Defining the Good Life for Yourself

good-lifeI find it interesting the range of answers I receive when I ask what different people consider to be “The Good Life.” When talking to folks that work from home or are considering it, I get very different answers than when I ask people working the corporate ladder. The first group tends to value life as a whole, where their career pursuits mesh well with family, friends, travel, and life experiences.

We all have to define for ourselves what we consider to be the Good Life. Money, fame, and prestige may be part of that, but if we look deeper, it’s rarely the foundation.

An exercise I find useful for getting to your real desires is what I call the “What For…” technique. Ask someone (or have someone ask you) what they want out of life, and when they give an answer ask, “What for?” When they answer, ask it again, and again. Eventually we get to the heart of their longing. So when they say “I want to make lots of money,” ask “What for?” When they say “to buy stuff,” again ask “What For?” Carrying this to its eventual conclusion, we end up with their desire to control their own life, and be appreciated. Sometimes it’s a quick trip, other times meandering. But this is a good way to determine what you’re really looking for.

Some of us have a clear picture of the Good Life, and others not so much. More often, our picture is actually our parents’ picture, or our friends’ picture, or Budweiser’s picture, or People magazine’s picture. In order to find true satisfaction, we all have to find our own definition, not one that’s dictated to us.

Spend some time imagining what your perfect day would be like. What would you be doing? How would you spend your time? Then ask “What For?” to find the core of those things that make up your perfect day, and your perfect life. Once you have that basis of what you truly want out of life, you have a strong foundation on which to build the Good Life.

Taking a Kid’s Sick Day

Gretchen Rubin over at The Happiness Project has a great post about her bad morning.

… she started to make the universal sign for “ear infection” – pathetically batting the air next to her head, trying to wave away the pain.

Listening to your own baby crying in pain is agonizing. This is obviously advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint, but my nerves were shot after the first few minutes.

As a parent, it’s easy to know exactly what she went through, and her reactions.

sick-day-One of the benefits of working from home is being there when your kids need you.  Knowing that you can finish that important project tonight after the kids are in bed, makes it easy to take off and watch Peep with your little one, as she tries not to think about her awful ear pain.

Making good money from a job you love is the cake.  Being there for your kids is not only the icing, but the ingredients that make the cake so tasty.

MindFUD Tenderizer – Another Perspective on Marinating Ideas

marinating-ideasI’ve always loved the term “marinating ideas.” Being a foodie, the imagery fits well for me. Folks that know me can expect to get the answer “let it marinate” whenever we’re discussing big ideas.

Glen at LifeDev has a great post on letting ideas marinate for blog posts, which ProBlogger Darren Rowse follows up with his Marinating Ideas into Blog Posts – My Posting Workflow. Aside from creative endeavors like writing, letting an idea marinate can have other benefits, especially in relieving FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.

The term FUD is often used in the software industry, particularly where rival camps accuse the other of spreading it about their products. But when it comes to major life decisions, such as making the leap to work from home, what I call “MindFUD” is one of the biggest hurdles you can face. Like the stuff that makes some cuts of meat tough, MindFUD can really put a damper on your dreams. This is where a good marinade comes in.

Take a flank steak and let it marinate in a great blend of flavors overnight and you have a wonderful entrée – a dish that without a marinade is basically like eating a tire. You’ve turned a tough cut into a stellar meal, just by using time and some well thought out ingredients. The same can be done with the MindFUD surrounding your dreams.

Take your ideas, your plans, your dreams, and give them some time to soak in the sauce of the unconscious. Over time, the imagined MindFUD will begin to tenderize and fall away, leaving some truth about your ideas. There may still be challenges, but the false MindFUD that the brain tends to conjure up regarding anything to do with change can be removed.

This results in a much more appetizing dish – one that truly feeds the soul.

BTW – The other key to a good flank steak is the way you cut it. Which can also be applied to MindFUD. But that’s another post.

Lets Jump Right In: Quitting Your Day Job

I thought I’d forgo the requisite “Hello World” first post and just jump right in. To learn more about me and this site, take a look at the About page.

bored guyOne of the more common questions I receive about working from home is “when should I quit my day job.” This can be one of the hardest decisions when it comes to launching a home-based venture. Sometimes, the answer is “never,” especially if your goal is simply to keep your business as a hobby, there for the soul purpose of just exploring an interest. If you don’t intend to make your unique talents and passion the fuel for your livelihood, then it only makes sense to stay put.

It’s when you plan to make your living from home, and build a business (or at least an additional income source) from your nest, that you have to decide how far you’re willing to go.

If you are the only breadwinner in your family, the decision becomes harder. The stability of a traditional job often isn’t painful enough to drive you to set out on your own. If you love your job, chances are you’re already using you unique talents and skills on a regular basis. The yearning comes from missing time with your family, the lack of purpose, and grinding away at a job where you can’t use those skills you know you are great at. But is that yearning strong enough to allow you to put your faith in your talents, your dedication, and your luck, and make the leap?

Here’s where a good mix of right-brain and left-brain really come into play. First, listen to your intuition. What’s your gut telling you to do? Do you see signs, little “coincidences” that point to your answer? What about your dreams? Often we work though these major life decisions in our sleep, but just don’t remember it. Make a conscious decision to take a look at your dreams, and maybe even ask yourself to send you some guidance in your sleep. Sometimes it’ll just come as an impression, and other times as a full blown dream movie pointing you towards the right answer. If you’re the kind of person who has learned to trust their gut, and listen to their intuition for guidance, this is an easy first step.

Once you’ve gotten a good feel as to what your heart’s telling you to do, take the logical left-brain approach to making the decision. Get a good handle on how much money you need to live. Most people never sit down and hash out what their true living expenses are. If you use something like Quicken, Microsoft Money, or Liquid Ledger, it’s much easier to do. If you use a paper register and statements, don’t let that stop you. You’ll just have to do more up-front work you get the numbers.

You’ll be amazed at what you actually spend each month. The first time I did this, I used Quicken to make up some reports. I actually had a chart and report for how much we spend on pizza each month. At one point Quicken asked if I wanted to make Tony’s Pizza (no relation) a regular automatic payment. That’s when it’s time to reassess living expenses.

Once you know how much you actually need to survive and what can be cut out, take a hard look at your proposed venture. Can you realistically make what you need each month? Doing some research on budgeting, personal finance, and your money values can go a long way to helping determine where you are and where you need to be.

If you’re a 2 income household, and one of you is looking at running a home-based business to be home with your kids, you might find it’s actually cheaper to stay home than work. This seems counter-intuitive, but when you add commuting cost, dry cleaning, parking, food away from home, day care, and the other expenses necessary for the working person, you may be surprise how much you’re actually netting each month.

Granted this is just a starting point, but these are the first exercises I recommend folks go through when they reach the point that they’re ready to the make the leap. Once you have a good framework, you’ll be more comfortable with your decision.