Looking for a Sign

Here I am in 2017, still working at the post office. Every day, I keep reminding myself of all the reasons that I continue to work there:

  • My coworkers
  • A nice bi-weekly paycheck, direct-deposited into my bank account
  • Health insurance
  • A pension (if I can stay there until I turn 60)
  • Paid vacation days, holidays, and sick days
  • A fairly consistent 35-hour-a-week schedule that allows me to escape the office by noon most days
  • Not being chained to a desk
  • Sundays off

But every day, I’m also bombarded with the reasons that I hate working there:

  • Getting up at 4:30 a.m. (despite my inner body clock’s protests)
  • Working 6 days a week (including every Saturday)
  • The 25-mile/25-minute commute each way (in what seems like daily snowstorms lately)
  • Recurring bouts of fatigue, sickness, and depression
  • Office politics
  • Management
  • Mind-numbing repetition and drudgery
  • My dry, cracked, filthy hands (and Oh My God the paper cuts!)

But the biggest deal-breaker for me? Complete surrender of my personal freedom and the inability to make my own schedule.

For the longest time, I think I’ve been waiting for some kind of sign to tell me that it’s time to finally move on. I wasn’t sure what form that sign would take, or if I’d even recognize it when it came. But last week, as I was stuffing mail into PO boxes, it finally hit me, like a lightning bolt out of the sky:

I dream about quitting my job EVERY DAY.

In fact, I spend hours thinking about:

  • When will I quit?
  • How will I quit?
  • What do I need to do to prepare to quit?
  • How much more money should I have saved?
  • How soon can I pay off my mortgage?

The list goes on and on, and the thoughts swirl around and around. I’ve read dozens, maybe even hundreds, of books about it. I’ve made spreadsheets. I’ve agonized and obsessed. For years. And not just at the post office, but at pretty much every job I’ve ever had.

And I finally realized, that’s my sign.

I need to be free. Free to wake up when my body wants to. Free to eat breakfast sitting down. Free to schedule my days as I see fit. Free to go to my nephew’s wedding on a Saturday without a signed permission slip from the postmaster. Free to pursue rewarding work that matters to me.

Ah, Peter. I don’t think I’d like another job either.

My schedule has been determined by someone else since I started first grade — 40 years ago. I’ve worked for someone else for 30 years. Enough! Financial security has always been my #1 priority, but self-employment has always been my #1 dream. And lately it seems like my deepest longings for freedom and autonomy have begun to overpower my insecure needs for a regular paycheck and the promise of a pension.

I’ve built a solid financial foundation over the years by keeping my expenses and debt low and adding to my savings whenever possible, so I know I’m in a good position to take the leap soon without too much risk. I always knew this time would come, and I wanted to be ready for it. I don’t have every detail figured out yet, and I probably never will, but I’m getting closer.

The goal I’m working toward this year is FREEDOM.  And now that I’ve put it out there, I’m counting on you all to help me out, and hold me accountable.

“Leap, and the net will appear.” – John Burroughs

~PEACE~

 

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Quick Update on my June 2015 “Stuff” Challenge

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I can’t believe how much stuff I’ve gotten rid of so easily, and also how much more I can still part with and not even miss it!

I’ve purged approximately 300 items from my house so far (goal for the month: 465).

I started off following the “1 item on day 1, 2 items on day 2, etc.” formula, but I quickly found that when I really dug in, I eliminated many more things than the date called for. So I simply carried my “balance” forward a day or two until the numbers evened out and I was back on schedule.

My husband helped boost my numbers last weekend by cleaning out the basement and dumping a bunch of old magazines, albums, and countless other objects. He’s a bit of a “collector,” but he admitted that he enjoyed eliminating some of the overflow. It felt great to finally get him on board with my goal and relax my assault on my own stuff for a few days. I didn’t get an exact count, but he claims to have removed at least a hundred items, so I’ll take him at his word. He’s definitely redeemed himself since the steak knife incident in my previous post.

On the “down side,” my uncle sort of moved in with me this month, and brought with him a whole bunch of his own stuff. My pantry closet is now stuffed with junk food! While this presented a bit of a setback for my “Stuff Challenge,” I’m really enjoying having him around, so it’s all good. Family before stuff. Always.

I’m looking ahead to the last week of the month and wondering where to start, but I have hundreds of books, magazines, and CDs that I haven’t even touched yet, so I’m optimistic!

~PEACE~

 

Commitment and Accountability

According to Gretchen Rubin, in her latest book Better Than Before, one of the best strategies for forming a new habit (and sticking to it) is the Strategy of Accountability.

“Accountability is a powerful factor in habit formation, and a ubiquitous feature in our lives. If we believe that someone’s watching, we behave differently. Deadlines help us keep the habit of working. Late fees help us pay our bills on time. Grades help us study. Attendance records help us get our children to school on time. When we believe that we may be held accountable for our actions — even when we’re accountable only to ourselves — we show more self-command.”

I am invoking this strategy by declaring publicly, right NOW, my commitment to publish a new post on Downshifter’s Journal every day during the month of May.

My posts won’t necessarily be long, or brilliant, or PERFECT, but they WILL be there every day for you, my followers, to hold me accountable!

I’m really looking forward to challenging myself, developing my writing practice with you, and making Downshifter’s Journal a daily part of my life (and, I hope, yours). Please don’t let me fall behind, and in exchange, I’ll try not to get all preachy, or bore you too much.

“Don’t be a writer, be writing.” – JamesClear.com

~PEACE~

Friday Favorites: Zen Habits

Friday Favorites: Zen Habits

If, like me, you’re looking for a little inspiration and guidance as you set your goals and make your resolutions for the New Year, you need to familiarize yourself with Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog. Here, you’ll find a wealth of information on everything from mindfulness and motivation to self-discipline and simplicity.

Babauta never fails to inspire me with his clear and honest writing style, and his practical approach to, well, just about everything. Regular topics include:

  • Getting organized and dealing with clutter.
  • Starting and maintaining healthy diet and exercise habits.
  • Setting priorities.
  • Managing your finances.
  • Slowing down and simply enjoying LIFE.

If your New Year’s resolutions include any of the above, Zen Habits will help you stay motivated and focused on what’s really important: making 2014 your best year ever!

~PEACE~