Sunday, September 19, 2010

Things really do work out when you don't settle

A couple of posts ago I talked about my contract, with the hi tech company I've been working for, being terminated. I said that while losing my job used to be one of my worst fears, I wasn't afraid anymore. I was trusting that things would work out for the best. In my case "for the best" means more freedom. And that's exactly what happened.

Before my contract ended I was working 25 hours a week. Over the three years my work week had been reduced from 35 hours to 30 hours and finally had plateaued at 25 hours. Of course my income had decreased as the hours decreased, but I was able to downsize each time, and found that I really enjoyed having more free time. Now 25 hours a week probably doesn't seem like much time to work, for most people. But sitting in front of a computer for 25 hours seems like a long time to me.

The truth is I would like to be retired but I am 1) too young and 2) not a good investor and therefore do not have the means. When the contract ended, I had a vision of a gilded cage with the door open. The bird was standing by the open door wondering if it could fly. Then I was offered an opportunity to interview for a couple of positions that required 40 hours of work per week. I saw the door of the gilded cage slam shut and the bird trapped inside. I chose not to interview for the full-time positions. I wanted to work fewer hours, not more, and I needed to trust that some how that would happen.

And I got what I wanted. Eventually the company agreed to buy three reports from me a month for a nice sum of money. And then another part-time job showed up for 10 hours a week. While I am earning about a third less, I now have a LOT of free time. I'm not expected to be at my computer four days a week. I can produce my reports on my own time, and don't attend many meetings any more. I don't have the stress of filling the 25 hours a week, when there isn't enough work. I couldn't have asked for more freedom.

True I have had to cut down on some extra expenses. But I am enjoying all the possibilities that come with free time: I can work out regularly; I can visit friends; I can write in this blog; I can revisit promoting my book; I can take long trips. The sky is the limit. The bird can come into the gilded cage when it wants, but the door is wide open and it can fly when it feels like it.

I am happier now than I was a few months ago. I just needed to be clear about what I wanted, not settle, and trust that somehow it would happen. That's easier said than done.