Last week I had a week off from Crappy Night Job. Unlike previous holidays, I did not try to fill my week with a huge list of things to do. Instead, I focused on resting. Since July, I have been working extra hours at Crappy Night Job and coming home pretty tried. Since the pandemic started, I have been happy to have a regular paying job, but it has meant that my writing has suffered.
It was good to spend a week just resting. I made a new computer, I played some games, I ate good food, and I did my best not to worry. I slept at night and enjoyed a morning coffee with the sunrise. It took until Thursday for me to wake up not still feel tired. Friday, I had to start getting back into a nocturnal pattern again. I certainly didn’t get back 100%, but it was a start.
What it did give me was time to think about what I want. Then the only problem is: How am I going to get there from where I am now?
The question breaks into several parts. There is a happiness factor, a health factor, a financial factor. I want to be happy, I want to be healthy, and I want to financially independent.
Happiness is a hard one to define. I have sacrificed happiness and health in the past for financial gains. At the time I think that it was the right thing to do, but if I’m going to ever get to the life I want, rather than a compromise (which may be the best I can get, but why not try for the prize?), then I have to stop robbing Peter to pay Paul.
I’m not sure that it is possible to determine what would make me happy definitively, but there are strategies that would make me move in a positive direction. Ultimately, I want to spend my days doing something that I feel is fulfilling. That is a very subjective term, and you may see things very differently to me. I want to write because when I was a kid the escape from the real world was never as sweet as when I was in a far off place in another time, where life had rules and the good guys always win. Life doesn’t work that way, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t spend a little time in those worlds.
Writing full-time is the end goal, but for now, I can’t get rid of Crappy Night Job; the bills still need o be paid. Since I have to work another job, I should either do something that I find fulfilling, which Crappy Night Job curtaining isn’t, or do as little of it as possible. In that vein, I plan to spend a little time each week throwing my resume at jobs that I would enjoy doing (I already do this sporadically, but putting in a concerted effort going forward) and I’m going to drop the days of Crappy Night Job. Not this week, changing my hours right before Christmas/ New Year is too cold-hearted for me, but I plan to drop to 3 days a week in March. If I can get a good job that is full time I will take it, I expect that getting home from a tiring but fulfilling job will feel different to getting home from a tiring and crappy job.
Health is a battle that never ends. Nocturnal hours and bad sleep do not make a good foundation for eating healthy. But I can do better at this. I should eat more veggies and less junk. I need to take better snacks to work, and not buy food there at all (a terrible habit of mine). I will try to get a little more sun and a bit more exercise, but I’m not promising anything until March.
Financially, I want to work towards where I need to be to write full time. Book sales go up and down, licensing deals can take time to finalise, and economies can crash. I need finances set up to weather the worst storms if I’m to set myself up to succeed. The best set up would be to have an entire year’s minimum income (enough to cover the bills) set aside in an investment account. I would have access to the money if I need it, but also the money would be earning for me making my financial position even stronger.
At the moment, I invest a tiny fixed amount each week into a company that trades in ETFs. Today increased my weekly deposit, so that is a step along the path. I want to pay back the money I just spent on my new computer between now and March. While a new build every three years is in my budget, I don’t like it when my bills account drops by $4k in a single day, even if it is budgeted money. If I am to make such savings, I have to live a little lean for the next three months.
On the writing front, I need to keep doing the content scheme I’ve been working on for the last year: Monday blog, Tuesday flash fiction, Wednesday review, Thursday flash fiction, Friday podcast. On time, every day. I also want to add 1000 words towards a long term project each week on Sundays. I think this will help me to feel that I am moving forward in my career, rather than just treading water.
I bought a whiteboard to put next to my desk (photo above). I like ticking off things. It might be silly, but it also might help to keep me focused. We’ll see.