An Action Plan, and a New Goal

Last week I wrote about how I’d reached my breaking point. I’m pretty unhappy with my professional life, which is not great. And as many of you pointed out in the comments, this is not a dress rehearsal. It matters that I’m happy in my day to day.

Thank you to everyone who left me words of support and encouragement in the comments. I am so thankful for this online community- you’ve helped change my life in amazing ways, and your support when I’m down is truly appreciated.

After writing that article, and coming face to face with the stark reality of just how unhappy I am, I’ve decided to make some changes in my life.

One of my best and worst attributes is that I’m a planner. I love knowing what I’m going to do, and the steps to take to get there. Part of why I’m struggling so much is because I don’t feel like my current jobs are leading me anywhere. I don’t want to be in the events/food service world, and I don’t want to be in the nonprofit world. And of course, neither pays very well. So…what am I killing myself for?

Most people are too busy living their nightmares to start living their dreams. (1)

I remembered this quote this weekend while I was catering Friday and Saturday nights. I’m paraphrasing here, and I have no one to attribute it to, but I can tell you it hit me hard. This is exactly my life. I’m stuck in a cycle that I don’t want because I’m too full of fear to go after what I do want.

The thing is, now is the right time. I’m not working a really lucrative job, and I’m not climbing the career ladder rapidly. I’m working two jobs I hate and making squat. Now is the time to take a risk, and to go live the life I really want.

In order to not jump off a cliff into the unknown, I’m preparing myself and my finances to absorb these changes gradually. With that said, I’ve set new goals for myself this year.

*New Goals*

  1. Be Happy– I’ve been intermittently happy for the last year and a half while I paid off debt and beefed up savings. I’ve been working insane hours steadily for what feels like forever. I keep sacrificing my ‘now’ in pursuit of my future. This has to end.
  2. Become a Freelance Writer– I’ve always wanted to write. I have journals and notebooks full of short stories, the starts of novels, and poems. I’ve always put this dream on hold because there was something more pressing to do: go to college, find a job, pay off debt. But you know what? There’s nothing that pressing in my life right now. I’m debt free, I’ve got my spending under control, and I’ve got some savings. Things will never be totally perfect to pursue a dream, but now is pretty close.

Financially, my goals are changing too.

  1. Put $7,000 towards retirement– Initially, I wanted to put $10,000 towards retirement this year. That’s just not going to be possible. I’m on track to max out my IRA in a few weeks, which is awesome. If I can tuck away another $1,500 this year after that, I’ll consider this year a success.
  2. Have a $5,600 emergency fund by August– I’m close to this goal, and I think I can do it with one final push. Having this amount of money in my emergency fund is less than I wanted at the start of the year, but definitely enough to cover any emergencies I should run into.

I don’t know if everyone knows this about me yet, but I am a woman of action. I get something in my brain, and I want to do it NOW. Accepting just how unhappy I am got my butt into gear. I decided to take some action.

About three hours after I hit ‘publish’ last Thursday, I came up with a new plan and started taking steps to achieve it.

*New Plan*

  1. Cater Less, But Don’t Stop Completely– In May and June, I’m only going to cater two times a month. I’ll pick one weekend, cater Friday and Saturday, and be done with it. This will relieve me of some stress right NOW, but keep my side income flowing. I am going to cater through the end of 2016, and will pick up the pace again in August.
  2. Leave My Nonprofit Job Entirely– This may be controversial, but I really believe it’s the right choice. It’s a time consuming, stressful job that I don’t like. So, at the end of June, I’ll be leaving my nonprofit job!
  3. Start a Fuck-it-Fund– This is my get out of work jail free fund. I plan to save $2,000 over the next two and a half months, which is enough for health insurance and gas for six months, plus one month’s rent. I realized that if I put extra money into my emergency fund, I would feel like I could only spend it if the sky was falling.  A Fuck-it-Fund though, makes me want to shout ‘Kara OUT’ and moonwalk backward out of my office. That’s money I’ll feel comfortable spending in the months of underemployment. Brains are weird like that.
  4. Travel– Like I mentioned in my last post, I already have travel plans set in motion. While I am undergoing some financial risk in leaving my nonprofit job, I’m not planning on sacrificing my travel. I estimate I need $3,000 this year to travel, and I’ve already begun saving for it.

I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and my eyes have been opened. This plan has its risks, but it feels so right. I’m excited thinking about implementing these changes over the next few months. I can’t wait to start living the life I really want.

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27 Replies to “An Action Plan, and a New Goal”

  1. Glad you posted this follow-up! I think your plan sounds like a great one. Your reasons for leaving the nonprofit job make total sense, even if that job is more resume-friendly than catering. I love your plan to save the F-you money in addition to a VERY sizeable emergency fund (I honestly think you don’t need that much at this stage, but I also believe hugely in peace of mind, and respect that you want that much to sleep at night). And I love that you’re going to go for your dream of writing! I’m planning to do that too, after we quit, but am not expecting it to make me actual money — LOL. I admire you for working hard to make it your livelihood!

    1. When I leave it’ll have been 1 year and 10 months, which I feel comfortable with. I don’t have a strong traditional resume, but I’ve also never had luck landing a traditional job. I’m scared, but I feel like I have to take this risk on being my own boss now. I very much so feel like I’m carving out my own life, and it’s exciting and terrifying! Hence the big amount of savings. I’m definitely not trying to plunge myself back into debt just because I hate my current jobs!

  2. That’s a great quote to remember, and to keep in mind in the future. 🙂
    Having a F-you fund is awesome, and congrats on deciding to leave the non-profit soul suck job. There’s no reason you can’t start submitting writing stuff now and working towards that goal. I’m excited to read how things pan out and what comes in the future! Good job on taking control and not just letting life happen to you!

    1. Thank you! Isn’t that quote wonderful? I just wish I knew who said it. And yes, my plan is to actually start pitching and building up writing clients over May and June, so that I hopefully have something coming in throughout July. I do have two small freelance clients now, and I should be able to meet my bare bones budget through catering and writing in July. I’m taking a leap of faith, but I’m also making sure (as best I can) I’ve got my ducks in a row! it’s an organized leap, if you will. 😉

  3. Great job evaluating your current situation vs. your goals and making a new plan. That’s not easy for a lot of people to do, especially me. I struggle with quitting working for the man all the time. I come from a different point of view where my main reason not to quit is the somewhat golden handcuffs. I would have to ramp up my new business(es) really fast to enable me to make quitting my job “worthwhile” in my head, and that’s really tough for me. I look forward to reading about your journey, and maybe your success will inspire me to do something similar 🙂

    1. Thanks! Change is hard, even if it’s a wanted change. I think I’d feel the same as you if I were making good money. I feel like I’m low risk when it comes to my salary right now- it’s possible to go down, but I’m starting so low anyway, why not try!?

  4. Sounds like a great plan to me. Glad you are feeling better.

  5. I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU I’M SCREAMING. I’m sorry, deep breath. I’ll calm down. Kara! This is so great. I’m a big proponent of TRYING. You’ll never know if you could have had your dream life if you never gave up your melancholy one to try it. These are arguments (okay, me talking, him mostly nodding) I have with my husband all the time. His dream isn’t concrete yet, so he’s not ready to leave his job to be wishy-washy. You’ve got a solid plan and you’re set to be great. Can’t wait to follow the journey!

    1. Thanks so much! Your excitement is so kind, and has me all excited. You’re absolutely right- I have to at least TRY!

  6. It definitely sounds like the time is ripe. Wishing you luck!

    1. Thank you! Here goes nothing

  7. Yes, love this. As someone said to me recently ‘if not now, then when?’. Much easier to ditch a crappy job that doesn’t pay great than to walk out on a large earner. All the best with it 🙂

    1. Yes, I have been saying the exact same thing! Thanks for the well wishes!

  8. I can certainly relate to wanting to throw your deuces up and just let go of it all. I certainly would have done so many times by now if it weren’t for my kids. Instead I’m taking the slow and steady approach. Luckily, my full-time situation has finished transitioning and has become a much better situation. My goal is to simply hustle as hard as I can and pay off my student loans and then whatever happens, well it just happens. It’s awesome you have a plan in motion and I can’t wait to read all about it as you make your transition!

    1. Thank you! If i had dependents, this would probably be a very different story. I’m glad your work situation got better. Here’s hoping my new writing career will be too!

  9. Yes, yes, yes! This is awesome. Posts like these are the reason I read PF blogs. It’s not *really* about the money; it’s about designing our lives to be happy and fulfilling. I love the line you used — this isn’t a dress rehearsal. This is all we get. I’m psyched to follow along!

    1. Thank you! The response has been so supportive and kind- another thing I love about PF blogs! Definitely stay tuned, as I’m sure there’ll be a huge learning curve. Time to start living deliberately!

  10. So glad you have come to this realization. It’s tough, but now you know what steps to take to improve. Can’t wait to chat 🙂

    1. I know the coming months are going to have challenges, but at least I’m excited for those. Thanks in advance for chatting with me this week!

  11. Thanks for keeping us up to date. This is going to sound crazy, but what you would do has been at the back of my mind. I think that you’ve come up a good solution!

    1. Thanks! Check in tomorrow for some more plans and details on how I’m going to go about it. And if you’re as unhappy as I am with your day job, let me be the first to encourage you to make a change! I feel so free since just making the decision to leave!

  12. When you don’t have any downtime, which it doesn’t sound like you did, it’s hard to rest, recover, rejuvenate, and have clarity, so making sure you have time to do that is important, so glad you are freeing up some time! 3k to travel though? I may not know the backstory to that though! 🙂

    1. I’m going on a 3-4 week road trip this fall, and camping/staying with friends. It’s going to be AWESOME, and hopefully I can stay under budget. I’m also going home for a wedding, but I paid for the flight in rewards and will be staying with family for most of the trip. #frugal!

  13. Best of luck! A little over a year ago, I quit a job I hated. It was scary and difficult, but the job was emotionally draining and it just wasn’t worth it anymore. I ended up finding a job that I love! Everything will work out 🙂

    1. Thanks! It’s certainly scary, and i’m nervous. But I’m also sick of being so unhappy. Hopefully onto greener pastures.

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