If nothing else, I’ll identify myself with one word. Determined.
Having just turned 40, I realize my life has been spent working like a dog, because I thought “that’s what you’re supposed to do”, with little time to actually enjoy life or consider creating an ideal lifestyle. Before the Internet age, options were much more limited for building multiple location independent income streams, unless you were rich, which I wasn’t.
As of today (January 2015) however, things have changed. I’ve resigned a fantastic job as Director of Digital Strategy at a local digital agency, sold almost everything I own, ditched my apartment, and booked a one way ticket to Goa,India. Armed with only a 50 liter backpack and djembe drum, working remotely on my own projects from around the world and having fun along the way.
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Taking a step back, it’s been a very long, hard road over 22+ years of working to get here today.
Age: 17 – 27. I worked as a professional chef after graduating from college for culinary arts. In fact, at 21 years old, I moved to Amsterdam, Holland to endure 18 hours days in a 3 Michelin star kitchen. The idea was to spend 1 year each in Holland, England and France working for the old masters. I came back months later crippled from too many hours on my feet, and after a surgery, didn’t walk for several months. Years later, I left a job with a well known celebrity chef TV personality to pursue opening a high end restaurant from the ground up, however the investor pulled out before construction began. It was a disappointing blow, that led me to leave the profession. During this time period, most of my family ‘passed’, including my Father, Grandparents and Aunt.
Age: 27 – 35. The worst years of life ensued. I went back to college for CIS, and worked a ridiculous string of dead end jobs, mostly in sales. I went dead broke several times, declared bankruptcy and drove old cars with no A/C (in Florida) while trying to survive. I had never taken a proper vacation, nor had a social life up to this point. It was constant scrambling. My bank account was often several hundred dollars in the negative. No mercy.
Age: 30. I started looking for a way out. Becoming more aware of the Internet I created a speciality eCommerce shop, at a time when shopping cart platforms and Google were just getting started. It was a huge learning curve. I changed cart platforms 3 times over the years, learned accounting, inventory management, marketing, copywriting, analytics, you name it. I’d keep physical inventory at my apartment, use drop shipping, setup convention booths and more. While Obscuria Gothic Shop got mentions in everything from band videos to movies and magazines, I eventually closed it in 2013. It was #1 or #2 in Google for the chosen terms, but the market was too broke and too small. It was a lifestyle business.
Age: 30 – 37. I worked nights and weekends on my shop. At 34, I was working for a horrid call center phone job, and applied to every web development company in town for a SEO/Digital Marketing position, which paid off. This allowed me to at least get closer to my current path.
Age: 36. I parted ways with the web development company and took a short trip to Portland, Oregon to check it out. Before leaving, I sent out 12 resumes from a coffee shop to web development firms and digital agencies. The next day, I got replies from three of them, and later accepted a position. Right before my first paycheck arrived, I was down to $43 dollars in the bank. Taking this trip opened me up to a desire for urban, walkable city living close to nature.
Age: 39. during my time with the digital agency, I managed to save a ton of money, pay off debts, became certified in Google AdWords and Google Analytics and started to arrange life so I’d never be behind the 8 ball again. I’ve lived in apartments for my entire adult life, cut off cable TV in the year 2,000 and don’t spend money on the latest gadgets or eat out a lot. I finally got to take some vacations and think about having a social life and new direction after all these years. A new day is dawning.
Today, I’m a minimalist who owns very little with a strong digital skill set, ample savings and a solid direction of how to carve out a living with my freelance website eCommerce Warriors while spending more time traveling and doing hobbies. I am without wife, kids, mortgage, pets, car payments (paid off), or consumer debt by choice. Only a student loan remains to pay off. After getting beat down in hot kitchens or the corporate world for 22+ years, it was an excruciating decision to resign a finally fantastic job, but I feel it’s now or never to chase dreams, instead of giving up and remaining comfortably numb. I’ve learned death can come sooner than we think.
Often, you’ll find me pounding a djembe drum at a Pagan gathering, or tribal dancing around a bonfire wearing the skull mask of a wolf, shaking a turtle rattle and a belly full of Mead. This is my favorite activity, and I’m rearranging life to allow much more of this. I love bonfire drumming festivals, burns, Ren Faires and Rainbow Gatherings.
Other times, I’ll pick up a brush and create impressionist paintings. It’s a goal to improve my painting style, in order to capture scenes from exotic locations and festivals I find myself in quite often.
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you can learn from my failures and successes! Feel free to contact me with any questions or feedback.