Category Archives: Lifestyle
Escape Nine to Five is an exploration of the lifestyle business or career, we look at ways of making a living that don’t involve slugging your guts at a nine to five in an office cubicle. The first thing that springs to mind for a lot of people when a”Lifestyle Business” is a blog – after all, there are a load of people who make good money selling ad space on their blogs and websites, and blogs have even changed hands for millions of pounds in the past.
I am not going to question whether blogging is a viable business, I’ll save us both some time and say that yes, you can make money from a blog, for those of you who are still skeptical, a quick peek on Flippa.com will show you the value of certain websites as well as what they’re earning. What I plan to talk about is whether blogging is worth your time and effort.
Any successful blogger will tell you that in the vast majority of cases, it takes a long time, and a lot of hard work, to get your blog to the point where it is making any sort of meaningful profit, if you’re looking for instant cash you should probably pursue another route. The best blogs have hundreds of articles, a big social following and are well respected by google, meaning lots of free search engine traffic. All of these aspects take time to build up, and you will spend a lot of time feeling like you’re working for pennies an hour. You need patience, and to keep going when it feels like you’re getting nowhere. Not easy.
If all of that hasn’t put you off too much, you should also know that blogging is a great way to earn your living if you can pull it off, and yes, it is worth it. There are ways you can make the long haul night quite so long, and optimise your blog to make profits.
- Make your blog all about one subject. Calling it yourname.com and writing about anything is all very well, but you won’t attract a specific audience.
- Have something to sell. Someone else’s product, your own product, or of course your advertising space (least profitably)
- Utilize affiliate links, and write articles that tie into affiliate topics.
- Guest post on other authority blogs to gain traffic, links and exposure.
- Promote a service such as consulting or something you do locally.
Overall, I’d say that blogging is more “worth it” for some people than others, and if you already have a product or service to promote and sell you’re off to a good start. Blogging is a powerful tool to promote something you are already doing, but blogging for the sake of it is going to be more tough. There are many people who do manage to start without a product and make their blog their living. Bear in mind at all times that if you want to make money from your blog, directly or indirectly, you have to be a salesperson of some description, if you can’t find a way to do this, you’re going to struggle to succeed.
Lots of people in the world consider themselves lazy, in fact lots of people are lazy at some time in their life, but it certainly isn’t terminal and getting to the bottom of your laziness is the first step to overcoming it. If you’ve found this article via a search engine, you can consider that a very good sign, if you’re at least looking for answers and wanting to overcome your current funk, you’ve started to move in the right direction.
As with all matters of the mind and soul, there are often more deep-lying issues at the heart of the problems we encounter. Laziness can be caused by all manner of things, and knowing what some of them are give us the opportunity to start to tackle them.
Laziness is a lack of motivation. A lack of motivation is commonly caused by depression. The two are not to be mistaken for one another as they often are. Feeling down and depressed often makes us want to avoid a lot of aspects of life. Depressive traits make day to day life feel trivial and we often cling to the comforts of our bed or avoid leaving the house or doing anything meaningful due to the situation we find ourselves in. Depression is a serious issue, and there is no sure fire cure. The irony is that activity can often help us to get away from these kind of feelings, but rebuilding happiness to a state where we feel ready to face the world can seem impossibly hard. If you feel like you are depressed, seek medical help to get you out of your situation.
Too High Expectations of Yourself
A number of people who consider themselves lazy probably aren’t lazy at all. Sometimes feelings of laziness are just our bodies way of telling you to slow down and get some rest. If you have worked hard for days and days and on your days off feel like doing nothing, it could just be that you are extremely tired and need to do nothing, both mentally and physically, to recharge your batteries. Think objectively about your situation, we all need rest days, the only issues arise when most of your days are dedicated to rest and lethargy.
You Don’t Feel Passionate About Life
Laziness can come from a lack of passion, you might not have any fulfillment in life, no goals to meet and no lifetime achievement to work towards. Not having this ultimate vision of the future to drive you forward can leave you feeling like there is no point in doing anything constructive. If you don’t enjoy your job, you might spend 40 hours a week doing something you hate, your main focus in life not being a source of fulfillment for you will of course grind you down after a time and leave you feeling unhappy and demotivated. A career change or rethink of life ambitions might give you that spark to get yourself going.
Emotional problems spring from a variety of places and laziness can be rooted in a number of different issues. If you are concerned about your mental health and other serious parts of your life, seek help from a professional as soon as possible.
If you’re a regular reader of our blog here at Escape Nine to Five, you’ll know that a lot of what we cover revolves around careers, and specifically dissatisfaction within careers. So many people are staying put in jobs they don’t enjoy for all the wrong reasons, and though my chosen path was to try and run a business and escape the rat race altogether, for some people a career change (whether employed or self-employed) is a great way of getting away from a job they don’t want or enjoy.
Colonel Sanders was 65 when he started KFC, and sold his business (which he invested very little money in starting) just ten years later for $2 million. The company now is of course worth a lot more but the Colonel did well out of his investment and is surely the ultimate proof that it is never too late to make something big happen. Though not a big career change Sanders proved that you could go in a different direction and still be a success even later in life, it is all about drive and passion.
Of course, writing this I do not have the luxury of knowing your circumstances, your age, financial commitments, current career and future plans for a career, but I do assume that you are not thinking too strongly about retirement just yet and that your proposed new career is one you would care a lot about, otherwise why would you be changing?
It is easy to forget just how long we spend working. Here in the UK it is not unusual to work into your 70′s, so if you’re in your 40′s and wondering if it is too late for a career change, think again! You could have 30 more years working, would you deprive yourself of the change you desire for a whole 30 years? I have seen people as young as 30 wondering if they are too old for a career change, a ridiculous idea when you consider they may be only 7 years into a 40 0r 50 year career. You might have to take a step backwards in your earnings but hopefully you can prove that your skills learned elsewhere can relate to your new job.
Depending on your ambitions you may well need to retrain to work your new job, and some sacrifice could well be in order. If you absolutely have to get a new qualification though, options are available, consider home learning, evening classes or saving money for a career break. It can be expensive and sacrifice earning potential, but it will probably be more than worth it in the long run.
In summary, we are all about following your passions here on Escape Nine to Five. There is always a way, and age should not be an obstacle. Don’t let your fears stand in your way, it might be hard work but you can make it happen.
During the times when we are supposed to wind down and relax, the issue of work life balance can often come to the forefront. It can be really difficult for the hard worker to get the balance between work and play right, but it is so important for your health and productivity to get your ration of working and “life” (time to chill out, relax and do exactly what you want) correctly tuned.
The reason I am writing this guide for the self-employed as opposed to the employed is because there is a distinct difference between the two. If you are a salary or hourly rate payed employer with a boss who sets your hours for you then leaving work behind at the office can be pretty easy, you learn to sign off at 5 and switch off until 9 the following morning – easier for some than others but it is an important skill to teach yourself. We self-employed on the other hand have dreamed of a life without a boss and set hours, which is great, but can be a double edged sword. For hard workers, it can be tough to switch off from a business or income you have created, knowing that you could be chipping away at tasks or working towards your goals.
Here are my tips for getting the right work life balance for the self employed:
- Set yourself hours of work. I know it might be what you wanted to avoid, but having set hours is actually very helpful, and even by structuring your days you can still be flexible and make sure you work when it is convenient for you. This way you have work time and down-time, and it will be easier to differentiate.
- Set a place of work. Another way to differentiate, when you’re at your desk, you’re working, when you’re not, you’re not! This works really well for a lot of self employed people I know, and some even have different laptops for work and play. No murky grey areas.
- Tell your clients when you work. It is fair to have time off, and days off, and not to have to be at the beckon call of your clients 24/7. If your phone goes off at 5, make sure they know that, and that post 5 o clock is your time.
- Value your free time. This is a hard thing to come to terms with, but if you see your free time as wasted then you’ll never value it enough to insist on having it! You need to rejuvenate and you need to rest sometimes, burnout is a sure fire route for failure, avoid it at all costs by making sure you know that your mind and body need holidays. Time that you enjoy wasting was not wasted.
Here on Escape Nine to Five we’re all about getting out of the rat race, being the boss of our own time, traveling and being the masters of our own destiny. If you’re interested in all or some of those things you probably know who Tim Ferriss is and what he has done for the world of the solopreneur and “New Rich” (a term that Tim himself coined). Many of his quotes have been greatly inspirational to me and I hope that by sharing some of my favorites I’ll do my bit to help out your endeavors.
Here are the best of Tim Ferriss Quotes from his books, interviews and speeches.
From the Four Hour Work Week:
“It’s amazing how someone’s IQ seems to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them… People are smarter than you think. Give them a chance to prove themselves.”
“The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is… boredom. Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase.”
“True freedom is much more than having enough income and time to do what you want. It is quite possible – actually the rule rather than the exception – to have financial and time freedom but still be caught in the throes of the rat race. One cannot be free from the stresses of a speed-and size-obsessed culture until you are free from the materialistic addictions, time-famine mind-set, and comparative impulses that created it in the first place.”
“For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.”
“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”
“I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”
“Pacifists become militants.
Freedom fighters become tyrants.
Blessings become curses.
Help becomes hindrance.
More becomes less.”
“By using money as the scapegoat and work as our all-consuming routine, we are able to conveniently disallow ourselves to do otherwise: ‘John, I’d love to talk about the gaping void I feel in my life, the hopelessness that hits me like a punch in the eye every time I start my computer in the morning, but I have so much work to do! I’ve got at least three hours of unimportant email to reply to before calling prospects who said ‘no’ yesterday. Gotta run!”
“The commonsense rules of the “real world” are a fragile collection of socially reinforced illusions.”
“I have quit 3 jobs and been fired from all the rest. Getting fired, despite sometimes coming as a surprise and leaving you scrambling to recover, is often a godsend. Most people aren’t lucky enough to get fired and die a slow spiritual death over 30-40 years of tolerating the mediocre.”
For the full low down on Tim’s amazing entrepreneurial career and outlook on life, check out his books on Amazon:
Hi guys, something a bit different for today’s post. Today I’m going to talk about anger. Something I seem to be learning more about every day at the moment. We all have our share of problems, and we all have things that make us angry in life (I don’t care how much of a saint you are, anger is a basic human reaction and nobody is going to judge you for feeling it). Whether it’s the ex girlfriend parading her new man around, the boss who hates you, or just the guy who cut you up on the highway, anger is a part of life. Today I’m going to share my thoughts on anger as a tool for motivation.
Depending on your state of mind, you may well draw an awful lot of motivation from the circumstances that leave you riled. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Well, based on my reading (and my opinion, too), I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t really either, but how did I make that decision?
Anger gives us energy. It’s natural. Put an angry man in front of a punch bag, and a placid man in front of a punchbag (of similar strength, not like Hulk Hogan vs The Monopoly Man) and it doesn’t take a genius to work out who is going to punch the hardest. But it isn’t just physical motivation. Keeping the things that make us most angry at the forefront of our mind fills us with all sorts of emotions, and they can stay with us for days, weeks, months and even years. Often, the prevailing feeling is injustice and a desire to level the playing field, or a determination to improve our situation, show somebody what we can do or just get even.
It is because of the ‘revenge’ aspect that anger can be a really dangerous emotion, which is also part of the reason that it isn’t necessarily the ‘best’ motivation. But it undeniably does fuel motivation. And that’s when it can really help. People lose huge amounts of weight because they’re angry with their situation. Make fortunes to prove people wrong, build empires to spite and achieve amazing things because of the anger they feel. Whatever your moral outlook on how this might affect people, how ‘shallow’ it may feel achieving for these reasons (probably the wrong reasons in most people’s eyes), you can’t deny but the rage people feel is fuel to the fire.
In fact, feeling angry all the time can eventually make you snap, and the anger will quickly become unhappiness or even severe depression if you have no way of combating or dealing with it. It is not a pleasant thing for you, or for people around you, and if your state of mind becomes a problem, professional health should be sought.
So Anger is neither good, nor bad motivation in it’s purest form. It isn’t about the anger itself, it is about what you do with it, whether you channel it to help you to deal with situations or let it consume you and compromise your happiness. The power of anger is not in question, but it is what you do with it that’s important.
You may already know that here on Escape Nine to Five we’re all about getting out of the rat race, and without any of the BS methods bandied around the internet. Loads of people are happy to offer you some magic pill rags-to-riches method that they’ll promise you will make you a success on the internet, and that you’ll have so much money sent to you you wont know what to do with it for 12 minutes work a day. In case you can’t already tell, they’re lying. However, there are a good chunk of people who do make a good living out of things they are passionate about online, and some make an excellent living, or use their online pursuits as a launchpad for bigger and better things.
I can’t go into detail of every method in this post, but there’s a lot of information here on Escape 9-5 already on some of them, and I’ll be covering the rest of them in the future. I’ve done my research, and I’ve at least dabbled in most of these methods, so I’m not just regurgitating other people’s info. Here are some ways you can make a living out of your passion.
- Run a blog. This is the method a lot of people opt for, and is also one that a lot of people bail out on before turning it into a success. Blogging is a viable way to earn a living, and though it is hard, and can take over a year to build up the necessary following to make any real money, it can be very rewarding once you do. The beauty of a blog is that it can be about whatever you want, whether your passion is golf or knitting, sailing or bargain hunting. Of course some subjects will have more potential readers than others, some will be worth more than others in advertising revenue (that’s how these sites usually make their money by the way) and some will have more existing competition than others. It can take a while to explore the ins and outs of blogging, but it is a great way to make a location independent income.
- Self publishing. More and more people are turning to the world of self publishing as it continues to become increasingly accessible. As long as people share your passions, with a lot of hard work you can probably find subject matter enough to write about. If you provide value, your eBooks or even physical books can make you a nice sum of money. A golf fan might write “the history of golf”, a semi professional photographer might write “photography for beginners” and so on and so forth. It isn’t easy to make a lot of sales, but it can be done.
- Create a course. You’ll probably have some knowledge of your passion, and people will probably pay you to teach them! Make sure you offer a lot of value in your course, with PDFs, videos, audio, whatever it takes to get the message across, and then sell it on to make money. Love guitar? Make a guitar course. Love cooking Indian food? Teach people to cook indian food…
- Create and sell something. This is hard to generalize as everybody has different passions and some are easier to turn into something physical than others. Love photography? Create some beautiful prints to sell online. Love fashion? Design and sell some T Shirts or other clothing. With a little creative thinking you can turn your passion into something to sell.
- Stock. I’ve talked about this before, and it is slightly different from the above. If you love music, you can create stock music tracks or jingles, love video? Sell stock video footage. Love design? Sell graphics. By latching onto existing stock sites you can make sales quicker than the other methods, and a big stock library can make you a handsome living.
Depending on your passion, there may well be a lot more ways you can turn it into cash to keep you going. Consulting, selling services, freelancing and other methods may well be an option if it suits your niche. The above is just a guideline, and a very flexible one which will suit many people’s needs. The one thing these all have in common is that they’re not easy, and making a living out of your passions online definitely takes a lot of hard work, but it can be done.
Location Independence is an amazing luxury bestowed upon us in the 21st century. The art of being able to live and work anywhere in the world is a dream for so many people, and some of the lucky ones are making it happen.
Regular readers will know that escape nine to five is all about my journey to, well, escape the nine to five. Get out of dead end jobs and work towards businesses and careers that allow me to work in my own time, and my own space, whichever space I choose, be it here at my home in miserable England, or away on my travels. As you may have seen from my last post, I’ve been on some of said travels recently, Malaysia to be specific, but I’m not your boring auntie with a slideshow of holiday snaps. I’m merely inspired to write a post about the dream of working independently from home or a location of choice, and the ways we can mould our lives.
One of the main influences behind my ambition to work remotely and achieve location independence was reading Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week. I mention this book a lot, and ironically, in spite of being a must read, isn’t one of the main books that has helped me on my journey, but its ideas run alongside what we’re trying to do here on E9-5, and the book is a must read for those of you who are looking to work anywhere. The key themes Ferriss talks about are automation, outsourcing and remote work, and when I first read the book it really gave me belief that this is achievable. I dont care about the amount of hours I work, as the title may suggest, but I do want to travel around with my work, and outsource as many menial tasks as I possibly can. Tim is something of a guru when it comes to this.
So what are the options for those of us who dream of this kind of lifestyle? The four hour work week pretty much breaks it down into two options, The first is that you prove that you can do your job from home, then away from home, then you make your boss give you freedom to work anywhere providing you get your jobs done. The second is that you start your own business, and as much as possible you automate the process of money coming into your bank account. Sounds simple, right?
Of course, it isn’t easy to get to this stage, but there are a lot of options for those of us who choose the business route out of the nine to five grind, and online business is growing all the time. Some careers and methods of making your living online?
- Online Marketing
- Flipping (buying and selling) websites
- Virtual Assisting
- Stock Photography
- Data Entry
- Subscription Websites
- Web Design
There are many more, but you get the point, most of these weren’t career choices (or at least careers you could do remotely) as recently as a few years back, but they certainly are now, and these are just some of the more obvious options and well trodden paths. Why not take a job as a virtual assistant while building a hot dotcom or starting an online shop? You dont need an office to do business, and in a world of skype and high speed internet our options are limitless.
The real inspiration for this post was my latest trip. I realised whilst in Malaysia that often, by choosing to make your living in this manner can make your life a hell of a lot easier. The benefits of time, being your own boss and working on a beach sipping a cocktail are obvious, but one of the less obvious benefits is the fact that in a lot of the countries you can move to (certainly if you’re from the US, Europe or UK) living will be an awful lot cheaper anyway. In Malaysia, I could survive on about 30-40% of a job income here. To replace the income of a full time job is difficult, but replacing 40% of it seems somewhat more attainable, and can still give you the lifestyle you desire. Once you bring your wages up to Western standards whilst working remotely, you can head to the cheaper parts of the world and live like a king. Your money can be worth however much you choose when your work follows you wherever you go.
Today, I’m in the amazingly fortunate position of being blogging from the beautiful Batu Ferringhi in Penang Malaysia (I am going somewhere with this, not just boasting). Batu Ferringhi (I’ll call it BF for short) is famous for its night market, where street vendors line the seafront roads selling their wares, from souvenirs to fake bags. Tonight, after negotiating with a really forceful salesman (I use the term salesman very loosely) I decided I didn’t want to buy the bag we had been negotiating over. Suffice to say he wasn’t impressed, and I was met by some really nasty insults (Boo hoo, sob story over).
The episode got me thinking about hard sell tactics and soft sell tactics. This guy was clearly a hard seller, and his only hope in the end of getting me to buy his item was simply to intimidate me. As I walked past his stall, just like around 60-70% of BF traders, he tried desperately to get me to look at what he was trying to sell me, and once something took my fancy he wasn’t letting me go without a fight. Having moved over 60% on the initial price he was trying to sell to me for (a flaky sales technique at best) he then assumed the sale had been made before I had parted with my cash, and was practically taking my money out of my pocket. If anything it put me off more, and no, I didn’t lead him on or make him think I was trying to buy it, I just wanted more information.
The flip side of the coin is the rare street trader whose tactics don’t wreak of desperation, and I have been lucky enough to come across a couple. Purely by comparison, these guys look like saints, and who wouldn’t want to part with an honest and quieter salesperson than a pushy and confrontational conman? Needless to say the good guys have been the ones who receive my time and ultimately my money.
This is all pretty obvious stuff, but I figure there’s much more of a science to the whole thing. The conman obviously cant have been dumb enough to think that he was doing the right thing by his customers, and I’m guessing he just sees me as a piece of sales fodder who will be gone again in a few weeks and he can try and work his “magic” on the next tourist. Intimidation was his only tactic, and by trying to make out that I was in the wrong, he wanted to either frighten or to guilt trip me into buying. The truth is that even after he had begun on a pushy footing, I may have still parted with my cash if the offer and product were good enough, but the more pushy and irate he got, the less I wanted it and the more I wanted to get out of there. He looked desperate, like the kid at school who wont stop begging a girl to notice him and hold hands in the playground, he was anything but an attractive prospect, but again, as with relationships, the guys who were open to your custom, so to speak (sorry, bad analogy), but didn’t have desperation written through them like a stick of Brighton rock, were a more attractive prospect.
A similar thing goes on with pricing too I’m sure. I’m no retail magnate, but I’m pretty sure that when my girlfriend sees a $1,000 bag, she wants it more than the marked down $20 bargain basement bag. The value to produce might be the same, the quality might be the same, they might even look identical, but the fact that it isn’t screaming “buy me” from the depths of the sale section of a shop make it seem eternally more stylish and desirable.
The next time you have to price a product up for sale and try and physically shift it, whether in person or online, make sure you don’t use any underhand tactics, be the friendly but happy go lucky salesman or the $1,000 bag that doesn’t care if it’s being bought or staying on the shelves, even if inside you are desperate to make a sale, don’t let your customers see this weakness, and for goodness sake don’t scare them away.
It’s nine o’clock again, and you’ve just clocked in. You realise that you’re about to face another 9 hours (if you’re lucky) in this building…again. Is this what it is all about? Was this what I was born for? If your job isn’t giving you fulfilment anymore, or you simply don’t have the motivation for it, there is no quick fix I’m afraid. I’ve been in this position before, and it didn’t take long for me to realise that I needed a break from work. You’ve probably thought about this, and if you’ve come to this article through Google then you’ve definitely thought about it, but perhaps you think it’s out of reach? Not true. Career breaks - or just breaks in general- are completely normal and not just reserved for the rich, famous and careless.
My first tip is to be frugal and get some savings behind you. Not going to happen overnight is it? If you’re lucky enough to be a blogger or a mobile entrepreneur, your income probably needs you to be tied to one place, which is fine, but can prove really tough for taking a break. If you can get a few G’s in the bank you’ll be well on your way to a break, whether you’re aiming to get away or whether you’re just in need of some time away from work.
Yeah, it’s an obstacle, and not a small one either. The dream scenario is what I’ve mentioned above, don’t be tied to one place and run a business where you can be anywhere. That’s my goal, and though it doesn’t mean I wont ever need to sit back and take a break for a week or two, it definitely means that it is more attainable, and hey, I can go and chill down in Asia for a few days and live like a king for a few dollars (or pounds as is the case with us UK Bloggers). I’m not daft enough to think that we can all suddenly be mobile, and for those of us that cant, there are still ways to escape the rat race if only for a while. Career breaks are increasingly popular, and if you’re lucky enough to have an understanding employer, they might not be adverse to you taking a month or two away from your post in order to make a once in a lifetime trip or just to explore other avenues of your life that your job can make it easy to forget you even have.
Your Mental Health
An increasingly common reason for needing time away from work is not being in the right headspace. Depression in the workplace is rife in the 21st century with an increasing number of people needing to take time off to get their heads together. Jobs can be stressful, or they can be monotonous and soul destroying and sometimes our brains just aren’t in the best place to cope with it. I’m not saying call your boss and tell him you’re depressed so need time off, but if you’re feeling down and the motivation to go to your job is lessening because of your headspace, you should go to a doctors and see if he diagnoses your feelings as something more sinister than just a minor case of the blues.
How Badly Do You Want It?
Like many things in life, unless you really want a break it may well simply become a pipe dream. Sacrifice could well be involved, and to take a long term break to explore the world or a different hobby or career you may have to quit your job, you may have to cut the bills down and even move to a smaller place (or back in with the parents). If it really is in line with your dreams to treck across China or to take a year to start a business or work on your art, you will find a way to make it happen, through saving or through cutting costs.
Short Term Breaks
They’re important, you know! The above might be pretty irrelevant to you if you’re literally just in need of a week to recharge your batteries, but make sure that you do actually take a break when the opportunity to take a week’s holiday or a long weekend arises. If you stay at home it can be really easy to get caught up doing the chores or replying to emails. Even if you just go and stay with a friend, make sure you don’t get sucked into the daily grind and you take the time to do the things your brain so desires without giving it any extra stress. It will thank you when you take it back to the office.