8 things that changed when I got off the rat race

I don’t earn a lot of money anymore, I admit. That was a significant change that happened when I quit my job in marketing and started my own freelance design business. I started from scratch since I didn’t have any design background or renowned design education. I didn’t fall into a dark pit of worries though thanks to some planning and a family that supported my dream. And things have improved in the income area since I started, but I’m far from matching my previous monthly incoming river of money. So that’s definitely a thing that changed. But let’s not talk about such uninteresting, cliché things like money. We all know they come and go.

Apart from the ceasing of a steady, predictable income, here are 8 things that changed when I got off the rat race:

1. Freedom. The first day of my life as an entrepreneur, freelancer and business owner, I walked down the stairs in our home that had now became my new office, and felt totally free. I remember laughing out loud, because I didn’t have to rush to some meeting or worrying about traffic, or getting irritated about a boss that wanted me to do tasks that I felt were unnecessary or the wrong thing to do. I was in charge now. 

2. Adventure. With this freedom came a couple of realizations that at first felt scary - you’re on your own and the world out there is unpredictable. But there is one thing that I’ve learned since I started: If you interact with the world outside of your own (your head or house) things will happen. Small or big. It could be posting things on social media, mailing or making a phone call to a person or business you want to work with/ask a question, visiting a museum, store, or having lunch with a friend, ex colleague. Anything, really, will get things in motion in one or the other way. It is an adventure, to see the rings of that interaction, not knowing exactly what will happen.

3. Expertice. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, when you have a small business you’re on your own. Which means you have to do EVERYTHING yourself. Well if you have the budget for it, you can outsource tasks, but I guess that for most small businesses that’s not an option. So it’s up to you to do them. The problem is of course that you might not have the skill set to do everything. I use to think that I, myself, am all the different departments in my business and they all come with their specific tasks. For example:
Finance: accounting, invoicing, paying suppliers etc.
Purchase & planning: order supplies and goods, set prices.
Sales: pitch my designs and products to potential customers, closing the deal.
Product: plan product line-up and produce
Design studio: create patterns and illustrations
Marketing: plan and execute advertising, social media content, photo shoots, set up and maintain all digital platform content.
IT & equipment: set up office and make sure that all tools I need to do my job are up and running (like computer, e-mail, apps, software, printer etc).
I can admit that some of these departments need some education and that’s what’s changed - I get to learn and gather new knowledge and become an expert in new things I didn’t master before. Thank God for Google and on-line classes!

4. Waste. I used to commute at least two hours a day to work. At least. More often it was 3 hours of sitting in my car, in slow traffic, driving a stretch that with normal speed would have taken me 25 minutes. Not only do now I avoid wasting my time sitting in a stupid car now that I work from home, but I also improve my impact on the environment by not letting out as much emissions any longer. 

5. Spending. Ok, so money had to be included in the list, but not in the way you think, because this paragraph is not about income but about savings. Since my new life began, working for myself, from home our family doesn’t throw away as much food anymore, since I eat left overs for lunch and oh… that’s another saving, not having to spend 100 kr on lunches every day. That is a saving for at least 2000 kr a month! Another saving is the car. We only have one car at the moment - less insurance, gas, service, repair costs, car washing etc.

6. Stress. It goes without saying perhaps after reading the above, but it’s just not only my stress levels that have gone down since I stopped being a slave. Me working from home has made it possible for the whole family to get off the rat race:
- I take the kids to school almost every day = my husband doesn’t have to worry as much about being late to work or meetings in the morning.
- I go grocery shopping in the middle of the day together with the old and retired instead of after work hours. Don’t think I have to elaborate, right?
- I don’t have to stress about appointments, meetings or missing deadlines if the kids are sick.
- I pick the kids up after school = my husband doesn’t have to worry about being late because of work, traffic or force majeure.

7. Plants. For the first time in years our home has living and thriving plants. We used to kill our plants before, since they traditionally need someone to water them now and then.

Sounds like I’m a traditional house wife? Hm, well I can understand that image, me at home in my sweats, cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping and keeping a wonderful home with plants and everything. I wish. Because one of the biggest changes after I started my business is this:

8. Space and time. When I’m working I slip into something that could be described as a time machine. I start working in the morning and - snap! - it’s four o’clock and I have to pick up the kids… The day just disappeared! Which embarrassingly brings forward a few things that I wish had changed but that haven’t. But that will have to be a separate list I think.

The conclusion of this list is: Getting off the rat race, working for myself and doing what I love is very rewarding. It compensates for any lack of a starting income. If you are having thoughts about taking the leap yourself all I can say is - do it! It is so worth it. And about that income, of course you need money: rent/mortgage, food, clothes etc, yeah you need some of that, but if this is something you dream about you can make it happen - save up for a couple of years, if you can - start a business on the side; work or study part time - start a business part time. Just make sure to do something that means something to you - do what you love and it will bring changes.