The ability to delay gratification has been one of our most powerful weapons in our fight for the life we want.
My goal is to work six months each year. This pays my pension up front for the next two years and living costs up front for the year, as well as provide a sizable cash cushion in case I don’t get work as soon as I return to the UK to look. So in effect, I am over saving.
In short, six months of work is more than I need to fund my existence. I work in the winter.
When this current contract finishes in the next few weeks, I am free, just in time for spring and summer. It’s an enormous milestone and marks three years of patience and effort.
Three years ago I made a big decision. Things were, at that time, very rosy. I had just started to reap the benefits of the ground work of my 20s. Money was coming in, from work, from side projects. I had plenty of cash and I was starting to, at 33 and no longer a kid, get respect at work from colleagues. Life experience, confidence, gravitas and success also transformed my dating life. All of a sudden, with a little maturity and more focussed game, the super-hot girls who I struggled to get in my 20s were making themselves available to me. I lived with my best friends, we holidayed, smoked cigars and picked up chicks. We had no responsibilities to anyone other than ourselves. Life was getting very easy and as the money piled up, the scope of my options was growing by the pay cheque.
However, I worked 12 months a year. My holidays were a week here and a week there. Despite my growing success, my quality of life in the UK was ever eroding, the quality of life I could have abroad was ever improving. I needed to find a way to limit my time here and maximise my time there. Spend as little time and money in the UK as possible and so I could spend it abroad as much as possible.
Let’s face it, name almost any country in Europe and it has better weather, better food, better women, better men, better schools, better coffee, better newspapers, better apartments, better standards of living, cleaner streets and greater freedoms. Once you have been to some of these places and tasted the food, dated the slim women, stayed in the fine apartments, then I’m sorry, but the UK becomes intolerable.
So I quit my job. Or at least, when the opportunity arose where I may lose my job, I let it happen. The HR lady was a bully. She’d left me alone for the first few months of my tenure, but when a Director gave me free reign in one project to ‘do what needed to be done to deliver’ and not to have to abide by internal procedures and protocols, she was deeply offended. They were her policies I was allowed to ignore. She complained and the Ops Director, in front of me, told her to get back in her box. She began immediately to try to paint scenarios in other areas of my work where I had done things wrong, to try and win back some self-esteem for herself.
I advocate getting yourself into a position of security, with a cushion of money in the bank, because in this situation for example, since I had plenty of money in the bank, a skill set in demand and a low cost base and I just didn’t need the job to pay my rent. The very first time she got fruity with me I delivered an ultimatum, it was my way or the highway. I knew there was a 99% chance they’d choose the highway, but it didn’t matter to me, I won either way..
So I found myself out of work with the same kind of unvested interest as you might have when you hear that England women beat Latvia women in a World Cup qualifier. Just ‘oh, ok’.
I’d toyed with the idea, because friends were doing it, to become a contractor. Higher pay, shorter commitment.
My first 12 months I couldn’t get work. Not as a contractor. They just kept asking me why I left full time work to be a contractor. It was very strange. They were obsessed not with my abilities, but with the idea that I was not already a contractor. It took me 12 months on the dot but I finally got myself a contract for six months.
Between then and now, I have had a battle. I need to work during the winter and have time off during the summer. However, up until now, I have only been able to get the reverse. I’ve worked the last two summers, I have had to take work when offered, and then only had the winter to travel. My life has been, for the last three years, enormously restricted and that’s before I even get talking about the family tragedy we’ve had to live through.
Making a long term career change is a bullet I chose to bite in order to get a long term gain. If I hadn’t done it, I’d still be working 12 months a year, paying most of it in tax and stuck in the UK. As it is, for at least the remainder of my 30s I have some degree (50%) of economic and geographic freedom. It’s not 100% but it’s plenty to be happy.
Readers, as I write this, I sit on the cusp of spring. My contract ends in eight weeks, just as Spring begins. I have during the course of the winter paid my pension and living costs up until 2016 and now, I am just waiting.
I am currently James, Project Manager. But my Jimmy suit is dusted off, he’s coming back. My trusty Converse are out from the back of the cupboard. I’ve been patient.
Let the fun commence.