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Life After Salary: One Month Without a Paycheck

About a month ago, I celebrated my imminent departure from my former employer with a lunch with my co-workers. They’ve been spending the past few weeks trying to get through the year-end reporting period, and from what I hear, I should be glad I left when I did. I know, however, that I should have left much earlier.

I’d love to say that working fully for myself has been perfect, I’m fully acclimated to my new working environment, and I’ve improved my time management skills. Alas, none of that is true. I spend some of my time working in my loft, which I’ve rearranged to ensure it functions well enough as an office, and some time in the living room. I haven’t given myself a set working schedule, but I’m keeping mostly to the publication schedule I’ve established over the past few years.

So far, January has been the biggest month shizennougyou has seen, so the combination of the time of year and the work I’ve been putting in could be paying off. At this rate, leaving behind an annual salary and benefits behind will pay off in a few months.

I’m attributing a few personal benefits to the fact that I no longer need to focus on my former day job.

  • I no longer get headaches. Perhaps this is because I spend most of my time working at my desk in a comfortable chair that seems to be positioned correctly. This may also be due to getting more and better sleep.
  • I am also taking time out of my day several times a week to get exercise. I am working towards losing weight and completing a 5K, and am following a training class offered by RunKeeper. I’ve already lost five pounds.
  • Possibly also contributing to the weight loss, I’m eating smaller meals. Rather than eating an over-priced lunch with large portions in a corporate cafeteria, I generally make my own lunch. It’s not necessarily healthy food all the time, but the portions are smaller.

If you have the opportunity to make a living for yourself, don’t wait as long as I did. On Yakezie, I wrote about why I waited so long before quitting while I had been earning enough income to live from my projects without my salaried job for several years, and there are legitimate reasons for being cautious. The type of income I’m generating now may not be viable three decades from now, but with more time to focus, I will be able to adapt to changes.

At thirty-four years old, with no dependents other than a cat, I’m still young enough to take some risks, with no one else relying on me to earn a steady income, but older than many of the most successful bloggers and other industry leaders in this space. I wish I could have done this ten years ago.

If there’s a moral to this story, it’s not to wait before becoming the architect of your own life.

Published or updated January 20, 2011.

About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of shizennougyou. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

Great Post! Very motivating to take that leap. I notice that in a lot of life changing leaps, people tend to always wish they made the decision to do it sooner.

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avatar 2 Apex

This is true. But there are also a lot of people who make the life changing leap and the life change is that they get poor and fail. There are actually many more examples of people making the leap too soon and bringing on financial ruin than the other way around.

So my opinion is that it’s always better to look before you leap and ensure that you are leaping safely. I think that is what Flexo did and while he can look back and say he could have leaped sooner, it may not be the case that back then he could be sure it was a safe leap. Things have worked out well but could he know that then? If not then I think waiting was certainly the correct thing to do.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

Congrats on the first month. Your site rocks and I wish you continued success. Rock on!

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avatar 4 Luke Landes

Thanks, NCN!

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avatar 5 tbork84

Congrats on your first month without the paycheck. Don’t be too hard on yourself for waiting to get out, because it is a really tough decision. I second the rock on!

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avatar 6 Anonymous

I and many others are inspired by your decision to control your own destiny! The hardest part is behind you; deciding to leave the safe and journey into the unknown. I third the rock on!

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avatar 7 Anonymous

Although only similar, the decision I made to retire had many of the same emotions tied to it. There is one thing that I did to ease the anxiety: I stuck the proverbial stick in the ground on January 1st 2008 and vowed never to look back in the financial sense. It just didn’t make any difference what successes or failures were behind me and my entire financial system “restarted” on the first day of retirement. Always look forward and imagine what can be – worrying about the past or what might have been is a waste of a good imagination.

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avatar 8 Luke Landes

That’s very true. As someone who has made many personal as well as financial mistakes in my past, I do have to remember to keep looking forward.

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avatar 9 TakeitEZ

Congrats on your first self-employed month! I am sure everything will continue to improve as you continue down this path. I wish you the best!

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avatar 10 Anonymous

Are you on the same publishing schedule? It seems like over the past 2 or 3 weeks your posts have trippled?

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avatar 11 Luke Landes

I wouldn’t say tripled. I’ve moved from one or two published per day to two or three a day.

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avatar 12 Anonymous

Congrats on the successes. :)

If you happen to be looking for a training program for the running, I’d suggest the “Couch to 5k.” My wife and I used it at the beginning of last year, and it was great. Turned me into a runner for the first time ever.

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avatar 13 Anonymous

Edit: Nevermind. :) I now see you’re using a training program from runkeeper. I had thought that was just an app for tracking.

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avatar 14 Luke Landes

It’s both — RunKeeper can track your progress without following a program, but for those who do want to follow a program, there are many to choose from. The program I’m going with is very similar to Couch to 5K, and it’s been fun communicating with others who started the program at the same time I did; we follow each others’ progress and motivate each other. I also enjoying looking at others’ maps — RunKeeper has a GPS component linked to Google Maps that can share your path (if you choose to share it). My class has participants from all over the world.

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avatar 15 Anonymous

Ah, neato. :)

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avatar 16 gotr31

Congratulations on being able to make such positive changes in your life! I wish you much success in your website! I really enjoy your posts!

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avatar 17 Luke Landes

Thanks, I appreciate that!

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avatar 18 Anonymous

Congratulations! Remember this a journey, it takes a while to create a new routine and that will change too. Good luck.

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avatar 19 4hendricks

Good for you! I don’t work for myself, but took a job with less hours, and I make my own schedule – pay is better, stress level better, kids and dog can come to work with me, or I can work at home if I want (I don’t do so well with that). Best luck

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avatar 20 Sarah

Congratulations on getting to where you are now! I would love to be able to work for myself, but I have a long way to go before I reach that point.

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avatar 21 MR

What an exciting time! Ah the beauty of the experience is recorded in this blog!

It’s great to hear that the transition is happening very smoothly! Congratulations!

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avatar 22 Anonymous

“Older than many of the most successful bloggers”. I don’t know about that. I’d consider you a successful blogger having been at it for a long time and now being bale to do what you want to do instead of what you have to do.

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avatar 23 tigernicole86

Congrats on the leap having worked for you! I just wanted to let you know that what you’re doing is interesting and sometimes, dangit. You just have to do what’s best for you! Mazel tov!

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avatar 24 Anonymous

New to your site, but my congratulations on your solid move forward. Don’t you just love that comfy chair?! Granny Reta

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avatar 25 faithfueledbennetts

Love this bit! No guts no glory right? Thank you for being an encouragement to those of us who have the idea but not the motion. Hopefully we will get there and see some of the similar success you have.

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avatar 26 Anonymous

You are the man, and I am envious!

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avatar 27 skylog

great post flexo! keep up the great work and i am sure the site will continue to grow and evolve in exactly the manner that you desire. just remember, not only was this move great for you personally, but also for all the people out there that you help daily.

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avatar 28 eric

Don’t be too down about not doing this earlier. It’s pretty awesome that you were finally able to pull the trigger. Gives the rest of us some inspiration :)

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avatar 29 Anonymous

Congrats that you had finally got out of the rate race. Oftentimes, people are afraid to take the risk of not having that monthly paycheck even though they know for a fact that their small business can get them by. Some people also are afraid to lose that “precious title” that comes with the position the company had given them. But the real question is are they happy to have that day job?

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avatar 30 Anonymous

That’s awesome you’re getting more sleep and more exercise! Those are the two things I’m probably missing most in my life right now – so I’m jealous :)

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avatar 31 Anonymous

Congrats Flexo – just learned you have shifted gears and left your day job. Congratulations and best of luck with your transition.

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avatar 32 Anonymous

Congrats on making the leap to full time blogger. It’s something I’m starting to consider more and more over time – especially as my blog income creeps ever closer to eclipsing my day job income. If I was a single guy I probably would have already, but seeing as I’ve got a wife and child to provide for makes the decision all that much tougher. Hopefully I’ll double my blog income in the coming year and have no problems dumping the day job!

Congrats again on making the jump, and on making other positive changes – losing weight!

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avatar 33 Luke Landes

Thanks, Peter! I’m lucky that my only dependent is my cat. It does make my life more flexible — but I haven’t really used that flexibility to its fullest.

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avatar 34 20andengaged

I think this is a great opportunity for me to take the time and focus on building my online business as well. I’m definitely afraid of failing but what’s the worst that can happen?

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avatar 35 Bobka

Congratulations on making the leap. You will no doubt succeed and be happier for having done it. Like you, when I left my salaried job seven years ago, I lost weight and took up running. The weight stayed off, but the running had to stop after developing plantar fasciitis from wearing the wrong shoes. You don’t want that! So be sure you have the correct shoes for running. Good luck!

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avatar 36 Luke Landes

Last year, I had a specialty store for runners analyze my gait and recommend the right running shoes for me and my feet. There was an immediate improvement, and that was at a time I wasn’t doing much running at all. The shoes weren’t cheap, though.

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