Planning for Professional Freedom in 5 Steps

Planning for Professional Freedom – 5 Actions to Take and Changing your Mindset to Prepare for a Life of Self-employment

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Getting to professional freedom, owning your time, and escaping the 9-5 is possible.

I’m Daphne, and I’m here to tell you, you no longer have to say things like “I wish I could go visit…” or “I wish I had more time to…” because you can go where you want and have the time to do it. 

You may also want to check out this post on How to Know When It’s Time to Find a New Job.

5 Steps for Professional Freedom

Following the five action items below will kickstart your voyage. 

  1. Assess your situation. 
  2. Determine what you need and what you want.
  3. Make a decision and move forward. 
  4. Build your resources into a toolkit.
  5. Don’t look back, ever. 

1 – Assess your situation. 

In May of 2020, I was made intensely aware of something: just because you have a paycheck today, you may not tomorrow. 

I had never, ever, been laid off. While you know in the back of your mind, this can happen to you, you don’t really feel the reality of it until it does. For me, I was blessed: it happened the year I was turning 50, at a point in my career when I was not living paycheck to paycheck. 

Knowing that as long as you are employed by others, you are never truly secure professionally was a big learning. It’s important, actually critical, to assess your professional situation and be aware of this fact. 

This is all about shifting your mindset. 

2 – Determine what you need and what you want. 

Whether you are considering leaving your 9-5 soon, or simply want to be prepared for when it happens and be able to take hold of your fate, take the time for a little self-care here. 

After my layoff, a colleague who knew my style, personality and importantly, where my head was at, not wanting another corporate situation, suggested Timothy Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek to me. 

And there it was, published and for the world to read: my validation that the notion of 9-5 isn’t required.  

As a GenXer I always had the mindset that if work “started” at 8am you arrived by 7:45. We are the first-in and last-out generation, right? Not necessary. 

Ferriss outlines a clear task: determine how much money you actually need.

Here is what I did, and what I suggest to you: list out all your required bills (health care coverage, rent, car and so forth) and put it into a monthly total.  Now you know how much money you NEED. The rest is an allowance. Yes, I know food is required but the reality is that it is a flexible expense. You can eat out every night and get craft coffee every morning or not. You can plan your meals, cook at home, brew your own coffee for $8/lb. versus $6 a cup “out.” 

Laying out your budget is essential to know your true financial status and how much money you need to have accessible.

But do you want to have that $6 coffee once a week and upgrade to a more expensive mortgage? Ok. You can: just build those costs into your monthly budget as must-haves so, I reiterate, you know how much money you actually need to have on-hand each month. 

This is crucial to planning your next step on what will bring you income. 

professional freedom

3 – Make a decision and move forward. 

One thing I’ve learned on this journey is to concentrate on one income stream at a time. Having the possibility of multiple income streams is important. However, you need to pick one to work on first. 

You know the old saying, “jack of all trades, master of none?” It rings true but also, avoid the burnout and stress of over-extending yourself. 

By the middle of June, I began research into how I was going to become self-sufficient out of corporate life.  I followed suggestions to write down my skills and my passions, then to explore how I can combine some of them earn income. 

I narrowed it down to two paths
  1. working with small business owners on short-term consultation projects, or
  2. building a blog to monetize. 

My Free At 50 blog was born at the end of August, while I was simultaneously working on a pilot project with a business owner. In November I decided to move forward 100% with the blog as income stream #1. 

The small business idea is still there and someday I may go that route. 

With the decision to blog I moved forward with:

  • Committing to coaching sessions with a mentor who has built an online business and who I had previous conversations with. I am excited to have her guide me.
  • Investing in the technology I need to succeed online; I go into detail on this in my blog. The reality is you need to budget for technology, equipment, inventory: whatever you need for your business.
  • Changed my title on Linked In. Yes – I am owning it and showing the world I’m out of the corporate game! I am officially a blogger. 
professional freedom

4 – Build your resources into a toolkit. 

For me, my number one resource: people. Whether it is friends, former colleagues, family, or connections I’ve met online (like the Saving Talents team in a Facebook group!), people are my biggest and most effective resource. 

Once I made the decision, my toolkit needs were clarified. Knowing my life would be online, mine may be different from yours but the concept is the same. 

Research what you will need to pursue the options you are considering. From LLCs and tax id numbers to technology and equipment, look into it all so you have a solid sense of what is both available and how much you may need to invest. 

5 – Don’t look back, ever. 

Nothing is certain, except knowing that nothing is. While many factors could affect your future even if you succeed in gaining professional freedom through self-employment, there is this: you have more control than if you were employed by someone else. No matter where your journey takes you, don’t look back. 

Everything is a learning experience, and one effort can lead to the next income stream. For me, that could be the small business consultation, or even a course related to it. Whatever experience I get blogging I can bring with me.

About the Author of Professional Freedom

Daphne Reznik is the creator of the Free at 50 blog, which focuses on life after corporate, how to transition into professional freedom and resources to create income streams. She has a diverse background having worked in state government, small business, and most recently, a large corporate entity. Her experience supporting businesses and leading a national staff training program, provided her with a skill set she is using to design a lifestyle as a blogger and to inspire others.

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