But of course I couldn’t. I could just go to Big Client no. 1 and take up the reins again after my leave due to the birth of Jay. And then go catch up with other minor clients and find new clients.
And what a real bug of a day. While yesterday wasn’t so bad as I feared, today gave me reminders all across the board about why Big Client is a real challenge to work with.
Chaotic in his planning, or lack thereof. Quick to blame others. Slow to take responsibility for own mistakes. Those are some of the headlines and I really tire quickly, so I won’t give you the rest.
But this is a welcome opportunity to write more in the series about how to upgrade my income to come from more sources, which are more joyful and meaningful to me, than to do web-design, web-mastery, web-marketing on the CV but more often than not get hired and then clean up after other people’s bad choices (bad choices of software, servers, workflow, marketing ‘strategy’ and so on).
I’m tired of cleaning up. I have enough to clean up in my own life and I’m not getting any younger.
So let me take that bull by the horns again: How to get more joyful income, from this point in time – at the ripe old age of 43, with everything that is stacked against me (little time/energy, small network, age, exhaustion) and with everything that could work for me (broad experience, flexibility in thinking, broad skill-set, quick to adopt new technology, creative in so many ways, and – not unimportant – cheap to employ … still).
I promised myself to tackle this exploration as a university project, like in the days of old when I studied – albeit with long breaks – (1997-2007). That way it feels more fun for me to do, despite the seriousness of the inquiry. I like building things, exploring, investigating, analyzing and structuring.
A good project, at least at my university, was an investigation into the causes and effects shaping some part of our social reality (I’m a social science graduate). We used theories to hypothesize how that reality worked and the collected data to test the theory. That’s the extremely simple version, but it will do for now.
Now, every project we did every semester had a problem definition. That was the phrase, so to speak, that guided the rest of the inquiry.
Needless to say, if your problem definition was imprecise, so would your answers be.
Needless to say, your answers could vary in both substance and strength depending on the same qualities in your problem definition.
Mr. Personal Development, Steve Pavlina, has written somewhere that especially your goals, but also your affirmations and life purpose statements, need to be as precise as possible. It was the same we were constantly told at university, only with regard to scientific inquiry.
In short: fuzzy inquiries give fuzzy answers, fuzzy goals lead to fuzzy achievements.
Problem definitions, then, (and goals or life purpose statements) are a lot like books or movies – they are never quite finished. You just have to let them go at some point and get on with it. So you start of with the best you can do and then you polish them, make them ever better – and in this case, more precise.
So in the case of me, I’ll start of here with a problem definition, as best I can do, and then get on with trying answer whatever questions that go along with it. Then go back at some point and refine as I get wiser.
How to get an average monthly income of at least 8.000 USD/month from a source I am passionate about creating and maintaining and which is the pinnacle of value I can give to help others lead happier lives?
I have deliberately set my income goals a little bold, to me – because I really feel I need to be bold here. I wrote about this back in December. I’ve been keeping myself back for far too long, for far too many bad reasons, in setting higher income goals, and I’m not helping one extra person in the world by earning less than I am capable of. So there.
Now, the above problem definition should be explained a bit more: In my country – in Scandinavia – living expenses are high. So my current income, from my webdesign business, talks and teaching, fluctuates around 2-4000 USD/month which at the current exchange rate is far too little to service my student loan payments and credit card debit, pay food/house share, pay share for our child, and everything else. So setting the goal at twice that should leave a healthy margin, also for saving or investing, if I can manage my finances better, or at least not worse, than I do now.
That was the problem definition. For now.
Along with this beast you usually had a number of minor research questions to help you ‘solve’ the problem in the problem definition. On top of my head I can think of the following research questions for this case:
What sources if income (value) am I most passionate about creating and maintaining?
Which of these sources am I the most skilled in creating?
What is it that makes other people the most happy that I am best capable of giving?
Relevant questions in the problem definition, which are left out above, but which do spring to mind based on my experience:
What am I willing to invest to achieve my goal – in time, energy and money?
What is the deadline for me to achieve this goal, and how will I react if the deadline has not been reached?
Why have I not created any true passive income so far? What have been the blocks and how can I overcome them this time, in this case?
Many questions and I must admit that I feel tired by asking them again, in a new form. Because it is no secret I have asked them before.
I am 43 and I have been asking these questions on and off for at least 10 years, depending on how you count.
I feel tired and worn, and perhaps it’s not just sleep-deprivation due to Jay. Perhaps it is age. Age and disillusionment.
It is like every time I try to grapple with this problem something in me just grinds to a halt. Either I feel tired and exhausted – and as if this question has become glue in my mind.
Or I feel guilty for trying to earn more money than somebody in Somalia has (!)
Or I feel disillusioned, on the verge of giving up – or already feeling like giving up.
Or as if it doesn’t matter, because once I crack this, life will throw something even heavier at me as it is prone to do and eventually will – death in the family, illness, Donald Trump bombing Latvia, etc.
In short, there is a deeper level to this exploration which may need to be addressed before it can even start, and that is energy.
Or rather: hope.
I need to feel some hope for this, which then will give me energy and stop all the self-sabotage that seem to have grown like weeds in my mind.
But where should this come from – this energy? Finding a new vision of what I want to create? Deconstructing everything in the problem definition and finding something new I have to do (or don’t have to do?). Or … ?
These are a lot of questions on a day where I haven’t slept well and feel worn and not particularly uplifted. But I will have to answer them, and so for now I can only give myself one thing that makes me feel a little more energetic: Commitment.
I will answer these questions.
Maybe I will find out I don’t need to fight this fight anymore, or fight it differently, but one thing I must not do is to stall and give up.
I may not get what I want in terms of money, but I will get answers. I have to. I can’t just let all those rivers carry me away anymore – to a destination I don’t decide.
I decide one thing and that is that I WILL have answers. For my sake. For my family’s sake.
I will fight for myself and my happiness. I will.
And at the very least I will get knowledge.
And in that decision alone, lies hope.