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Corporate Servitude In Review

Today is a special day. Special isn’t right. Special is for of birthdays and Christmas. Let’s try that again. Today is a day of note. Today represents one year of Corporate Servitude. One year since I reluctantly left the Pet Store and returned to my small, beige cubicle slice of ‘comfort’.

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When I tried to come up with a picture representation of the past year, this is what I got. Somewhat bland, but visually appealing. A brick wall to be scaled. Hard to get through. Easier to get over, if you stay focused on the climbing. The metaphors could go on and on.

This last year hasn’t been without reflection. I’ve taken the time to note anniversaries and lessons learned. Important exercises in not loosing the forest through the trees as I navigate my way through this. Whatever ‘this’ is. I don’t want to just re-hash those same thoughts, but I also can’t help but acknowledge this day, today, one year as significant. Because it is.

If this is really the two year stint I’ve claimed, then we are half way through. That should make my heart sing to the bursting with 100% pure, unadulterated, the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music, capital J Joy. And it would, but is this really the two year stint I claim it is? There are still a bunch of unanswered questions and an anything but concrete plan. My current thought process goes a little something like this.

The Blog. Revisitng that ‘whatever this is’ statement, let’s question the existence of Dogs or Dollars for a moment. This blog, what is it? Is it merely an online journal documenting my day to day, as well as my larger transition from one life to another? Assuming of course that transition happens. Is it providing value to my readers in a way that could be (someday, someway) income producing? Largely, I think the money making blog is the pipe dream of our times. Like making it big on tech stocks or flipping houses from days of yore, everyone wants to sit at home and write as their day job. In reality, its like winning the lottery. You have to have some talent as a writer to begin with, then you have to work hard at it, persevering through all that unpaid time, and then maybe, just maybe, someday you will be discovered. Blogging as a viable career, not super likely to happen. So, what am I doing here? I’m dedicating a whole lot of time to something not necessarily a means to my end. Just questions folks. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.

My Corporate Reality. I hate it, and it’s pretty cushy. Maybe hate is a strong word. I hate it at times. I loathe it on the regular. About 80% of the time it affords my life a lot of elasticity to manage my Financial Empire, to make appointments (and even to go to them), to research garden projects, to tweak my blog, and the 1,000 other things I want to do. It affords me so much time in fact, that I have to consciously remember not to resent the demands my job does make on me. There are times when I have to work, often inconvenient times. It’s hard not to get pissy about those. It’s also hard to stay off etsy, away from pinterest, and not logged into Facebook. All that flexibility can quickly become a big fat time suck, if you let it. If my job isn’t demanding of me, I strive to spend my time on things that are furthering my game plan. (Enter: Low Tech Organizational Solutions).

Staying Focused. Eight hours a day at a desk, working here and there, like I said, cushy. How do you keep your fire fueled to get the foxtrot out of Corporate Servitude? I was complacent in this life once before, and I can see why. It’s squishy and has disposable income. What’s not to like?! That’s a keeper, right? False. I have to continually remind myself this is not the end game. More so, I have to do things like acting poor, or a little voluntary Wants Vs. Needs exercise to combat lifestyle inflation, a sense of entitlement, and Hey! I’ll buy that bauble off etsy I’ve been admiring day in and day out. Just cuz. That’s part of the reason for all my Corporate Servitude mumbo jumbo. I want to identify this as not my daily life (even when it is), as unpleasant, unwanted, and unnatural.

Leave of Absence. What if I leap without completely severing those chains of Servitude? A Corporate sanctioned excursion? From right around the time of two jobs, I’ve bemoaned my lack of time. I want time to think, to make my own schedule, to write, to see just how productive I am left to my own devices. Most Corporate Overlords offer some sort of short term leave of absence plan. From my research, it’s not clear whether my circumstances would apply. Why do I want to stay home for three months? Well, to get away from you! Yeah, I may have to sell that more effectively. But, this is my current plan. Less scary than cutting all ties, although I’d still be without income for months on end. That’s actually part of said plan. I’ve started a targeted savings account, just for this purpose, appropriately entitled Freedom. I’m putting away three months worth of dough, and hoping I can sweet talk my way into an abbreviated escape. I will do something at the end of these two years. It might not be an official break-up. More like a hall pass.

Business Ventures. A topic I’ve only recently been able to consider again. If you’ve read my lessons learned, there are some pretty big claims about not opening my own business, and not working 40 hours a week. What can I say? I was tired. It was the end of a very drawn out journey. I needed to process and decompress. A year of having mostly one job and eight months after writing that, I can look at things a little more objectively. A once and for all escape may very well mean starting my own business. Starting my own business will very possibly require working 40 hours (or more) a week. Hello Reality, Let me shake your hand. Conversations have begun. Ideas thrown around. I’ve actually looked at and contributed to potential business plans. This scares the holy living kibble out of me. Whatever the opposite of cushy is, painfully uncomfortable? That’s how I feel about going out on a limb to start my own business. Risk. Without a net. High potential for failure. I’m dabbling deeply behind (internal) enemy lines, and trying to see if I even want to play ball.

We’ve concluded, today is not special. I will not commemorate it with balloons or cake. I will buy myself no presents. Today is another day in a long list of days that will lead me away from here. Maybe it represents the half way point. Maybe not. Either way, I’m still moving forward.

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Comments

Luke
Reply

There is certainly something to be said for a side project or two when you have the kind of daytime occupation that you do. One of the great benefits of corporate servitude is it often allows you the money, energy, and time (though this one is more fleeting) to pursue the endeavors you are really passionate about, making money be damned.

Whereas my chosen side projects are all tremendous money holes, you have what it takes to give this professional blogger thing a go.

Jenny
Reply

My husband’s dream is to open a restaurant one day. Me working there with him is a very unnerving part of that dream, so I completely understand your hesitancy about starting your own business. Just one of us going out on that kind of limb is scary enough, but both of us?

Your leave of absence idea is definitely one worth pondering. If I could take 3 months off work, I might actually be able to get my house clean!

dogsordollars
Reply

Ooooh yeah, the dual income gamble is huge. Plus there is the whole 24/7 with a spouse thing. I don’t know if I could take that much togetherness. ;) The Husband would definitely contribute to my business, but I would not plan on it providing income to both of us.

Doesn’t a LOA sound wonderful? Like summer vacation when you were a kid. 3 months to do what you want. In my mind that would totally be worth the loss of income.

Van
Reply

Blogging is important whether you’re making money or not because writing daily is a path to self-discovery. Your post has definitely illustrated that. Sometimes it takes years to get where you want to be in life. I definitely applied countless unpaid hours to my brand before I could sustain myself from it, and it’s not easy and never will be. Work is work, even if it’s your passion.

I do truly believe that you’ll get where you need to in life if you always put your #1 goal in mind and always work towards in (strangest secret style). Good luck to you! Try not to overthink it, it’s all simpler than it seems.

Written sincerely as a cubicle hell expat.

dogsordollars
Reply

Hi Van! Thanks for your input. Your journey is super inspiring to me. I watch you bob an weave and enjoy the heck out of your brand and business building (at least from where I sit) and it makes me think the plan doesnt have to be 100% complete as long as the passion and the self motivation are there.

Van
Reply

Bob and weave is very accurate, astute observation on your part ;) It feels experimental, takes time to get it together…

Carley
Reply

I don’t know the venture you speak of, but I do know that starting your own business can be one of the most wonderful experiences of your life. Even if you don’t “profit” (which is likely, however tax deductible!), the profit you can receive from creating your own life can be outstanding.

That said, in our 2-person business our CEO has worked no less than 50+ hours/week for the 2 years we’ve been in business. 60 hour weeks are not uncommon. I work around 20 hours/week with administrative, tax and bookkeeping tasks, and neither of these hours include those not “billable” (e.g. networking, our late night “meetings” at home etc)

That said, prior to our venture, our CEO worked similar weekly hours, was paid a comparatively meager salary and didn’t have the control to do the right things for the business he was working for.

This was a huge psychological burden in both of our lives. The shift from opening our business has given us a huge leap in our quality of life just from knowing we’re making the best decisions we can.

My suggestion is to analyze what you have to lose. What’s the absolute worst scenarios that could happen in your life (for instance, zombies eating your family and friends? Terminal illness?), and how does that compare/contrast to the absolute worst scenarios that could happen if you take a leap (You take such a loss your first year that get a tax refund? You decide after a few years it’s not worth it, close up shop, take a huge loss (again in your favor as far as taxes), and quickly get another job in Corplandia?)

What do you really have to lose? Not taking chances for what you want in life because of the unknown has immeasurable losses, so figure it out!

katherine
Reply

Just the other day I was wondering if I should quit my job and maybe get two part-time ones doing what I like. My biggest concern is that I’d lose health insurance, and probably a lot of money, and maybe time, and definitely security as I’m vested and only 14 years away from a pension. Whatever you decide to do, I commend you for it because sometimes the biggest move is making the actual decision, not the action.

dogsordollars
Reply

So similar to my on-going internal thought process. The “I could do xyz”, but will that really contribute in a good way to my quality of life? Every once in a while i think the bravest thing would be to just stay put. Make the most of my life despite my day job. Not sure I can stomach that all the time, but its an interesting though.

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