Unfortunately, many of you reading this article, like me, are tied to a desk, a shop, maybe a burger stand. We all have our stories of why we must go to work and why we are unable to pursue our dreams and become self-employed. For some of you, it might be thousands of dollars in credit-card debt. For others, it might be College debt; the education you had to have has landed you forty thousand in the hole and working two jobs to pay all the bills. You know you want more out of this life. You know you want to be free from the job trap; free from punching a clock and free to work in the yard when you want to. Free to get out of bed when you want to, free to take home all of the profits for yourself and not make someone else rich. For many, this dream seems to be just that: a dream. The truth is, however, if you want to be self-employed, you can obtain it! It may be hard work; it may take a few years and sticking to a well thought-out plan, but it can be obtained.
As I write this article, I am about half-way there myself. I have always wanted to be a freelance writer; a full-time writer to me is the cat’s meow. Everyone around me has told me over and over that I could not make a decent living being a writer. However, upon doing some research, I have discovered that I can earn my keep doing something I enjoy, and that other people are doing it as well.
From what I can see, there are two types of writers out there: the ones who are writing machines and therefore make a lot of money and those who play a lot, write a little, and scrape by. I want to be somewhere in the middle. For many people, the biggest problem is finding the time to achieve their goals when they have to work full-time.
I say, don’t quit your job to chase your dreams. Instead, work a few hours each evening on your goals. I write every evening for a few hours, publishing as many articles as I physically can. I am by no means getting rich, but the fact is I am almost ready to jump ship and quit my day job.
I am not making what I currently make at my day job by writing at night, but I am planning ahead so I will not need a lot of money to live comfortably once I leave my job. Being self-employed and happy does not require a lot of money. If you are reading this, chances are you are someone who thinks a little differently about life and also enjoys the thought of self-sufficiency, so you are one step ahead of most people. To be self-employed, you need time and a willingness to go without for now for a big payoff later. In order to be self-employed and chase your dreams, you need to eliminate as much of your debt as possible and be as creative as possible at doing so.
Here is an example of someone who is self-employed and loving it. At the same time, he lives like a king on a small amount of money. Thomas J. Elpel from Montana runs a green publishing business, a store, and a business where he brings people into the wilderness and teaches them how to live off the land. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? Is Thomas rich so he can live the life of leisure or is he a famous author making millions from his books? The answer is neither. He lives cheap.
Over a decade ago, Thomas had a dream of never having a “real job” as many of us put it. In fact, Thomas wasn’t even out of high school when he decided to build a house debt-free. Not just any house either; one made of log and stone. Thomas married his high school sweetie and they began to build their dream home. It took a number of years to complete the house, but when they were done they were debt free.
In the years leading up to the completion of their house, Thomas and his wife had an average combined income of ten to twelve thousand dollars! How did they do it you ask? Besides living in a tent and eating beans for a few years, they got as much of the material from the land they bought as well as from any dumpster they could find. Because they built the house themselves and got the majority of their materials for free or almost free, they built their beautiful home for about twenty thousand dollars.
To look at it, you would think it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. My point here is because they were able to build debt-free, they have very little money going out each month. Therefore, they need very little coming in and it doesn’t take much for them to continue their self-employment.
On their website, Thomas mentions that in 1999 they made around twelve thousand dollars and they felt rich. Why? They can spend as much time as they want to outside in the woods with their kids floating on a river whenever they want to. Now that is freedom! Thomas and his wife had a plan. They stuck to it and now reap the benefits from it. If you go to his website, you will see the books he has for sale to help people out by detailing many success stories of people who escaped the job trap by living simply and eliminating their debt.
I am in the process of building a log home and I am trying to do it debt-free. It will probably take me the next three or four years to complete the home, but when I am done, it should be paid for. By that time, I will be writing full time. My log builder also preaches debt-free building and helps people set up a five-year plan to achieve that goal. Again he preaches that you need time, not lots of money to achieve your dreams and be successful.
As I am finishing this article, I am getting ready to eat my peanut-butter sandwich. I eat one every day for lunch. I have figured out that they cost less than a $.25 each. I get sick of them about every other week, but when that happens, I think about my log home on ten acres, my chickens crowing in the background and getting up every day to write about the outdoors. When I do that, I slap a little more peanut butter on the bread and dig in. Being self-employed doesn’t take lots of money; it takes a plan and a person who is diligent to follow through. Sit down and make a plan. Decide how much you really need to live on. Focus on paying off your bills and chasing your dreams. What it boils down to is this: how much are your dreams worth? How much is that farm on a hill worth? How much is it worth to tell your boss “I quit”? After answering those questions, decide if you have what it takes to live on a shoestring for a while to achieve your goals.
There are many days that I get frustrated and don’t think my dream of being a full-time writer will ever come true. When that happens, I call other writers. I get online and read Thomas Elpel’s website and learn about other people who have succeeded. It is possible and when you think it is not, find someone you can trust that will inspire you to keep on keepin’ on… You owe it to yourself to be self-employed. Go out and get it. I am currently writing every single night until midnight. There are days when it gets old, but it will be worth it in the end. It is worth it for anyone reading this to develop a plan and go follow your heart. The feeling of knowing it is just around the river bend makes me work twice as hard.