to craft work schedule and lifestyle that feels, well, magical!

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Comments

  1. Hi Barrie,

    I agree that blogging is a great way to open doors.
    Much because we learn better when we teach, now when I read books and study I learn it so that I can teach to others which means I know it better.

    I discuss it with my community we ask each other questions and all of a sudden we have answers we didn’t before know about.

    The value personal development has brought to my life has been great. I have learned much about myself and about my relationships, I make an income, I will soon be coming out with a book, as long as you work towards a goal things start to fall into place.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Daniel,
      That is so fabulous — congrats on the book. Please let us know when it comes out. It is so amazing what we can now accomplish just using a computer. This wasn’t possible 10-15 years ago. The entire work paradigm is shifting before our eyes.

  2. I also love this sentence:
    The first thing you have to do to attain freedom and create your own opportunities is to harness some time
    You yourself must catch your future and your opportunities not other people.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Haley,
      You are right — you can’t leave it to other people to push you toward success. You have to seize it fearlessly. Fear is a huge part of what holds people back. But if you practice asking for what you want, it becomes a lot easier.

  3. Barrie,
    This is so true. While I still have a full time job I get to work from home a lot which has allowed me to put more time into blogging. Total freedom from the 9 to 5 is what I’m after. I’m working toward achieving it by the end of this year! Thank you for all being such an inspiration to me!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi there Angela,
      You will achieve it because I know how tenacious and hard-working you are! You are an inspiration to me as well. 🙂

  4. Hi Barrie
    Congratulations for having found your freedom through blogging. My dream/goal is to break out of the 8am to 5pm trap within one year. Blogging is one of the options I am considering although there are significant challenges that I am experiencing. I am encouraged by knowing that you also started out when you were relatively technologically challenged.

    Thanks and best wishes.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Murigi,
      I hope your challenges aren’t overwhelming. I did take a blogging bootcamp which helped me tremendously in learning how to set up my blog successfully. I was (and am still) technologically challenged, but there are always ways of figuring things out!

  5. Hi Barrie
    Trying to pedal as fast as I can before they ever call me back to work. They get busy in the summer and I so hope I can tell them thanks but no thanks. I have also learned a lot of tech stuff which a year ago I would be totally in the dark about. This is so much more interesting than the 7-4 job I had. Besides getting up 5 am was no fun! The other day I figured out the only part of the job I ever really liked was when I was creating, but that was not very often. The creating is nothing as to what I am creating now. Just embarking on the traffic, traffic, traffic. I think I have maybe finally figured it out. With five sites it is keeping me busy. But 50 hours a week doing what I like is a whole lot more fun and will eventually pay off and then I can slow down.
    Mary

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Whoa! Five sites! That’s a lot of work. Have you created a substantial following with one of them? You might want to focus on one intently and build your subscribers. Then branch out to other niche sites. But you may have 5 amazingly successful blogs. I’d love to hear more.

      • Hi Barrie
        Got the dedication as my husband and I are both working on websites. Creating is cool and I have picked subjects I am interested in. I try to write a post for each about 3 times a month. I am still working on the traffic think and trying to figure it out. I know it all takes time and the right connections. I am learning what doesn’t work and I guess being successful from the mistakes we make helps. The five sites are: http://necessityofchange.com
        http://catsdogsandfriends.com
        http://bestplannedparty.com
        http://vegetableflowergarden.com
        http://herbgardensite.com
        I wrote a number of articles for Ezine and although I have a plenty of views, my biggest success with that was people stole my articles and put their name on it. Then I had to contact the websites, that gets a little lame having to police my work. So, I decided to put my energy into my sites totally. So that is where I am at for now.
        Have a great day and thanks for asking.
        Mary

  6. I am transitioning from being a stay-at-home mom. My youngest is starting preschool in the fall, and I feel like there is a huge opportunity in front of me to create my future. One great thing about being a stay-at-home mom is that we’re already basically living on one income, so anything extra I bring in looks huge. 🙂
    I know that blogging will be part of my future, but I don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle together quite yet. I do know that after staying home for the last 7 years, I can’t imagine working for somebody else. I am working on the assumption that if I follow my passions and my talents and work my tail off, I will figure it out. 🙂

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Amy,
      Yes, you are in a great position to start a lifestyle business. Are you a member of the AList Blogging Club? If not, that’s a great place to start to help put the pieces of the puzzle together. There are some very specific strategies and techniques to follow to build a successful blog. Also, you should read the Tim Ferriss book, The 4Hour Work Week. Amazing stuff.

      • I’m not a member of the AList Blogging Club, but it is definitely on my radar.
        And I think I might be the only person left on earth who hasn’t read The 4 Hour Work Week, but I will now!

  7. Great post. “…someone knowledgeable, reputable, trustworthy, and not too salesy.” For me, those are the key words you use, especially the last three!
    I really like Ferriss’s ideas – the book is excellent. For anyone planning on staying in work at least part-time, another book I recommend is Hacking Work, by Bill Jensen and Josh Klein. Lots of ideas about cutting through corporate rubbish and getting more done in less time.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Tess,
      Thank you for the book recommendation — I haven’t read that one. But I will now. 🙂

  8. Cathy | Treatment Talk says:

    Wonderful post on blogging with the rewards, as well as challenges. More people are working at home than ever before and certainly a trend that is going to continue. How great to think outside the box and be creative with your work life. Working at home is beneficial for many reasons.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Cathy,
      I’m so glad you liked the post. Working at home provides so much freedom and flexibility. I just love what I’m doing!

  9. Steve-Personal Success Factors says:

    Barrie, it’s very inspiring to read about your journey. You’ve certainly created a beautiful blog, and I love reading your articles. You’re so right about the doors that blogging can open: I’m so glad I started blogging a couple of years ago. I’m now in the middle of creating my first product, inspired by you and others across the net.

  10. I started a new job nearly 3 months ago after being unemployed for just over a year. I enjoy the job but boy I don’t have a huge amount of mental energy left during the week, especially when I’ve been working extra hard like this week.
    I guess, for me, it’s all about small steps .. I’m not sure if and how I’ll be able to get out of the 9 to 5 world, but the key is to surrender and accept whatever comes up. I’d certainly much rather be working 9 to 5 than in the pits of unemployment!

  11. Hi Barrie,
    This appears to be an older post of yours that has “magically’ found it’s way to my inbox today. Iam glad that it did. Great reading & well done. I will bookmark for further reference.
    be good to yourself
    David